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Postmodernism Building and Understanding Essay

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Updated: Mar 15th, 2020


Heartney (16) defines postmodernism as an era that followed modernism. In the field of art, there has been a massive change that has taken place, ranging from pre-modernism, modernism and finally postmodernism.

According to Grenz (78), art has experienced changes in line with the changing world. This scholar holds that these changes are a reflection of the actual changes taking place within society.

There are several artists who have made remarkable contributions to the development of art to what it is currently. Brewer (82) says that for change to be real and effective there must be agents of change. These agents would commit to bringing positive changes to a given field.

Their work would define the future of that field. This is the case within this field. Various artists have heavily contributed to the development of art through their unique approach to this field.

These are individuals who have helped shape postmodernism in this field through a noble course that has seen them come up with new approaches and techniques in this field.

Joseph Beuys, Maria Kozic, and Cindy Sherman are some of the postmodern artists who have highly been lauded to have had positive contributions in this field. This research will be discussing postmodernism, with focus on the works of the above-named artists.

Post Modernism

Postmodernism is a term used in various fields, including in art. In the field of art, postmodernism refers to the new approaches that were taken by modern artists as the world experienced various changes.

The reason why this is referred to as postmodernism and not just modernism is an issue that is open to further discussion. Bertens (89) explains that the name postmodernism was adopted because when art changed from the old age to the middle age, it was referred to as modernism.

Therefore, there was a need to distinguish the developments that took place after this. The name ‘postmodernism was considered appropriate for this.

Postmodernism had agents who ensured that it was implemented smoothly. To have a deeper understanding of postmodernism, the research will focus on the works of Joseph Beuys, Maria Kozic, and Cindy Sherman.

Joseph Beuys and Postmodernism

Joseph Beuys was a German performance artist, a sculptor, a graphic artist, installation artist, art theorists among other fields in art. Beuys had a massive contribution to art through his radical policies and the skilled approach he took when handling issues of art.

Beuys was a staunch advocate for human rights. Most of his work was based on the concept of social philosophy humanism and anthroposophy (Docherty 117). He believed that every human being had his worth, irrespective of the social standing, religious beliefs or any other demographical factors.

Beuys is remembered for his advocacies for human rights within German. He was regarded as a radical in the society given the approach he took when defending what he believed was the right approach to take in the society.

Beuys used his mastery of arts to influence society. His concept of social sculpture was of massive impact to postmodernism in art. He skillfully combined politics, issues of gender and class and modern society in his work. He changed the role of the museums.

They changed from being simple entertainment joints to places where rights of the common man were championed. His ability to pass his message through a piece of art transformed the approach that artists took in their art (Natoli 82).

It was no longer a case where artists would base their work on just entertainment. Artists would develop their work to reflect the specific message in the society that the audience could identify with.

Art was becoming an authority in the society through which, values that are cherished were championed.

Perhaps one of the most prominent works of Beuys was the 7000 Oaks project.

Considered too ambitious by a section of the society or controversial by others, this project was not only focused on bringing art into environmental conservation but also to demonstrate that humanity had a role in protecting the environment.

The project brought together the fields of art, environmental issues, and education into one closet. He is also remembered for other industrious work he did in transforming the society in general, an in postmodernism in art in general.

Cindy Sherman and Postmodernism

Cindy, as she was popularly known, was born on 19th January 1954. Cindy was a renowned American photographer, a film director, and a philosopher.

Unlike Beuys who took a radical approach in his work, Cindy was moderate in her policies, always preferring to stay away from any form of controversy (Brockelman 49). However, his works on art are generally believed to have shaped postmodernism in the field of art.

She based her work on the issues that the society was experiencing, in what was referred to as conceptual portraits. Her skills in relating conceptual issues in her art earned her the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship award in 1995.

An author, a fashion guru, an actor and an artist, Cindy had a massive impact in various fields of art. She was one of the best fashion designers of her time.

She is also recalled to have defined the role of women in fashion, media, and art during those early times when issues of gender and class were considered emotive in American society.

She promoted a popular culture where women were believed to have as much potential in art just as men. In her pieces of art, she managed to bring traditional culture and modernism into one mix.

Maria Kozic and Postmodernism

Born in 1957, Maria Kozic is one of the Australian artists that have been considered as very influential in postmodern art. Just like Cindy, Kozic was concerned about the plight of women artist in society.

She was a multi-media artist who was often participated in feminist politics and gender issues. One of her work that made a massive impact in postmodern art is the Blue Boy inflatable plastic billboard which became popularly known as Maria Kozic is Bitch (Hart 67).

In her works, Kozic insisted on the need to have a society where art was used to champion positive virtues. Following the footsteps of Joseph Beuys, Kozic would use art to present her ideas on how society should be run.


Contemporary art has been influenced by works of various renowned artists who dedicated their time to transforming this field.

Joseph Beuys, a German artist, came up with radical policies that transformed the approach taken in art. Cindy Sherman and Maria Kozic have also made a massive impact in postmodernism of art.

Works Cited

Bertens, Hans. Postmodernism: The Key Figures. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Print.

Brewer, Robert. Postmodernism: What You Should Know and Do About It. New York: Writer’s Showcase, 2002. Print.

Brockelman, Thomas. The Frame and the Mirror: On Collage and the Postmodern. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 2001. Print.

Docherty, Thomas. Postmodernism: A Reader. Harlow: Longman, 1993. Print.

Grenz, Stanley. A Primer on Postmodernism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. Print.

Hart, Kevin. Postmodernism: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2004. Print.

Heartney, Eleanor. Postmodernism. London: Tate Publishing, 2001. Print.

Natoli, Joseph. A Postmodern Reader. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. Print.

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