Postmodern art is difficult to define, except to say it is the artwork that replaced the avant-garde modern movement from the 1860s to the 1950s. The advent of Pop art and Neo-Dada in post-war America in the mid to late 1950s began the American postmodern art movement. Read on to learn more about this fascinating era.
Postmodern art is a group of art movements that sought to contradict some aspect of modernism. Multiple disparate and diverse artistic forms emerged including: multimedia involving video, Performance art, Video art, Installation art, and Minimalism. Although different art forms, they had several characteristics in common: the breakdown between what was considered high and low culture; the playful and ironic treatment of a subject; the emphasis on spectacle and image; and undermining the concepts of originality and authenticity. To this day, there are many artists who use these techniques.
Aspects of Postmodernism
Postmodern art changed the idea that there is only one meaning behind a work of art. The viewer became the one who decided what it meant, and each person may have a different interpretation. Not even the artist determined what the piece meant at the time of its creation. Some artists even allowed others to join in the work – especially in a performance piece. Going even further, other artists created art that needed the viewer’s assistance to complete.
High and Low Art
Another key element of postmodernism is the breaking down of the distinctions between low and high art. Many artists incorporated popular culture elements – think Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s soup cans – into their work. They believed all culture is equally valid and should be enjoyed and appreciated without needing art training. Everyday objects and sounds are just as beautiful as a Renoir masterpiece or a Mozart symphony.
Are you still having trouble understanding the American postmodernist art movement? Then contemplate the works of these artists, (other than the notable Andy Warhol). Many of these artists cross over from music, to performance art, to painting. Here are just a few:
Yes, that Yoko. Believe it or not, Ono was considered a pioneer of performance and conceptual art. In 1964, she performed “Cut Piece” in which she sat on a stage wearing her best dress and holding a pair of scissors. She invited members of the audience to come up and make cuts in her clothing. She used this performance to confront issues of class, cultural identity, and gender.
Most of this artist’s work is of men and women posed in popular 80s clothing. Stark and strong lines outline the figures and bright lipstick draws the viewer in. He created lithographs, paintings, and posters in a bold graphic style.
More abstract and expressionistic than other postmodern artists, Pollock is best known for his “drip” paintings. He laid the canvases on the floor and used a variety of paint colors to pour and drip.
And don’t forget about Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Marcel Duchamp, or Mark Rothko!
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