The Arguments Of The Postmodernism Cultural Studies Essay

In this essay I will be researching how some critics argue that postmodernism has become a interruption in a modernist construct, that architecture should be technologically rational, austere, and functional. Modernism will be the first subject to be explored, my purpose is to happen a general definition of modernism, and so look at modernism in architecture, so after research some facts and features of modern architecture. I will besides be looking at postmodernism as a general motion and investigate in several facts and the political orientation in postmodern architecture.

After this, I will concentrate on critics of postmodernism such as Charles Jencks and so look at two of Michael Graves edifice and explicate how he has developed different schemes for get the better ofing the impetus from modernism to postmodernism, and so conclude.


Modernism is a set of cultural or aesthetic manners which associates with the scientific and the artistic motion which started in the decennary around the First World War and have dominated among several motion such as cubism, functionalism and surrealism.

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Sarup, M. ( 1993 ) . However in architecture, modernism reacts to the dedication of turn toing new edifices after the two World Wars such as mass lodging of traditional signifiers and the potency for researching new conditions of production such as new stuffs and engineering. Le Corbusier and Mies van der Roche were the cardinal influences of modern architecture ; they took several civilizations and tradition to explicate the impression of modern architecture. Curtis, W. J.R. ( 2001 ) . Modernist have the thought that architecture should hold a consequence as being ‘functionalistic, positive, technocentric, and rationalistic ‘ with their edifice or urban planning.

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Harvey, D. ( 1990 ) page 35. In the World War II, Modernism became popular particularly in the United State where it took on a new life by utilizing different engineerings such as steel frame and glass drape walls for building skyscrapers and suburban office Parkss and shopping centres which were cost-efficient. Ghirardo, D. ( 1996 ) .


Postmodernism is really equivocal to depict because it has certain elements that relates to modernism. The term originated within creative persons and critics in the United State in the 1960s and it was distributed in the European and other industrial states in the seventiess. However postmodernism is an unstable construct of motion within an beforehand capitalist civilization that argue the ocular attacks in literary unfavorable judgment of art, movie, manner and architecture within the political economic societal conditions of the late twentieth century. It besides involves the new relationship between world and nature. Ghirardo, D. ( 1996 ) .

Postmodernist impression of attacks to architecture derived from modernism political orientation of architecture, and it even influences some postmodern designers, this is because of their cognition from preparation and besides their modern methods of buildings but they besides add their new construct to their edifices. Jencks, C. ( 1988 ) . There are three rules that Robert Stern ‘s article portrays to depict the features of postmodernism, the first feature is ‘contextualism, ‘ this describes the single edifice as ever a fragment that represents its environment. The 2nd is ‘allusionism ‘ , which emphasise the edifice of its historical and cultural facets, and the 3rd is ‘ornamentalism ‘ , and this suggests all the walls of the edifice to hold an architectural significance. ( See the work of Robert Stern ) Bertens, H. ( 1995 ) page 59. Postmodernism has besides emerged the classical phase whereby it has influenced certain postmodern designers like Michael Graves, James Stirling, Norman Neuerburg and even Philip Johnson ‘s AT & A ; T edifice ( see figure 1 ) . Jenks emphasise that the ‘Free-Style Classicism ‘ determines some features of postmodern architecture which started exactly from the 1980s. ( See the work of Charles Jencks ) Bertens, H. ( 1995 ) page 64.

Figure 1, Philip Johnson ‘s AT & A ; T edifice. Jencks, C. ( 1991 ) page 133.


David Harvey argues that ‘postmodernism, for illustration, stand for a extremist interruption with modernism, or is it merely a rebellion within modernism against a signifier of high modernism. ‘ Harvey, D. ( 1990 ) page 42. This message is to oppugn the architecture of the postmodern motion, Harvey so explains by underscoring that postmodernism has widely identify a interruption with the modernist construct that planning, planing and development should concentrate on the wide-scale, technologically rational and economically urban program which should be strict on thoughts of design with a functionalist perceptual experience of an international manner. Harvey, D. ( 1990 ) .

The most influential critic on postmodernism and modernism is Charles Jenks, he portrayed architecture from a lingual point of position as accents in his book ‘The Language of Post-Modern Architecture ‘ . Jenks argues that postmodernism architecture is non a interruption of modernism but nevertheless it ‘s seeking to get the better of the political orientation of its architecture non by dropping it but by widening the ‘language ‘ to a different degree into a common and commercial but off from tradition. He listed all the old edifices as which had modern features and named them as the ‘ersatz, ‘ nevertheless he calls the new edifice as the ‘social pragmatism. ‘ Jencks, C. ( 1991 ) page 97. Furthermore he pinpoints the exact day of the month for the decease of ‘modern architecture ‘ as he reference at 3:32 autopsy, July 15, 1972 when the Pruitt-Igoe lodging undertaking built in 1951 was demolished. ( See figure 2 )

Figure 2 The Pruitt-Igoe lodging undertaking, ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) Accessed 1st May.

