Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Art, Modernism, Design, Artists, Modernist, Culture, World, Postmodernism

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/13

Discuss the differences between Modernist and Postmodernist design

The terms ‘Modernism’ and ‘Post Modernism’ have its own and specific meaning with a lot of significance. This particular essay is constructed to analyze and discuss the difference of Modernist and Postmodernist design. Modernist design belongs to modernism which is a specifically termed as a philosophical movement that happened due to the change in cultural trends and transformation in the Western Culture in way back nineteenth and twentieth century. Modernism is especially developed by modern societies and by their rapid changing cultural growth followed by World War one (McDermott, 1991). According to modernism some of the established thinking was rejected and the modernist societies also rejected the factor called religious belief. In terms of modernist design it is a combination of some fresh, new and innovative ideas that would possibly had all sorts of factors to create a new revolution. On the other side Postmodernism specifically suggests modernism added with deeper internal meaning such as political status, socio-economic factors and a combination of historical benchmarks. Therefore post modernistic design is based on graphic designing sector of the world since the year 1980s (Eidelberg, Johnson and Carmel, 1991). Categorically, both the modernistic design and post modernistic design are invention of some masterminds of the same field and some of the specific art revolutions. To discuss the differences between Modernist and Postmodernist design first of all it is needed to understand the modernism and post modernism in a broader way.

Now it is very important to know the facts and factors related to modernism in this particular section. The term modernism is used to elaborate the certain period after World War one and the revolution of Russia. In this period the artists were significantly thoughtful and they dreamt of a world where there would be no war, tension and social inequality (O'Brien, 1989). Their mind set was very simple and the use to think in a clear point of view by not making it complex in their mind. Most probably since 1925 the era of modernism was said to be started and the term is used since then. Mainly graphic design sector is said to be called modernistic as the artist and designers became economically efficient and therefore they had the opportunity to reassess their working sector. In such way the designers had adapted new demand of the market and even the specific demand of fascism to a quite extent (Giddens, 1981). At the very beginning it was used in an experimental way but as time progressed it moved to realistic way by sketching new designs as well as innovation of designs. Till now modernistic design has kept its marks in the designing world and possess the power to rule the world of design and art.
In course of time artists and designers approached new methods to design more logical design that ensured a revolution in the designing world. It has to be mentioned that the Russian Revolution has certainly made a huge impact in the modernistic design world. By then people were making more designs which were promoted through books, posters, magazines and journals (Lloyd-Jones, 2009). In the advertisement sector the designs and the written content showed something new and most of the time it established a political bias respective to the old one. Additionally in promoting the modernism the designers had used modernize graphical designs. In the advertisement section new term called Typography had been emerged as an additional benefit. Certain type of fonts was favored by the designers. Also in the design making abstract paints were used in coloring and composition part of designing. In this period the name of Paul Rand can be mentioned. He was one of the greatest modernist graphic designers. Specifically he was known for his designing of corporate logo such as IBM, ABC. He also designed a lot of posters and identities for corporate houses (Chanzit and Libeskind, 2005). George Nelson was also known as one of famous American industrial designers in the same period.


Postmodernism is a term used to describe the graphical design world since the year 1980s. The postmodernism designing has got a vast sector with whole new options to be chosen. Actually many knowledgeable people had a lot of doubts in the graphic design at this point as it had got several new methods of designing innovated by new sort of ideas by a bunch of thoughtful guys. They possessed unique ideas of designs the world had not seen before that point of time. The designs made in this period were very stylistic in terms of the existing ones (Clahassey, 1986). In the yaer 1990 Rick Poynor established Eye Magazine and he was also the editor of the magazine till 1997. He wrote a book named ‘No More Rules’ which stated the postmodernism as well as the graphic design of the same time.
According to Poymer since 1985 the world of designing had been changed to a next upgraded level and the era had produced some of the very difficult challenges in the visual art section of postmodernism. Basically the designs made at this time is more attractive and displaying some the element used in modernistic designs. The uses of hierarchical distinctions would be specifically seen in the designs of modernistic and post modernistic era. As the time passed new visual and more decorative movement has been shown in the post modernistic designs. All new type of pop art designing has been introduced in the mean time (Locke, 2003). British artist Jaime Reid had designed the album cover for The Sex Pistol’s in the year 1977 which was a mega hit. The cover was influenced by the punk movement of England in 1970. Thus the influence of certain movement can be found in the post modernistic designing. Also the anti-aesthetic impulse can be found in the post modernistic designs. The practices of the new designers have been changed and they started to design new graphics like love graphical designs showing the love of fire towards wood and many more (Rapaport and Docherty, 1992). The international culture have also affected in their designing mind set. They became more and more rational in their thinking and started show the society and the modernization of new culture in their designs. Also the designers were impressed by desktop designing and that added a significant prospect towards them. The new technology has also made an impact in their design making. Few important designers of this specific era were Wolfgang Weingert who was popular for his posters designing in 1984 and Christoph Radi who had designed the Memphis logo in 1980. These designers have certainly showed the core designing of this era which is fully influenced by modernization of the world (Locke, 2003).

