Modernism and Postmodernism Question 2  Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 12
  • Subject: Art  (general)
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #54684999

Excerpt from Essay :


That the post modernists rejected the psychotherapy of the modernist era is by no means suggestive that the artists of the era have escaped psychological analysis. Because of the extreme nature of the pop culture, it has presented a psychological windfall for study in excessiveness. It is represented by an excess of economic affluence, drugs, sex, and expressions of behavior. The excessiveness is found not just in the music industry, but also in literature, film, and paintings and photography. It is all encompassing of all art expressions.

One important definition of the post-modern, as a radically sceptical and questioning attitude of mind, is that provided by the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard (1984), who wrote of it in terms of 'the death of grand narratives', with Marxism and Freudianism particularly in mind. Lyotard would see as futile attempts to consider the modern and post-modern in terms of historical periodisation. For him, the post-modern implies an intensely critical and reflective relationship with the modern, which we are far from having left behind (Elliott and Spezzano, 2000:1-2). While agreeing with Lyotard, and without wishing to claim that one ism simply supersedes the other, we shall briefly attempt to think about post-modernism in terms of the modernist attitudes and world-views it critiques and with which it can sharply contrast (Lowenthal and Snell, p. 3)."

It cannot go without saying that the post modernist is also defined by politics, where left wing liberalism and right wing conservatism come face-to-face in an almost hostile way (Rosenau, Pauline Marie, 1992, p. 138). The contentiousness peaked during the 1960s, during the counter culture revolution when young people expressed their aversion to the social order by rejecting it, resisting, and even defying it. Musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, and filmmakers were vocal and outspoken, influencing the decisions of political leaders with demands of a world-wide peace. The rejection of the establishment was in many ways a stark contradiction to the life style of the artists.

Painter Andy Warhol was a dominant figure, but his post modern realism was a study of excess and privilege. Warhol painted famous women like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and even made Campbell's Soup more famous than it already was.

Rosneau describes the political side of the post modernist as the "dark side (p. 139). However, every aspect of social and artistic expression encompassed a dark side. Music had the Sex Pistols, perhaps the most excessive musical group that represented everything dark about the pop culture. The Sex Pistols, like the Situationists before them, denied everything as it existed at the time (Marcus, Griel, 1989, p. 56).

Thus, they damned rock-n-roll as a rotting corpse: a monster of moneyed reaction, a mechanism for false consciousness, a system of self-exploitation, a theater of glamorized oppression, a bore (Marcus 1989:57). Rock-n-roll, Johnny Rotten would say, was only the first of many things the Sex Pistols came to destroy (Marcus, p. 57)."

If the Sex Pistols and the excessiveness of the post modern era has a dark side, it is perhaps best capture and expressed by director Stanley Kubrick's exploration of the dark side with his post modern film a Clockwork Orange (1971). It is the story of a young man, a sociopath, who, with his group of followers, pursues their unrestrained desires of violence, sex and excess. The young leader of the sociopath's Alex, is apprehended, and - whether it's coercion or voluntarily is perhaps debatable - volunteers to be brainwashed as an experiment in social conditioning that renders him void of his feelings for sex, violence and music. What is left, then, is an empty shell, who is repulsed to the point of vomiting by the sights and sounds of the world around him.

In the post modernist world, shock value seems to have a dominant place in the artistic expression. In summary, post modernism is defined by its rejection of the psychoanalysis of the modernists, and it defies convention and authority. It is the pursuit of sexual, psychological, expressive freedom.

Post-modernism is an ambiguous bequest of the humanities to the social sciences. It pleases some, frightens others, and leaves few untouched. But is it appropriate for the social sciences? Some social scientists are contented beneficiaries and accept it without hesitation. Others are more ambivalent heirs. Still others are defiant and want no part of any such inheritance (Rosenau, p. 167)."

The distinctive philosophies and elements of modernism and post modernism have been closely examined in this essay. There is distinct break in the time lines that represent the beginning, and the ending of each era.

Works Cited

Buchanan, Iain, Michael Dunn, Elizabeth Eastmond, and Frances Hodgkins. Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press, 1994. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Cantor, Norman F. Modernism to Deconstruction. New York: Peter Lang, 1988. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Del Loewenthal, and Robert Snell. Post-Modernism for Psychotherapists: A Critical Reader. Hove, England: Brunner-Routledge, 2003. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Frascina, Francis, Charles Harrison, and Deirdre Paul, eds. Modern Art and Modernism: A Critical Anthology. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Harrison, Sylvia. Pop Art and the Origins of Post-Modernism. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Lemke, Sieglinde. Primitivist Modernism: Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Marcus, Griel. Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth-Century.

Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard Press, 1989.

Rosenau, Pauline Marie. Post-Modernism and the Social Sciences: Insights, Inroads, and Intrusions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Sheehan, James J. Museums in the German Art World from the End of the Old Regime to the Rise of Modernism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Wagner-Martin, Linda, ed. Seven Decades of Criticism. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1998. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 24 August 2008.

Cite This Essay:

"Modernism And Postmodernism Question 2 " (2008, August 24) Retrieved January 14, 2017, from

"Modernism And Postmodernism Question 2 " 24 August 2008. Web.14 January. 2017. <>

"Modernism And Postmodernism Question 2 ", 24 August 2008, Accessed.14 January. 2017,