8.2- Post Modern Visual Art

Post Modern Overview (1960-2000)

Postmodernism represents a dual approach

  • A break from the preceding modern style of the early 20th century
  • It is a quest for non-traditional approaches

Postmodernism contains many different ways to question traditional approaches

  • It is not a unified style
  • It turns away from abstraction


  • A philosophy that guides postmodernism
  • It is related to the written word
  • A break from absolutes
  • There is no universal interpretation
  • Everyone is free to come to their own conclusions


Up until this point in time the Western art has been dominated by white males

From 1960 on, more and more women and people of diverse ethnic backgrounds have found a voice in Western arts.

Additionally, religious viewpoints outside of Judeo-Christian have found a voice in mainstream Western arts.

There are more artists today, than in any other point in history

  • The professional artist
  • The semi-professional
  • The amateur artist

Diverse Materials


The types of media available to artists have expanded to include a wide range of materials. Here are only a few examples


Small motors
Fiber arts

A Showcase of Contemporary Female Artists from Diverse Backgrounds

Judy Chicago (American) b. 1939 —

  • Her landmark work was The Dinner Party
  • Collaboration with many women artists
  • A large triangular table with a place setting for 13 on each side
  • Each setting represents a specific woman
  • Minoan goddess, Virginia Woolf, Georgia O’Keefe to name a few
  • 999 other women are written on the sides of the table, like Isadora Duncan
  • Many of the “lesser arts’ are included
  • Tatting, weaving, ceramics, embroidery

Eleanor Antin (American) b. 1935 —

  • Her work re-vists the past
  • Her most famous work is Being Antinova
  • For 3 weeks Antin played a character — Eleanora Antinova a fictional retired black ballerina in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes
  • It included drawings in a memoir
  • The life/art exhibit includes video tapes, photographs, and sculptures

Optional video:

Cindy Sherman (American) b. 1954 America

  • Photographer
  • Created a variety of self-portraits called Untitled Film Stills
  • Sherman wears a costume based on Hollywood media images in each of the portrait

optional video

Betty Saar b. 1926

  • An assemblage sculptor
  • Her career was launched with The Liberation of Aunt Jemima
  • The iconic image from Aunt Jemima pancakes
  • Aunt Jemima is packing a firearm and a broom
  • An attack on sexism and racism

Judith Baca (Mexican American) b. 1948

  • Most noted for her large mural paintings
  • The Great Wall of Los Angeles
  • A collaborative effort with Baca as director and facilitator
  • Almost 400 painters — including inner city youth
  • Painters from diverse races and neighborhoods worked on the project

Lisa Fifield (American) b. 1957

  • Iroquois-Oneida descent
  • Presents traditions and beliefs of Native Americans
  • Her art is distinctly modern in portraying older traditions

Maya Lin (Chinese American) b. 1959

  • Most noted for The Vietnam Veterans Memorial — The Wall
  • The memorial was extremely controversial at first, for its lack of heroism
  • All the American service men and women who died in the conflict are named on the memorial.
  • Today it has become a symbol of homage and healing
  • The mirror like surface of the memorial reflects the viewers in the wall’s surface
  • Mementos are left at the wall to honor loved ones

Mariko Mori b. 1967 — Japanese (resides in New York and Japan)

  • multi-media installation artist
  • Her works include photos, videos and installation works
  • Production crews are required to stage her performances
  • Her work frequently fuses traditional Buddhism and Shintoism with modern technology
  • Dream Temple


Environmental Art


Christos and Jean Claude b. 1935 Bulgarian born and French born — American — international careers
A husband and wife team who stage incredibly huge temporary works.
Teams of volunteers work to install the works, which are only in place for a matter of weeks
They deny any connection to meaning in their works other than beauty
Their works are funded through the sale of sketches and photos
Most recent work The Gates

Andy Goldworthy (British) b. 1956

  • Creates site specific sculptures
  • Many of his works are transitory, and only exist in the artist’s photo record of the piece

Optional video:

Robert Smithson (American) 1938-1973

  • Affiliated with both minimalist and environmental art
  • His environmental works are temporal, although some still exist like Spiral Jetty

Street Art

Public art has gone to new dimensions with graffiti taking it’s place alongside fine art.

Fantastic tromp-l’oeil street paintings have become an ephemeral art (they only last a few days), which also includes performance art as spectators can watch the artist at work.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American) 1960-1988

  • Was known on the streets during his teen years as “Samo’ as a graffiti artist
  • His street art brought him to the attention of a gallery owners
  • Gallery owners convinced him to put his works on canvas
  • He became a media darling and an overnight sensation
  • He did some collaborations with Andy Warhol
  • Many of his works reflect the exploitation of black heroes
  • Died of a drug overdose

Julian Beever British — international career

  • Creates optical illusion street drawing
  • When viewed from the proper angle they create a fantastic illusion of depth
  • His media is chalk — so his works vanish quickly
  • His works exist in a photographic record only

Kurt Wenner American — international career

  • Recognized for his talent as a teenager
  • Has garner media attention
  • Street paintings and chalk drawings
  • Many of his projects echo Renaissance classicism with a modern approach
  • His sponsors range from name brands, Disney and the Vatican

3 Responses to “8.2- Post Modern Visual Art”

  1. Chet writes:

    Conversely, might I add . . . Peter Max, Peter Max, Peter Max. I loved his art and it reflected its time! See — https://www.petermax.com/

    This type of psychedelic artwork made an impression with me, and I was not on anything either, to be impressed.

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