Graphic Design for Advertising, Visual Culture & Theory
What is Modernism?
Historically Modernism describes that period between 1900 and 1950 when Artists, Architects, Designers and Writers radically re-assessed the direction of their disciplines. Spurred on by radical thinkers like Marx, Sartre, Freud, and Jung; inspired by the possibilities of new economic processes and materials, Art, Architecture and Design set out to redefine the world in which we live. These arts flourished and proliferated as in no period since the Renaissance. In their own terms I believe the Modernists would have described themselves as Modern because what they did represented a complete break with the past:, not a revisiting of past glories like the Renaissance. They disengaged themselves from the Romantics’ view of our inevitable naturalness. There were no restraints on the search for Truth. The Bauhaus set out to establish a new set of rational rules where form follows function and less is more. The cubists questioned our very perception of reality. The Dadaists and Surrealists defied the power of logical thought, revealing that the most creative part of our psyche resides in the unconscious. The development of Western civilization’s Art, Architecture and Design can be linked to the predominant ideologies of their time. Christianity dominated the first 1800 years of it’s founding. For the Greater Glory such masterpieces as those of the Renaissance came into being. But expression was limited by the strictures of the Church. The Age of Enlightenment brought us out of the Dark Ages, permitted the development of science and technology, freed up our thinking and our rights of expression, and so set the stage for Modernism. Rather than a revolutionary break with tradition, Modernism may thus be seen as a natural or inevitable step in the development of our visual culture.
Karl Marx described the progress of human history akin to the physical law of forces: for...
Bibliography: Crouch, C (2001) “Modernism in Art, Design & Architecture.”
Blake, Peter (2002) “The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright”
Larmann, Ralph (2002) “Introduction to Fine Art – Study Guide”
Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, www.metmuseum.org
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