Post-modernism is, as stated by Mike Featherstone in his piece Modern and Postmodern, “more strongly based on a negation of the modern, a perceived abandonment, break with or shift away from the definitive features of the modern, with the emphasis firmly on the sense of the relational move away” (425). This means that things which are considered “post-modern” differ from things one would believe to be “modern”. There are a lot of aspects to culture that could be considered post-modern, such as film, literature and art. For the purposes of this blog, there will be a focus on art, more specifically that of late artist Andy Warhol whom Featherstone briefly mentions when discussing post-modernism.
The thing that makes some art post-modern is the fact that it is being done in a way that is outside of the box. The pieces which are being produced by what some would call post-modern artists are not what the world actually look like today, but rather give a new aspect and point-of-view that seems almost surreal and takes one out of their everyday life. When looking at the different artists’ works who were mentioned by Featherstone, it can be seen that they all use a lot of abstract colors one would not necessarily use for the images in which they are creating. Thus, they are sort of creating a new perspective of the subject of their artwork, making it different.
One of the most famous artists who could be considered post-modern is Andy Warhol. Many of Warhol’s works would fall under the category of “pop art” which is pieces of art relating to popular culture in a fun, colorful way. Some of his most well-known artwork includes a “pop art” depiction of late blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, as featured above. In this piece of art, we see many different versions of the same Monroe portrait, just in different outlandish colors. The images that look the most normal and realistic aren’t even very life-like because of the way they were designed. You can see the way the colors pop out at you and draw in your attention; they depict an idea that isn’t seen daily even in today’s society, let alone in the 1950s/1960s when this piece of art was created. Warhol took a famous figure in popular culture and turned her into something past the modern ideas of art. Modern art would be described as more realistic and life-like, whereas post-modern art has a more carefree, dreamlike vibe to it.
What makes art “post-modern” versus “modern” is mostly what the artist defines themselves as; the term “became popular in the 1960s in New York when it was used by young artists….to refer to a movement beyond the ‘exhausted’ high modernism which was rejected because of its institutionalization in the museum and the academy” (Featherstone 429). Artists, as well as other visionaries, began to embrace the term because they wanted to distance themselves from the notion of modernism, which would in turn indicate that they as artists identify themselves as being “post-modern”. The fact that the artworks of all the artists mentioned by Featherstone have similar attributes would also indicate that the label “post-modern” is given based on characteristics to an extent. They’re all images of real things depicted in fantastical ways; they are all extensions and exaggerations of what is considered modern art.