ISSUES IN TEXT AND IDENTITY
ID : 1512831
ANNE MARIE EMMANUELLA EDOUARD
BA JOINT (HONS) HUMANITIES Y3
2. Compare and contrast Modernism and Postmodernism in relation to art work and literature.
Modernism refers to the artists’ self-conscious breaking with the past and their search for new forms of expression. Modernist works reveal concerns about art and aesthetics, regardless of whether or not the artist is representing traditional subject or scenes from contemporary life. By questioning traditional techniques and methods of representation, modern artists broke through the established boundaries.
Modernist’s works rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, while Postmodernism on the other hand is the umbrella term under which diverse artistic movements sought to critique the modern project’s attempt to understand the outside world in a methodological fashion, it rejects modernism. And art works as well as literature actually play a very important role as they act as means to distinguish modernism and postmodernism and to throw the artists point of view.
Modernist art work and literature are usually represented in a more obscure way compared to other style of works. In order to explore new kinds of creativity Modernists have to adjust themselves with the perception of reality and Modernists art work such as in “Violin and Palette,” “Piano and Mandola” by Goerges Braque, where the artist have focused on a new form of paintings; cubism. In Braque’s oeuvre, objects are still recognizable but are fractured into multiple facets, as is the surrounding space with which they merge. In “Violin and Palette,” Braque uses the Analytic Cubism approach to a violin, sheet music and artist’s palette vertically arranged in order to highlight the effect of breaking down the three-dimensional objects into two dimensions surface. In this canvas, everything was fractured, and by breaking these objects into smaller elements, Braque was able to overcome the unified singularity of an object and instead transform it into an object of vision (Britt, D. 1999). Ironically, Braque depicted the nail at the top of the canvas in an illusionistic manner, down to the very shadow it cast, the same applies to the painting’s the “Piano and Mandola,” which serves as a sign of stability in an otherwise energized composition of exploding crystalline forms. Cubism takes the opposite route of what a painting should look like during the period of Renaissance and is indeed a new outlook of reality, and these are well represented through Picasso’s work; “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” and “The Old Guitarists”. “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” marks a radical break from traditional composition and perspective in painting. It depicts five naked women with figures composed of flat, splintered planes and faces inspired by Iberian sculpture and African masks. These strategies would be significant in Picasso’s subsequent development of Cubism.
Furthermore, in Modernism, art and literary works were considered as unique creations of the artists. In Modernist literature, much like painting, there is experimentation with form: narration style, tone, plot line. For example in the novel “The mark on the wall” by Virginia Woolf a chaotic form of writing takes place which is characteristic of the Modernist’s experiments in their style of literature of stream-of-consciousness. As a modernist writer, Virginia Woolf isn’t interested on describing the reality as it really is, but she wants to privilege the imagination and the liberty of creation. She exhibited the most important elements of modernism in her works very effectively; irony and stream of consciousness technique. As she rejected the conventional techniques of Nineteenth Century literature, Woolf used poetic and symbolic language in her work. In her short story “The Mark on the Wall”, a simple element like a mark on the wall is responsible to the narrator’s deeply reflection about life and stimulates the imagination of the reader. Although, there are many elements in this short story that are capable of being discussed, this analysis only points out some of them. The confusion about the identity of the mark on the wall can be interpreted as the confusion that people have in relation to the meaning of life. As in the short story that only in the final the narrator discovers the true identity of the mark, the human beings will probably know what life is only in its end. Other important element of this short novel is the criticism to those people that don’t develop their own ideas. However the tougher criticism is taken to the realists that wanted to describe the reality and the human being as they are in fact. This literary pattern was very discussed by the modernists, because they defend that the reality and the man are changing all the time and it would be impossible to prove or know something wholly. Even for an individual, it is difficult to know himself/herself deeply
On the other hand, Andy Warhol with his works “Marilyn Diptych” is a postmodern art work that overview the major ideas of Postmodern Art. This series of silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe was taken from her image in the film, Niagara and reproduced first in color, and then in black and white. The color contrasted against the monochrome that fades out to the right is suggestive of life and death, while the repetition of images echoes her omnipresent presence in the media. This work can be seen as postmodern in many senses: its overt reference to popular culture and low art challenges the purity of the modernist aesthetic, its repetitive element is homage to mass production, and it plays on the concept of authenticity which undermines the authority of the artist. The use of a diptych format, which was common in Christian altarpieces in the Renaissance period, draws attention to the American worship of both celebrities and images. All of these translate into an artwork that challenges traditional demarcations between high and low art and makes a statement about the importance of consumerism and spectacle in the 1960s.
