In the first half of the 20th century, every time somebody wanted to start a new artistic movement, they would issue a “manifesto.” It was meant to be a bold challenge to the art world, to shake things up, to announce a new creative force on the scene. In other words, self-promotion. The best-known example of this was Marinetti’s 1909 Futurist Manifesto. The Futurist movement itself never amounted to much; the only thing it’s still remembered for is its Manifesto. All promise and no delivery.
Following the Futurists, the Dadaists, Surrealists, Situationists, and I don’t know what all else issued lots of “manifestos” announcing the effect they planned to have on art. Well, Dada and Surrealism actually did have lasting effects on art, but I bet for some of these movements, issuing manifestos was the art form itself. You don’t see much of this any more.
The only example from more recent years I can think of was Roxy Music’s 1979 song “Manifesto” from the album of the same name (I am for a life 'round the corner that takes you by surprise…). But in the late '70s a lot of avant-rock artists like Roxy Music, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Talking Heads were deliberately revisiting the Dada experiments of the Café Voltaire. The Roxy song “Manifesto” may have been a self-conscious return to that form inspired by their interest in early 20th-century avant garde art movements.
Whatever happened to the art world that you never hear manifestos any more? Did artists get tired of the game of always saying what you were going to do, and just get busy actually doing it?