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Essay on Modern vs. Postmodern Architecture

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If modernism and postmodernism are arguably two most distinguishing movements that dominated the 20th century Western art, they are certainly most exceptional styles that dominated the global architecture during this period. While modernism sought to capture the images and sensibilities of the age, going beyond simple representation of the present and involving the artist’s critical examination of the principles of art itself, postmodernism developed as a reaction against modernist formalism, seen as elitist. “Far more encompassing and accepting than the more rigid boundaries of modernist practice, postmodernism has offered something for everyone by accommodating wide range of styles, subjects, and formats” (Kleiner 810).
The essence of modern architecture lays in a remarkable strives to reconcile the core principles of architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. However, it took “the form of numerous movements, schools of design, and architectural styles, some in tension with one another, and often equally defying such classification, to establish modernism as a distinctive architectural movement” (Robinson and Foell). Although, the narrower concept of modernism in architecture is broadly characterized by simplification of form and subtraction of ornament from the structure and theme of the building, meaning that the result of design should derive directly from its purpose; the visual expression of the structure, particularly the visual importance of the horizontal and vertical lines typical for the International Style modernism, the use of industrially-produced materials and adaptation of the machine aesthetic, as well as the truth to materials concept, meaning that the true nat...


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...to Renzo Piano himself, “each architecture tells a story, and the story this new building proposes is one of lightness and transparency. This building is about defying gravity. This is a building that will disappear in the air that will bring the same magic to the skyline that the neo-Gothic brings” (Piano).



Works Cited

Drutt, Matthew. “Frank Lloyd Wright Building”. In Guggenheim Foundation History.
New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. 2010.
Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Vol 2.13th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/ Cengage Learning, 2010.
Piano, Renzo. The New York Times Building. November 2007.
Robinson, Judith H., Stephanie S. Foell. Growth, Efficiency, and Modernism. U.S. General
Services Administration. 2003 (Revised 2006).
Vandermast, Roberta J. Characteristics of Postmodern Architecture. January 2011.



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