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Avant-garde in French means front guard, advance guard, or vanguard. People often use the term to refer to people or works that are novel or experimental, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics. An enormous part of Avant-garde is the Russian avant-garde. Avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm within definitions of art/culture/reality. An avant-garde mentality believes things arise only from the leading edge of reality. The vanguard, a small troop of highly skilled soldiers, explores the terrain ahead of a large advancing army and plots a course for the army to follow. This concept is applied to the work done by small bands of intellectuals and artists as they open pathways through new cultural or political terrain for society to follow. Due to implied meanings stemming from the military terminology, some people feel the avant-garde implies elitism, especially when used to describe cultural movements. The term also refers to the promotion of social progress and reform, the aims of its various movements presented in public declarations called manifestos. Over time, avant-garde became associated with movements concerned with art for art's sake, focusing primarily on expanding the frontiers of aesthetic experience, rather than with wider social reform. The origin of the application of this French term to art can be fixed at May 17, 1863, the opening of the Salon des Refus?s in Paris, organised by painters whose work was rejected for the annual Paris Salon of officially sanctioned academic art. Salons des Refus?s were held in 1874, 1875, and 1886. By some assessments, avant-garde art includes street art, for example graffiti and any other movement which pushes forward the accepted boundaries; defining art in the future. It should be noted that avant-garde is not only a style of art, such as surrealism or cubism, rather this term is generally applied toward the present moment. For instance: Where Marcel Duchamp's urinal may have been avant-garde at the time, today if someone created it again it would not be avant-garde because it has already been done. Avant-garde is therefore temporal and relates to the process of art's unfolding in time. It can be applied to the forerunners of any new movements. However, Duchamp and his work, remain avant-garde because he pushed art forward, creating a new dialogue and definition with itself.

Russian Avant-garde

The Russian avant-garde is an umbrella term used to define the large, influential wave of modern art that flourished in Russia from approximately 1890 to 1930 - although some place its beginning as early as 1850 and its end as late as 1960. The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that occurred at the time; namely Russian Symbolism, neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism, and futurism. The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular height in the period between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1932, at which point the ideas of the avant-garde clashed with the newly emerged state-sponsored direction of Socialist Realism.

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