The evolutionary approach to aesthetics, I shall demonstrate, often dismisses the value of avant-garde and modernist art-sometimes inadver - tently, and other times consciously. Exploring some of the major evolu - tionary accounts of the origins and functions of art, I will advance an alternative to existing theories, which will frame the avant-garde as a valuable phenomenon which develops aesthetic sensitivities and skills of engagement. While scholars engaged with the avant-garde typically focus on the historical and social conditions that fostered its emergence,1 I will focus on the evolutionary-psychological conditions that may have enabled its existence.