Industrial Revolution II 1848
The art of this period is familiar, since the world of the Realists, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists is much like our own. Scientific and technological advances increased dramatically during this period and although there was dislocation and privation, standards of living increased sharply. In essence, modern mass culture was born. Artists responded sometimes by embracing these radical changes, and at other times by resisting them. Key here is understanding the authority of the various art academies in Europe, which controlled matters related to taste and art, and which were, to some extent, always connected to the government. A small number of artists rebelled against the strictures of the academy, and against the demand for art to tell clear stories for a middle class audience, and formed what we know as the avant-garde.
The avant-garde is people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.
The avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement and still continue to do so, tracing a history from Dada through the Situationists to postmodern artists such as the Language poets around 1981.