American Gothic Comes to the City - series by Steve A. Furman

American Gothic Comes to the City series by Steve A. Furman

Postmodernism refers to art, literature, politics, social philosophy and other aspects of contemporary society.

Postmodernism, as it relates to art, architecture and literature, represents a reaction against earlier modernist styles and principles. Postmodernism also tends toward the reintroduction of traditional/classical styles.

Further, the defining line between painting and sculpture is blurred, technology has helped expand its tools and mediums, while the works explore conceptual, political and other cerebral ideas.

Postmodern artists often adopt, borrow, steal, recycle and/or sample from earlier modern and classical works. They combine or alter these images to create new, contemporary pieces. And many fill their works with a strong sense of self-awareness. They also work with scientific, technological, media and digital elements.

Two Historic (Postmodern) Artists


Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian writer, as well as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, mathematician, musician, set designer and philosopher. He experimented with the helicopter and the idea of flying. He also performed autopsies and studied optics from the scientific and artistic points of view.

Louis Daguerre (1787-1851), French, known for the invention of the daguerreotype process of photography, was originally an artist, scientist, architect, theater designer, panoramic painter and inventor of the Diorama.

Contemporary Postmodernists

Steve Furman is from Western Illinois and lives near Chicago. As creator of the blog Expedient MEANS, he explains, "My serious interests in art, society, media and technology led me naturally to the web. I write observations about this rapid convergence and invite comments...this a useful framework for explaining complex designs and interactions, as well as helping one understand human behavior."

Mark Chamberlain is from Eastern Iowa and lives in Laguna Beach. He is an artist, curator, designer, mentor, creator of large multimedia events, and inventor of unusual devices. As a self-described "arteologist," he uses a variety of tools and tactics to address social concerns, many of these at his fine art photography gallery, BC Space.


In the online news source,, Jim Benz theorizes that postmodernism explores daily life by whatever standards, materials or methods the artist prefers. Sometimes, that material does not actually exist within the artwork itself, but instead is composed of social forces, including the role of the viewer, the museum or gallery, the means of production, or the specific site of display.

"Briefly stated," Benz writes, "a postmodern work of art can oftentimes confound a viewer who might have neither the education nor the inclination to contemplate the full impact of its conceptual (and sometimes political) composition."

He adds that modernism celebrates profound, timeless meanings in the work; while postmodernism also embraces cultural influences as well as a continual process of re-creation.

Steve Furman writes in his blog, "Postmodernists look at modernism and say, 'This could be done more effectively.' A postmodernist recycles, borrows and rebuilds older models and styles into newer ones that can be more easily understood today.

"Postmodernism's birth occurred approximately when technology and especially computers took a quantum leap forward. Postmodernists today create, arrange and distribute methods, styles and data whether it is artistic or technological differently than people did a generation ago. If something can be digitized, then it will survive. If it can't, then it is at risk for being lost forever. There is also a desire to connect with people and make introductions that might lead to something good for all parties involved."

Pablo Picasso said, "What do you think an artist is? He is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image."

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