if art has always been modern; does it ever reach a sell-by date? Can it be that what was once modern can cease to be modern? Other art historical periods do not have the same associated problems.
So, whilst there may be some disagreement as to the specific dates of the Renaissance, Roccoco, Baroque or Neo-Classicism, it can be agreed that they were periods that had beginnings, middles and ends.
Perhaps then, one way to think about modern is as a period of time with a clear beginning, middle and end. Thought about in these terms modern might mean the period of 100 years that began with Manet’s painting Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, 1863, which was seen as shocking and rejected from the prestigious Salon of fine art, not only because it was ‘badly’ painted with rough brushstrokes and inaccurate perspective, but also because it showed a contemporary scene of public nudity.
This period is often regarded as ending with Pop Art in the mid 1960s, when art became increasingly difficult to distinguish from everyday consumer objects and the output of the mass media.
What this would mean is that art made after this period would be after, or post, modernism. This is why you will often hear the art of the last quarter of the twentieth century referred to as ‘postmodern’.
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