The avant-garde (//; In French: [avɑ̃ɡaʁd] 'advance guard' or 'vanguard', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It is frequently characterized by aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability.
The avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm. The avant-garde is considered by some to be a hallmark of modernism, as distinct from postmodernism. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement, and still continue to do so, tracing their history from Dada through the Situationists and to postmodern artists such as the Language poets around 1981.[failed verification]
The avant-garde also promotes radical social reforms. It was this meaning that was evoked by the Saint Simonian Olinde Rodrigues in his essay, "L'artiste, le savant et l'industriel" ("The artist, the scientist and the industrialist", 1825). This essay contains the first use of "avant-garde" in its now customary sense; there, Rodrigues called on artists to "serve as [the people's] avant-garde", insisting that "the power of the arts is indeed the most immediate and fastest way" to social, political and economic reform.