This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Karl Marx "In all periods of the world a political revolution is sanctioned in men's opinions, when it repeats itself. Thus Napoleon was twice defeated, and the Bourbons twice expelled. By repetition, that which at first appeared merely a matter of chance and contingency, became a real and ratified existence." G.W.F. Hegel
I begin this brief summary of the shift from modern to postmodern culture with two quotes used by Arthur Danto in a lecture given at SVA in 1993. They have to do with repetition and authenticity. The first—a famous and frequently cited line by Marx— refers to the second—an obscure and never-quoted line from Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of History. We'll apply them later to the question of repetition and the recycling of images in postmodernism. But first, let's review the very distinction itself between modernism and postmodernism. Three Key Concepts 1. Modernism is generally used as a way of referring to an aesthetic approach dominant in European and American art and literature in the Twentieth Century. The principles of formalism and the autonomy of art are generally assumed to be key features of Modernism. 2. The "project of Modernity" can be thought of as the development of science, philosophy, and art, each according to its own inner logic. [See Habermas, "Modernity—An Incomplete Project"; cf. Greenberg, "Modernist Painting".] This links the concept of modernity to the concept of Modernism as it was articulated by Greenberg. 3. The concept of the avant-garde is that of a loosely organized oppositional force and challenge to the dominant artistic culture. The avant-garde is often thought of as part of the "inner logic of modernism"—the built-in source of contradiction or critique that moves art forward. (Note that this assumes a model of progress as part of the inner development of the arts and culture.) Postmodernism is often characterized as a critique of Modernism and the project of modernity. It is best understood as part of a cultural shift which has been felt in science, philosophy, and the arts. Modern Art
Postmodernism (revised 16 Nov 07)
World War II—Negative effects of the war are offset temporarily by the economic prosperity and postwar reconstruction which takes place during the '50s. increasing nuclear threat. e. Women’s Movement. 1 "The Deconstruction of Expression". There are no origins or fixed references. All aspects of the Enlightenment project of modernity are called into question. the a priori subject as the source of meaning. London: Blackwell. universalizing grand narratives that aspire to completeness. signifier vs. in Art in Theory:1900-1990. b. 5. there is no Archimedian point outside of some conceptual framework. d. objectivity. the importance of truth and abstract reason. 4.e. c. 2. political assassinations (JFK. inauthenticity d. a. (Cf. governed by its own inherent principles and standards. is seen as an independent. the notion of originality is linked to the romantic concept of artistic genius. 1992. All discourse is an intertextual play of signifiers on a level surface without depth and without a foundation.1. mediating system and not as the acts of a pure. reason. Robert Kennedy. b. Goodman.) 6. Late Modernism: Social turmoil. Thus. like philosophy and science. Domestic tensions: Civil Rights Movement. Postmodernism (revised 16 Nov 07) . Environmentalism. This involves a radical critique and often uncritical rejection of: a. Wittgenstein. Martin Luther King. nonmaterial consciousness with direct access to reality. the distinction between "high" and "low" or popular culture. c. The anonymity of the artist/craftsman in the Middle Ages gives way to the authenticity and authority of individual artistic expression. 2. Foucault. postmodernism rejects what he calls "the depth model" and its binary oppositions: a. authenticity. The General Critique of Modernism and the Project of Modernity 1. manifest content. Barthes. authenticity vs. Cold War—Tension between the Soviet Union and the United States under the strain of a nuclear buildup offsets the psychological effects of the postWar economic prosperity. 3.). According to Frederic Jameson1. latent vs. Autonomy: Art. f. essence vs. appearance. "there is no outside-the-text" [Derrida]. and the breakdown of religious belief leads to a kind of nihilism and anxiety about the future. Heidegger. Viet Nam. signified. b. autonomous realm of human expression and individual freedom. the teleological approach to history. and observation come to be seen as dependent on language as a structural. Kant. the technologizing of the workforce under multinational capitalism. and authority. Thought.1078. model or form of representation. Malcolm X). c. Originality and Genius: In art. Rorty. i. Harrison and Wood (ed. Kuhn.
