After the Avant-Garde
AUTHOR: Boyers, Robert
PUBLISHER: Pennsylvania State University Press
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This study of contemporary art and culture brings together Boyers's sharply focused essays on writers, filmmakers, painters, and critics, first published in the TLS, The American Scholar, Granta, The American Poetry Review, and Salmagundi. The essays respond to the diversity of "events" that make up our cultural life, and take as their central theme what Boyers calls "object loss" in the art and writing of some prominent contemporaries. The term designates a radical incapacity to think clearly about the objects--actual or imagined--that give a work point or focus. He argues that this incapacity has produced various kinds of irrelevance and dishonesty, not so much in the art of our day as in the various critical theories and response patterns which are dominant among us.
Dwelling on such figures as Jean-Luc Godard, Mario Vargas Llosa, Marcel Duchamp, John Ashbery, and William Styron, Boyers frequently casts his reflections as responses to theories that have gained--especially among contemporary literary intellectuals--an indisputable currency. His essays constitute a negative aesthetic, a "definition by recoil" of postmodernist art and the ideology that promotes or defends it.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/1/1990