- the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods.
- of or relating to the experimental treatment of artistic, musical, or literary material.
- belonging to the avant-garde: an avant-garde composer.
- unorthodox or daring; radical.
Origin of avant-garde
- those artists, writers, musicians, etc, whose techniques and ideas are markedly experimental or in advance of those generally accepted
- of such artists, etc, their ideas, or techniques
- radical; daring
Word Origin and History for avantgarde
(also avant garde, avantgarde); French, literally "advance guard" (see avant + guard (n.)). Used in English 15c.-18c. in a literal, military sense; borrowed again 1910 as an artistic term for "pioneers or innovators of a particular period." Also used around the same time in communist and anarchist publications. As an adjective, by 1925.
The avant-garde générale, avant-garde stratégique, or avant-garde d'armée is a strong force (one, two, or three army corps) pushed out a day's march to the front, immediately behind the cavalry screen. Its mission is, vigorously to engage the enemy wherever he is found, and, by binding him, to ensure liberty of action in time and space for the main army. ["Sadowa," Gen. Henri Bonnal, transl. C.F. Atkinson, 1907]