In art vocabulary, it is a term meaning departure from the existing norm and being ahead of one's time. The word is tied to a French word meaning "advance guard", and is a description of a group involved in the invention and application of new ideas and techniques in an original or experimental way. Some avant-garde artworks are intended to shock those who are accustomed to traditional, established styles. Thus the term can also refer to that which is extreme or outlandish. Sources: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms"; Robert Atkins, "Art Speak"