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The following essay will introduce the concepts of modernism and postmodernism, while highlighting the many differences between the two. Modernism and postmodernism in art reflected a change in social and cultural behaviour worldwide, and were two of the most influential art movements of their times. They both showed a more liberal shift in the art world, with more innovation and experimentation than  Modernism was most popular from the 1860s to the mid-1940s (and the end of World War II) while postmodernism is usually stated as beginning in the 1960s. This essay will begin by using the artworks of Jackson Pollock and Francis Berry to exemplify Modernism and postmodernism while examining the traits and contrasts the two movements have. Chapter three will touch upon the works of critics Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried, and analyse their respective theories on modern art, particularly Greenberg’s definition (and re-definition) of modern art and its intricacies.

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Modernism is a broad and often vague term, there are a multitude of art styles that fall under it, however, there are select underlying principles that can help to define modernist artworks. Such as: A rejection of traditional values and and rules that defined previous art styles, spurning more conservative styles like realism, experimentation with form and the abstract, and  a focus on more modern day works rather than religious or mythological history. These art works placed great significance on the processes, methods and mediums rather than on the finished product. Another focus of modernism was a multitude of socio-political messages, such as in the works of Ayn Rand, Rene Magritte and Vladimir Tatlin. Their works were frequently driven by utopian agendas, as was Modernism as a whole linked to a belief in progress and visions of an ideal world.