The Genealogy-Complex. History Beyond the Avant-Garde Myth of Originality

Sascha Bru


This essay argues against Rosalind Krauss’ assertion that the classic avant-gardes’ selfacclaimed originality was an ahistorical myth. Constructing at times anachronistic genealogies tying past movements and individual artists to the present, the avant-gardes, perhaps paradoxically, were one of the first in modern art and literature to historicize their own originality. By way of a survey of a number of such genealogies stemming from futurism, Dadaism, surrealism and constructivism, this essay unearths the presentist nature of the avant-gardes and suggests that the many modes of representing history developed by the avant-gardes should be further scrutinized for their historiographical potential.

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