What has our culture lost in 1980 that the avant-garde had in 1890? Ebullience, idealism, confidence, the belief that there was plenty of territory to explore, and above all the sense that art, in the most disinterested and noble way, could find the necessary metaphors by which a radically changing culture could be explained to its inhabitants.
[..] a familiar art historical narrative [..] celebrates the triumph of the expressive individual over the collective, of innovation over tradition, and autonomy over interdependence. [..] In fact, a common trope within the modernist tradition of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries involved the attempt to reconstruct or recover the lost ideal of an art that is integrated with, rather than alienated from, the social. By and large, however, the dominant model of avant-garde art during the modern period assumes that shared or collective values and systems of meaning are necessarily repressive and incapable of generating new insight or grounding creative praxis.