Modernism versus Postmodernism in Art

A visual comparision of Modernism and Postmodernism. Most taken from Butler (2002). Surprised that a few aspects are shared between both


Stefan513593 - Part 3 - Comparision Modernism and Postmodernism

Stefan513593 – Part 3 – Comparison Modernism and Postmodernism



  • Postmodernism is not an era that followed chronologically Modernism. A few aspects relevant for Postmodern theory occured already begin 20th century (Duchamp, Dada, Surrealism).
  • Postmodernism is based on  multicultural pluralism and relativism
  • Postmodernism can be seen as a moral institution (questioning political and ideological bias), but without an ethical base (as it does not provide insight how to live after all is deconstructed). I would perhaps see it rather as a method?
  • Postmodernism theory is a kind of dialectic philosophy. I am wondering whether an artist need to be a philosopher as Plato stated in Politea (The Republic) that the guardians of the city should be philosopher.
  • Postmodernism theory led often to a culture of feeling themselves as victims (Robert Hughes in: Butler, 2002, p.59). The focus on difference encourages a focus on marginalization and feeling oneself marginalized.
  • Postmodernism ignores the ‘self as constituted by an original idiosyncratic narrative of self’ and enforces the view expressed by M. Foucault of the self constituted by ideologically motivated discourses of power (ebid, p.58).



  • Butler, C. (2002) Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction, Very Short Introductions. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

  3 comments for “Modernism versus Postmodernism in Art

  1. July 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

    “Surprised that a few aspects are shared between both”; do you think that theorising about art is this manner – attempting to categorise and define (‘isms’ & movements) – will inevitably highlight differences rather than similarities? This, in a way, is a self-justifying consequence and tends to ignore the artists and work that blurs the lines – Rauschenberg is an obvious example.

    • Stefan
      July 24, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Thanks for sharing your critical questions. Makes me realize how much this course with all its theoretical interrogations tend to influence my writings and questioning my own position. At times, with a sense of vertigo. I think from what I’ve seen so far that theory, art or science, is always about differences and similarities. Theory as a conception for understanding. What does not mean that actual work is the same. I fully agree that artists of not stick to differences. Nevertheless, they are influenced by surrounding cultural and critical discourses. Actually I doubt if any artist, not considering one work but the entire body of work over lifespan, is completely within one box. Even critics are not. Nevertheless we learn theories. So what is the purpose of it?

    • Stefan
      July 24, 2017 at 11:26 am

      ..and to comment on my ‘surprised that…’: related more to the notions of critiques, especially postmodern ones, to differentiate themselves strongly from Modernism. Some are quite dogmatic

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