Before the Modernist movement, we have the aesthetic and romantic movements. Both these movements in art where looking for something more pure, more beautiful, something that wasn’t in the current experience of the person living in that time. In effect, the art was providing a window into another space and/or time.
After the 1850s, there was a wave of new a challenging thoughts provided by philosophers such as Neitsche, Karl Marx, Saussure and Heidegger who sought to challenge the way of looking at the world and and to provide a new and fresh perspective in what was to become known as Structuralism.
In this wave of new thought and new ways of looking at describing the world around us, came the Modernist art movement where the main narratives could be identitified as:
– transform perception
– start from scratch
– experiment with new concepts and ideas
– produce art that challenged – no more paintings as window into other worlds, but painting the picture plane
– no monumental sculptures, but focus on form. material and space
In effect, the exploration and questioning of the real world.
As we moved into the 20th century, these ideas where further developed in cubism where the picture plane became fractured, and with Freud bringing in the idea of the unconscious mind, justifying surrealism and dadaism. The Avante Garde had arrived, and Clement Greenberg, essayist and art critic, was to define the Modernist concept of high art (art of the enlightened mind) and low art (art of the mass produced industrialist era)