Postmodern Art

Marcus Antonius Jansen,

Marcus Antonius Jansen, "Surreal"

Marcus Antonius Jansen, Pablo Picasso,

Postmodern Art is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary, philosophical concept, referring to art movements, styles, forms, disciplines and techniques, relating to art, primarily during the Contemporary Art period.

The term helps define art that contradicts and reacts against various aspects of Modern Art. It involves drawings, paintings, collage, assemblage, animation, videos, photography, documentation, installations and conceptual art.
In the article, “So These Three Artists Walk Into a Jeff Koons Show,” John Seed wrote: “(He) believes that the postwar dominance of Abstract Expressionism -- and later Conceptualism and Post-Modernism -- diminished the centrality of skill in art-making and generated this widespread negative bias. More recently, in a dense and thoughtful blog about the rise of ‘Post Contemporary’ art... ‘skill’ is the first of three ‘pillars’ (the others are creativity and empathy) that form the foundation of a new movement in painting that sees itself as reconstructive. ‘The unskilled genius may have the vision,‘ but he or she is condemned to failing it, without first acquiring the eloquence of skill.’” December 2015,
Huffington Post

There are also elements of commercialism and the use of ordinary objects in the finished art pieces, as well as kitsch, and images from the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic art.

Other characteristics of Postmodern Art include: the use of words as a central artistic element, the juxtaposition of the old and the new, performance art, appropriation, the recycling of past styles and themes, and the breakdown between fine or high and lowbrow art. The latter—often employing pop culture imagery—emphasizes that distinctions between high and low art are no longer relevant.

Postmodern Art, also referred to as postmodernism, blurs the traditional distinctions between painting, sculpture, film, performance, architecture, dance and other visual and performance art disciplines. While the artworks may also include elements from natural and physical sciences, industry, technology, popular culture, words, literature and poetry.

Deconstructing Modern Art

While Modern Art includes formal purity, art for art's sake, authenticity, universality and originality, Postmodern Art strives to deconstruct this 100-year-old movement’s values to more fully explore political, social and cultural issues.
David Hopkins wrote in the book "After Modern Art," © 2000, "One of art’s key changes was the loss of any overall sense of an avant-garde project…the social and economic changes of 'postmodernity' bred a pluralist cultural ethos in which artistic practice proliferated without any agreed goals. Art objects became cultural products among others, rather than catalysts for social or aesthetic values…it became harder for art to achieve any adversarial distance from the social mechanisms into which it was merged…Technologies of reproduction (such as television) had replaced technologies of production. Art was increasingly sponsored by commercial companies, leading to a new interdependence of art and advertising. Subsequent commentators noted that avant-gardism was now a commercial signifier rather than a deeply rooted position…Whereas modernism had frequently invoked the artist’s inner 'depths' as a bulwark against an alienating external world, a 'new depthlessness' seemed to haunt recent art."

Fredric Jameson wrote in the book, "The Anti-Aesthetic, Essays on Postmodern Culture," © 1998, The concept of postmodernism is not widely accepted or even understood today." He adds that the theory strives to replace older modern movements. In doing so, it erodes the distinctions between high and popular culture. This is perhaps the most distressing development of all from an academic standpoint, which has traditionally had a vested interest in preserving a realm of high or elite culture.

Later movements in the Modern Art period, particularly Pop Art, helped usher in postmodernism because of the rejection of purity and authenticity as standards, as well as the use of appropriation in the work.


Postmodern artists appropriate or adopt, borrow, steal, or recycle styles from contemporary, modern and classical works. They combine and/or alter these images to create new contemporary artworks; while appropriation denigrates the modernist concepts of artistic genius and originality. Banksy is a postmodern artist who appropriates from other works in nearly every art piece and installation that he creates.

Marcus Antonius Jansen is a postmodern (and contemporary) artist who incorporates high and lowbrow subject matter, and who appropriates images from other artworks and from popular culture, into his paintings. He also rejects the modernist concept of formal purity and "art for art’s sake." His painting Surreal on this page appropriates images from Pablo Picasso’s, Guernica; the latter depicting that town's bombing during the Spanish Civil War. By borrowing this image, Jansen compares the plight of urban black people to the victims of Guernica, Spain.

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