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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–, American architect, b. Philadelphia. In his writings, Venturi inveighed against the banality of modern architecture in the postwar period. He argued instead for a more inclusive, contextual approach to design that heralded the postmodern era in
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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 ?
On the other hand, postmodernism is characterized by: alternatives, variants, giving up limits, borders, indetermination, ambivalence, mixture of styles, dispute, rebellion, mobility, ephemeral and immediate nature, originality, discontinuity, decentralization, fragmentation, tolerance, incertitude, skepticism, intercultural relation, different perspective of each individual on the systems of values, disappearance of the unique moral, eclecticism, valuation of multiple perspectives, indetermanence (a concept formed, according to Ihab Hassan's opinion, from indetermination and immanence).
Although she, like many, initially seems to tie postmodernism to Schnittke's idea of polystylism (p.
McHale lists the following repertoire of devices bearing on characteristics of postmodernism so far as the fictional worlds are concerned: 1) the pluralization of fictional world by juxtaposing this world and the world to come, 2) by creating ontologically heterogeneous worlds by interrupting into the world of beings of different ontological order, 3) the making and un-making of worlds through the proliferation of narrative levels by embedding, stacking and erasure, 4) the wedge between text and the world, and 5) the explosion of the ontological grounding of fictional worlds.
While Habermas (1982) has used the words "new conservatism" when he defined the emerging theory, Jameson went one step further: He has examined postmodernism as one of the manifestations of the cultural logic of late capitalism which appeared in the 20th century.
Furthermore, postmodernism refers to cultural and intellectual phenomena.
With the exception of the chapter on the French Revolution, the rest of Ritchie's monograph generally follows the pattern of detailed discussion of eighteenth-century material followed by short work on postmodernism.
By 1970 we had moved into an era of postmodernism where collective progress had given way to a more individualistic society.
Kruk (2002), in a less-than-flattering view of postmodernism, says:
In the last half century, the predominant cultural and literary proponents of postmodernism have rejected any kind of overarching explanation of history and culture and their development.
But was Postmodernism, in tandem with Francis Fukuyama's notion of the 'end of history', really the style to end all styles?
Against what she labels the otherness postmodernism "manifested largely in Asian American studies" in 1990s readings of Dictee, Kim recalls that "we live in a world of multiple contending 'hegemonic' discourses, so while oppositional texts may seem to formally disrupt hegemonic discourses," critics should remember that critiques of hegemony originate from "reactionaries, fundamentalists, and neoconservatives" as well as progressives.
In each one of these chapters, the author focuses on one aspect of postmodernism and uses the book in question to illustrate and / or justify her theory.