ABOUT POST-MODERNISM


INTRODUCTION
    We live in the post-modern era.  If modern is what is today, how can that be?  What is Post-Modernism?  When did Post-Modernism begin?  What kind of art is considered to be Post-Modern?  I will answer all of these questions below in this article.
    Post-Modernism is best understood as the rejection of Modernism.  Post-Moderism does not have a standard textbook definition or a typical set of common characteristics.  It is not in search of its own identity.  It is not a movement to answer new questions nor to replace old ideas.  We must come up with an understanding that is a combined suggestion of the Post-Modern ideas.  The term "post" means "after" and indicates the world is in a progressive movement towards the Information Age.  Since World War II, the world has been rapidly changing in the political, economic, and social systems.  These systems have been changing due to the break down of Communism in Europe which in turn created a response from the middle class peoples.  By the 1950's, the middle class switched to a capitalist view of society, and large corporations adopted this new view no only in architecture but in painting and sculpture as well.

POST-MODERN ART
    Most art, but not all, since 1980 has been considered to be Post-Modern.  The traditional art methods as far as painting and sculpture are concerned have played a subordinate part in the Post-Modernist era.  A lot of Post-Modern art beginnings have been tracked back to Conceptual art which are believed to be the first attempts at rebelling against Modernism art forms.  Although Post-Modern art beginnings are undetermined exactly and have been argued, Post-modernism sometimes is said to have started in the mid-1960's when the rise of Conceptualism occurred.  The main focus and content in these art forms has changed and there is a shift in the viewpoint (not so innocent like Conceptualism art).  During the Post-Modern era much of the sculptures were resembling architecture.  In fact, architecture is much more clear and consistent in this time period than painting and sculpture is.

PAINTING
    There are many arguments about which paintings are considered to be Post-Modern.  It is argued that most Post-Modern paintings are considered to be masked as Late Modernism.  There are no set guidelines that distinguish the difference between Post-Modern and Late-Modernism.  From Conceptualism, Pop art, and Neo-Expressionism is where Post-Modern painting.  One Post-Modernist painter, Mark Tansey, who points out the relationships among content, picture, and reality.  He uses deconstruction to construct images.  Derrida Queries de Man is one of Tansey's paintings.  Another Post-Modern painter, A.R. Penck, invents a personal vocabulary of pictographs in his work. His work has a child-like characteristic to it.  This can be seen in his painting, The Demon of Curiosity.  Although his work seems meaningless, when looked at it closer, we realize that his expressions can be decoded.

PHOTOGRAPHY
    There is a close connection between photographs and the words they convey.  Post-Modern photographers are considered to be "rephotographers" who do not take their own pictures but take them from other mediums.  Most Post-Modern photographers take images and place them to the side of text.  The problem with this type of photography is that most Post-Modern photographers look so similar, that it is hard to tell the difference between one photographer and another.  Here is an example of a Post-Modern photograph by Annette Lemiuex called Truth.

SCULPTURE
    A common theme in Post-Modern sculpture is that the intent of the sculpture is never fully known, therefor the viewers are to interpret each piece in the best to their own understanding.  Ilya Kabakov is a Russian artist was one of the first Westeners to gain international acclaim for his sculptures as Post-Modern art forms.  His most famous is Ten Characters which is a series of rooms each expressing an unusual idea.  One of the most spectacular rooms is The Man Who Flew Into Space from His Apartment which shows a suspended catapult hung from the ceiling by springs.

ARCHITECTURE
    One of the best known architectural movements of the late 1900ís is post modernism.  In the United States it began during the 1960ís.  Post-Modernist do not have common styles or theories from one another.  The only thin they have in common is their rejection of the International Style (which was the most popular architectural style until the 1950ís.  Post-Modern architects believe International Style laced variety in design due to the simple geometric shapes and lack of design.  The brutalists were the first to attack the International Style by creating plain, huge buildings with rough exteriors.  Out of these attacks is where Post-Modern architecture began.  Post-Moderism uses elements from earlier architectural styles.
    A leading Post-Modern architect, theorist, and designer is Robert Venturi.  He uses traditional styles in which he borrows from the Italian Renaissance and other periods and becomes one of the first Post-Modern architects to use ornamentation on the exterior of buildings. Venturi's most famous works include the Chestnut Hill House in Pennsylvania and the Guild House in Philadelphia.
    Another very well known Post-Modern architect is Michael Graves.  One of his most famous architectural accomplishments is the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel Resort in Disney World, Orlando, Florida.  Another famous work of Graves' is his Portland Public Services Building where he featured color and sculpture.  In this building, Graves moves away from Monotonous building forms and creates an original exterior decoration with personal style.
    Charles Moore is another American architect to react against the monotonous styles of modern architecture.  Because he lived in California, his influence from Europe was much less than of other American architects.  The interior of his Faculty Club for the University of California was designed with thin planes and screens which created a combination of modern architectural images.
    James Stirling is an English architect who incorporates a variety of shapes within more complex spatial relationships.  His works also have a decorative quality that can be seen in many of his works.

CONCLUSION
    Architecture is to be said what began Post-Modernism in all art forms.  One point to remember when talking about Post-Modernism is that there are no common characteristics to unite this particular art movement together.  The only value that unites Post-Modern art forms under one umbrella is the fact that these artists reject the International Style.  These artists crave uniqueness rather than the old form of plain, simple, and monotonous art forms of the past.


Home   About Post-Modernism   Architect Designers  Post-Modern Examples    Related Links    Annotated Bibliography


E-MAIL WITH YOUR COMMENTS!