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Charles

Jencks

Postmodern

and Late Modern:

The Essential Definitions


The Protestant

Inquisition

to its morning
In October
announced
readers, under
1981, Le Monde
that a
headed
the section of its newspaper
"Decadence,"
ominously
was
of
What
the
Postmodernism.1
specter
specter
haunting Europe,
is
Frenchmen made of this warning as they bit into their croissants
as
came
it
with
the
familiar
Marxist
anybody's guess, especially
image
of a ghost looming over their civilization
(and coffee). But they proba
bly soon forgot the phantom and looked forward to next morning's
"Decadence"
column, for in our culture one ghost grows boring and
must be quickly replaced by the next. The problem, however, has been
that critics will not let this one dissolve,
especially hostile Modernist
critics. They keep attacking the phantom with ever-increasing
hysteria
until it grows into quite a substantial force, upsetting not only le petit
on the
dejeuner but international conferences and the price quotations
If they are not careful, there will be a panic
international art market.
and crash at the Museum
of Modern Art as certain reputations dis
solve like dead stock.
as the theorist of American
Clement Greenberg,
long acknowledged
in 1979 as the antithesis of all he
defined Postmodernism
Modernism,
loved: that is, as the lowering of aesthetic
standards caused by "the
of culture under industrialism."2
democratization
Like our "Deca
dence" columnist,
he saw the danger as a lack of hierarchy
in artistic
in calling it
judgment although he did not go so far as the Frenchman
art critic, Walter Darby Bannard, writing
simply "nihilism". Another
in the same prestigious magazine
five years later, continued Green
the heathens
and restated the same (non-)
berg's crusade against
"Postmodernism
is
definitions,
except with more brutal elaboration:
aimless, anarchic, amorphous,
inclusive, horizontally
self-indulgent,
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structured, and aims for the popular."3 Why does he leave out "ruth
that the
less kitsch" or the standard comparison with Nazi populism
to
list
critic Ken Frampton
adds
the
of
horrors?
architectural
always
Ever since Clement Greenberg made his famous opposition ?"Avant
a 1939 article, certain puritanical
Garde and Kitsch"?in
intellectuals
have been arguing that it has to be one thing or the other, and it is
they classify Postmodernism,
although of course if it is
structured"
and
it cannot be at the
"democratic,"
really "horizontally
same time neo-Nazi and authoritarian.
But consistency has never been
a virtue of those out to malign a movement.
(RIBA) has
Quite recently, the Royal Institute of British Architects
that are noteworthy
for
been hosting a series of revivalist meetings
Aldo Van Eyck, the Dutch
their vicious attacks on Postmodernism.
clear where

in 1981, titled "Rats, Posts


the annual discourse
architect, delivered
how hard he
and Pests," and one can guess from this appellation
to
of
He
advised
his
be
fair-minded.
cheering audience
attempted
a
I
in
"Ladies
and
Gentlemen,
Modernists,
harangue
capital-lettered
LET
FOXES
DOWN
AND
THE
THEM
GO"
HOUND
beg you,
not unlike the Nazi tactics he was deploring,
although the hounds and
twist.4 If Van Eyck advised
foxes give this pogrom an Oscar Wilde
the older Modern
architect
letting the dogs loose on Postmodernists,
limited himself, while he received his gold medal at
Berthold Lubetkin
the institute, to classing them with homosexuals,
Hitler, and Stalin:
in
and Chippendale
"This is a transvestite architecture, Heppelwhite
with Nazi kitsch
drag."5 And he continued to compare Postmodernism
in subsequent revivalist soirees in Paris and at the RIBA, even equat
One
ing Prince Charles with Stalin for his attack on Modernism.6
in America,
Ger
could quote similar abuse from old-hat Modernists
indeed, in most of the world. For instance, the
many,
Italy, France,
as a "pastiche"
noted Italian critic Bruno Zevi sees Postmodernism
and is "repressive" like fascism.7
that is "trying to copy Classicism"
like a negative
We can see in all these howls of protest something
in
a paranoic
definition made by Modernists
definition
emerging,
retreat trying to hold the High Church
together, issuing daily edicts
numbers.
denouncing
heresy, keeping the faith among ever-dwindling
sit on most of the
It is true they still control most of the academies,
artists and
aesthetic review boards, and repress as many Postmodern
have fled
architects as they can, but the mass of young professionals
and are themselves bored and fed
from the old Protestant
orthodoxy
In any international competition
up with the taboos and suppressions.
and that general
now, more than half the entries will be Postmodern,
as to archi
as
exhibitions
much to sculpture and painting
ity applies
tecture. The door is wide open, as it was in the twenties when Modern
ism had knocked down the previous academic barriers; the irony is
32