Differences of Modernism & Post Modernism

Post modernism period was followed by copying of ideas and designing or development of old designs. But with the beginning of the modernism period in the 19th century the idea of art and design changed significantly (Harrison, 1997). This occurred due to the development of technology and ideas of the art and architecture. With the advancement of the technology the entire procedure of art and architecture changed in the 19th century. There are several differences between the modernism and post modernism period that has been evidence with a deep study. Here are some of the differences presented in the following points:

Artist’s Authorial Status

In the post modernism period the work done by the artist has a particular meaning of culture that influences the society and the environment in which the creation has been made. It also depicts the ideology of the artist (Barnard, 2011). Post modern art shows living style and cultural difference of the society. But modern art and design is a bit different from that of the post modern art. It has the ability to express timeless and profound meaning with the help of art. Here meaning is the process of continuation of the art by recreation.

High or Low difference

The designs produced by the modernist artist expresses the distinction between the high and low level of culture. It only shows the cultural expression of the high level of society. But postmodernist artist’s design describes the cultural influences of both the high and low level of culture. It does not make any distinction between high and low level cultures (Heinze, 1998). Hence, in this case post modernist artists are more influencing and better than the modern artist. This is because of the high level of technological backup in the modern designing procedures.


It has been evaluate by studying the past of the art and architecture that in the modernism period artist started producing the own style of arts which is totally new form of art. As compared to postmodernism period on which people stated losing faith. The modernism period emerged because of the newness demand of the era. Artist wanted something new and different form of art that gave birth to the modernism of art and designing. So the difference can be seen between the post modernism and modernism style of art (Rogers, 2001). The modernism art and designs while entirely different from that of the postmodernism period and it was a new form of art.

Medium of specific purity

Modernism is much different as compared to post modernism in case of use of materials in painting and designing. In the modernism period, the technological emergence has leaded them to make paintings with two dimensional structures by using paper and paints. But in the post modernism period artist does not mind in using any type of material and procedure in construction of the designs and paintings (Śukla, 2008). They don’t consider any object, concept or image. They believe in completion of the work appropriately by any mean. Hence, post modernism periods beets the modernist artist in this field as well.

Art’s Autonomy

It has been seen that the modernist artist considers art totally as a different field and things it as a different sphere that separates it from daily life activities (Sacido, 2012). But post modernist artist takes it as a continual procedure of life. They consider designing as a recreation of prevailing art form. They do not consider it as a separate activity of life.


Modernist expresses designing as a piece of art that expresses the life form of human being. As per the modernist artist designing is the form of expressing the human experience of the artist and the viewers of the design. Nut in the post modernism period art is not considered as a sacred expression of human experience (Heller and Ballance, 2001). It is just a design that helps to construct the architectural structure in the real world. Post modernist only pressurized on the commercial benefits of the design and marketing of the art form they have produced.


Modernist artist have a faith on the teleological progression of the design they produce. But post modernist have lost the faith on this progression of teleological believes. They only believe in development of design that will earn them more (Ascott, 1980). Their thinking has become commercialized and art has become a mean of business for them.


Modernism of art and architecture has emerged from the need of change of style and signature of the artist. It was the need of the 19th century that changed the practical idea of the artist and even changed the procedure of working of the artist (Thormählen, 2003). Though modernism was influenced by the post modernism period, as it is said by Kandinsky, every piece of art is child of its period and it produces a different style and form of art that cannot be repeated again. Every art keeps a deep mark on the style of architectural designs that influences the other artists to make a better piece of art. Modernism began in the 19th century that was followed by the post modernism period in the 20th century (Wilson, 2004). The total procedure of designing and art changed during the period. With the emergence of new technologies the modernism era began and it continued to post modernism period with the development of the technology and change in the ideology of the artist. Though post modernist designs are much better and suitable for meeting their requirements but they lack cultural influences.


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