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A Historical Exploration Essay

In spite of the long existing disagreement regarding the very term, nature, and scope of modernism, it is still considered as one of the most significant artistic-cultural events of the twentieth century (Poplawski, 2003). This paper will provide a historical overview of early modernism focusing on the ideologies, influences, and a glimpse on works of the renowned modernists – both in literature and the arts – who lived between the periods of 1871-1914.

Most importantly, this paper will explore on how early modernism managed to establish itself as a canonical category for artists and academicians alike, based on the critical articulations noted about the period. Early Modernism: 1871-1914 One of the most distinct characteristics of early modernism as a movement is its deliberate separation from the forms, structural designs, and traditions of the ancient times (Ricca, n. d. ). It is also characterized by its emphasis on details which refines the singularities of the artist as an individual.

It promotes personal style that is anti-public and it is perceived to be inclined towards external formlessness. In literature, there were three styles that emerged: naturalism, decadent, and expressionism. Naturalism put emphasis on social issues being faced by common people, especially women. The writers of this movement tried to be objective in analyzing the modern society. Ricca (n. d. ) noted that in interpreting these social upheavals, the early modernists tried to explore on different elements such as simplicity, color and geometrical forms.

The decadent style, on the other hand, eliminated the concept of materialism and scrutinized scientific revolution. It associated the bourgeois society with mediocrity. One good example of decadent writers is Oscar Wilde who expressed in his writings approaches to modern life. In relation to countering the impacts of capitalism and bourgeois community, expressionism attempted to illustrate new ways of artistic expression. The literary works of Franz Kafka are good examples of expressionism.

He put into question the traditional concepts of reality and demonstrated the proofs that an individual in the modern age is being victimized by his environment beyond his control. Saler (1999) noted that aside from the movement’s association with stylistic innovations, early modernism includes a wide range of conceptions regarding nature and the purpose of art. All around the globe, modern art is in the state of constant change. The economic and political upheavals gave the artists the inspiration to seek new means of artistic expression and this resulted to a number of modern art movements.

In the field of art, one example that can be noted is Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity and Space. Boccioni was a well-known Futurist and he rejected the traditional concepts of the past and gave way to the new meanings of art through his artworks. Conclusion Modern art is usually perceived in the view of the modernists’ rejection of the conventional ideas and traditions of the past. Studies have shown that in order to understand well the true purpose of this movement, there is a greater need to look objectively into the social, political and historical influences that inspired early modernists.

References: Early Modernism 1871-1914. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from www. class. uidaho. edu/engl210kt/Slides/Modernism%20to%20Postmodernism. ppt. Poplawski, P. (2003). Encyclopedia of Literary Modernism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Ricca, K. (n. d. ) Early Modernism. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from gds. parkland. edu/gds/131online/presentations/EarlyModern. ppt Saler, M. T. (1999). The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground. New York: Oxford University Press.

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