Modernist art is fundamentally about the question - what is art?

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Visual Cultures of Modernity Shane Gladstone


Component One


'Modernist art is fundamentally about asking the question - what is art?'



The attempt to produce a response to contemporary visual art or to any particular examples of it, such as Andy Warhol and David Hockney, runs immediately into the problem of the legitimacy, or rather the lack of legitimacy, of modern art. This is the fact that much, if not all, of modern art (late 1800's to the present day) is regarded as a dubious or perhaps fraudulent activity by a substantial proportion of modern everyday society. The result is that the history of modern art is punctuated by numerous 'art scandals' in which sections of the press, the media and the public either get upset or pretend to get upset about the latest artistic 'outrage', be it Jackson 'Jack-the Dripper' Pollock or Carl Andr''s 'bricks' (Equivalent VIII). The response of the media to every new artistic style or breakthrough is also invariably faced with the question is it art? Throughout this essay I intend to answer the question of what is art? And subsequently what justifies it being art. I intend to do this by dividing the essay into two sections. Firstly I will display my understanding of modernist arts roots and major conventions. Secondly I will present a case study of a modernist artist (David Hockney). Finally in my conclusion I will look

Modernism (Progressive)

The Modern refers to a period dating from roughly the 1860s through to the 1970s and is used to describe the style and ideology of art produced during the era. Modern art and modernism is characterised by a radical 'new' attitude toward both the past and the present, of ideology and social orders such as communism...