Grenfell, Michael and Hardy, Cheryl
When two fields collide: Bourdieu, education and a British Artistic Avant-Garde
The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 1, (2), .
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The dimensions of time of an artistic field are at the centre of both this paper and Bourdieu’s theorising about cultural avant-gardes and their role in the ever changing ‘fashions’ of cultural production. In ‘The Rules of Art’, Bourdieu writes about the temporality of the field of artistic production; how an avant-garde comes into being; how it matures and it is ‘consecrated’ and eventually becomes the rearguard of artistic production (Bourdieu 1996: 159). His avant-gardes are not single homogeneous groups, but ‘generations’ of artists, associated with one another by both their biological ages and by the artistic age of their practice in relation to the present artistic field. Bourdieu describes how one generation is pushed into the artistic past by the following artistic generation, defining the gap between two successive modes of production as both stylistic and chronological (Bourdieu 1996:159). Bourdieu developed these ideas in the context of literary and artistic production in late nineteenth century France; in particular, for the French novelist, Flaubert. This paper uses the same theoretical perspective to investigate a particular time – 1940’s and 50’s; particular people – fifty artists associated with St Ives including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron - and a particular place – St Ives in Cornwall.
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