Postmodern architecture emerged in the 1970s in the United States as a reaction to conventional architectural forms. It arose as a reaction to traditional, classical styles, intending to make buildings dynamic and enjoyable while defying the conventions. By referencing society, the movement tried to move beyond functional, dull, muted design that neglected history and culture, and to replace tradition with individuality. There is no such thing as absolute truth, according to postmodernism. It asserts that knowledge is created or generated rather than found. Postmodern architecture is an architectural design style that values independence and innovation. Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or form of discourse characterised by scepticism of what it refers to as modernism’s grand narratives and ideologies, as well as resistance to epistemic certainty and the stability of meaning. 

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Spoon bridge and Cherry_©Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Renowned Artists of Postmodernism era

Charles Jencks

Charles Jencks was an American cultural theorist, landscape designer, and architectural historian. He wrote over thirty volumes and emerged to prominence in the 1980s as a postmodernist thinker. Jencks spent time studying landform architecture, particularly in Scotland. 

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Charles Jencks- Postmodern Gardens_©amusingplanet

David Salle

David Salle is a painter, printmaker, and photographer from the United States. His collage-like paintings incorporate overlapping images from a range of sources, including periodicals, interior décor, and art history, and he is a well-known Neo-Expressionist artist.

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David Salle- Snow White ©David Salle and VAGA

Philip Johnson 

Philip Johnson was an American architect best known for his modern and postmodern designs. Among his most well-known works are the modernist Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, as well as the postmodern 550 Madison Avenue in New York, created for AT&T, and 190 South La Salle Street in Chicago.

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Philip Johnson- AT&T Building_©phaidon.com

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, often referred to as the “first postmodern artist,” was a prolific inventor whose work in painting, photography, sculpture, performance, and printmaking served to define the ongoing themes of contemporary art.

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Robert Rauschenberg_©Robert Rauschenberg

Postmodernism: Rise and Fall

In the 1970s, postmodernism evolved as a reaction to modernism. Modernism was founded on idealism, a utopian view of human existence and society and a belief in development. It was considered that some ultimate universal principles or truths, such as those espoused by religion or science, might be applied to comprehend or explain reality. Rather than focusing on issues, modernist painters experimented with form, method, and procedures, hoping they might discover a way to purely portray the contemporary world. 

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Sydney Opera House_©Budget Direct via NeoMam Studios

While modernism was built on idealism and reason, postmodernism evolved from scepticism and rejection of reason. It called into question the idea that there are universal certainties or truths. Postmodern art depended on mid- to late-twentieth-century philosophy, arguing that individual experience and interpretation of human experience were more tangible than abstract principles. While modernism strove for clarity and simplicity, postmodernism accepted numerous contradictory layers of meaning.

As it was written with ironic filters and erudite capability, postmodernism signified the beginning of a new sensibility and the end of an older version. However, during the 1990s, there was an attempt to replace it by other movements that considered it a closed time. Postmodernism came to an end as a time, but as a completed enterprise, it supplemented the gold fund of literary canons, such as classicism, neoclassicism, romanticism, realism, or modernism, allowing new movements and poetics to emerge.

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David Salle art_©David Salle

The Importance of Postmodernism throughout History

Postmodernism is a method of thinking about absolute culture, philosophy, art, and a variety of other topics. The phrase has been employed in a variety of contexts, although there are certain commonalities. Postmodern art is a collection of art movements that attempt to challenge some parts of modernism or aspects that arose or expanded as a result of it. Postmodern movements include intermedia, installation art, conceptual art, and multimedia, notably those using video. 

Postmodernism blurred the line between high culture and mass or popular culture, art, and everyday life. Postmodernism created a new period of freedom and a notion that ‘everything goes’ since it violated the old conventions of style. It is frequently amusing, tongue-in-cheek, or absurd; it may be combative and provocative, testing the boundaries of taste; most importantly, it demonstrates a self-awareness of style itself. Postmodernist art, which frequently combines various artistic and popular styles and media, can also consciously and self-consciously borrow from or ironically comment on a variety of styles from the past. Types of arts inspired were as follows:   

Conceptual art

Conceptual art is frequently referred to as postmodern art since it is explicitly concerned with the deconstruction of what constitutes a work of art as “art.” Because it is frequently intended to question, insult, or criticize concepts held by many of those who examine it, conceptual art is fraught with controversy.

Installation art

Installation Art has had an essential role in defining the settings used for museums of contemporary art in order to accommodate huge works consisting of massive collages of manufactured and discovered items. These collages and installations are frequently electric, featuring moving pieces and lighting.

Telematic Art

By developing interactive, behavioural contexts for remote aesthetic experiences, telematic art disrupts the traditional link between active viewing subjects and passive art objects.

Neo-expressionism and painting

The late 1970s and early 1980s return to classic art forms of sculpture and painting seen in the work of Neo-expressionist artists such as Georg Baselitz and Julian Schnabel has been regarded as a postmodern trend and one of the first cohesive movements to emerge in the postmodern period. 

Lowbrow art, performance art, digital art, intermedia and multimedia, appropriation art, and neo-conceptual art are some more art genres.

Marilyn in the Sky_©James Gill

References:

  1. Emma Tomsich [Online] Everything You Need to Know About Postmodern Architecture. Available at https://www.quickenloans.com/ 
  2. Tate [Online] POSTMODERNISM. Available at https://www.tate.org.uk/ 
Author

A recent architecture grad student who believes design and research play a creative role in shaping society while providing advanced solutions. Her curiosity has drawn her passion into understanding the psychology of architecture with human behaviour and art. She relishes reading, discovering, and craves to learn more each day.

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