1st Edition

The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up

By Karen Kurczynski Copyright 2012
    292 Pages 52 Color & 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

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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.'

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


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

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