Postmodernism

1965 - ...

Term used to characterize developments in architecture and the arts after the 1960s, when there was a clear challenge to the dominance of modernims; the term was applied predominantly from the 1970s to architecture and somewhat later to the decorative and visual arts. It was first used as early as 1934 by Spanish writer Federico de Onis, although it was not then used again until Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History in 1938 (published after World War II); these writers saw the ‘post-modern’ phenomenon in largely negative terms, as an irrational reaction to modernist rationalism. The term was used sporadically thereafter in the fields of literary criticism and music. In the 1970s, however, it came into wide use in connection with contemporary architecture to denote buildings that courted a selective eclecticism, often utilizing elements of Classical or Neo-classical origin. In the visual arts the term took hold later, peaking in the mid-1980s in the USA to describe work that offered a more biting critique of current cultural values than that offered in architecture. If the attachment of the label itself is set aside, however, the developments may be perceived as growing out of the resistance to a canonical modernism in the 1960s, in turn related to the growing pluralism in art and architecture that came to be associated with Post-modernism from the early 1980s.
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