‘Demolish the museums!’ To what extent does the avant-garde constitute a genuine break with cultural tradition?

In the seminar, we have explored counter-cultural movements and their relationship to institutions. We began with an analysis of Futurism, the early twentieth-century movement that proclaimed its intention to ‘Demolish the museums!’ (in its Italian variant). We explored the manifestoes, poetry, and visual art of Italian Futurism, focusing in particular on their relationship to cultural institutions.Did their movement truly achieve the radical break that they proposed with the past?How did their definition of culture differ from what had gone before?What kind of institutions of their own did they set up and how did these differ from what they saw as the establishment?Why did Futurism prove ultimately so short-lived in Italy?To what extent did Futurism become co-opted into the dominant culture, stripped of its radical roots and fetishized?Close but troubled relationships between Futurism & FascismDoes Futurism still hold any power as a countercultural movement today?Readings:’Futurism’ on the Routledge Encyclopedia of ModernismPeter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-GardeManifestos from Italian FuturismLawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, and Laura Wittman, eds., Futurism: An Anthology (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009)

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