Late modernism

Late modernism encompasses the overall production of most recent art made between the aftermath of World War II and the early years of the 21st century. The terminology often points to similarities between late modernism and post-modernism although there are differences. The predominant term for art produced since the 1950s is Contemporary Art. Not all art labelled as contemporary art is modernist or post-modern, and the broader term encompasses both artists who continue to work in modern and late modernist traditions, as well as artists who reject modernism for post-modernism or other reasons. Arthur Danto argues explicitly in After the End of Art that contemporaneity was the broader term, and that postmodern objects represent a subsector of the contemporary movement which replaced modernity and modernism, while other notable critics: Hilton Kramer, Robert C. Morgan, Kirk Varnedoe, Jean-François Lyotard and others have argued that postmodern objects are at best relative to modernist works.

The jargon which encompasses the two terms Late Modernism and Postmodern art is used to denote what may be considered as the ultimate phase of modern art, as art at the end of modernism or as certain tendencies of contemporary art. There are those who argue against a division into modern and postmodern periods. Not all critics agree that the stage called modernism is over or even near the end. There is no agreement that all art after modernism is post-modern. Contemporary art is the more-widely used term to denote work since roughly 1960, though it has many other uses as well. Nor is post-modern art universally separated from modernism, with many critics seeing it as merely another phase in modern art or as another form of late Modernism.


Late modernism



Late modernism



Late modernism

As with all uses of the term post-modern there are critics of its application, however, at this point, these critics are in the minority. This is not to say that the phase of art denoted by post-modernism is accepted, merely that the need for a term to describe movements in art after the peak of Abstract Expressionism is well established. However although the concept of change has come to consensus, and whether it is a post-modernist change, or a late modernist period, is undetermined, the consensus is that a profound change in the perception of works of art has occurred and a new era has been emerging on the world stage since at least the 1960s.


Late modernism


While the term late modernism it generally is used here with reference to works in the visual arts produced after World War II, it can also used in reference to works of literature. But there are several different definition for late modernist literature. The most common refers to works published between 1930 and 1939, or 1945. However, there are modernists, such as Basil Bunting (1900–85) and T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), writing later than 1945, and Samuel Beckett, who died in 1989, has been described as a "later modernist". Eliot published two plays in the 1950s and Bunting's long modernist poem "Briggflatts" was published in 1965. The poets Charles Olson (1910-1970) and J. H. Prynne (1936- ) are, amongst other writing in the second half of the 20th-century, who have been described as late modernists. There is the further question as to whether late modernist literature differs in any important way from the modernist works produced before 1930. To confuse matters, more recently the term late modernism has been redefined by at least one critic and used to refer to works written after 1945, rather than 1930. With this usage goes the idea that the ideology of modernism was significantly re-shaped by the events of World War II, especially the Holocaust and the dropping of the atom bomb.


Late modernism

Differences between Late Modernism and Post Modernism

Late modernism describes movements which both arise from, and react against, trends in modernism and reject some aspect of modernism, while fully developing the conceptual potentiality of the modernist enterprise. In some descriptions post-modernism as a period in art is completed, whereas in others it is a continuing movement in Contemporary art. In art, the specific traits of modernism which are cited are generally formal purity, medium specificity, art for art's sake, the possibility of authenticity in art, the importance or even possibility of universal truth in art, and the importance of an avant-garde and originality. This last point is one of particular controversy in art, where many institutions argue that being visionary, forward looking, cutting edge and progressive are crucial to the mission of art in the present, and that postmodern therefore, represents a contradiction of the value of "art of our times".

One compact definition offered is that while post-modernism acts in rejection of modernism's grand narratives of artistic direction, and to eradicate the boundaries between high and low forms of art, to disrupt genre and its conventions with collision, collage and fragmentation. Post-modern art is seen as believing that all stances are unstable and insincere, and therefore irony, parody and humor are the only positions which cannot be overturned by critique or later events.


Late modernism

Many of these traits are present in modern movements in art, particularly the rejection of the separation between high and low forms of art. However, these traits are considered fundamental to post-modern art, as opposed to merely present in one degree or another. One of the most important points of difference, however, between post-modernism, and modernism, as movements in art, is modernism's ultimately progressive stance that new works be more "forward looking" and advanced, whereas post-modern movements generally reject the notion that there can be advancement or progress in art per se, and thus one of the projects of art must be the overturning of the "myth of the avant-garde". This relates to the negation of what post-structuralist philosophers call "metanarratives".

Rosalind Krauss was one of the important annunciators of the view that avant-gardism was over, and that the new artistic era existed in a post-liberal and post-progress normalcy. An example of this viewpoint is explained by Robert Hughes in The Shock of the New in his chapter "The Future That Was":

Where did this new academy begin? At its origins the avant-garde myth had held the artist to be a precursor; the significant work is the one that prepares the future. The cult of the precursor ended by cluttering the landscape with absurd prophetic claims. The idea of a cultural avant-garde was unimaginable before 1800. It was fostered by the rise of liberalism. Where the taste of religious or secular courts determined patronage, "subversive" innovation was not esteemed as a sign of artistic quality. Nor was the artist's autonomy, that would come with the Romantics. —Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New

As with all uses of the term postmodern there are critics of its application. Kirk Varnedoe, for instance, stated that there is no such thing as postmodernism, and that the possibilities of modernism have not yet been exhausted. These critics are currently in the minority.

Late modernism

Hilton Kramer describes postmodernism as "a creation of modernism at the end of its tether." Jean-François Lyotard, in Frederic Jameson's analysis, does not hold that there is a postmodern stage radically different from the period of high modernism; instead, postmodern discontent with this or that high modernist style is part of the experimentation of high modernism, giving birth to new modernisms.

Late modernism

Radical movements in Modern Art

Radical movements in Modernism, Modern art, and radical trends regarded as influential and potentially as precursors to late modernism and postmodernism emerged around World War I and particularly in its aftermath. With the introduction of the use of industrial artifacts in art, movements such as Cubism, Dada and Surrealism as well as techniques such as collage and artforms such as cinema and the rise of reproduction as a means of creating artworks. Both Pablo Picasso the Modernist and Marcel Duchamp the rebel created important and influential works from found objects.



 The Shock of the New: The Hundred-Year History of Modern Art--Its Rise, Its Dazzling Achievement, Its Fall Paperback – August 13, 1991

The Shock of the New: The Hundred-Year History of Modern Art--Its Rise, Its Dazzling Achievement, Its Fall by Robert Hughes//

A beautifully illustrated hundred-year history of modern art, from cubism to pop and avant-guard. More than 250 color photos.

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