Pick from More PeriodsJohn Haber
in New York City
Modernism: back when it meant something
If there is a problem with art today, it must be found here in the avant-garde—in a still-new century already about to close. It must be found amid the egos and the crises, the breakthroughs for women and the sexism, the provocation of the machine and the unconscious. It must be. So before someone can define Postmodernism, I had better start by trying to define Modernism. But what if it cannot be done?
After two world wars: Modernism settles down
Postmodernism has criticized modern art for giving in to the museum. After the world wars, if ever, must be just the time to find it happening. Surely here, with the backing of American power, I can find a rock-solid institution called Modernism. Right?
Minimalism and its rivals: Modernism in a meltdown
The 1960s brought the first cracks in Modernism. Here were Minimalism's rejection of critical pieties, the first videos and installations, the blankness of abstract painting, and music left seemingly to chance. Were they the end of an institution or its most frightening culmination?
Postmodernism and the culture wars: decades of dissent
The 1980s wore irony on its sleeve. Theories first voiced a decade earlier hit the art scene with a bang. On one street in Soho Neo-Pop artists played to the grandstands, while just three doors down Neo-Expressionism shouted still louder. So what is postmodern art after all?
Vital signs: what I am learning now
Suddenly, the debate has taken on softer tones. Irony has recovered its sense of humor, just when women artists are taking the lead. Artists have discovered the personal side of abstraction and the heroic pretensions of video art. So is Postmodernism over, or has it only just begun?