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A term, translated from the Italian transavanguardia (beyond the avant-garde), originated by Achille Bonito Oliva in Flash Art (October–November 1979) and originally associated with Italian Neo-Expressionist painters such as Clemente and Chia. It was later extended by the critic to include American artists such as Julian Schnabel and Jeff Koons, representative of respectively ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ versions, to become a virtual synonym for Postmodernism. Considerable controversy still surrounds the term. It has been argued that the tendency represents a depoliticization of the aspirations of Arte Povera and as such stood for a general turn to conservatism in Italian society. Now that some of the polemics have died down and the issue of painting as opposed to new media is no longer such a burning one, a great deal of continuity can be noted between the two tendencies. Chia and Clemente had both worked as Conceptualists and for all its links with Neo-Expressionism the return to painting in Italy was much concerned with the revival of the classical past which had also been a preoccupation of Arte Povera artists such as Pistoletto and Kounellis.

Subjects: Art.

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