Postmodern Art Definition

Postmodern art refers to a style of contemporary art created from about 1970 onwards. It’s best understood by looking at what it sought to contradict: the perceived traditional values and conservative point of view of the modern artists who were active between 1870-1970.

What Is Postmodern Art?

Postmodern art rejected the traditional values of modernism, and instead embraced experimentation with new media and art forms including intermedia, installation art, conceptual art, multimedia, performance art, and identity politics. Using these new forms, postmodernist artists have stretched the definition of art to embrace the idea that “anything can be art”. 

Like many art movements, post-modernism challenged what came before it. And while modern artists were considered groundbreaking in their own time, they were soon perceived as outdated or constricted by the art movements that followed them.

Postmodern Art Examples

Pop art - Eden Gallery

Postmodern art encompasses a number of artistic splinter groups, each with a different style of art but united in its postmodern approach. There is no set time period when one movement started and another ended. so, some movements and artists transitioned from modernism to post-modernism within their careers. Some examples include:

  • Pop Art was championed by Andy Warhol, who made art from mass-produced imagery. This was the opposite of the individualistic concepts that were evident in most modernist movements.
  • Word Art is a form of conceptualist painting or sculpture using word or text-based imagery. Associated with Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, On Kawara , Barbara Kruger and Christopher Wool.
  • Performance Art became a new and exciting way to present art to the general public. Artists famous for Performance Art include John Cage and Allan Kaprow. 
  • Installation Art was a new way to draw spectators into the artwork itself. See works from leading installation artist Joseph Beuys. 

Who Is Most Famous for Postmodern Art?

There are countless famous post-modernist artists, many of whom are still alive and working today. Some of the most famous postmodernists and their most famous art include:

  • Andy Warhol (Marilyn Diptych)
  • Barbara Kruger (Untitled (I shop therefore I am))
  • Roy Lichtenstein, (Whaam!)
  • Joseph Kosuth (One And Three Chairs)
  • Performance artist Carolee Schneemann
  • Cindy Sherman (Untitled Film Still #21)
  • Gilbert & George (Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk)
  • Damien Hirst (The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living)
  • Marina Abramovi? (Rhythm 0 / Seven Easy Pieces)
  • Claes Oldenburg (Shuttlecocks)
  • Jeff Koons (Michael Jackson and Bubbles)

What Makes Something Postmodern?

Postmodern art is more than just an art movement, it’s an attitude. It reflects a widespread disillusionment with art, culture, and society, and largely discredits authority, expertise, knowledge, and achievement. 

Eden Fine Art - Joseph - Portrait Warhol

Where modernist art, which came before postmodernism, was seen as elitist and male-dominated, postmodernism embraces art from minority and feminist artists and champions the art can be made of anything – because all types of art are valid. 

Who Started Postmodern Art?

Motivated by a desire to create art that acknowledged everyday life, artists in the 1950s such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg began to experiment with new styles that borrowed and recreated imagery from mass culture. This Neo-Dada style was the first of the postmodern art movements and many of their experiments would give rise to pop art and minimalism. 

Salvador Dali- Modern vs. Postmodern art -Eden Gallery

What Are the Characteristics of Postmodern Art?

There is no list of ‘agreed’ characteristics of postmodern art, but could include bricolage, prominent text as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, performance art, and the breakdown of high and low culture. It undermines concepts of authenticity and originality and has an emphasis on image and spectacle.  

Instead, postmodernism is better defined by the styles, attitudes, and response to modernism. Its general ideology reflects a widespread disillusionment with life, the power of existing value systems, and/or technology to effect change. Other factors of postmodernism include:

Art education: At art schools, individual creativity became more important than technical skills like painting or sculpture. 

Technology: Postmodernism has been influenced by and benefited from the introduction of new technologies such as video, screenprinting, TV and computers. 

A new focus on low culture: Postmodernism democratizes art, making it more accessible and recognizable to the public. Many postmodern artists believe that art can have multiple meanings and the spectator is a judge of meaning.

When Did Postmodern Art Begin?

Artists during the modern art period (1870-1970) generally believed in rational thought, that life had meaning, that scientific progress was automatically good, and had grand narratives of the western world’s domination and progress. They believed in the concept of “high art” – which elevates and inspires – rather than “low art” – which amuses or entertains. 

But by the 1950s, world events started to change everything. As Abstract Expressionism became a mainstream movement, young artists started to question its relevance to the state of the world. In post-war America, the arrival of Neo-Dad and Pop art marked the beginning of a reaction against this mindset: postmodernism.

What Issues Do Postmodern Artists Deal With?

Some of the criticisms of postmodernism are that it lacks coherence, that it can be meaningless, that it is vague and over-emphasizes relativism. 

Explore Post-modern Artworks

Eden Gallery’s global network of high-end art galleries offer a selection of postmodern art for you to view and enjoy. Visit us today to explore, experience, and purchase items from our artwork collection

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