Traits of Post Modernism

Today’s lecture was supposed to be on Deleuze but the lecturer was unable to delivery it, much to my relief. On Sunday I’d tried in vain to read a bit of background to his subject but couldn’t even understand the wikipedia entry; I was despondent.

We started by discussing amongst ourselves “Can we identify the traits in art and design practices during the period that Richard Brettell calls the end of Modernism, around the end of World War II?

The members in my small group were well qualified to talk about this as it was a time we could recall, either because we had lived through it or born just after. We concentrated on the early 1950s  and struggled to come up with the names of British artists.

Due to the turmoil in Europe the art scene moved from Paris to New York, many of the artists fleeing the Nazis.

The lecture started with Jackson Pollark – referred to as Jack the dripper.


Jackson Pollark by Hans Namuth


The Moon-Woman
1942 , Oil on canvas, 69 x 43 in; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

CRI_136377Jasper Johns 1954-55 (dated on reverse 1954), Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood,three panels, 107.3 x 153.8 cm, MOMA, New York

Art is something everyone can understand, the subject matter becomes common to all.


James Rosenquist, Marilyn Monroe 1, Oil and spray enamel on canvas, 236.2 x 183.5 cm, MOMA, New York

Taken from advertising and pop culture. It was the celebration of communality.


Bob Adelman, Andy Warhol shopping at Gristede’s supermarket on Second Avenue, executed 1964, printed 2008, archival inkjet print, 19 x 14 inches. Boca Raton Museum of Art

The drive to make profit is inherent in U.S. culture. This was a world where everything turned into art: Commerce,, celebrity, music, outrage pulsed along the conveyor belt and was turned as if by magic into art. 


Photograph of The Factory  1964 by David McCabe

1998.1.709-DgR_01-Andy Warhol, Brillo Soap Pads Box , 1964, silkscreen ink on synthetic
polymer paint on wood, 17 x 17 x 14 in.
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Founding Collection.

What is art?  Danto states that it is whatever the art world says it is. The collectors, the curators, the writers, the critics, the artists, the exhibition goers.  George Dickie contests this in his paper ‘What is Art? An Institutional Analysis’

Marilyn Diptych 1962 by Andy Warhol 1928-1987

Andy Warhol ,

Marilyn Diptych, 1

962, Acrylic paint on canvas, 2054 x 1448 x 20 mm, Tate London

By reproduction does the value diminish? Literally loosing the quality of the image.Walter Benjamin refers to the loosing of the aura due to mechanical reproduction, that its lost is artiness.
But we don’t know works of art, prints in books, images such as the ones I show here have lost their aura. The real thing may be disappointing when seen due to the saturation of the image i.e. Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503-1506, Oil on poplar, 77 cm × 53 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris
imgGavin Turk – Pop (self-portrait of Turk as Sid Vicious). A twist on Warhol’s portraits of Elvis from SQA.RE
This shows the inter-textuality which is a trait of post modernism. Elvis portraying a cowboy in a film, Andy Warhol reproduces image for screen print then pose imitated by Sid Vicious, the theme continued as Gavin Turk imitates Sid Vicious.
Post moderism – history and style becomes its play-box. Depth of meaning is added to the works they become multi-modal plundering from any source.
The rise of the celebrity artist – the rigidity of the art  breaking down.
Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997
Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!, 1963, Acrylic paint and oil paint on canvas, 1727 x 4064 mm , Tate London
Sense of irony and playfulness.

What was happening in Britain?After WWII Britain was on its knees but colour in packing and advertising developed at a rapid pace. Coca cola the ubiquitous symbol of the U.S.A. The same drink the poor and the president consume.

I was a Rich Man's Plaything 1947 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, I was a Rich Man’s Plaything, From Ten Collages from BUNK, 1947 Printed papers on card,  359 x 238 mm, Tate London

Richard hamilton

Richard Hamilton, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Collage,  1956 26 cm 24.8 cm,  Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tübingen

With John Ruskin looking down on the scene!

Pop is pro-typical of post moderism.

Self-Portrait with Badges 1961 by Peter Blake born 1932

Peter Blake, Self-Portrait with Badges, 1961, Oil paint on board, 1243 x 1219 mm frame, Tate London
Slot Machine 1962 by Richard Smith born 1931

Richard Smith, Slot Machine, 1962, Oil paint on canvas, wood and paperboard, 569 x 505 x 85 mm, Tate

David Hockney, The Most Beautiful boy in the World, 1961,
Oil on canvas, 178 x 100 cm, Balliol College, Oxford

Simon Starling, Shedboatshed, Turner Prize, 2005, Tate London

No significant form but with plurality of meaning. Eclecticism of materials, one thing becomes another. The gallery space is transformed into a soup kitchen, spaces are appropriated. The artist collaborates with the public.




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