are determined
to be just as para
that today's old-time Modernists
s persecutors were
as
their
Beaux-Art
and
noic, reactionary,
repressive
before them. Indeed, the slurs against Postmodernists
occasionally
and
sound like the Nazi and academic vitriol poured on Le Corbusier
in the twenties. Is history repeating itself in reverse? I
Walter Gropius
am not sure, but I do believe that these characterizations
have not
were
to
?stem
done what
do
Post
the
tide
of
they
supposed
modernism?but,
rather, helped blow it up into a media event. My
will be nice and civil.
is that suddenly the reactionaries
nightmare
but particularly
the press, loves an abusive argument car
Everyone,
and the otherwise
it is always enter
ried on by professors
intelligent:
it has hidden
taining, even if it obscures as much as it explains. What
are

the

root

causes

Postmodernism

of

the movement.

Defined

like Modernism,
varies for each art both in its
Postmodernism,
and time frame, and I will here just define it in the field with
motives
which I am most involved, architecture. The responsibility
for coining
this sinful term goes to Joseph Hudnut who, at Harvard with Walter
Gropius, may have wished to give this pioneer of the Modern Move
ment a few sleepless nights. At any rate, he used the term in the title of
an article published
in 1945 called "The post-modern
house" (all lower
it in the body of the
case, like Bauhaus practice), but did not mention
text or define it polemically.
Except for an occasional
slip here and
itwas not used until my
there, by Philip Johnson or Nikolaus Pevsner,
own writing on the subject, which started in 1975.8 In that first year of
in Europe and America,
I used it as a
lecturing and polemicizing
to describe where we had left rather
label, as a definition
temporizing
than

where

we

were

going.

The

observable

fact

was

that

as

architects

as Ralph Erskine, Robert Venturi,


Lucien Kroll,
the Krier
and
Team
Ten
had
all
from
set off
Modernism
and
brothers,
departed
in different directions that kept a trace of their common departure. To
as I did in 1978 as doubly
this day I would define Postmodernism

various

and one-half something


else (usually tradi
coded, one-half Modern
in its attempt to communicate
tional building)
with the public and a
concerned minority,
usually other architects. The point of this double
was
itself
double.
Modern
architecture
had failed to remain
coding
credible partly because
it did not communicate
with its
effectively
ultimate users ?the main argument of my book, The Language
of
Post-Modern
Architecture ? and partly because it did not make effec
tive links with the city and history. Thus the solution I perceived and
33

an architecture
defined as Postmodern:
that was professionally
based
and popular as well as one that was based on new techniques and old
and
patterns. Double
coding to simplify means both elite/popular
reasons for these opposite pairings.
new/old
and there are compelling
and are
architects were trained by Modernists,
Today's Post-Modern
as
as
to using contemporary
committed
well
technology
facing current
are enough
to distinguish
social reality. These committments
them
a point worth stressing since it cre
from revivalists or traditionalists,
ates their hybrid language, the style of Postmodern
The
architecture.
same is not completely
true of Postmodern
artists and writers who
in a
may use traditional
techniques of narrative and representation
more straightforward
creators
who
Yet
all
the
could
called
be
way.
some intention
Postmodern
keep something of a modern
sensibility,
that distinguishes
this is irony,
their work from revivalists, whether
or
realism,
any num
eclecticism,
parody, displacement,
complexity,
at the onset,
ber of contemporary
tactics and goals. As I mentioned
of
the continuation
Postmodernism
has the essential double meaning:
Modernism
and its transcendence.
the
The main motive
is obviously
for Postmodern
architecture
"death" announced
social failure of modern architecture,
its mythical
In 1968, an English tower block of housing,
by critics such as myself.
Ronan Point,
suffered what was called "cumulative
collapse" as its
In 1972, many
slab blocks of
gave way after an explosion.
at
were
in
St.
Louis. By the
blown
up
Pruitt-Igoe
intentionally
housing
were becoming
a quite
these explosions
mid-seventies,
frequent
of dealing with the failures of Modernist
method
building methods:
"defensible"
lack of personal
space, and the
cheap pr?fabrication,
and its
alienating housing estate. The "death" of modern architecture
to social problems,
techical solutions
ideology of progress, offering
was seen by everyone in a vivid way. The destruction of the central city
and
and historical fabric was almost equally apparent to the populace,
we
should stress these popular, social motives because they are
again
not quite the same in painting,
film, dance, or literature. There is no
floors

in these fields, nor perhaps the


similar, vivid "death of Modernism"
same social motivation
architecture.
But
that one finds in Postmodern
even in Post-Modern
for using past
literature there is a social motive
this irony or
Eco has described
forms in an ironic way. Umberto
as
that of a man
attitude
double coding: "I think of the postmodern
woman
cannot
a
knows
he
and
who loves
say to her, T
very cultivated
knows
that
she
he
because
knows
love you madly,'
(and that she
been
words
have
written by
that
these
he
knows that
already
knows)
can
a
He
'As
Barbara
solution.
there
is
Barbara Cartland.
say,
Still,
At
I
this
love
would put it,
Cartland
you madly.'
point, having
avoided false innocence, having said clearly that it is no longer possi
34

have said what he wanted


ble to speak innocently, he will nevertheless
to say to the woman:
that he loves her, but he loves her in an age of
If the woman
lost innocence.
goes along with this, she will have
received a declaration of love all the same. Neither of the two speakers
will feel innocent, both will have accepted the challenge of the past, of
both will consciously
the already said, which cannot be eliminated,
and with pleasure play the game of irony. . . . But both will have
succeeded once again, in speaking of love."9
double coding
Thus Eco underlines
the lover's use of Postmodern
and he extends it, of course, to the novelist and poets' social use of
a minimalism
of
previous forms. Faced with a restrictive modernism,
means and ends, writers such as John Barth have felt just as restricted
as architects
forced to build in the International
Style, or using only
glass and steel. The most notable, and perhaps the
in architecture
is James Stirling's
double
coding
in
Stuttgart (fig. 1). Here one can find
Staatsgalerie
and
extended in amusing and
city
previous museum

best, use of this


to the
addition
the fabric of the

ironic ways. The


is
of
old
echoed
and
form
the
gallery
placed on a
u-shaped palazzo
or
But
this
above
the
traffic.
classical
base holds
high plinth
acropolis,
a very real and necessary parking garage, one that is ironically indi
like ruins, to the ground. The
cated by stones that have "fallen,"
which is
resultant holes in the "acropolis" show the real construction,
a steel frame holding stone cladding, not the thick marble blocks of
and they allow the air ventilation
the real Acropolis,
required by law.
One can sit on these false ruins and ponder
the truth of our lost
innocence: that we live in an age that can build with beautiful,
expres
as long as we make
it skin deep and hang it on a steel
sive masonry
of course, deny himself and us this
skeleton. A Modernist
would,
pleasure for a number of reasons: "truth to materials,"
"logical consis
the values and rhetor
"simplicity" ?all
tency," "straightforwardness,"
as Le Corbusier
and Mies
ical tropes celebrated by such Modernists
van der Rohe.
Stirling, by contrast, and like the lovers of Umberto Eco, wants to
more and different
values. To signify the permanent
communicate
nature of the museum,
he has used traditional rustication and classical
forms including an Egyptian
and seg
cornice, an open-air Pantheon,
in an understated
mentai arches. These are beautiful
and conventional
or
way, but they are not revivalist either because of small distortions,
because of the use of a Modern material,
such as reinforced concrete.
or Pantheon,
like the Acropolis
but we are
They say "we are beautiful
also based on concrete technology
and deceit." The extreme form of
this double coding is visible at the entry points: a steel temple outline
the taxi drop-off point, and the Modernist
that announces
steel cano
pies that tell the public where to walk in. These forms and colors are
35