Similarly Charles Jenks explores further the thought of the modernist thought within postmodernism architecture, he argues that postmodern architecture is ‘double coded ‘ , this suggest that postmodernism is an eclectic mixture of traditional codifications with modern 1s this shows that modernism is ever one of the codifications that signifiers postmodernism so postmodern architecture has evolve from modernism but it must travel beyond modern manner. Therefore postmodernism is to interrupt wholly or drop modernist thought of architecture but has extended it into a different impression. Jenks explores Mies van de Roche who is a modern designer, he argues that the usage of steel I- beams for edifices are ‘nasty ‘ and ‘brutal ‘ and has no intent for its users or developers so hence postmodernism has evolve to happen solution of bettering the upon modernism. Bertens, H. ( 1995 ) .

The indicant that modernism architecture is rational and severe is because the limitations and their influence on traditional signifiers and constructs which most postmodern designers see as ‘passe , ‘ nevertheless when postmodern architect design they contravene to tradition besides when they build their edifices they express it through a modern manner by underscoring on a mixture of different manners. Likewise in the description of postmodern architecture Paolo Portoghesi who besides criticise postmodernism argues that postmodern is any edifice that breaks modern constrains of historical manners with common influences. Kolb, D. ( 1990 ) page 88.

The limitation of modern architecture on historical influences is one of the chief challenges of postmodernism. Jean-Francois Lyotard a postmodern critic explains that one features of postmodernism is the transform nature understanding in scientific and computerised society, this has gave them progress cognition and engineering to get the better ofing and the rational and severe impression of modernism. Sarup, M. ( 1993 ) . In favor of this, Joseph Fredrick who defended against the International Style ‘s and his ain thought of building explains that modernism in architecture has assorted characters but its onslaught was on its manner, which necessarily postmodernism has taking over. It is the severity of modernism ‘s traditional signifiers which postmodern took the advantage of scientific cognition to interrupt the historical influences and give freedom for designers to plan their edifice. Larson, M, S. ( 1993 ) . The division between modern and postmodern is that modern is restricted whereby postmodern has its freedom to plan. Furthermore modernist impression of architecture as rational and severe to traditional limitation has non been negated by postmodern but it has interpreted and integrated modernist political orientation. However Jencks argue that postmodernism has non become a interruption or dropped the thought of modernist architecture but it has evolve from modernism, and has notice the apprehension of the development of its clip so they change the way and extended its features to accommodate its epoch. Portoghesi, P. ( 1980 ) . Therefore postmodernism is normally known as the ‘stylistic phenomenon ‘ . Ghirardo, D. ( 1996 ) page 8

Charles Jenks besides argues that postmodern edifices in general have made a positive impact in architecture, since the 19th century technological building has made a huge betterment on edifices and has been overly-accurate as with the handmade assortment, this and other factors have become the chief ground for its interruption from modernism. Likewise he argues that postmodernism has taking radically from the construct of how to knowledge edifice infinite where as modernist to see infinite as something to be shaped for societal intents, they interpret infinite as something independent, to be design harmonizing to originative purposes but non to overreach its traditional influences. An illustration is Le Corbusier ‘s Domino edifices ( see figure 3 ) which started modernist development of infinite, nevertheless postmodernism reacted to this by looking for solutions to specify ‘place ‘ alternatively of abstract infinites and to set up the assorted ambiguity of infinites instead than the simple, predictable traditional edifice of modernist architecture. Jenks, C. ( 1990 ) .

Figure 3, an illustration of Le Corbusier Domino edifice ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) . Wilson, T. ( 2009 ) . Accessed 1st May.

There are certain characteristics of modernism which have been developed by postmodernist designers, the spacial thoughts such as superimposed and shallow simple infinites of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Postmodernist have developed these facets into a more new sort of equivocal infinite with assorted complex elements. Jenks, C. ( 1988 ) .

Charles Jencks points out that postmodern architecture have two grounds into important technological alteration ; the first is the modern-day communications have broken the strong modernist involvement of the rational and severe infinites based on map and of societal involvement. The 2nd is the progress engineerings for illustration computing machine patterning which has broken away from traditional restraints and permitted the flexibleness of planing and building. Jenks, C. ( 1990 ) .

Postmodernism has non dropped modernist impression of architecture but it has taking certain elements of it such as infinite and even some traditional facets of edifice and developed it into a more complex manner. However it has set freedom from modernist construct that architecture should be severe and sensible. The progresss scientific engineering has aided postmodernism to germinate from modernism. Jenks, C. ( 1988 ) .


Michael Graves was portion of the late-modern motion before he left the abstract construct attack to the New York Five in 1977 ; this group consisted of Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, and Charles Gwathmey. They introduce an progress technique of planing with ‘figural component ‘ , and this has influenced postmodern designers. Schulz, N. ( 1990 ) page 7-8. He so left to fall in other designers such as Venturi, Moore, and Stern who were involve with the paradigm for postmodernism in America. Ghirardo, D. ( 1996 ) .

Graves has become one of most influential designers in postmodernism, his construct of fragments have become important to postmodernist designers to plan their edifice in a complex and equivocal manner which contradicts the impression of modernism. Graves has besides adapted postmodern classicalism in architecture such as the Portland Building and the Humana Building ( see figure 4 and 5 ) . Grave has taking the traditional signifiers and manners of classicalism and extended into a postmodern attack by presenting classical skyscrapers. Jenks, C. ( 1988 ) .

