What Is Modernism in the Arts Essay

2125 WordsFeb 4, 20149 Pages
What is Modernism in the arts ? Modernism is a complex term for historians. There appears to be no specific agreement about the dates of the movement, leading Tony Pinkney ( in Shepherd-Barr,2005:61), senior lecturer and author at Lancaster University, to call it “ the most frustratingly unspecific, the most recalcitrantly unperiodizing of all the major art-historical ‘isms’ or concepts.” Some historians set modernism at 1890-1930, others place its beginnings at around 1900 and others maintain that it began shortly before World War 1(WW1) 1914-1918. Professor Betty Brown, art historian, critic and curator, (in What is Modernism ? n.d.), states that modernism “can refer to anything since the Renaissance, anything since the mid-nineteenth century, [or]a specific style of art or a characteristic, but modernists were generally Utopian idealists who worked for progress for the future.” She believes that modernism started in the 1850’s/60’s in Western culture, with the avant garde provocations of French artists Manet and Courbet, and was eclipsed by Postmodernism in 1968. She goes on to say that modern artists are in general Utopian. They seek a better world and want to change the world for the better. They are idealists who believe there is an answer and that progress can be made towards that answer. “They believe in a master narrative that will lead them to the best outcome of the story” and that “the key component of modernism is that, the modern definition of art involves a search for originality, and that modern art is defined by the artist expressing himself.” ( What is Modernism ? n.d.) Modernism in the arts, is defined by Britannia Encyclopaedia as” a radical break with the past and the search for new forms of expression” which “ fostered a period of experimentation in the arts from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century especially

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