European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies – (EAM)

The European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) devotes itself to the study of the avant-garde and modernism in Europe within a global setting, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The network promotes interdisciplinary and intermedial research on experimental aesthetics and poetics, and aims to encourage an interest in the cultural dimensions and contexts of the avant-garde and modernism. EAM aspires to embrace the wide variety within avant-garde and modernism studies, and welcomes all scholars engaged in these areas of research to participate in its bi-annual conferences and to contribute to its open-source bibliography.

All EAM initiatives, including its book series European Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies, are trilingual (English, French and German).


Die historischen Avantgarden definieren sich selbst und werden von uns wesentlich über ihre Bezüge zu diversen Formen von Realismus definiert:
(1) Sie setzen sich zumeist vehement von Realismen des 19. Jahrhunderts ab.
(2) Sie behaupten dabei aber oftmals, einen wahren Realismus (oder Sur-Realismus) zu praktizieren, weil sie der Primärwirklichkeit durch ihre Verfahren näher kämen als traditionelle Künste.
(3) Sie werden dann ihrerseits von Bewegungen wie der Neuen Sachlichkeit, dem Magischen Realismus, Spielarten politischer oder auch populärer, marktkonformer Kunst abgelöst, die ebenfalls behaupten, wieder ‚realistischer‘ zu werden und sich der Wirklichkeit zuzuwenden.
(4) Noch die Neo-Avantgarden und andere Strömungen von der 2. Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis heute müssen sich immer wieder im Verhältnis zu Formen von Realismus verorten (z.B. bezeichnet Mario Amaya Pop als „the New Super Realism“).
Die Tagung fragt nach den unterschiedlichen Formen von ‚Realismus‘, die durch die Avantgarden (und gegen sie) entworfen werden, und damit nach Formen des Wirklichkeitsentwurfes und -bezuges von Kunst, Programmatik und Medien. ‚Realismus‘ kann sich dabei auf Verfahren (prijom) ebenso beziehen wie auf Diskurse, auf die Repräsentation von Wissen (etwa der Naturwissenschaften oder der Esoterik), auf politische Ideologien oder Anwendungen in der Praxis.
Als Keynote Speaker haben zugesagt: Timothy .J. Clark (Berkeley/London), Helmut Lethen (Wien/Linz).
Willkommen sind Beiträge aus allen Bereichen der Avantgarde- und Moderne-Forschung zu Kunst, Literatur, Musik, Theater, Architektur, Film, Medien, künstlerischen, sozialen, politischen, philosophischen und esoterischen Bewegungen, Lifestyle, Mode, Design und Technologie.

Aus dem ViennAvant-Netzwerk haben eingereicht:

Helmut Neundlinger:
“Revolutionäre (Anti-)Realisten. Zur Sprengung der Romanform als Protestarbeit an der Wirklichkeit bei Bernward Vesper und Oswald Wiener”

Ingrid Fürhapter und Markus Ender:
„Vom Wissen um die „wahre Wirklichkeit“ und die „geistigen Realitäten“. Wirklichkeitsentwürfe und Realismuskonzepte im Umfeld von Bruno Adlers Utopia. Dokumente der Wirklichkeit und Ludwig von Fickers Zeitschrift Der Brenner“


5. EAM-Konferenz 1.-3. Juni 2016 – Universität Rennes

The next EAM conference will be held in 1–3 June 2016 at the Centre d’Études des Littératures et Langues Anciennes et Modernes (CELLAM) in Rennes, France, and will deal with the theme of Quest/Investigation.


The fifth EAM congress invites scholars to consider the coupling of the notions of quest and investigation in works of art or movements of the avant-garde or neo-avant-garde, or of the various forms of modernism, even though modernism and the avant-garde seem often to have been constructed in opposition to the spiritual or scientific heritage suggested by these two terms.

The notion of quest suggests a metaphysical beyond informed by mysticism, implying the absence of an end or of a conclusion, whereas the notion of investigation implies a totally rational conception of reality and a process likely to bring a definite result and reach a conclusion. Coupling the two notions, quest/investigation, is therefore an invitation to overcome an initial paradox: the endlessness of the quest as opposed to the fixed scope of the investigation. The co-articulation of the two notions may shed some light on marginal or neglected works. It may also question the dialectical relationship between modern and anti-modern, between avant-garde and rear-guard, between insistent innovations and archaisms, acknowledged or disguised.

Whether dialectical or dynamic, the approach we suggest applies to all the fields or domains of research in the Arts, literature, aesthetics, cinema, photography, drama, T.V. or digital media, architecture, music, design.

Again a team of the Avant-garde research network ViennAvant will present its research at the conference.

