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The postmodernist movement began in America around the 1960s - 1970s and then it spread to Europe and the rest of the world. The movement involves an uncertainty towards accepted explanations of reality, which include science, religion, even philosophy itself, and any other objective views. So, consciousness of individual relativity in the world emerges as a product of this larger idea, something that modernists (Modernism) did not explore. Postmodernists find that reality is not found in understanding it, but it is created when the mind tries to discover its own reality. Reality is then relative and only created based on what each person believes is his/her reality. All sorts of social and political conditions play into this, but postmodernism rejects generalizations that assume validity for large groups or cultures and places importance on individual interpretation.

Post-Modernism is a phrase commonly used to describe the human era of the 20th century. Post-Modernism encapsulates a wide variety of mediums, including architecture, philosophy, music, politics and traditional art.
One of the most important aspects of the Post-Modern mindset is that the perceiving subject cannot be taken out of the equation.
In other words, no one element of a creation or a thought can be individually examined, because any work of art (or philosophy) is made important by the compilation of all the elements and their respective social meanings.
The removal of a single element for observation is impossible for a Post-Modernist, for they are incredulous toward any objective or universal truths regarding a single element.
An interesting way to think about Post-Modernism is that it was a movement born from the rejection of the conventions stated by modernism.
Instead of adhering to conventional techniques, post-modernists hyperactively adapted many forms of art by breeding them all together.
By cross-pollinating different artistic mediums while simultaneously denying the formal techniques involved with the medium(s), Post-Modernists created a new type of art whose soul requirement was that it challenge any “normal” conventions presented by earlier art movements.
Progression in any type of Post-Modernism medium is measured by originality and divergence: a creativeness spawned by a human desire to destroy any “objective truths” in art and thinking.

What did Postmodernism apply to?

Postmodernism is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism


Frank Gehry was one of the post-modern architects who successfully re-imagined the possibilities of engineering by bending and distorting all the previous conventions. In varying so distinctly from the norm, Gehry was able, through innovative engineering and material techniques, to develop his own personal style that became in itself, an artistic convention of architecture.

"During the 1960s, Frank Gehry began to redirect his architecture by fusing the Japanese and vernacular elements in his early work with the influence of painters and sculptors in a sophisticated manipulation ofperspectively distorted shapes, sculptural masses molded by light, and buildings that reveal their structures. This strategy reached its first resolution with the Malibu house (1972) (Fig. 1) for a friend, painter Ron Davis, and developed through a series of small residential projects. These houses allowed Frank Gehry especially to explore a fascination with the process of construction and the use of massproduced and affordable materials. By exposing wood frame construction, by using plywood, corrugated metal, and chain link metal fence as sheathing or screens, and by breaking volumes Into incomplete geometries and partial objects, Frank Gehry revealed the structure of the physical and architectural context in which and out of which Frank Gehry was building. "

Examples of postmodern architecture
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Influential architects: Ricardo Bofill, John Burgee. Santiago Calatrava, Terry Farrell, Michael Graves, Helmut Jahn,

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Postmodern Western art by contemporary artist Francis Berry, postmodern painter
Postmodern Western art by contemporary artist Francis Berry, postmodern painter
Postmodern spiritual art by contemporary artist Francis Berry, postmodern painter
Postmodern spiritual art by contemporary artist Francis Berry, postmodern painter

Postmodern art contradicted aspects of modernism, with the changes like multimedia, installation art, and conceptual art changes began showing with art pieces depicting political or social culture, and performance art.

Jackson Pollack and Abstract Art

One of the most famous artist of the Post-Modern era is Jackson Pollack, a New York artist who used innovative physical painting techniques in order to express a more complex variety of emotions:
“Instead of using the traditional easel he affixed his canvas to the floor or the wall and poured and dripped his paint from a can; instead of using brushes he manipulated it with `sticks, trowels or knives' (to use his own words), sometimes obtaining a heavy impasto by an admixture of `sand, broken glass or other foreign matter'. This manner of Action painting had in common with Surrealist theories of automatism that it was supposed by artists and critics alike to result in a direct expression or revelation of the unconscious moods of the artist.”-( 16 Jul 2002, Nicolas Pioch)

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In this image, the chaos in the water allows a viewer with symptomatic knowledge to relate Pollack’s drip art with the deadly plot of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick.

