WHAT IS MODERNISM IN TERMS OF TODAY'S SOCIETY?

By: John Hogan

Modernism seems to be a terminology that is somewhat loosely used to denote a break-away from traditional thoughts and designs in our society since the beginning of the Arts & Crafts Movement all the way into Mid 20th Century Modern.

United Clock Co., Vintage Electric Wall Clock, C. 1960

UNITED CLOCK CO., ELECTRIC WALL CLOCK

NAVAJO STYLE AMERICAN ART POTTERY VINTAGE TABLE LAMP

AMERICAN STUDIO ART POTTERY TABLE LAMP

GLADDING & MCBEAN CO. FRANCISCAN WARE VINTAGE PLANTER C 1934-38

FRANCISCAN WARE GLADDING & MCBEAN PLANTER

Freedom of expression in order to create innovative architectural structures all the way to creating jewelry, pottery, glass and metals of unique and even bizarre stature was certainly on the minds of brilliant artists and designers of this time period. Society was ready for a fresh new look and or approach on how to view its environment and the objects which were to take up space. This was a break-away from the heavy and ornate structures and ornate objects that occupied our environment during the Art Nouveau period. I guess one could also use the term juxtaposition which would be an integral part of Modernism. The innovator of a new look had always to try to create something unique. Whether it was or was not pleasing to the human eye was not the job of its creator. Rather he had to make eyes turn and question the fortitude and uniqueness of such art form of his creation. If people are not traditionalist they always strive for fresh and new and are not stagnant in new ideas and designs. Let's just put it this way - not everything designed is made to please the masses. This is why great art is unique and may only appeal to limited amounts of people at a time. As the world progresses we often reflect on past designs as having been great works of art which at the time of its creation was not really considered as such. The Eiffel Tower is one fine example. Such architectural design at the time was not necessarily considered great from various points of view but today is considered one of man's best inventions in architectural design.

When we speak of Modernism we also cannot forget Minimalism. Minimalism was brought to the forefront during the 1950s to accentuate clean lines of the Modernist movement in that everything had to be uncluttered and had to have room to breathe and pronounce itself as a true art form. Straight lines, geometric patterns and soft tones of color accentuate simplicity of form.

Three fine examples of Modernism with a Minimalist approach are: this 1960's United Electric Clock that has two lights with teak at each corner, this Navajo Style American Studio Art Pottery Lamp, circa 1978 and this American studio art pottery hand spun Jardinirer or planter by Gladding, McBean & Co., Franciscan Ware California. This planter dates 1934-1938.

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