[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Modernism (1850s - 1950s)

For the purpose of this site we situate the origins of modernism in 1850s France. Its golden age (or high modernism) is situated in the Anglo-Saxon world and is characterized by new for new's sake (by analogy of art for art's sake). [Mar 2006]

Tropes: alienation - fragmentation - intellectualism - non linearity - neophilia - confrontation with new media - non linearity - confrontation with mass production - confrontation with mass culture - progressive - embrace of realism - 'cult of ugliness'

By medium: modernist architecture - modern architecture - modern art - modern design - modern literature - modernist cinema - modernist literature - modernist music - modern music - modernist timeline

Not to be confused with: modernity

Essays and bibliography: Painter of Modern Life (1863) - Charles Baudelaire - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) - Walter Benjmain - deviant Modernism - The Senses of Modernism (2002) - Sara Danius - Five Faces of Modernity (1977|1987) - Matei Calinescu - The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992) - John Carey - more ...

Era: 1850s - 1860s - 1870s - 1880s - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - 1950s

Related: 1800s - 1900s - art nouveau (modernismo) - avant-garde - Decadent movement - high modernism - low modernism - industrial revolution - literacy - modern - modern art - new - realism - mass reproduction - Symbolist movement

Contemporary critics of modernism: Charles Baudelaire - Matthew Arnold - John Ruskin - Walter Pater

Posteriori critics of modernism: Clement Greenberg - T.J. Clark

Media and technologies: literacy - machine age - cheap newspapers - illustrated newspaper - cinema - gramophone

Preceded by: Romanticism

Followed by: Postmodernism

Ever since the mid-19th century, the culture of modernity has been characterized by a volatile relationship between high art and mass culture. . . . Modernism constituted itself through a conscious strategy of exclusion, an anxiety of contamination by its other: an increasingly consuming and engulfing mass culture. -- Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture and Postmodernism

The rise of cinema and "moving pictures" in the first decade of the 20th century gave the modern movement an artform which was uniquely its own. [Dec 2004]

"Pop in the broadest sense was the context in which a notion of the postmodern first took shape, and from the beginning until today, the most significant trends within postmodernism have challenged modernism's relentless hostility to mass culture." -- After the Great Divide (1986) - Andreas Huyssen

What can be safely called Modernism emerged in the middle of the last century [19th century]. And rather locally, in France, with Baudelaire in literature and Manet in painting, and maybe with Flaubert too, in prose fiction. --Clement Greenberg, 1979


Modernism is a artistic and cultural movement with its roots in mid-19th century France, generally defined by new forms of art, architecture, music and literature emerging in the decades before 1914 as artists rejected 19th century artistic traditions such as romanticism.

High modernism is the golden age of modernism. It peaked from 1910 to 1930.

In music, it was characterized by atonality, in architecture by the lack of ornament, in literature by the stream of consciousness technique and the lack of chronological narrative and finally, in the visual arts by lack of representation. Generally, Modernists celebrated newness and innovation.

Some see Modernism as an ongoing development (Richard Kostelanetz), others (Stephen Bayley and John Carey) as a distinct era of ephemeral taste. It can be argued that architectural modernism died with the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe buildings in 1972, design-modernism died in 1981 with the formation of the Memphis Design Group.

Compare modern and modernity

See also: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism


In Western culture the term "Modernism" has several meanings. This article focuses on the cultural movement labeled "Modernism" (or the "Modern Movement").

This movement began in the late 19th century and reached its peak in the period between 1910 and 1930. It tried to redefine various artforms in a radical manner. Leading lights within the literary wing of this movement include Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marcel Proust, and Franz Kafka. Composers such as Schoenberg and Stravinsky represent Modernism in music. Artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian and the Surrealists represent the visual arts, while architects and designers such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe brought Modernist ideas into everyday urban life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism [2004]

Modernism and postcards

An article on postcards in relation to modernism

The very definition of Modernism has always been contentious. Did it begin with the advent of photography, which liberated the visual arts from the obligations of realism, or was its starting point the experiments in the application of color by such Post-Impressionist painters as Cézanne, van Gogh and Gauguin? Did Claude Debussy’s gradual abandonment of tonality, the cornerstone of Western musical composition since J.S. Bach, lead inevitably to Arnold Schoenberg’s polytonality and the sound experiments of Webern, Stockhausen and Cage? Do the honors of introducing non-representational theatre belong to Pirandello, to the German Expressionists or to the Italian Futurists? And where do Kafka, Musil, Svevo and Joyce fit in? --Anthony Guneratne via http://www.co.broward.fl.us/library/bienes/postcard/modernism.htm [Nov 2006]

See also: modernism - low modernism - mass culture

The First Moderns : Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought (1998) - William R. Everdell

The First Moderns : Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought (1998) - William R. Everdell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In the early 1870s, mathematicians like Cantor and Dedekind discovered the set and divided the mathematical continuum; in 1886, Georges Seurat debuted his visionary masterpiece, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"; by the end of 1900, Hugo de Vries had discovered the gene, Max Planck had laid claim to the quantum, and Sigmund Freud had laid bare the unconscious workings of dreams. Throughout the worlds of art and ideas, of science and philosophy, Modernism was dawning, and with it a new mode of conceptualization. With astounding range and scholarly command, William Everdell constructs a lively and accessible history of nascent Modernism -- narrating portraits of genius, profiling intellectual breakthroughs, and richly evoking the fin-de-siecle atmosphere of Paris, Vienna, St. Louis, and St. Petersburg. He follows Picasso to the Cabaret des Assassins, discourses with Ernst Mach on the contingency of scientific law, and takes in the riotous premiere of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'. But how are we to define the inception of an era predicated upon such far-flung and radically disparate innovations? Everdell is careful not to insist on the creative interrelation of these events. Instead, what for him unites such germinally modernist achievements is a profound conceptual insight: that the objects of our knowledge are - contrary to the evolutionary seamlessness of nineteenth-century thought -- discrete, atomistic, and discontinuous. The gray matter was found to be made out of neurons, poems out of disjunctive images, and paintings out of dots of color, all by innovators whose worlds were just beginning to align. Theoretically sophisticated yet marvelously entertaining, "The First Moderns" offers an invigorating look at the unfolding of an age.

See also: 1870s - 1880s - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - Modernism - science

The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (1983) - Stephen Kern

The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (1983) - Stephen Kern [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Stephen Kern writes about the sweeping changes in technology and culture between 1880 and World War I that created new modes of understanding and experiencing time and space.

See also: 1880s - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - culture - time - space

Meanwhile, at Amazon

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications