Custom «Modernism» Essay Paper Sample


Modernism is thinking and acting of people in modern ways or by following modern trends that have emerged. Modernism though refers to movements of people or cultures that a group of individuals forms. Modernism emerged in the nineteenth and the twentieth century.  People believe that modernism emanates from western countries. Modernism emanated from a group that got tired of the traditional means of doing things. This people thought that traditional religion, art and even the architecture was not adequate for the present times. Modernism led to the rising of the new religion and technology. This essay will define modernism according to certain scholars also look at the different modern fallacies as depicted by modernist art.

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Modernism as seen by many is the movement and change of art and in architecture. Modernism in this aspect means the way artist rebelled against the traditional ways and means. The artist started to incorporate the new ways in terms of political, social and even economical especially in a world that was increasingly becoming industrialized. Modernism began to gain prominence especially after the world war one. What motivated Artists was the newness they had seen and experienced.

Robert Hughes describes modernism as a word whose meaning may slip and not be distinctly defined. He says that modernism is something that is old and may not be looked at without a reaction. According to Hughes, modernism includes the things that we see or those ordinary things in one's home that have developed with time since the nineteenth century. He points out that it could be the plates or even the ashtrays. He says that before we came to recognize modernism, we viewed it as modernist. This was the time when new architecture emerged like the works of Josep Puig I Cadafalch in Barcelona.

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In the book, 'the shock of the new' also the television series Hughes describes the modern art. He explains in detail of what had inspired the various artists. It is through his writing that one can start appreciating modern art and understand it. Hughes has traced art chronologically and shown how the different artists the new and modern development surrounding artists motivated them.

He begins with the development of technology, in the early nineteenth century, and how these new developments inspired the artists. This modernism brought about such movements as cubism. He also shows how the new political development in the world deeply affected the artists. This showed after political powers such communism started to play roles around the world.  Hughes explains modernism through artists who culture, religion and even nature influence them to communicate what surrounded them. He also explains how artist wanted to change societies by the use of their architecture and art.

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Peter Gay in his book modernism defines modernism as having two aspects. The first aspect is that modernism bears 'The lure of hearsay'. This challenges the beliefs or what people may think about art and modernism. He explains that the idea of having modernist as those artists against traditions or even religion is not factual but rather a lure of hearsay. The second aspect that Gay considers in his definition is that the urge to discover one's inner individuals. For example, he says that the authors of books of fiction only manifest themselves in their works.

Gay believes that only certain artists qualify as an artist in modernism. He mainly focuses on the early modern period of modernity and the artist during that period. Through his hearsay theory, he discredits many artists saying that their work may have due to hearsay. In his book, Gay discusses various artists from painters to authors. Gay though in his book fails to provide a clear vision of modernism and how it arose.

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People use fallacies to make sense of what is rational or irrational. In addition, it helps people to determine what is right and wrong. Michel Thelwell's essay "modernist fallacies and the responsibility of the black writer" have described some fallacies that we find in modernity. There are numerous types of fallacies that include psychologization, where if one has an alternative view to the accepted modes, then they are mentally ill. Another fallacy that is common is the fallacy of false dichotomies. This fallacy shows that how different ways of looking at things may not entirely be correct and that another way maybe better.

The first fallacy isolated from Thelwell's essay is the fallacy that modernist in their works only focuses on themselves. He says that artists are majorly interested in putting across in their work what is of their self-interest. He says that artists usually present their own vision rather that the society's vision. This is a fallacy because we cannot entirely sum up that there are no artists that address societal issues.

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An example of an artist who attests to this fallacy is Picasso. Picasso is an artist who was famous in the early twentieth century. Picasso was mostly a painter, but he had several sculptures. Picasso's life was full of women. He dated many women and was not able to remain faithful to one single woman. What surrounded Picasso motivated his work. As thelwell's fallacy argues, it is evident that artists were only interested in themselves and not in the society.

The second fallacy isolated in the essay is that people no longer agree on works of artist. Thelwell claims that the middle and lower class have lost interest in art. This is so especially with the new modernist art. He says that they rarely pay attention to what artist are communicating. He also adds that modernist works cannot be looked at by different people. This people will both come up with the same understanding as it had been before modernism. This is mainly because unlike with earlier works of artists, where they focused on addressing issues in the society this does not happen with modern artists.

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   The works of Yves Klein depicts this fallacy. He is famous for the use of one color or for his monochrome paintings. His abstract paintings in the 1950s especially the blue paintings were thought to communicate. This though was not the case as people only looked at his work and invested their feeling. Instead, of looking out for what the artists was trying to put across. This lack of communication between the artist and the viewers of art is what Thelwell is referring to in the essay. This is a contrast to the works of Charles Darwin, whose work mainly talked of the poor living conditions of citizens in London. The work of Darwin communicated and people who read his work all agreed with what he was tying to put forward.

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A third fallacy put forward by Thelwell is that modernism works of art do not portray realism. This means that works by many modernists lacks the reality. He means that artists do not show reality in their works. It is rare that when looking at modern art or reading from a modernist author the works is not present in the real world.

This is the fallacy of lack of realism, in the works of such artist as Henry Matisse, who was a French painter. His painting of avase with oranges lacks reality of what happens in the real world. one cannot tell what oranges in a vase stand for, unless with interpretation and cross referencing. Realism appears with interpretation and a lot of cross-referencing of the work by such artists. One cannot tell or detect realism at a glance. This fallacy also applies to the work of Picasso such as 'musician in a mask'. It is difficult to relate the painting to the real world unless with interpretation.

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Modernism has brought about different form of arts, literature, painting and even photography of different kinds that are expressing thoughts and feeling of artist. It is with modernism that we are able to see the economic, political and social changes that occur in the world. Modernism gives us a chance to experience the world from artist's point of view. Modernism educates and helps one to understand different period through art.  Modernism enables us to discern things by looking at a work of modernism. One can discern what had been happening at that time when the artist was doing their work.


In conclusion, modernism may mean new ways of doing things or new trends. Modernism though means a movement and change in art, architecture, literature and even culture. Many scholars have tried to explain and understand modernism and the works of modernist like art but have not quite clearly agreed. It is evident that they all differ.  Thelwell in his essays talks about several fallacies about the modernist work.  These fallacies have been found in the works of various artists. Even with all this fallacies being represented by some artist there are those modernist works that do not match up to these fallacies. Modernist art and works such as architecture should be appreciated for it has brought a new style and movement in art, architecture and literature that represent the modern man and what happens in today's society.

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