PRINT Summer 1964

The Cool School

THE AVANT-GARDE TODAY is that part of the creative world which perceives most clearly the extent to which all the forms and conventions of art (all the arts) have been exhausted. Avant-garde artists today are characterized not so much by what they produce as New (that would be a Renaissance) but by that quick intelligence which perceives, in despair and in disgust, what is already “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” in the artistic means still current. The word “crisis,” used so commonly in all the arts today, has its deepest reference to the condition which arises when the most advanced artists see, with agonizing clarity, the emptiness of the conventions of their art before they can conceive of what means, forms, conventions, the new must adopt. In periods like ours, the crisis is perpetual: no sooner is there a breakthrough—say one like Abstract Expressionism—than the most avant-garde

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