"Postmodernism and Consumer Society". that of the sentence. 4 5 Ibid. it is the very persistence of language over time that makes it possible for us to have an experience of time and.e. pastiche. signifier and signified. Culture is seen by others (e. autonomous subject is looked upon as ideological." That’s because the experience of temporality itself depends on language.functioning entirely within the realm of simulation". op. what is it that an artist does? e. Port Townsend. cit. The postmodern condition is also characterized by Jameson as a kind of “schizophrenia” or postmodern temporality. 1049-50] Postmodernism (revised 16 Nov 07) . This adds an historical component to the problem. d. meaning (the signified) emerges from the signifier/signifier relations. With the death of the Subject comes the notion that the Past is now "unreachable". Jean Baudrillard) as an endless play of imitation (simulation) which signals the end of authenticity and reality and the emergence of "hyperreality". the referent (object) drops out of the structuralist analysis and we are left with the sign and its two remaining aspects. hence. This signals the "death of the subject". Thus. is an effect of language. This presents us with a problem: If there are no individual. i. i. in The Antiaesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. creative subjects. the language function is impaired and doesn’t allow for this sense of temporal duration and continuity. d. Modernism valorizes personal style. In the schizophrenic. This places the signifier in the context of other signifiers. This presupposes a unique individuality—a private identity or self (subject)— that generates his or her own style according to a personal vision. in Harrison and Wood. Thus.. i.g.).e. the end of Individualism. Jean Baudrillard characterizes hyper-reality as" the meticulous reduplication of the real.. viz. c.This critique of Modernity often takes the form of a challenge to the norms and values of western culture as a whole. The sense of personal identity.e. This individualism is put into question in High (or “Late”) Modernism. Hal Foster (ed. of a continuous personal identity. ["The Hyper-realism of Simulation".. In fact. a self that endures through time. There is no unmediated (direct) access to reality.7. 2 3 Ibid. The alienation of the subject is replaced by a sense of "free-floating and impersonal" fragmentation 2. b. 1983. WA: Bay Press. Meaning (signification) is not a one-to-one relation between a word and its related concept. f. Meaning emerges from a larger relationship. What is left to the postmodern artist is the possibility of imitation—the recycling of images and forms. b.5 10. The concept of the individual.e. c.4 9.3 8. Jameson explains this in the following way: a. a. This comes out of a Lacanian (structuralist) analysis of language and its role in the experience of time. "Schizophrenia is the breakdown of the relationship between signifiers. i. and nothing new is possible.
op. the only recourse is to take pleasure in this newly discovered freedom. Postmodernism (revised 16 Nov 07) . Quigley 6 7 Hal Foster. there can be no interpretation. Pop Art works by the opposite means to the same result. Interventionist (The artist becomes a manipulator of signs more than a producer of art objects. ends by being uninterpretable. The viewer becomes "an active reader of messages rather than a passive contemplator of the aesthetic". using a content so blatant. so "what it is. or a New Beginning Danto: Art After the End of Art "Objective Pluralism" ("no historically mandated directions for art to go in") everything is possible—anything can be a work of art Sontag: The Erotics of Interpretation “The flight from interpretation seems particularly a feature of modern painting.. too. Celebratory (This can be characterized as "nihilism without anxiety". in the ordinary sense. Ibid.” T.Two Aspects of Postmodern Practices in the Arts 1. Epilogue. R.) 2. Since there is no underlying purpose or meaning in life. no content. cit.6 Art functions as "a social sign entangled with other signs in systems productive of value. since there is no content." it. Abstract painting is the attempt to have. "Subversive Signs". 1066. in Harrison and Wood. or by what Jameson calls a "new superficiality".7 Repetition. power and prestige".
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.