The Derriere Garde

In 1998, this Utne Reader article speculated on what the art world would look like in 2020.

| February 1998

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 
by Pablo Picasso. Photo via WikipediaCropped.

Pages From the Past: In 1998, this Utne Reader article weighed in on the art world’s struggle between avant-garde and classical influences and imagined how it might look once the dust had settled in 2020.

In an art world long dominated by postmodern theory, a classical revival that threatens to the bury the avante-garde is gaining momentum. This “regime shift,” as writer Tom Wolfe calls the current trend toward classicism, promises to add fuel to the highly charged battle over culture and the arts.

“Suddenly, the rules are changed,” Wolfe tells Reason (July 1997). “And when that happens, suddenly a lot of assets are lost, chaos results.”

At the forefront of the “natural classicism” movement is the Derriere Guard, a group of painters, poets, and composers based in New York City. The group’s founder, composer Stefania de Kenessey, argues that the avant-garde is no longer revolutionary, and is now the ruling orthodoxy. “A new generation of artists are actively reengaging,” she says. “They neither regress to the distant past nor yearn for a now-vanished world; instead, they strike out in an altogether different direction.”

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