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What is Post-Modernism?

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2010-04-28 04:48:08

Postmodernism is a term applied to a wide-ranging set of

developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art,

literature, and culture, which are generally characterized as

either emerging from, in reaction to, or superseding,


An attitude or trend of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, in which

artists and architects accept all that modernism rejects and the

many stylistic reactions to, and developments from, modernism.

Postmodernism may appear as the ultimate phase of modernism; it

expresses what may happen in art after the modernist project

appears to have ended. It is characterised by an ability to use a

vocabulary of media, genres or styles as parts of an extended

visual language that goes beyond the boundaries of what is usually

thought of as the modernist project. Postmodernism is, by its very

nature, impossible to define clearly. Some of the best expositions

appear in the theoretical writings of Jean Baudrillard, who

concludes that what motivates art historical change is not any

'authentic' or 'original' impulse, but simply fashion, pivoting on

the desire for novelty, which he sees as an organic and integrated


Postmodern style is often characterized by eclecticism,

digression, collage, pastiche, and irony. Postmodern theorists see

postmodern art as a conflation or reversal of well-established

modernist systems, such as the roles of artist versus audience,

seriousness versus play, or high culture versus kitsch. Post-Modern

is characterized by an acceptance of all periods and styles,

including modernism, and a willingness to combine elements of all

styles and periods. Although modernism makes distinctions

between high art and popular taste, Post-Modernism makes no such

value judgments.

Modernism was a series of cultural movements during a period

between 1884-1914. These movements had a big effect on life as know

it and the phrase modern is still used today with regards to being

"up to date". This goes to show you how popular these movements

were and still are in arts and science.

Post-Modernism is simply the schools of thought developed

after this period, up to this very day. Most post-modern thought is

regarded to be derivative, reacting to or superseding modern


The term was coined in 1949 to describe a dissatisfaction with

modern architecture, leading to the postmodern architecture


Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Yves Klein

As a term Postmodernism is difficult to define as it covers a

wide range of disciplines and general areas of thought. These

include art, architecture, literature and technology. There are

however a number of central characteristics that help us to

understand the foundations of the postmodern.

Firstly, like modernism, postmodernism rejects all boundaries.

This rejection also includes the boundaries between different forms

and genres of art. The art development of bricolage and pastiche

are examples of this.

Secondly, there is a concentration on fragmentation and

discontinuity as well as ambiguity. The postmodern focuses on a

de-structured, de-centered humanity. What this really means is that

the idea of disorder and fragmentation, which were previously seen

as negative qualities, are seen as an acceptable representation of

reality by postmodernists. Modernism considered the fragmented

view of human life as bad or tragic, while postmodernists rather

celebrate this seemingly meaningless view of the world. It is

an acceptance of the chaos that encourages a play with meaning.

Postmodernism also accepts the possibility of ambiguity. Things and

events can have two different meanings at the same time. A more

rigid rational and logocentric or linear approach tries to avoid or

reduce ambiguity as much as possible. Postmodern thought sees

simultaneous views not as contradictory but as an integral part of

the complex patterning of reality.

Post-Modernism is the art movement that followed Modernism in

the later portion of the 20th Century. Post-Modernists generally

criticize Modernism in favor of complexity and eclecticism in

architecture and art.

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