Moreover, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko are examples of postmodern artists whose paintings demonstrate one of the claims of postmodernism. The first, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a painter whose work is a form of radical expressionism that lacks focus, subject, or reference. In Composition 8 (1923), one sees a random gathering of unidentifiable shapes. Kandinsky’s pieces lack any attempt at representation or focus and his rejection of subject, object, and horizon symbolizes the postmodern rejection of a reality that is independent of the self. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) rejected all traditional means of painting in order to create his abstract expressionist works. Pollock used action painting, which involved dribbling paint directly from the can onto his canvas. The reason Pollock paints in this fashion is not to achieve a particular look, but to reject all techniques of painting and focus on pure expression that is freed from the restrictions of technique. In this way, Pollock and other action painters reject methodological ways that were used to represent reality in art, and embrace uncontrolled and free ways of expressing authenticity. Postmodern artists have junked the idea that a work of art has only one inherent meaning. Instead, they believe that the spectator is an equally important judge of meaning. Through their art works and literature, Postmodernists tend to claim that no language can describe the complexity of reality and no theory can explain the complexities and the burden of society. Therefore, they make use of their art works to reconsider history and reality, using parody, pastiches, Meta fiction, techno culture, surrealism, and collage among others.
Postmodern stories tend to revise existing fairy tales, using intertextuality as a mechanism for revealing, parodying and challenging the cultural norms which are embedded in the original texts. “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter is an example of a postmodern work where the author makes use of rewriting, reconsidering older narratives. Postmodern feminist writers like Angela Carter present their characters as active and vigorous persons, the heroines of these stories are struggling out of the straightjackets of history and ideology and biological essentialism. Carter attaches much importance to her female characters who speak for themselves. Like other Postmodernists Angela Carter brings to attention those subjects which women were never permitted to discuss; sex, gender and female identity. Her female protagonists are not usual women who are scared of male; rather they have the ability to accept challenges and trails, and to contest for their rights. Carter’s heroine’s metamorphosis is a message to all women that they can transform themselves by realizing their own worth, and to put themselves energetically into language and writing. This is how The “Bloody Chamber” is a postmodern interrogation and challenge of the well-established systems of thought which are exposed as illegitimate and abusive and shows this subversive aspect enhanced by women’s marginal status and marginalized discourses.
There is a clear distinction between postmodernism and Modernism; the differences are clearly seen through literature and art works of various artists. Very famous artists as well as writers such as Pablo Picasso, Virgina Woolf, Jackson Pollock and Goerge Braque among others have been able to put forward the ideologies of how modernist work. Modernism focus is actually on innovation, Avant-garde, and stream of consciousness. On the contrary, Postmodernism pulls away from the modern focus of originality; it is a must to reconcile the intellectual vigor of modernism with the pleasurable and significant trappings of traditionalism. Postmodern literature is characterized by techniques like fragmentation, paradox, and questionable narrators. Postmodern works are seen as a reaction against Enlightenment thinking and Modernist approaches to literature. Quite often postmodern literature parodies the modern one. Moreover, postmodern literature questions the distinction between high and low culture through the use of pastiche. When Modernism was based on using rational, logical ways to gain knowledge, postmodernism denied the application of logical thinking.
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Carter, Angela (1979): The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories.
Clement Greenberg (1979): Modernism and Postmodernism.
Dora Vallier, (October 1954), p. 16. “Braque: La peinture et nous, propos de l’artiste recueillis,” Cahiers d’art 29, no. 1
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Goerges Braque: Violin and Palette (1909–10) and Piano and Mandola (1909–10)
Ihab Hassan in Lawrence E. Cahoone (2003. p13); From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology.
-Lemke, Sieglinde, (1998): Primitivist Modernism: Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism.
Pablo Picasso (June-July 1907) : Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Rosalind E. Krauss, (July 9, 1986), The Originality of the Avant Garde and Other Modernist Myths
Stuart Sim, (2001. p148); The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism.
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) Composition 8
Zimmermann, Beate; Cologne: Konemann,( 1999): Pablo Picasso: Life and work.