The 4 Most Important Stages of Modernism

Abraham McLaughlin

Between the stages / phases of Modernism It includes its antecedents in the 19th century, its appearance during the first decades of the 20th century, its final constitution in 1930 and its subsequent evolution over time, gradually becoming what we know today as postmodernism..

According to different experts, modernism was derived from Romanticism in response to the Industrial Revolution and the values ​​of the 19th century bourgeoisie. The modernists, standard bearers of Romanticism, made a critique of the bourgeois social structure and the order and structure of the world.

J.M.W. Turner, Fort Vimieux,

In France, the first modernist school appeared, known as Impressionism during the year 1870, being largely promoted by Manet.

This school initially focused on the results beyond the technique, sustaining that the human being does not see objects, but rather sees the light in them..

At the beginning of the 20th century, modernism had a complex relationship with tradition. Its principles were revolutionary and reactive, however, it was still linked to the idea of ​​nihilism, and to certain previous creative techniques..

For this reason, much of the artistic production of this time still evokes tradition, but in turn breaks with the schemes proposed by it..

The main stages / phases of modernism

Background: The 19th Century

The trigger that started modernism was the reaction of the standard bearers of Romanticism towards the Industrial Revolution and the attitude, perspective of the world and social order of the new bourgeois class.

It can be said that modernism began with the painter J.M.W. Turner, who decided to break with the traditional schemes of pictorial representation and with his study of color anticipated what would later become the first school of modernism: French impressionism..

The ideal of improving the quality of life of the working classes that inhabited the cities, together with the desire to produce any type of artistic piece, be it literary or pictorial, inspired the followers of Romanticism to believe that art had the capacity to impact the way society was structured, improving the conditions of the working class.

This is how the Pre-Rafaelistas were born, a group of writers who defended the absence of technique in favor of an experimental, free and people's literary production..

Between this group and Manet, modernism is considered to have formally begun in the late 19th century..

Beginning of Modernism in France

Many historians agree that modernism began in France in the year 1870, with the appearance of the theory of thermodynamics, the development of Seurat's divisionist works, Baudelaire's books, Flaubert's prose and Manet's paintings..

In general, it is believed that modernism was born as a new way of thinking about reality that encompassed all disciplines of knowledge and art.

In this way, it is evident that modernism not only appeared in art and literature, it was expressly manifested in all branches of knowledge in a reactive way to the consequences of the Industrial Revolution and the attitude of the Bourgeoisie.

Modernism presented an ironic, conscious and experimental attitude that sought to transgress traditional norms and parameters.

In France the first modernist school appeared, known as Impressionism. This school initially focused on results beyond technique.

The impressionists sought to show that human beings do not see objects, but rather see light in them. Initially it was rejected, but over time it gained followers and its works were presented at the Paris Salon in the 1870s and 1880s..

It was Manet's work as a pioneer of impressionism that finally opened the doors to modernism in France.

Thanks to this, new schools of modernism could emerge in France, such as Symbolism, with the books of Charles Baudelaire and the poems of Arthur Rimbaud..

Early 20th century to 1930

During this stage of modernism, the aspects that gave it its distinctive touch were defined. His interest in adopting new techniques, rewriting what was already written, revising history and parodying it in new ways became increasingly evident..

Modernism for this moment in history had a complex relationship with tradition.

Its principles were revolutionary and reactive, however, it was still linked to the idea of ​​nihilism, and to certain previous creative techniques..

During the first decade of the 20th century, painters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse appeared, attracting critical attention by rejecting the perspective and structure of traditional painting..

In 1907, Picasso painted the Young Ladies of Avignon, and with this he would define once and for all the foundations of Cubism. In the same way, great architects such as Le Corbusier appeared, defying the norm and aesthetic tradition.

The expressionism movement would also appear during this stage of modernism, this time in Germany, bringing with it other "isms", such as Futurism, Vorticism, Surrealism and Dadaism. This stage of modernism goes until 1930, when Adolf Hitler came to power..

From 1930 to 1945

By 1930, modernism had spread throughout Europe, adopting names such as "Avant-gardé" in France..

Intellectuals from different schools continued with their artistic production, arriving in America in 1940 when the New Yorker newspaper decided to include some surreal humor jokes in its pages..

By this time, modernism was facing a period of adaptation to new technologies.

The appearance of the telephone, radio and automobile, together with the prevailing need to repair them, created a social change as disruptive as the one that took place in the year 1870.

The speed of communication became an element of daily life and the accelerated urbanization of certain cities again led to changes in life and social structure..

With the emergence of Marxism, the modernists, who were still active, took on a rational tinge. In this way, modernism would soon cease to be called that and would mutate into what is now known as postmodernism..


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