Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde
Why the avant-garde of art needs to be rehabilitated today
Since the decidedly bleak beginning of the twenty-first century, art practice has become increasingly politicized. Yet few have put forward a sustained defence of this development. Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde is the first book to look at the legacy of the avant-garde in relation to the deepening crisis of contemporary capitalism.
An invigorating revitalization of the Frankfurt School legacy, Roberts’s book defines and validates the avant-garde idea with an erudite acuity, providing a refined conceptual set of tools to engage critically with the most advanced art theorists of our day, such as Hal Foster, Andrew Benjamin, Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, Paolo Virno, Claire Bishop, Michael Hardt, and Toni Negri.
longer guarantee the same quality of immaterial labour at home, and because men were – on the whole – unwilling to cover or supplement this loss, capital saw an opportunity to commodify certain aspects of this labour: ‘The grand offensive of the economic system was to produce machines that would supply services to replace at least in part the immaterial domestic labor that was no longer carried out, or that had been compressed.’65 In other words, the contraction of women’s immaterial labour
into the shaping of the sensible ‘from below’ – places his thinking in line with the great emancipatory thrust of the avant-garde from 1917, and should be applauded. ‘If the avant-garde has meaning at all … it is on this side of things.’12 Similarly his attempt to clear out all the accumulated idealist (actionist), nihilist (iconophobic) and positivistic (reflectionist) tendencies of this artistic legacy should also be defended and recognized as the baseline for advanced thinking on art and
recognize freedom as a path from simplicity to complexity is not infinite. The process reaches a stage of ‘finalization’ in what Hegel calls the pure Idea, in which determinateness of the Notion (the principle of freedom) is raised to the actuality of the Notion, to an absolute liberation. There is no point of transition in this stage of freedom. Rather, the Idea freely releases itself in ‘self-security and self-repose’. The Idea posits itself. In this sense the Absolute is not the end of
in order to ratify his humanist ‘end of art’ is, therefore, highly contentious. For Hegel, art is far from being entropic under modernity; rather, under the modern division of labour the loss of the traditional function of art represents a profound expansion and renewal of art.13 So when Hegel talks famously about the ‘end of art’ in his reflections on early romanticism he is not referring to anything so simple-minded as the end of an ‘integral art’, or laying claim to a lost realm of
National Culture’,4 what distinguishes English culture (and by extension British culture) in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries is that, uniquely among European nations, Britain is unable to produce a modernist bourgeoisie in which the social sciences flourish (of all the leading industrial nations Britain fails to produce either a classical sociology or a national Marxism). This derives, he contends, from the outfall from the specific class compromise between the English bourgeoisie and