Modernism

Modernism; the rejection of the “traditional” forms of art,  literature, architecture and daily life. Seeing them as outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an industrialized world.

“The modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term “avant-garde”, with which the movement was labeled until the word “modernism” prevailed, was used for the arts (rather than in its original military and political context) Surrealism gained fame among the public as being the most extreme form of modernism, or “the avant-garde of modernism” (Wikipedia)

Modernism is seen by some as an overall “socially progressive trend of thought” that supports the power of a human beings ability to create, improve and reshape their environment with the help of scientific knowledge or technology. From this perspective Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence. All with the goal of finding what’s been holding us back and replacing it with new ways of reaching the same end result or function. By others, Modernism is seen as an aesthetic observation.

In the 1880s a new way of thinking lead people to believe that it was necessary to completely remove the previous normality’s entirely, instead of just looking back on past knowledge and upgrading it using current techniques.

The growing movement in art paralleled such developments as Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (1905) in physics; the increasing integration of theinternal combustion engine and industrialization; and the increased role of the social sciences in public policy. It was argued that, if the nature of reality itself was in question, and if restrictions which had been in place around human activity were falling, then art, too, would have to radically change. (Wikipedia)

This wave of the modern movement broke away with the past in the first decade of the 20th century, and tried to redefine various art forms in a radical manner.

On the eve of the First World War a growing tension and unease with the social order also manifested itself in artistic works in every medium which radically simplified or rejected previous practice. Young painters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matissewere causing a shock with their rejection of traditional perspective as the means of structuring paintings—a step that none of the impressionists, not even Cézanne, had taken. In 1907, as Picasso was painting Demoiselles d’Avignon, Oskar Kokoschka was writing Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, Hope of Women), the first Expressionist play (produced with scandal in 1909), and Arnold Schoenberg was composing his String Quartet No.2 in F-sharp minor, his first composition “without a tonal center.” In 1911, Kandinsky painted Bild mit Kreis (Picture With a Circle) which he later called the first abstract painting. In 1913—the year of Edmund Husserl’s Ideas,Niels Bohr’s quantized atom, Ezra Pound’s founding of imagism, the Armory Show in New York, and, in Saint Petersburg, the “first futurist opera,” Victory Over the Sun—another Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, working in Paris for Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, composed The Rite of Spring for a ballet, choreographed byVaslav Nijinsky, that depicted human sacrifice. (Wikipedia)

These developments began to give a new meaning to what we called modernism: It approved disruption,either rejecting or moving beyond simple realism. It embraced discontinuity, rejecting smooth change in everything from biology to character development and film making.

By 1930, Modernism had entered popular culture. With the increasing urbanization of populations, it was beginning to be looked to as the source for ideas to deal with the challenges of the day.

As modernism gained power from students, it was developing a self-conscious theory of its own. Popular culture, which didn’t come from high culture but instead reality, and particularly mass production. Modern ideas in art appeared in advertisements and logos. The London Underground logo, designed by Edward Johnston, being an early example of the need for clear, easily recognizable and memorable visual symbols.

By the early 1980s the postmodern movement in art and architecture began to establish its position through various conceptual and intermedia formats.  Postmodernism is essentially a controlled movement that named itself, based on socio-political theory, although the term is now used  to refer to activities from the 20th Century onwards which exhibit awareness of and reinterpret the modern.

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