Sunday, March 7, 2010


“Modernity is a qualitative, not a chronological, category. Just as it cannot be reduced to abstract form, with equal necessity it must turn its back on conventional surface coherence, the appearance of harmony, the order corroborated merely by replication.”

-Theodor Adorno, philosopher and composer

“Make it new!”

-Ezra Pound, writer

(If you heard this quipped in Tim Gunn’s voice, don’t judge yourself: it’s only natural.)

In the world of visual art the focus shifted away from replicating the appearance of the world to replicating its essence. Thus, color and shape, and their arrangement became the focus.

Modernism in literature was most focused between the years 1915 and 1945, in visual art the period lasted much longer. It was a reaction to the changing world, which was becoming more industrial and efficient--a world in which the assembly line reigned and the average worker was distanced from his final product.

Modernism played a lot with form.

In literature think: Virginia Woolf’s “tunneling technique”, Jose Villa’s excessive use of commas/his visiting and re-visiting of the same ideas, Bruce Nungent’s play with ellipses.

In visual art think: Pablo Picasso’s cubism, Salvador Dali’s surrealism, Piet Mondrian’s play with color and shape

In his essay Avant-Garde and Kitsch art critic Clement Greenberg rejected consumer culture, labling it “kitsch”. He saw modernism as a counter-movement against the forces of popular culture, and ultimately, capitalism. He argued that the avant-garde movement came about to reclaim the aesthetic value of art, which was being eliminated for the sake dumbing-down of art in an attempt to make it more accessible to the masses.


No comments:

Post a Comment