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term used to designate a multitude of trends—in the arts, philosophy, religion, technology, and many other areas—that come after and deviate from the many 20th-cent. movements that constituted modernism. The term has become ubiquitous in contemporary discourse and has been employed as a catchall for various aspects of society, theory, and art. Widely debated with regard to its meaning and implications, postmodernism has also been said to relate to the culture of capitalism as it has developed since the 1960s. In general, the postmodern view is cool, ironic, and accepting of the fragmentation of contemporary existence. It tends to concentrate on surfaces rather than depths, to blur the distinctions between high and low culture, and as a whole to challenge a wide variety of traditional cultural values.

The term postmodernism is probably most specific and meaningful when used in relation to architecture, where it designates an international architectural movement that emerged in the 1960s, became prominent in the late 1970s and 80s, and remained a dominant force in the 1990s. The movement largely has been a reaction to the orthodoxy, austerity, and formal absolutism of the International StyleInternational style,
in architecture, the phase of the modern movement that emerged in Europe and the United States during the 1920s. The term was first used by Philip Johnson in connection with a 1932 architectural exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
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. Postmodern architecture is characterized by the incorporation of historical details in a hybrid rather than a pure style, by the use of decorative elements, by a more personal and exaggerated style, and by references to popular modes of building.

Practitioners of postmodern architecture have tended to reemphasize elements of metaphor, symbol, and content in their credos and their work. They share an interest in mass, surface colors, and textures and frequently use unorthodox building materials. However, because postmodern architects have in common only a relatively vague ideology, the style is extremely varied. Greatly affected by the writings of Robert VenturiVenturi, Robert,
1925–2018, American architect and architectural theorist, b. Philadelphia, grad. Princeton (B.A., 1947; M.F.A., 1950). An important and highly influential theorist, Venturi inveighed in his writings against the banality and simplicity of postwar modern
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, postmodernism is evident in Venturi's buildings and, among others, in the work of Denise Scott Brown, Michael GravesGraves, Michael,
1934–2015, American architect, b. Indianapolis, Ind., educated at the Univ. of Cincinnati and Harvard. He taught at Princeton from 1962 to 2002. Graves was a member of the New York "Five" or "white" modernist architects during the 1960s, the other four
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, Robert A. M. SternStern, Robert A. M.
(Robert Arthur Morton Stern), 1939–, American architect, b. New York City. He studied architecture at Yale Univ., became a practicing architect in the mid-1960s, and a professor of architecture at Columbia Univ. in 1970. He and John S.
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, Arata IsozakiIsozaki, Arata
, 1931–, Japanese architect, b. Oita. One of his nation's most important contemporary architects, he has an international reputation and has designed notable buildings in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
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, and the later work of Philip JohnsonJohnson, Philip Cortelyou,
1906–2005, American architect, museum curator, and historian, b. Cleveland, grad. Harvard Univ. (B.A., 1927). One of the first Americans to study modern European architecture, Johnson wrote (with H.-R.
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. Once extremely popular, postmodernism began to fall out of style in the late 1980s.

See also contemporary artcontemporary art,
the art of the late 20th cent. and early 21st cent., both an outgrowth and a rejection of modern art. As the force and vigor of abstract expressionism diminished, new artistic movements and styles arose during the 1960s and 70s to challenge and displace
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See P. Goldberger, On the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Postmodern Age (1983); A. Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (1986); C. Jencks, What is Post-Modernism? (1986); S. Gaggi, Modern/Postmodern (1989); D. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (1989); J. Tagg, ed., The Cultural Politics of Postmodernism (1989); D. Kolb, Postmodern Sophistications (1990); H. Risatti, ed., Postmodern Perspectives (1990); F. Jameson, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991); Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates on Houses and Housing (1992); T. Docherty, ed., Postmodernism: A Reader (1993); P. Jodidio, Contemporary American Architects (1993); D. Meyhofer, Contemporary European Architects (1993); N. Wheale, ed., The Postmodern Arts (1995); S. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (1996).


A reaction against the International style and Modernism was evidenced in this style. It reintroduced ornament and decorative motifs to building design, often in garish colors and illogical juxtaposition. It is an eclectic borrowing of historical details from several periods, but unlike previous revivals is not concerned with scholarly reproduction. Instead, it is a light-hearted compilation of esthetic symbols and details, often using arbitrary geometry, and with an intentional inconsistency of scale. The most prevalent aspect is the irony, ambiguity, and contradiction in the use of architectural forms. Those connected with the beginning of this movement include Aldo Rossi, Stanley Tigerman, Charles Moore, Michael Graves, Robert Krier, and Terry Farrell.
References in periodicals archive ?
In what follows, I will demonstrate that the catalogues in postmodernist texts, which are usually random and not organized by any recognizable principle, do not provide orientation--at least not orientation in the traditional sense.
To this question, McHale proposes two alternative models: "first, the model of the postmodernist novel; and second, that of postmodernist architecture" (The Obligation 3).
Each of these failures are summarily addressed in three chapters that read Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, and Bessie Head's A Question of Power against their interpretation within postmodernist readings, which Kim finds steeped in an otherness postmodernism "limited by essentialist determinations based on the author's identity and narrow notions of the ideological valences of narrative form" She argues that such postmodernist readings do not account for the novels' "subtler and more complex understandings of ideology, culture, and identity" (2).
And it is rather irrelevant that postmodernist philosophers find the abyss of individual's introspection frighteningly empty, because the philosophical concept of 'subjectivity' is not coterminous with 'individuality'.
Hayek, libertarians might make common cause with Kirk and the postmodernists against what Hayek called "scientism," the misapplication of the methods of the physical sciences to the ordering of human society.
Bush is very much "postmodernist," as so-called conservatives more or less affirm the postmodernist dictum that "truth" is whatever those in power say it is, which, these days, means them.
A common interest shared by postmodernists and social historians in an interdisciplinary emphasis in their research.
Postmodernists are united by both a shared philosophical history and a shared conception of human nature--or at least agreement about what our "core feelings" are: "dread and guilt" (Kierkegaard and Heidegger); "alienation, victimization, and rage" (Marx); "a deep need for power" (Nietzsche); and "a dark and aggressive sexuality" (Freud).
Postmodernists and historians of postmodernism often overlook this because they want to play on the device that modernism really is different in kind from postmodernism.
In teaching this novel the unconventional plot-structure and characterization should be examined to study the change in the idea and function of character and plot in postmodernist novels.
In this way, he suggests, Faulkner develops "a valuable and livable, even a desirable, politics for southern blacks inside the represented world" of his text, "rather than only," as the postmodernists would have it, "in its margins and silences" (76).
The Enlightenment once promised to crush religion under the weight of modern rationalism; but modern rationalism instead was steamrolled by postmodernists who found reason and scientific progress to be failed idols.