Anna Spohn, Katharina Jesberger and Stefanie Kitzberger have chosen the subject area “Laboratory Constructivism, early Video Community and Allan Kaprow” for their panel as follows:

Laboratory. Model. Experiment. Scientification and its Dialectical Matrix in the Avant-garde Arts

Summary of the Panel

The panel will consist of three lectures

Stefanie Kitzberger (Department of Art History, University of Applied Arts Vienna / IFK – International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna): “Constructivist Models”

Katharina Jesberger (Department of Art History, University of Applied Arts Vienna): “The universe as laboratory. Research and techno-mythic belief in the video collectives around Radical Software”

Anna Spohn (Department of Art Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna): “Becoming fluid? Allan Kaprow´s ‘experimental art’ between fixed scopes and open processes”

Translations of scientific concepts into art frequently manifest in the 20th century’s avant-garde art. Associated to both an open-ended innovation process and the idea of providing a scientific basis for a socio-political agenda, they reflect the dialectics of autonomy not only by escaping from conventional art vocabulary, but also by claiming a counter-aesthetic position.

This panel examines the consequences of such translations for the rhetorics and methods of artistic practices, for the medial or material status of their outcome: The objects and drawings of Laboratory Constructivism in Early Soviet Russia act as ‘models’ for art being transferred into the realm of industrial production. For the Video Communities around Radical Software art – a laboratory for social change – fuses with the technologized universe that has to be researched through the video and for Allan Kaprow the term ‘experiment’ is a mean to get rid of all predeterminations by the frameworks of art.


Fourth International Conference of EAM – 29.-31.8.2014 – University of Helsinki, Finland

Modernism and Avant-gardism are artistic languages of rupture. Both were directed against traditional ways of conceiving art, often assuming an antagonistic position in relationship to existing cultural and social institutions and relationships.

This conference explores the utopian alternatives which Modernist and avant-garde artists offered to existing society. This was not always simply a question of taking an outside position: for example, the Russian avant-garde was co-opted by the early Soviet state in an uneasy – and temporary – alliance to give birth to the New Man.

The 2014 EAM conference in Helsinki commemorates the centenary of the break-out of the First World War by taking as its starting point the many utopian dreams within European literature and arts as well as their collapse in the face of the horrors of war. The effects of the War lasted throughout the century, and the conference will also explore the utopian dimensions of the neo-avant-garde, be it that of the West which dreamed alternatives to conformism and consumer society, or of the East which sheltered alternatives to socialist dystopia.

Three teams of ViennAvant network have presented their Research at EAM 2014:

Irene Suchy (musicology), Helmut Neundlinger (literature), Harald Krejci (art history) and Rudolf Kohoutek (architecture) presented the Panel “Schmäh. Humour as a constitutive element of Viennese post-war avant-gardes”


“Viennese Post War Avant-garde movements are still disregarded in respect of their interdisciplinary relationships and their international context. While Vienna was destroyed by war, dominated by hunger, and its cultural institutions were still bestridden by exponents of the former Nazi regime, new forms of artistic expression were brought into being by the concept of utopia. These Avant-gardists were driven by a radical break with the past. Despite formal differences between individual positions, it is possible to identify common aesthetic strategies: a propensity towards ritual as well as humour – an aspect often overlooked:”

“As a constitutive component of the Viennese Post-War Avant-garde movements, the panel analyzes a special humour in sense of fictionalizing reality. Our research departs from Gertrud Koch’s theses, cultural scientist, who works on a proleptic concept of humour, elaborated from Nietzsche, Husserl and Peter L. Berger. With humour as such strategy of perspectival decentering, these avant-gardists produced a utopian world in contrast to their political and social reality, which they refused.”

“The proposal aims at developing a scientific approach that draws on works by Otto M. Zykan and Kurt Schwertsik in music, Ernst Jandl and Gerhard Rühm in literature, Friedensreich Hundertwasser in fine arts, Zünd up and Missing Link in architecture.”

The lectures of this panel were published in the publication “Schmäh als ästhetische Strategie der Wiener Avantgarden”. See “Publications”

Gabriele Jutz, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and her collegues Nina Jukic and Christina Pia Hofer presented the Panel “The Utopian Potential of the Obsolete”.

“Today, obsolescence is a relevant topic not only in artistic practices, but also in popular culture. This panel addresses the question why there is this interest today and how the obsolete can serve critical, even utopian purposes. Nina Jukic analyzes how the current resurrection of analogue photography in popular culture reflects utopian desires to resist the digital abundance of the modern world, yet relies on capitalism itself. Kristina Pia Hofer will focus on the example of Herschel Gordon Lewis’ exploitation-feminist utopia She-Devils on Wheels (1968), whose appeal to later queer/feminist engagement has roots in the insistent presence of obsolete technology. Gabriele Jutz will deal with the historical avant-gardes, showing that their attitude to the new technologies of (audio)visual reproduction was retrograde, but necessarily so, given their radical utopian aspirations.”

In a open panel Ingrid Fürhapter und Markus Ender, Research Institute Brenner-Archive of University Innsbruck gave a common lecture:
„Immer eines Kommenden trächtig?“ Utopische und apokalyptische Visionen in der Zeitschrift „Der Brenner“ (1910 – 1954)

Material Meanings

Third EAM Conference, 7. -9. September 2012, University of Kent, UK

David Ayers, Professor for Modernism and Critical Theory, University of Kent ist preparing this third biennal conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM).

Conference Topic: ‘Material Meanings’

This conference investigates the avant-garde’s reconfiguration of matter and materials in the quest to generate new meanings and effects.

Its particular focus will be the manner in which different artistic disciplines adopt strategies, theories and techniques from each other, and how they translate, transform and integrate conceptions and modes of expression from other sign systems.

Contribution to all aspects of avant-garde activity were presented: arts, literature, music, architecture, film, artistic and social movements, lifestyle, TV, fashion, drama and performance, activism, design as well as technology.

a ViennAvant-panel „Concrete Signs & Traces of Matter: Challenging the Material Limits of Media in Post-war Avant-gardes” presented the following lectures
Thomas Eder, “Concrete Poetry and Matter: Exemplification and weak synaesthesia.”
Gabriele Jutz (chair) “Trace, Gesture, Relic: Echoes of the Index in Experimental Cinematic Practices.”
– Wolfgang Müller-Funk “Quad, square and the salient point. Semiosis in the oeuvre of Friedrich Achleitner.”

Thomas Eder reported great interest in Austrian Post-war Avant-gardes especially in the british Research community. Translation of key works are planned.

High & Low

Second EAM Conference, 9. – 11. September 2010 – Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań / Polen

The second EAM conference aims to revise the relation between
high and low culture in the European avant-garde and modernism.
Although we welcome all scrutinising this relationship, we are
particularly interested in innovative research on the following

1. Popular culture’s influence of the textual and artistic production
of avant-garde and modernism has been up for debate for quite
a while. What forms and themes in popular culture inspired the
poetic and aesthetic agenda of modernism and the avant-garde?
Which representational tactics from popular culture informing the
avant-garde and modernism still require attention today? What
intermedial aspects still warrant scrutiny in this context? How
were the avant-garde and modernism received in the popular press
and other popular media? And what is the role of kitsch in this

2. To what extent were modernist and avant-garde poetics and
aesthetics determined by consumer culture? Which aspects of
avant-garde and modernist practice affirmed expectations and
laws governing the market? How did individual writers and
groups, theoreticians and art practitioners resist commodity
culture? Are there notable shifts in avant-garde writers’ and
artists’ attitude toward capitalism from the post-war era onward,
and how do these relate to shifts within capitalism itself? What
do avant-gardes and modernisms from European regions in which
capitalism developed somewhat slower teach us in this context?
The tension between the avant-garde/modernism and capitalism
was extremely varied across Europe given economic, social and
political differences. Do these differences allow for alternate
histories of the European avant-garde and modernism, marking
not just and East/West divide bus bringing into scope the specifity
of the so-called Eastern bloc as well?

3. To what extent have the avant-garde and modernism
themselves become part and parcel of popular and consumer
culture? In what ways do avant-garde and modernist practice
and aestetics define the outlook of popular culture today? What
processes and institutions led (and lead) to the incorporation of
the avant-garde and modernism in the canon, mainstream culture
and the international art market? How do more recent avantgardes
attempt to resist such incorporation and maintain part of
modernism’s and the avant-garde’s legacy?

Gabriele Jutz of viennAvant attended this second EAM-conference again, this time in the course of a tree hour’s session “Avant-garde-Literature and –Film in central-european context”.

Subject of the talk of Gabriele Jutz was “Applications of László Moholy-Nagy’s Production-Reproduction in Film und Media Art”


First EAM Conference 29–31 May 2008 – University of Ghent, Belgium

At the initiative of the Nordic Network of Avant-Garde Studies, the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) was founded and has organized its first conference entitled “Europa! Europa?” in Ghent at the end of May 2008. For this purpose a call was announced for multidisciplinary panels, consisting of representatives of three different disciplines plus one moderator.

A ViennAvant team consisting of Thomas Eder (Literature), Gabriele Jutz (Film Studies) and Bernhard Steger and Rudi Kohoutek (Architecture) submitted the project “Die Verbesserung von Mitteleuropa aus dem Fundus lokaler Traditionen. Nachkriegsavantgarden in Wien 1945–1970” [Utilizing the pool of local traditions for the rehabilitation of Central Europe. Post-war avant-gardes in Vienna 1945–1970], which was selected for the conference in the face of a strong competition.

Foto © Gunther Martens

The project entailed the presentation of the following papers:
Thomas Eder (University of Vienna): “grauen, namloses grauen”. Pragmatische Umwertung des Vorhandenen in den Arbeiten der Wiener Gruppe [“horror. nameless horror”. A pragmatic revaluation of the given in the works of the Wiener Gruppe.] – Gabriele Jutz (University of Applied Arts Vienna): Die Politik des Dialekts in der österreichischen Filmavantgarde [The politics of dialect in Austria’s film avant-garde].
Rudolf Kohoutek / Bernhard Steger (Vienna University of Technology): Wiener Architektur 1955–1970: Avantgarde wider Willen, aber erst recht [Viennese Architecture 1955–1970. A reluctant, but nonetheless determined avant-garde].
– Wolfgang Müller-Funk was the panel moderator.

The presentation of the group met with great interest.