The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn: The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn

The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up, 1st Edition

By Karen Kurczynski


292 pages | 52 Color Illus. | 16 B/W Illus.

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A leading figure of the postwar avant-garde, Danish artist Asger Jorn has long been recognized for his founding contributions to the Cobra and Situationist International movements - yet art historical scholarship on Jorn has been sparse, particularly in English. This study corrects that imbalance, offering a synthetic account of the essential phases of this prolific artist’s career. It addresses his works in various media alongside his extensive writings and his collaborations with various artists' groups from the 1940s through the mid-1960s. Situating Jorn's work in an international, post-Second World War context, Karen Kurczynski reframes our understanding of the 1950s, away from the Abstract-Expressionist focus on individual expression, toward a more open-ended conception of art as a public engagement with contemporary culture and politics. Kurczynski engages with issues of interest to twenty-first-century artists and scholars, highlighting Jorn's proposition that the sensory address of art and its complex relationship to popular media can have a direct social impact. Perhaps most significantly, this study foregrounds Jorn's assertion that creativity is crucial to subjectivity itself in our increasingly mediated 'Society of the Spectacle.'


'… provides a detailed analysis of Jorn's theory and his negotiation of the fractured landscape of the post-war avant-garde.' The Art Newspaper

Table of Contents

Contents: Introductory reflections: Jorn’s kitsch-avant-garde; Spontaneous myths; Communal expressions; Material visions; Jubilant critiques; Authentic ironies; Conclusion: new legacies; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Karen Kurczynski is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)