Modernism into Postmodernism

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Modernism rose after the death of the Victorian era. It encompasses several movements in arts and philosophy, such as Surrealism, Harlem Renaissance, Bauhaus, Dada, Precisionism, Cubism and other various kinds, making it difficult to characterize (Kirschen). It’s period of birth is even unsure but then conveniently saw it’s starting point during the 1880’s,  as the century brought a great leap when it came to the art, science, and philosophy. Postmodernism, on the other hand, was born to break these rules.

Modernism versus Postmodernism

Postmodernism, as defined by Kirschen, is a “culture of fragmentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality”. Postmodernism is portrayed with images of deconstruction, mixed with a profusion of disengaged images.

The beginning of postmodernism during the year 1945 began the controversies of modernism. According to Flax’s table of Modernism vs. Postmodernism, Modernism says that science is the origin of knowledge while Postmodernism contradicts that these ideologies are man-made. Modernism believes that in feminism, women are marginalized in the patriarchal kind of society while Postmodern feminism imposes that gender roles (men/women, masculine/feminine) are subjective to each and every culture, and that they are socially constructed. When it comes to language, Modernism firmly explains that there is a one to one relationship between a word and its definition while Postmodernism describes definitions as “messy”, as meaning is dynamic and varies from time to time. In the subject on the sense of “self”, Modernism pushes that self is an individual, without the influence of environment while the latter claims that “self” is the fruit of experiences, circumstances and background. Modernism explains that reason is all encompassing, meaning, that it will be embraced by the majority, while Postmodernism does not believe in the concept of “truth”. When it comes to art, Modernism, which has a stable sense of self mirrored by “Cogito ergo sum”, saw art like language that has a one to one meaning, as Postmodernism viewed that every masterpiece could be viewed in such different angles and perspectives, and that meaning is arbitrary. Other postmodern artists took a much more different light and let their viewers intervene with their works, or as much as letting other people finish what they had started. The viewers gave varied definitions to their masterpieces, and the artist sees viewers as a significant part of their creation.

Modernism into Postmodernism

Modernism’s corrosion is greatly linked with Industrial revolution. Certain phenomena came about which caused the downfall of Modernism. These include the growth of urbanization that created several other relationships shifting from traditional communities, where the sense of self was at first established.  The great transition began when the so-called “Masters of Suspicion” entered the scene. Among them were Karl Marx, who interrogated the sense of self; Sigmund Freud, who explored the clash of identity as he introduced the conscious/subconscious, the id/ego; and Friedrich Nietzsche, who persuaded that the truth about truth is, there is no truth at all. Thus, these “Masters of Suspicion” provided the backbone for Postmodernism. Their ideas came as the hurricane which encompassed the society, and left the latter questioning their existence.


Modernists aimed to validate certain established societal conventions and as they did such, Postmodernists came along to question if these ideologies and conventions certainly do exist. Modernism already had the final word but then came along Postmodernism carrying the question mark. Thus, Postmodernism is not merely a continuation of Modernism. Postmodernism is a jumpstart, a big shift. It changed the rules.