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The Political Aesthetics of the Armenian Avant-Garde The Journey of the 'Painterly Real', 1987-2004 by Angela Harutyunyan

The Political Aesthetics of the Armenian Avant-Garde The Journey of the 'Painterly Real', 1987-2004

Part of the Rethinking Art's Histories Series

RRP £75.00


The Political Aesthetics of the Armenian Avant-Garde The Journey of the 'Painterly Real', 1987-2004 by Angela Harutyunyan

This book addresses late-Soviet and post-Soviet art in Armenia in the context of turbulent transformations from the late 1980s to 2004. It explores the emergence of 'contemporary art' in Armenia from within and in opposition to the practices, aesthetics and institutions of Socialist Realism and National Modernism. This historical study outlines the politics (liberal democracy), aesthetics (autonomous art secured by the gesture of the individual artist), and ethics (ideals of absolute freedom and radical individualism) of contemporary art in Armenia and points towards its limitations. Through the historical investigation, a theory of post-Soviet art historiography is developed, one that is based on a dialectic of rupture and continuity in relation to the Soviet past. As the first English-language study on contemporary art in Armenia, the book is of prime interest for artists, scholars, curators and critics interested in post-Soviet art and culture and in global art historiography.


'Angela Harutyunyan's book is unprecedented in providing a historical mapping of the complex dynamics of the emergence and development of contemporary art practices in late-Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia. The constitutive tensions between aesthetic concerns and political imperatives are here revealed through the concept of the painterly real . The author employs the concept, a fundamentally poetic construct, for historically situating the artistic avant-gardes and their claims for autonomy within the turbulent transformations of everyday life marked by the paradigmatic process of the disintegration of the Soviet and its aftermath.'
Vardan Azatyan, Associate Professor of Art History at the Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts, Armenia

'Angela Harutyunyan's book is foundational to understanding contemporary, post-Cold War art, and specifically, the contemporary art world in Armenia. In an extremely precise manner the author explains the transitions of contemporary Armenian art. In an analytical way she presents an archaeology of concepts and practices that traces the continuities and breaks within and between the cultural logic of the late Soviet and post-Soviet, East and West, local and global art worlds. She has introduced, reinterpreted and re-read concepts characteristic of late Soviet and post Soviet art in Armenia such as contemporary, the avant-garde, the painterly real , pure creation , art and the politics of crisis.'
Misko Suvakovic, Professor of Theory of Art and Media in the Faculty of Media and Communications at Singidunum University, Belgrade

'If you look for a reliable native informant who will enhance your knowledge on the art of the post-communist East and so help you make the history of contemporary art more inclusive, don't read this book. If, on the contrary, you expect to find between its covers yet another challenge to the grand narrative of the Western art history, one that struggles for recognition by insisting on its otherness, then this book is not for you either. Angela Harutyunyan writes for those who still follow Fredric Jameson's old advice: Always historicize! For that's exactly what she did herself-brought art and history together in an experience of transformative praxis that might be shared anywhere on Earth.'
Boris Buden

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About the Author

Angela Harutyunyan is Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Theory at the American University of Beirut

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Book Info

Publication date

15th February 2017


Angela Harutyunyan

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Manchester University Press


320 pages


Art & design styles: from c 1960
Political science & theory



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