Postmodernism and Globalisation

This journal is a reflection on Gerald Deslandes’ third lecture.

My first thought is that much of the work Gerald selected to represent this period in art history, roughly 1990 to present day Although Robert Rauschenberg would also be included, is produced by educated artists, for their educated and informed audiences.  Irony plays a major role.  A perpetuation of the class system by another means.  It’s subject matter reflects the times we live in, and the speed with which news and information traverses the globe.

Robert Rauschenberg 1990

It was during this period that artists started to be seen as role models, when it was actually possible to make a living, and in some cases, a very good living, from art, without having to take that historically necessary step of dying to achieve recognition and with it financial success.

We live in a capitalist society, which is reflected in the work.  Increasingly the world is moving to the capitalist model.

From Gerald’s notes :

‘Jean Baudrillard, 1929 – 2007, sociologist and cultural theorist.

Amongst other ideas, Baudrillard suggests that we have become dependent on maps and models of the world to the extent that we have lost contact with the ‘real’ world.  We have begun to substitute the signs of the real for the real, the representations have become more important than realities.

Baudrillard is known for his theory of simulacra, simulation and the hyper-real.

Simulacra – a sign or representation of something real.

Simulation – the process by which the sign of something imitates the real thing.

The Hyper-reality – when reality is exaggerated to make it so apparently perfect that it replaces the real. For example although the US lost the Vietnam War, on the ground they won in it in the ‘hyper-real’ realm in films like Apocalypse Now and Platoon.

For a literary example see the Louis Borges,  one paragraph story ‘Del rigor en la ciencia’, (On rigour in science), 1946 below.

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.’

99 cent II, diptychon - Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.jpg

Andreas Gursky  – 99 Cent Store 1999 photo 2.07 x 3.37m

Gerald suggest that America is a false reality, with different cultures moulded together.  The only reality is Disney.  True but oh so scarry.

File:Chicago Board of Trade II.jpg

Andreas Gursky – Board of Trade ii 1999  73 x 95 inches

gerald continued Gursky’s famous work looks forward to globalisation.  ‘Whose complexity defied representation. In doing so, his manipulated photograph seemed to echo Baudrillard’s description of the artificiality of contemporary experience ‘

Tony Cragg ‘Britain Seen from the North’, 1981<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
© DACS 2015

Tony Cragg – Britain Seen From the North 1981 4.4 x 8 x 0.1m Recycled rubbish

James Hall writing in the Guardian in 2011 reminds us of the importance of Cragg’s work

Gerald continued ‘Gerhard Richter demonstrated the difficulty of making authentic political statements in this hall of mirrors in his painting of the convicted terrorist Ulricke Meinhof. His inscrutable image was taken from a meticulously copied newspaper photograph, which may or may not have shed light on her character and on the mysterious nature of her death.  Elsewhere Richter created large abstract paintings from earlier studies by imitating the spontaneity of small areas of brushwork and then photographing and enlarging them on a giant scale.’

image not avaialable

Gerhard Richter – Confrontation 2, 1988

I find this portrait particularly chilling.  It challenges the viewer’s belief that they can understand Ulricke Meinhoff’s character.  She is presented as a ‘wholesome’ woman-next-door, so far from the truth.

image: gerhard richter - janus, no. 529, 1983

Gerhard Richter – Janus 1983

Richter’s allusions to Abstract Expressionism, where he blew up a section of his own work and repainted it, thereby one step removed from the original.  Effectively a pastiche.


Fiona Rae – Kick Me to the Future I Need to be Reloaded 2012

FIONA RAE: London Twelve (group show)

Fiona Rae gave a cynical twist to Richter’s allusions to Abstract Expressionism in works that contained references to Japanese manga comics.

Artists had believed they could change the world, but not any more.

In the 1980s Yang Chieh Chan produced 100 Layers of Ink, a very time consuming reference to earlier traditions, with notions of spirituality.

Brian Jungen   ‘1980,’ ‘1970,’ and ‘1960' (2007), golf bags with golf balls and painted golf tees, 139, 151 and 156 in. high, Art Gallery of Ontario

Brian Jungen – ‘1980’, ‘1970’, ‘1960’, 2007

Brian Jungen’s Adaptive Re-use at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

US Indian artist Jungen’s addaptive re-use of golf bags, at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei.

Ai Wei Wei – 2000 Layers of Cloth

Wei Wei’s metaphor for how to keep the world orderly.

All work today references historic work.  We don’t need to understand music to enjoy it.  The same cannot be said of Postmodern art.  We see ourselves as part of a continuous flow, being carried along.  Since Warhol everyone has been completely free, with art merely reflecting rather than innovating.

Now we find ourselves in Conservative times, with people no longer believing that we are going in one direction.  Post Charlie Hebdo there is a likelihood that we won’t critique the government, but will come together to protect ourselves from terrorist and different values.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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