At the end of 1945 much of the world was in ruins. Among the major combatants in World War II, the United States alone came out of the struggle stronger than before and with its economy and industrial infrastructure intact. The United States was the world’s sole nuclear power at the time, and it shouldered the burden of financing the rebuilding of Europe and Japan along with protecting the survivors from a growing Soviet threat. From a cultural point of view, World War II also launched the United States as an artistic superpower, a position it still holds. Americans held the high ground in science, technology, literature, music, theatre, popular culture and, with the arrival of Abstract Expressionism, painting and eventually sculpture. Only in philosophy did Europe retain some measure of its prewar strength. Yet in spite of its American cultural claims, physical expansiveness and progressive aspirations, Abstract Expressionism remained tied to European modernism in ways that defied its self-professed Americanism. It was big and bold, but it was more about New York than Des Moines. By the end of the 1950s it was clear that the great American style spoke mostly to an elite.
According to Arthur Danto, postmodernism began with Andy Warhol’s screenprinted, plywood replicas of Brillo boxes in the early sixties. The date seems a little arbitrary, and in truth the postmodern approach coexisted with high modernism before it was recognized as something new. It could be even argued that Duchamp launched postmodernism as early as 1917, although most art historians would rightfully reject such an assertion. What are postmodernism’s hallmarks? Irreverence Appropriation Impurity Narrative An embrace of popular culture and technologies New materials Representation Anti-heroism Skepticism Camp and Kitsch Irony
<ul><li>Jasper Johns </li></ul><ul><li>American </li></ul><ul><li>Target with Plaster Casts </li></ul><ul><li>1955 </li></ul>
<ul><li>Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil </li></ul><ul><li>Americans </li></ul><ul><li>Light Borne in Darkness </li></ul><ul><li>1951 </li></ul>
Robert Rauschenberg American Monogram Freestanding combine 1955-59
POP A celebration of popular culture or a mockery of lowbrow art? Television Rock and Roll The Cult of Youth The Cult of the Celebrity Drug Chic Camp, Kitsch and Dispassionate Appropriation
Irony the gold standard of postmodernism irony 1 | ˈī r ə n ē ; ˈ i ə rn ē | | ˌ a ɪ r ə ni| | ˌʌɪ r ə ni| noun ( pl. -nies ) the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect : “Don't go overboard with the gratitude,” he rejoined with heavy irony. See note at wit . a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result : [with clause ] the irony is that I thought he could help me. (also dramatic or tragic irony ) a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character's words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character. ORIGIN early 16th cent.(also denoting Socratic irony): via Latin from Greek eir ō neia ‘simulated ignorance,’ from eir ō n ‘dissembler.’ irony 2 | ˈīə rn ē | | ˌ a ɪ r ə ni| | ˌʌɪə ni| adjective of or like iron : an irony gray color. irony noun 1 that note of irony in her voice sarcasm, causticity, cynicism, mockery, satire, sardonicism. See note at wit . antonym sincerity. 2 the irony of the situation paradox, incongruity, incongruousness. antonym logic.
<ul><li>William Beckman </li></ul><ul><li>American </li></ul><ul><li>Study for Red Painting </li></ul><ul><li>1993 </li></ul>
<ul><li>Rackstraw Downes </li></ul><ul><li>Anglo-American </li></ul><ul><li>Demolition and Excavation on the Site of the Equitable Life Assurance Society’s </li></ul><ul><li>New Tower at 7th Avenue and 52nd Street </li></ul><ul><li>1983 </li></ul>
Japanese Hipsterism the aesthetics of cuteness, sex, violence and ethical ambiguity
manga ma ŋ ga|noun a Japanese genre of cartoons, comic books, and animated films, typically having a science-fiction or fantasy theme and sometimes including violent or sexually explicit material. Compare with anime .ORIGIN Japanese, from man indiscriminate ﾕ + ga picture. ﾕ anime noun Japanese movie and television animation, often having a science fiction theme and sometimes including violent or explicitly sexual material. Compare with manga .ORIGIN 1980s: Japanese. otaku plural noun(in Japan) young people who are highly skilled in or obsessed with computer technology to the detriment of their social skills.ORIGIN Japanese, literally your house, ﾕ alluding to the reluctance of such young people to leave the house. Poku Pop + otaku
Katsuhiro Otomo Japanese Akira 1988 Manga Panel