A century of art manifestos: Part two

There is a lot riding on an art manifesto, although no more so than a political alternative. In their often majestic fluency, they offer an alternative to life in the modern world, a utopia of sorts (albeit from a certain point of view), providing hope for those whose lives are ultimately damaged/limited by a certain kind of thinking.
While the movements that emerge out of manifestos come and go – in their pure form that is – the philosophy behind them does not. It lasts, it inspires and it stays true to the promises. Maybe one day the ideals will be realised.
In part two of our century of art manifestos we take you from the psychologically profound to the powerfully assertive to the objection of novelty for more ‘authentic’ art and ways of living.
Surrealist Manifesto (1924)
Founder: Andre Breton
Philosophy: Liberate the unconscious mind and let the cryptic, scandalous, provocative and awe-inspiring imagery of your dreams run free in this illogical world of scientific realism. A lobster telephone is as real and powerful as an apple on a tree.
Key quote: “I have always been astounded by the extreme disproportion in the importance and seriousness assigned to events of the waking moments and to those of sleep by the ordinary observer.”
Manifesto: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art (1938)
Founders: Leon Trotsky and Andre Breton
Philosophy: Look at logic and what it achieves – persecution, hate, destruction, parochialism, fear, misplaced idolatry, greed, hunger and so on. We reclaim the right for artists to be free of the dictums of ideology that is the antithesis of real freedom.
Key quote: “In the present period of the death agony of capitalism, democratic as well as fascist, the artist sees himself threatened with the loss of his right to live and continue working. He sees all avenues of communication choked with the debris of capitalist collapse.”
Auto-Destructive Art Manifesto (1959)
Founder: Gustav Metzger
Philosophy: To make is to destroy, metaphorically and literally. I work for myself and only me, abandoning the prestige that comes with a work, of rapturous applause and critical acclaim. It is the art that matters, process and work. And then, it can vanish.
Key quote: “Auto-destructive paintings, sculptures and constructions have a life time varying from a few moments to twenty years. When the disintegrative process is complete the work is to be removed from the site and scrapped.”
I Am For An Art … Manifesto (1961)
Founder: Claes Oldenburg
Philosophy: This life is so strange, so marvellous and quite ridiculous that even beauty can be found in the mundane objects of everyday life, because all of it is a story and more so than any species on earth, ours is a inimitable history.
Key quote: “I am for an art that tells you the time of day, or where such and such a street is. I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street. I am for the art of the washing machine. I am for the art of a government check. I am for the art of last wars raincoat.”
Stuckist Manifesto (1999)
Founders: Billy Childish and Charles Thomson
Philosophy: Conceptual art is a load of nonsense, a cultural calamity whose continuing presence is perpetuated by a small yet powerful elite coterie of nobodies. Return to the glory of figurative painting, where the purity of art lies.
Key quote: “Stuckism is the quest for authenticity. By removing the mask of cleverness and admitting where we are, the Stuckist allows him/herself uncensored expression. Painting is the medium of self-discovery.”