Late modernism

In the visual arts, late modernism encompasses the overall production of most recent art made between the aftermath of World War II and the early years of the 21st century The terminology often points to similarities between late modernism and post-modernism although there are differences The predominant term for art produced since the 1950s is contemporary art Not all art labelled as contemporary art is modernist or post-modern, and the broader term encompasses both artists who continue to work in modern and late modernist traditions, as well as artists who reject modernism for post-modernism or other reasons Arthur Danto argues explicitly in After the End of Art that contemporaneity was the broader term, and that postmodern objects represent a subsector of the contemporary movement which replaced modernity and modernism, while other notable critics: Hilton Kramer, Robert C Morgan, Kirk Varnedoe, Jean-François Lyotard and others have argued that postmodern objects are at best relative to modernist works

The jargon which encompasses the two terms late modernism and postmodern art is used to denote what may be considered as the ultimate phase of modern art, as art at the end of modernism or as certain tendencies of contemporary art

There are those who argue against a division into modern and postmodern periods Not all critics agree that the stage called modernism is over or even near the end There is no agreement that all art after modernism is post-modern Contemporary art is the more-widely used term to denote work since roughly 1960, though it has many other uses as well Nor is post-modern art universally separated from modernism, with many critics seeing it as merely another phase in modern art or as another form of late modernism

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As with all uses of the term post-modern there are critics of its application, however, at this point, these critics are in the minority This is not to say that the phase of art denoted by post-modernism is accepted, merely that the need for a term to describe movements in art after the peak of abstract expressionism is well established However although the concept of change has come to consensus, and whether it is a post-modernist change, or a late modernist period, is undetermined, the consensus is that a profound change in the perception of works of art has occurred and a new era has been emerging on the world stage since at least the 1960s

In literature, the term late modernism refers to works of literature produced after World War II However, several different definitions of late modernist literature exist The most common refers to works published between 1930 and 1939, or 1945 However, there are modernists, such as Basil Bunting (1900–85) and T S Eliot (1888-1965), writing later than 1945, and Samuel Beckett, who died in 1989, has been described as a “later modernist” Eliot published two plays in the 1950s and Bunting’s long modernist poem “Briggflatts” was published in 1965 The poets Charles Olson (1910-1970) and J H Prynne (1936- ) are, amongst other writing in the second half of the 20th century, who have been described as late modernists There is the further question as to whether late modernist literature differs in any important way from the modernist works produced before 1930 To confuse matters, more recently the term late modernism has been redefined by at least one critic and used to refer to works written after 1945, rather than 1930 With this usage goes the idea that the ideology of modernism was significantly re-shaped by the events of World War II, especially the Holocaust and the dropping of the atom bomb

Late modernism describes movements which both arise from, and react against, trends in modernism and reject some aspect of modernism, while fully developing the conceptual potentiality of the modernist enterprise In some descriptions post-modernism as a period in art is completed, whereas in others it is a continuing movement in contemporary art In art, the specific traits of modernism which are cited are generally formal purity, medium specificity, art for art’s sake, the possibility of authenticity in art, the importance or even possibility of universal truth in art, and the importance of an avant-garde and originality This last point is one of particular controversy in art, where many institutions argue that being visionary, forward looking, cutting edge and progressive are crucial to the mission of art in the present, and that postmodern therefore, represents a contradiction of the value of “art of our times”

While post-modernism acts in rejection of modernism’s grand narratives of artistic direction, and to eradicate the boundaries between high and low forms of art, to disrupt genre and its conventions with collision, collage and fragmentation Post-modern art is seen as believing that all stances are unstable and insincere, and therefore irony, parody and humor are the only positions which cannot be overturned by critique.