"This means that there will be as many different forms of postmodernism as there were high modernisms in place, since the former are at least initially specific and local reactions against those models."
One of the key transitional moments from modernism to postmodernism, frequently cited by a number of sources, is Marcel Duchamp's decision to display a urinal in an art gallery; this disruptive moment effectively shattered previous paradigms, thus giving way to an "opening up" of boundaries in art that Duchamp perceived as restrictive.
In art, one of the more recognizable features of postmodernism is pastiche.
Pastiche is contingent on the paradigm of "the death of the author," or the end of individualism, as it was previously known under Modernism. As it is impossible to be original, to have a unique style because "everything has been done before," postmodernist discourse is concerned with using previous styles in a playful fashion, almost like a performer might try on different masks in order to "become" different characters. Of course, the sources for pastiche need not be strictly other works of art; they can also come from popular culture.
Artists and theorists working out of the paradigm of postmodernism actively seek to erase the boundaries that have traditionally separated high culture from popular culture. This came to the forefront most notably in the Pop Art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Many other postmodern artists have incorporated elements of popular culture into their work, whereas Modernists would have merely quoted elements of popular culture. (From this vantage point, then, it is vital to note that the works of painters like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns occupy an ambiguous, and thus transitory, zone between Modernism and Postmodernism.) by integrating such seemingly antagonistic qualities into their work, postmodern artists and theorists effectively make it difficult to tell which "category" a work is meant to fit into. This brings us back to the disruption of paradigms, as we outlined in the beginning of this paper.
Jameson, Frederic. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." Retrieved May 14, 2008, at http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/jameson_postmodernism_consumer.htm.
Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.
Kermode, p. 24.
According to Jameson, "pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique style, the wearing of a stylistic mask, speech in a dead language: but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without parody's ulterior motive, without the satirical impulse, without laughter, without that still latent feeling that there exists something normal compared to which what is being imitated is rather comic."