“Modernism: The philosophy of modern art. Nineteenth-century industrialization resulted in societal changes which radically altered institutions of patronage for artists. With the rise of museums and an expanding commercial art market, artists were freer to experiment with modes of expression. Art for Art’s Sake was the common credo as this avant-garde determined their own content, form, and medium. Movements and styles abounded, including: Cubism, Constructivism, Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism. Modernist art criticism was centered on significant form. Painting (especially Abstract Expressionism) was thought to progress toward purity in its refinement of color and flatness. The deconstructive critique of such formalist emphasis exposed the ‘impurity’ of meaning, that is, the possibility of multiple interpretations and a relativization of value judgements. This decentering expanded the theoretical and artistic modes of basic importance to Postmodernism. See International Style.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

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