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Recently, in discussing the current Post Modern era in art, I pointed out that much of what artists do today is still locked into a Modernist mindset; and that while on the surface it might "look" new, in reality there is nothing new about it. It's merely a revisitation of already mined-over material coming from various artistic styles of the past. So, someone asked, what is new? Although scholars differ somewhat in assigning a fixed date to the advent of Post Modernism, we could arbitrarily say it began about 1970, and while this is quite recent in terms of art history, it's really not too soon to begin to discern some inherent styles and trends. Sometimes the easiest way to see trends in painting is to look across disciplines, at music, drama, literature, and motion pictures, because these areas of the fine arts are much more "up front" than is painting today. And if you look at what's happening in these areas you see a number of trends that, cut across all areas of the fine arts.
First of all we note that art has become much more "serious" than in the past. One would almost have to say it lacks a sense of humour. And what glimpses of levity we do find are couched in satire and black humour of the Monicagate genre. Second, we find, like never before, that beauty is much more a relative thing. It's not just in the eye of the beholder, but in his or her head. If there is beauty in Post Modern art, it is seldom to be found on the surface, but deep within ones understanding of the particular genre. And with Post Modern art, that understanding does not come easily. It must be probed, and often we as artists are no different from the general public, we decide it's simply not worth the effort. As we who were born and raised dining on Modern Art are now beginning to realise, our teeth are not what they use to be. It's much easier to munch on Twinkies than masticate T-bone.
Post Modern art is young. For the most part, so are Post Modern artists. It's not for the faint hearted, the narrow minded, the bigoted, the traditionalist, or the superficial amongst us. It's for those who watch the evening news while reading the newspaper and surfing the Internet all at the same time. It's for those of us who can filter out the truth in the half of what we see, the fourth of what we read, and the tenth of what we hear. Post Modern art looks for complexities rather than simplification. It is conscious of the past but uses it only for decoration, not for content. It digests the world around us and regurgitates it rather than merely reflecting it. Post Modern art is not above using the same shock tactics and technical aesthetics seen in the best and worst of television to make it's point. And most of all it's not about entertaining us or looking good over the couch. It's shrewd, it's tough, and it's not pretty, and whether we like it or loathe it, it's not going to go away. We are.
contributed by Lane, Jim
27 February 1999
|Abstract Expressionism (1945 -)|
A 1940's New York painting movement based on Abstract Art. A style of non-representational painting that relies on the physical movement of the artist in using such gestural techniques as vigorous brushwork, dripping, and pouring. Dynamism is often created through the interlaced directions of the paint.
Op Art (1950 - 1960s)
An art style particularly popular in the 1960s in which line and colour are manipulated in ways that stimulate the eye into believing it perceives movement.
Pop Art (1960 -)
A style derived from commercial art forms and characterised by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterised in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper
Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.
Minimalism (1970 -)
A non-representational style of sculpture and painting, predominantly American, that dates from the late 1960s, characterised by its rejection of expressive content and its use of "minimal" formal means.
Conceptual (1980 -)
An art form in which the originating idea and the process by which it is presented take precedence over a tangible product. Conceptual works are sometimes produced in visible form, but they often exist only as descriptions of mental concepts or ideas. This trend developed in the late 1960s, in part as a way to avoid the commercialisation of art.
Super / Photo Realism (1975 - 2000)
Emerging in the 1970s and based on photography - the artists categorised as Photo-Realists portrayed what the camera did, enlarging and exploring the means by which the photographic image conveyed reality.
Contemporary Realism (1970 -)
During the 1970s, realist painters who had retained an interest in the figure began to gain recognition, while others, trained in various traditions of abstraction, developed a renewed interest in realism.