What Is Postmodernism? Postmodernism Artists and Examples

postmodern contemporary art

So what is postmodern art? Postmodern art, also known as postmodernism, is what came to follow modern art, or modernism. Some believe postmodernism to be a rebel against everything modern art was known for. Imagine modern art to be that which rests within a container of ideas. Now imagine a postmodern art gallery to be all the contents that does not fit inside the container, so instead it overflows. It is this overflowing content which has no restriction or limit to be or become whatever it wishes to be. Rebelling against everything which had become comfortable, postmodern art artists brought to the table a sense of new. New can sometimes be uncomfortable for people to embrace, however often important. I use the word ‘new’ quite loosely. Postmodernism art pieces are known to have taken inspiration and been influenced greatly by art of the past. Utilizing these pre-existing ideas to assist in the creation of something new. So I guess these pieces were in fact new, but were inspired by the old.

Postmodern Art vs Modern Art

which of the following are typical of postmodern art

To expand a little more on the differences and similarities between postmodern art and modern art, allow me to share the known qualities for both periods of art.

Modern Art

Which are the typical aspects of modern art? Let’s have a look…

  • Medium Specificity. Medium specificity is this idea that the artist is able to take the raw material in which they are working with and utilize it to its full potential. Working with what they have.
  • Art For Art’s Sake. Art that is considered to be self-directed or inspired from the inside out. Rather than being influenced by external factors such as politics for example, this art is rendered from the power of its own engine.
  • Authenticity. Authenticity can refer to the artist staying true to themselves and their personal tendencies as well as can refer to the ability to capture the subject to its most true form.
  • Universality. Universality within art may refer to this idea that the given piece of art can be appreciated and understood by all those who are similarly situated in life, no matter where they are located.
  • Originality. Originality is this idea that an artist is presenting something new or never seen before within their artwork. This is something that was common in modern art.

Postmodern Art

postmodern art gallery
  • Bricolage. Bricolage is a term used to describe mixed media art. The process in which the artist makes use of what is currently available to create a final product.
  • Collage. Collage is when pieces and parts of other pieces of art or objects are used to create a new whole. Taking apart what is old and using only the pieces you like in tandem with other pieces.
  • Appropriation. When one uses something that already exists and applies little to no alterations or transitions to it, it is considered to be appropriation.
  • Performance Art. Quite often interdisciplinary work which can be demonstrated through live shows, documentation or pieces of writing. Postmodern performance art is art shared through action which is directed by the artist.
  • Recycling. Recycling is referred to when an artist takes something that is pre-existing in the art world and utilizes it to their benefit in order to create something new. It is like taking an old jar that has been emptied and repurposing it by filling it with something new. Not all old things need to be left untouched.

Postmodern Artists

There are many famous postmodern artists who have created works which have yet to be forgotten. Many of these names on the postmodern artists list below have carved their own paths into the history of postmodern art history. All rebelling against the preconceived notions of art that the modern era presented. Allow me to present to you some of the most memorable postmodern artists who created works of art that will forever withstand the test of time.

Andy Warhol

andy warhol

Andy Warhol was an American postmodern artist who was most known by the public and his fellow artists for his pop art. Warhol thrived during the 60s, producing many works of art that are still known and appreciated today such as his “Campbell’s Soup Cans” (1962) as well as his “Marilyn Diptych” (1964).

Robert Rauschenberg

robert rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg is another incredibly famous American artist who is well known for his many talents, one of his main ones being his postmodernism painting pieces. Robert’s work is known to be the work which anticipated the pop art movement, which Andy Warhol was a part of. Rauschenberg loved to collaborate with many artists from multiple fields of work.

Robert Breer

robert breer

Robert Breer was not only a painter, but a filmmaker and sculptor as well. All of Breer’s works were quite experimental as he tended to lean more into the world of abstraction.

Cleeve Horne

Cleeve Horne

Cleeve Horne was a Canadian famous postmodern art creator. Cleeve produced both portrait paintings and sculptures. He is known to have created upwards of 400 paintings during his lifetime.

Cindy Sherman

examples of postmodernism art

Cindy Sherman creates more postmodern contemporary art through means of photography. Still alive today, Cindy’s works bring up discussions surrounding postmodernism, feminism and representation to name a few.

Joseph Kosuth

joseph kosuth

Joseph Kosuth is another American postmodern artist who is still alive today and currently residing in New York City and London, England. In his work, Kosuth strives to answer and explore the nature of what art is rather than worry about the production of a final piece of art or product.

Postmodernism Art Examples

These are just a small number out of many artists who dedicated their time and continue to dedicate their time creating postmodernism art examples. Postmodernism gave and continues to give artists space to rebel from societal norms and to express their voices through their mediums. Postmodernism also provides artists with the chance to welcome interdisciplinary into their pieces, helping their visions come to life. Now that we know of some postmodern artists, let’s take a look at some postmodernism art examples.

