- Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Post-Contemporary Interventions)By Frederic Jameson
- Simulacra and Simulation (The Body in Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)Our PickBy Jean Baudrillard
- The Parameters of PostmodernismOur PickBy Nicholas Zurbrugg
- Art of the Postmodern Era: From The Late 1960s To The Early 1990sBy Irving Sandler
The Important Artists and Works of Postmodern Art
This series of silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe was taken from her image in the film, Niagara and reproduced first in color, and then in black and white. They were made in the months after her death in 1962 by Warhol who was fascinated by both the cult of celebrity and by death itself; this series fused the artist's interests. The color contrasted against the monochrome that fades out to the right is suggestive of life and death, while the repetition of images echoes Marilyn's ubiquitous presence in the media.
This work can be conceived of as postmodern in many senses: its overt reference to popular culture (and low art) challenges the purity of the modernist aesthetic, its repetitive element is an homage to mass production, and its ironic play on the concept of authenticity undermines the authority of the artist. The use of a diptych format, which was common in Christian altarpieces in the Renaissance period, draws attention to the American worship of both celebrities and images. All of these translate into an artwork that challenges traditional demarcations between high and low art and makes a statement about the importance of consumerism and spectacle in the 1960s.
Oldenburg's explorations of banality and art began with soft sculptures such as Giant Hamburger (1962) and Soft Toilet (1966), where he recreated common objects using cushioned materials that belied their solid structures. His works are monumental but placed directly on the floor, dispensing with the pedestal or plinth normally associated with sculpture in a way that literally places the work of art in the viewer's own space. His work use the absurdity reminiscent of Dada's "readymades" to elevate a piece of everyday life to the status of art Shuttlecocks is a later work installed in front of the classical architecture of the Kansas City museum. Through these objects he underscores the larger-than-life quality of popular or low culture - in this case a simple game of badminton on an open lawn - in everyday life. Oldenburg's essay entitled, 'I Am for an Art,' (1961) succinctly expresses his belief that anything can and should be considered art.
Marina Abramovic positioned herself passively in a gallery and invited her viewers to do what they liked to her without any response from her. They were offered a range of objects - each selected for either pleasure or pain, including knives and a loaded gun. After initially provoking a playful reaction, during the six-hour performance she was subjected to an increasing level of aggression, resulting in violent and disturbing occurrences. This pioneering piece broke new grounds in the postmodern shift towards audience participation through its total relinquishing of authorship and control from the artist to the audience, thus challenging the modernist notion of the unique and autonomous artist figure. This piece was typical of Abramovic's tendency to push herself and her body to physical and mental extremes in her performance.