Blue (Moby Dick)

c. 1943 (150 Kb); Gouache and ink on composition board, 18 3/4 x 23 7/8 in; Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki
(notice Pollack's divergence from canvas and oil)

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Michel Foucault has been considered one of the most important philospophers of the 20th century. Drawing many of his deductions from Nietzsche, Foucault has made several general statements about Art, Post-Modernity and human life in general:
The human condition during the mid-20th century, was, according to Foucault, unconsciously adapting in relation to itself. These next three quotes from the Michel Foucault website comment on Foucault's views regarding the way in which humans index history. “Foucault defines 'techniques of the self' or 'arts of existence' as 'those reflective and voluntary practices by which men not only set themselves rules of conduct, but seek to transform themselves, to change themselves in their singular being, and to make of their life into an oeuvre that carries certain aesthetic values and meets certain stylistic criteria” -Foucault (1992) [1984]. The Use of Pleasure. The History of Sexuality: Volume Two. Tr. R. Hurley. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, pp. 10-11. In other words, “man’s” need to refine himself is caused by and consciously adherent to the social conventions set forth by the culture. Foucault, in his Post-Modernist way, describes how “stylistic criteria” will always adapt to reflect previous aesthetic values, and yet will be noticeably altered with that adaptation. Historically, “Foucault did not comment on the term 'postmodernity' beyond saying how vague and imprecise it was, making a subtly ironic reference to 'an enigmatic and troubling "postmodernity"'. He says that he prefers to discuss how 'modernity' has been historically defined. Post-modernity, for Foucault, was just a term used to describe the phenomenon of constant reevaluation of human customs. This reevaluation is committed by every human on the planet, and any behavioral adaptations that occur can be traced back to the previous aesthetic convention’s relation to humanity. “Foucault described traditional notions of the author as being restrictive. The author is a category or way of organizing texts which has a history and needs to be challenged. For example, the psychological entity of the author and the use of the author as a way of organizing texts are two different things and need to be treated separately.”

Postmodernism in Literature

It’s not always crystal clear what someone means by ‘postmodern.’ Probably for the general public, it describes something which seems edgy, cool, learned, experimental. However, for the person trying to pin down what exactly ‘postmodern’ really means, ‘after-modernism’ is not so bad an answer to their question(s). It’s just too widely employed a term. That said, there are characteristics of postmodernism which, while not universal, do begin to delimit a kind of cannon. American literary critic Fredric Jameson, in Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, points out that postmodern literature tends to deny various boundaries, especially those which distinguish high-culture from mass/popular culture. Rather than seeing the two as existing in separate spheres, postmodernists tend to treat high vs. popular culture as part of the same inescapable system. Especially the system of language, which we are inexorably tied to in order make sense of anything deemed ‘real,’ ourselves included. Worth pointing out is that postmodernism came to strength around/during the maturation of the first TV-raised generation of writers. In conjunction with literary theory, which flourished in 20th Century, this generation of writers was faced, on the one hand, with this strange input of culture it received from its furniture (TV set), and, on the other, with this very deep knowledge about what was supposed to make literature Good Literature. As such, perhaps the most predominant feature of postmodernist literature is self-consciousness. Its writers often seem forever aware that what they’re doing is writing, and that writing is not ‘real’ per-se, but that it’s also, like, the best means by which to structure a modern world so steeped in information. Take, for example, maximalist novels like Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, or Joseph McElroy’s Women and Men, or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. There’s a certain sense that, compared to modernist heroes, the best a postmodern hero can hope for (as opposed to say loneliness; the modernist characteristic) is a sort of manageable schizophrenia. Thus, readers are confronted with an onslaught of arcane info, on the one hand, and then very typical, cultural-type signifiers on the other. Postmodernism is, for example, the first place we begin to see brand names referenced casually. In a post-television America, a world with brands is realism. Postmodernism possibly struggles with how all this can be.