Postmodernism Art Examples

Here we have a list of an array of postmodern artwork. We have postmodernism paintings, postmodern film prints and even postmodern sculptures. Postmodernism is filled with excitement as there are no confinements when it comes to what the artist can create. Let’s check out these pieces of art in a postmodern art timeline.

Time Out By Robert Breer

Time Out (Robert Breer)

Robert Breer created his work “Time Out” in 1953. This particular painting created by Robert Breer is an oil on canvas. His use of primary colors and blocked patterning accompanied by thick black linework is quite prominent. This black linework in this piece creates an inner rectangular frame. The colors ebb and flow in and out of this frame, presenting a sense of rebel. Almost as if Breer chose to color outside the lines. This painting is quite famous. If you are wanting to see this work today, you will be able to find it at the Simon Preston Gallery in New York. In his time, Breer created similar works to this one, however this one seems to capture my attention more than the others.

Collection By Robert Rauschenberg

Collection (Robert Rauscenberg)

“Collection” by Robert Rauschenberg was created in 1954/1955. This piece is quite the eclectic piece of postmodern art. In the piece Collection, Rauschenberg used oil, paper, fabric, newspaper, printed reproductions, wood, metal, and mirror on three canvas panels. By using all of these materials, Rauschenberg is demonstrating bricolage, collage as well as recycling. Working with what he had and found in the surrounding space, “Collection” turned out to be an amazing and memorable work of art. This piece uses many colors, though they are all muted so the viewer’s eye does not become overwhelmed. The texture that this piece possesses is like no other. I could analyze this work of art for hours and not get bored as my eye is always being drawn to a new detail.

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Diptych (Andy Warhol)

Andy Warhol created this work in the year 1962 during the following weeks to Marilyn Monroe’s death in August 1962. This piece of postmodern art is both a painting and a silkscreen. In total, there are 50 images of Marilyn’s face in this piece. 25 of the images are painted in color, and the other 25 are in black and white. Some believe that the juxtaposition of color and black and white are intended to represent life and death. This is an extremely famous work of art that is brought up often when talking about postmodernism. As mentioned before, Andy Warhol was known for his pop art creations, this being one of them. “Marilyn’s Diptych” has made its way around the world, being held on display in various exhibits in various museums and galleries.

Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein

Whaam (Roy Lichtenstein)

“Whaam!” by Roy Lichtenstein was created in 1963. Roy was an American pop artist, therefore this particular piece falls under the umbrella of pop art as well. “Whaam!” is a painting which consists of two canvases depicting a comic strip. Both acrylic and oil paints were used to accomplish this postmodern piece of art. The use of red and yellow in this piece make it stand out and draw the viewer’s attention towards the explosion painted on the canvas. This painting is extremely well done, looking as if a page was pulled directly from a comic book and blown up in scale.

One And Three Chairs by Joseph Kosuth

One And Three Chairs (Joseph Kosuth)

In 1965, Joseph Kosuth created One And Three Chairs. Some consider this piece to be that of conceptual art. Before your eyes you will see a real life three-dimensional chairs, a two-dimensional photo of a chair on the wall, as well as a two-dimensional definition of what a chair is as well as instructions on how to build a chair on the wall. There are many interpretations as to what this piece represents, so I will leave it up to you to decide for yourself.

Untitled Film Still #21 by Cindy Sherman

Untitled Film Still 21 (Cindy Sherman)

This photo by Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, was captured in the year 1978. Cindy Sherman was notorious for taking self-portraits. These images often left people confused between who Cindy Sherman the person was and who Cindy Sherman the girl in the photograph was. This particular “Film Still #21” can sometimes be referred to as “City Girl”. In this photo, Sherman seems to be acting out an onlooker in the city streets. As her gaze is pulled from the camera, we begin to wonder what she is looking at. Cindy Sherman’s works are a great example of performance art being shared through development. Rather than capturing everyday life, Cindy Sherman decided to create a scene in her mind, act it out, and capture it in still moments. Sherman’s photographs are well known and loved by many.

That’s a Wrap on Postmodernism!

Well there you have it, everything you need to know about postmodern art wrapped up into a single blog post. There is of course always more to learn, however I think the things we covered today provide a good understanding on postmodernism and all it has to offer. You now know the names of some famous postmodern artists as well as some famous examples of postmodernism art. You also know the differences between that of which modern art has to offer versus that of which postmodern art has to offer. Thank you for diving into this condensed art lesson on the postmodern world. I hope you take what you learned and share it with others. Postmodernism is inspiring, perhaps you will find some of these ideas bleeding into your next creation.

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