428 artworks, 76 artists
Postmodernism (fr. postmodernisme — after modernism) is the period in art that followed the dominance of modernism in the theory and practice of culture. This trend, which arose in the middle of the 20th century, ideologically united many contemporary artists. It is directly connected with skepticism, irony, and philosophical criticism of universal truths and objective reality. The very term “postmodernism” was introduced into use by Jean-François Lyotard in his work “The Postmodern Condition” (1979), in which the idea of a “language game” was played out. Proposed by the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein, the idea was that different groups of people use the same language in different ways – and this, in turn, can lead to the fact that they will look at the world in completely different ways.

In the era of postmodernism, there was no single line of story, no privileged point of view, system or theory. The world was changing rapidly after the two devastating wars and millions of deaths, the first nuclear tests, the triumph of communist ideology. During this period, the optimism of modernists, which dominated the pre-war world, became irrelevant and outdated. Postmodernism has shifted geographical emphasis – the world centre of art has moved from Paris to New York. Modernists focused on design, hierarchy, skill, whereas postmodernists were interested in collages, chance, anarchy, repetition. The early manifestations of postmodernism were noticeable among the Dadaists, in the paintings by surrealists, those artists who worked in abstract expressionism, chromatic abstraction, arte povera and colour field painting. In graphic design, this manifested itself as a tendency to use such styles as techno, punk, grunge.

The depth of the subject comprehension and the metaphysics of the modernist artists were contrasted by superficiality, irony and the gesture art. Postmodernism gave artists the opportunity to criticize everyone and everything, destroy the old foundations of painting, deny the tastes of the public. Neo-Dada and pop art appeared in post-war America, and over the next several decades, reactionary art forms called to life such trends as minimalism, conceptual art, performance art, and video art. All of these movements of postmodernism, diverse in their essence and form, have common characteristics, such as a mixture of hierarchies of high and low art, a rejection of the concepts of authenticity and originality that are characteristic of modernists, emphasizing entertainment, irony and playfulness.

In art, the era of permissiveness has begun. The radicalized and provocative aesthetics of postmodernism mixed styles and created new meanings. As the British playwright Harold Pinter wrote, “there are no tough differences between what is real and what is unreal, as well as between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” New trends appeared not only in painting, but also in architecture, dramaturgy, music, dance. Classical ballet was diluted with hip-hop and eroticism, Madonna reigned on the stage, shocking the audience with the new images. Success in art began to be judged by its commercialization and the general hype that the media raised around this or that artist.

So, postmodernism arose into a paradoxical mixture of styles, trends and genres, denying the legacy of European artistic tradition. At the same time, this style acutely urged the society to see the pressing social issues, to which contemporary artists were trying to give answers. Using ready-made forms and materials, which were pulled out of an ordinary environment and placed in a new, sometimes unusual coordinate system, postmodernism tried to solve the main tasks of art as such.

Post-modernist artists: Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Barbara Kruger, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Marina Abramović, Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst.
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