Figure 4. The Portland Building. Powell, K. ( 1995 ) page 10

Figure 5, The Humana Building. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) Riggins, P ( 2005 ) .


The Portland edifice ( see figure 4 ) was a really important municipal edifice within its epoch, which begun in 1980 in Portland Oregon, this undertaking provoked modernist designers because it was one of the most inspirational edifice in postmodernism edifice in America. Powell, K. ( 1995 ) . The public edifice is located in the center of the country whereby it had to hold a quality of postmodern landmark, but nevertheless his manner out was to convey back ‘figural signifiers ‘ to the edifice to portray the ‘public nature of the context and urban and the internal plan ‘ . Schulz, N. ( 1990 ) page 9-10. He used the classical manner of administration by spliting the edifice frontages into three parts ; which is the base, organic structure or the in-between and the Attic or caput. The mammoth columns on the chief frontage perform as a gate or an entryway which portrays a sense of transition as you walk in the edifice. The basal portion of the edifice underscore the importance of the street as being portion of the urban signifier, he did this by supplying a loggia three sides of the and a shopping along the pavement the forth side ( see figure 6 ) .

Figure 6, the loggia of Portland edifice. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) . ECityBlues, ( 2010 ) . Accessed 1st May 2010.

He had a challenge to plan the edifice with the three divisions of the base, center, and the top but besides wanted the edifice to go a dominant united signifier. As a solution he used assorted figurative elements like monolithic block, elephantine column, immense anchor, pediment and loggia. His other solution was to build a simple three-dimensional block, punctured with several little square Windowss, with a modified pyramid form on the top. He uses immense architectural characteristics such as colossal anchors incorporating series of horizontal Windowss, and the 2nd characteristics are the colossal fluted pilasters used as perpendicular window strips which look similar to traditional skyscrapers ( see figure 7 ) . Schulz, N. ( 1990 ) .

Figure 7, colossal fluted pilaster in Portland Building. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) Harley, C. ( 2009 ) . Accessed 1st May 2010.

Portland edifice has besides taking classical and Italian cosmetic facets as a symmetrical form design. Such cosmetic elements include the rich excessive manner and color ornament design which is similar to that of the historical Italian architecture. Ghirardo, D. ( 1996 ) . The edifice will non be knowledge by modernist because they will non accept the impression of cosmetic walls, colour painting or any symbolic mentions. They criticise the edifice by naming it ‘an enlarge jook box ‘ or a ‘histrionic Masquerade ‘ . Kleiner, F, S. ( 2009 ) page 786.


The Humana edifice in Louisville, Kentucky started its building in 1982 and finished in 1985. The edifice was Michael Graves efficaciously good cognize design of his early development in architecture which is became known as Post-modern. Powell, K. ( 1995 ) . He once more similar to the Portland edifice designs the edifice in a big graduated table and incorporated the usage of figurative method to work out any circumstantial conditions, the design of the edifice underscore the fact that Louisville is a river metropolis. Schulz, N. ( 1990 ) .

The edifice is designed somewhat different on each side ; likewise every postmodern edifice Graves used a classically ternary division form giving the base a strong sense. It besides had an eight loggia narrative extended in forepart which had the base covered in pink and green granite with cosmetic gold foliage coloring material on it. Similar to the Portland Building he punctuated little, square Windowss. There is a sort of vitamin D balcony at the top of the edifice ; Graves got the influence from a Victorian household look up toing the Ohio River from an old H2O tower. The chief key characteristics in the edifice are the loggia, the waterfall, the anteroom, the Mezzanine, the Rotunda and the twenty-fifth floor. The loggia has the 50 pes waterfall associating to the Ohio River which symbolises the metropolis of Louisville ‘s beginnings at the autumn of the Ohio in approximately more than 200 old ages ago. The anteroom is made of different coloured granite from different portion of the universe such as Italy and France ; nevertheless the rotunda is made of a classical construction. The infinites in the edifice are really large for public usage, the infinite are besides designed to swerve to hold a waterfall and a fountain. Arthur, S. ( 2007 ) . Michael Graves has non forgotten about modernism impression of architecture but has contributed in developing on its facets such as spacial definition and the simple signifiers into a montage like signifier. Schulz, N. ( 1990 ) .


To reason modernism has had a batch of impact on postmodernism, it has influenced postmodern designers with their edifice, for illustration Michael Graves being influenced by utilizing figurative elements in planing the Portland edifice and Humana edifice which he gained before he abandoned modernism. However postmodernism to an extent has made a interruption in modernist thought about architecture, due to the fact that the scientific cognition has giving postmodern designers to the ability to plan beyond the traditional severity and to take their construct farther. On the other manus postmodernism can besides be seen as an extension of modernism by utilizing some facets and adding a new linguistic communication to it, for illustration Graves in both the Humana and Portland edifice he has emerge some traditional influences such as classical building and antediluvian Italian architecture and has developed or expanded the linguistic communication into a various one.

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