Michael S. Roth, Wesleyan University President, claim that the idea of "the modern" develops at the end of the 18th century and how being modern became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last two hundred years.
The Modern and the Postmodern traces the intertwining of the idea of modernity with the idea of art or culture from the late 18th century until the present. Beginning with the Enlightenment, Western cultures have invested heavily in the notion that the world can be made more of a home for human beings through the development of culture (and technology). Throughout this period there has also developed a strong, sophisticated counter-movement that sees the Enlightenment effort as a disaster – destructive of both art and of the world.
The Western idea of modernity is linked to but not the same as the idea of modernism.
Modernism in painting is often identified since the work of the great art critic Clement Greenberg now more than 50 years ago.
A modernism is often identified as a movement in aesthetics that calls attention to the artwork's own status as an artwork. In this case, the paintings own painterliness.
It is not, the painting isn't just a way of seeing the world, the painting is an object itself.
The way in which the painting, calls our attention to its status as art. Rather than trying just to give us a moment of entertainment by letting we look into the world and that reflects of dimension.
Art talking about its own artiness or art talking about its own aesthetic dimensions that will be part of the modernist stream right into the middle of the 20th century.
There are lots of ways of defining modernism, but one of the most important ways is the investigation within a medium of the most important qualities of the medium you're working in.
In painting will often be an exploration of painting itself, even though the object may be different.
Whatever the subject is, the painting also is an exploration of painting, of painterliness of the canvas.
That reflexive dimension, art commenting on art, is part of modernism from the last quarter of the 19th century, the last half of the 19th century up through the middle of the 20th century.
The modernist had a critical relationship to bourgeois or conventional culture.
Trying to find the angle on the world that would allow you to see it properly, to see it as it really is, to see it in a fundamental way, this would be characteristic of a modernist art project.
You can't just see it any old way. You're seeing it in a critical way to reveal what's wrong or what's shaky about. The conventions of seeing and acting normally. And you’re seeing in a way that should lead you to a core truth.
Pollock create a new process for painting making, by dripping the paint on the floor on the canvas is to intensifying the act of painting.
This kind of incredible rush of energy to the surface of the painting and that sense that the surface of the painting is just a clinging to its own existence.
But Pollock in doing this is an example of a modernist, an artist on a quest for, a painting surface that is adequate to the energy of the modern age.
And a painterly service that is adequate to the energy of his own psyche.
Pollock was an artist who was trying to dredge up from himself the kind of, the core elemental energetics a fantasy and desire, exploding into the making of painting.
And this is a post-World War II painting that tried to be alive to the energy of the world out there and alive to the tormented energy of the internal world as well. But, in both cases, trying to get beyond convention, get beyond polite painting. Get beyond polite society. Get beyond bourgeois norms, to something both more intense and perhaps more fragile, by producing this, offering a critique of the kind of eye candy and easy to look at work that one might find in corporate showrooms or family living rooms or in advertising.
Pollock offering something that would be challenging to the status quo. But also offering something that would really get at the really real. And he arrives at these drip paintings, he's arrived at one of the final stops of modernism.
Pollock is looking for essence not irony he's looking in within modernism.