Art Movements Post Moderism

Unlike many other art movements, Post-modernist Art is a much more nebulous category and label than those that characterize other historical phases of art. As both a reaction against and a natural product emanating from Modern Art, Post-modernism is likely best defined by its “abandonment of political advocacy,” Where Modernism seeks to present the avant-garde and relies on the power of paradox, Post-modernism rejects the idea of progress in art, which is so essential to Modernism.

Lending to the confusion about Modernism and Post-modernism is that most art since the 1950s (the Post-modernist era) is referred to as Contemporary Art. However, as might be expected, not all Contemporary Art is Post-modernist. It’s perhaps easiest to think of Post-modernism as a subset of the overarching Contemporary Art.

When Did Post-modernism Begin and End?
There is no consensus as to the birth of Post-modernism, with some arguing that it may have begun as early as 1914 in Europe. Generally, however, the movement is considered to have begun in the 1960s and ended in the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, it was considered to have become outdated, as the surge of globalism and new media took hold, changing art once again.

Philosophy of Post-modernism
Perhaps one of the most important components of the Post-modernism movement is its rejection of Modernism. Post-modernism philosophy recognized the failure of Modernism; that is, it is considered to be post-progress and post-liberal. This idea was probably most clearly presented by Art Critic and Columbia Professor Rosalind Krauss, who noted the “end of the avant-garde” in her writings on art.

Post-modernism also blurred the lines between high and low art, incorporating artistic styles from other periods (such as Gothic or Baroque) for its own use, while providing no reference or context for their original meaning.

Constructive vs. Deconstructive Post-modernism
As if all this isn’t confusing enough, there are two basic approaches to Post-modernism: constructive and deconstructive. As these terms might suggest, Constructive Post-modernism is a more upbeat approach to art, with a seeking to return to the “truths and values…of pre-modern thought.” Deconstructivist Post-modernism is more negative and perhaps more anti-modern, rejecting the ideas of God, truth, self, purpose, etc. In fact, Post-modernism is generally characterized as rejecting art that takes a stance, noting the fallibility of such an approach.

Examples of Post-modernism
If Post-modernist art rejects so many elements of Modernism, just what type of art falls under this category? Among the styles of art embraced as Post-modernist are Performance Art, Conceptual Art, Installation Art, Multimedia, Appropriation Art, and Neo-expressionism, among others. Low brow art (often called Pop Surrealism) is also part of this art movement.

While these types of artwork vary in their genre, they often embrace a reduction and putting back together of elements to form a new whole. As a precursor, collage is an apt description for many of these art forms. Many also embrace a public, and thus ephemeral, face. Public works by artists such as Christo (“Running Fence“ and “The Gates“) or Jenny Holzer’s electric signs (“Protect Me from What I Want,” “Truisms,” and “Inflammatory Essays“) are rich examples of Post-modern art. So too is punk art and underground comics.

In the end, Post-modernism may encompass a wide range of styles and genres of art, but all rejecting of an agenda of idealism. Instead, these artists seek to avoid absolutes or the messages of political advocacy so dominant in Modernism. Post-modernism offers instead art characterized by personal stories and insight in a rich new way of looking at the world.