mTmui?mm?

|Jjyr

1 James Stirling Michael


Wilford
and Associates,
Neue Staatsgalerie,
Fig
Stuttgart,
in the Garden,'
1977-84.
'Ruins
in an
classical
blocks
which
have
fallen
about
a steel frame
reveal the reality of Postmodern
construction:
manner,
eighteenth-century
holds up the slabs of masonry,
and there is no cement between
the blocks, but rather air.
are ironic vents to the parking
in the walls, which
These holes
the
dramatize
garage,
to assert continuity
difference
between
truth and illusion, and allow Stirling
the
with
fabric while also showing
the differences.
and double
Paradox
existing classical
coding
an articulation
exist throughout
this scheme, which
is more
of urban
tissue than a
conventional

building.

(Photo:

C.

Jencks)

Modern
reminscent of De Stijl, that quintessential^
language, but
are
onto
Thus
the
Modernism
traditional
background.
they
collaged
to such an extent that both Modernists
and Clas
confronts Classicism
if not offended.
There is not the simple
sicists would be surprised,
It is as if
of either language or worldview.
harmony and consistency
Stirling were saying through his hybrid language and uneasy confron
tations: "We live in a complex world where we cannot deny either the
past and conventional
beauty, nor the present and current technical
and social reality." Caught between this past and present, unwilling to
our situation,
the most
"real"
Stirling has produced
oversimplify
to
of
Postmodern
architecture
date.
beauty
As much of this reality has to do with taste as it does with technol
failed as mass housing
and city building
ogy. Modernism
partly
with its inhabitants and users. They
because it failed to communicate
might not like the style, might not understand what itmeant, or even
the essential definition
how to use it. Hence,
the double coding,
of
was
as
a
on
of
used
various
Postmodernism,
strategy
communicating
levels at once. Virtually every Postmodern
architect ? Robert Venturi,
Charles Moore,
Hans Hollein,
Robert Stern, Michael Graves, Arata
Isozaki are the notable examples ?use popular ?ta?c.elitist signs in their
work to achieve quite different
ends, and their styles are essentially
at
To
hybrid.
Stuttgart, blue and red handrails and vibrant
simplify,
in
with
the youth that uses the museum ?it
fit
polychromy
literally
resembles their dayglo hair and anoraks ? while the Classicism
appeals
more to the lovers of Schinkel. This is a very popular building with
young and old, and when I interviewed people there ?a group of plein
air painters,
school children, and businessmen ?I found their differ
ent perceptions
and tastes were accommodated
and stretched. The
so
on
to
that
is
often
called
Postmodernism
is here a
pluralism
justify
tangible reality.
This is not the place to recount the history of Postmodern
architec
and social intentions
that
ture, but I want to stress the ideological
in the bitter
underlie this history because they are so often overlooked
Even traditionalists
debate with Modernists.10
often reduce the debate
to matters of style, and thus the symbolic intentions and morality
are
If one reads the writings of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott
overlooked.
or myself,
one will find the con
Brown, Christian Norberg-Schultz,
stant notion of pluralism,
the idea that the architect must design for
different
"taste cultures"
(in the words of the sociologist Herbert
Gans) and for differing views of the good life. In any complex build
there will be varying
ing, in any large city building such as an office,
tastes and functions that have to be articulated,
and these will inevita
bly lead, if the architect follows these hints, towards an eclectic style.
He may pull this heterogeneity
together under a Free-Style Classicism,
37

D.C.,
1985, aerial perspective.
of Washington,
Fig. 2. Leon Krier, The Completion
L'Enfant's
is finally filled out and given the fabric which
Baroque
plan of Washington
so desperately
need. Four large towns, based on a traditional
the monuments
typology
to urban
of small blocks,
and measure
life which Modernist
schemes
give the density
at first and then one realizes
have lost. It looks nostalgic
that the relation between
an opti
and infill, courtyard
and street, living and work areas-is
parts-monument
mum achieved
in few periods; with the Roman
castrum and occasionally
in the Renais
sance and eighteenth-century
the present
France. Krier's use of the past to challenge
as pertinent
D.C.-is
that isWashington,
the suburban,
present
especially
agoraphobic
as his notion of the 'Masterplan
notion of the 'Plan as Dictator.'

as Constitution.'
And
it's far better
of Leon Krier)
(Courtesy

than Le Corbusier's

as do many Postmodernists
today, but a trace of the pluralism will and
should remain. I would even argue that "the true and proper style" is
but some form of eclecticism because only
not, as they said, Gothic,
this can adequately
the pluralism
that is our social and
encompass
reality.
metaphysical
Many people would disagree with this last point, and some of them,
like the great visionary and draftsman
Leon Krier, are almost Post
I bring him up as a borderline case and because he shows how
modern.
traditions may influence each other in a positive way. Krier
different
worked for James Stirling in the early seventies, and since then he has
evolved his own form of vernacular classicism
(fig. 2). In his schemes
for the reconstruction
of cities such as Berlin and Washington,
D.C.,
shows how the destroyed
repaired and how a traditional
to these cores. The motivations

he

38

fabric of the historic


city could be
set of well-scaled
spaces could be added
are urbanistic and Utopian in the sense

? also traditional and idealistic in


that they are unlikely to be realized
manner
is not. The way of
that Postmodernism
the straightforward
but the plans would entail
and monistic:
life implied is paternalistic
not the totalitarianism
that his critics aver when they compare him
and
with Adolf Speer, but an integrated culture led by a determined
that
sensitive elite. In this sense, Krier has not "lost his innocence"
believe is gone for good, but has
Eco and the Postmodernists
to a preindustrial
golden age where singular visions could be
critics will say he has kept his inno
imagined for everyone. Again,
cence precisely because he has not built and faced the irreducibly

Umberto

returned

plural reality.
This may be true, and yet Krier
as on others, because
modernists,
current planning and architecture
fragments as the centers of Siena
is of
of the French Revolution,
because it shows what a modern
streets,

lakes,

arcades,

and

effect on Post
has had a beneficent
his ideal models act as a critique of
in the same way as do such surviving
like that
and Venice. His nostalgia,
the very positive and creative kind
city might be if built with traditional

squares.

and

Moreover,

this

does

make

him a Postmodernist,
his drawing manner derived equally from Le
is based on practical urban
and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts,
Corbusier
He is not simply a Mannerist,
sprinkling biplanes and
knowledge.
1920s technology
through the sky, but someone who thinks through
fabric before he draws. His
all the public buildings
and private
comments on the desirabil
biplanes are, of course, ironic Postmodern
ity of technical regression.
There are, inevitably, many more strands of Postmodern
architec
ture than the major two that the work of Stirling and Krier represent,
and

I have

tried

to

show

the

as

plurality

consisting

of

six

basic

tradi

tions, or "species" (fig. 3). There is some overlap between these identi
tree of my diagram, and archi
fiable "species" within the evolutionary
tects,

unlike

animals,

can

jump

from

one

category

to

or

another,

occupy several strands at once. The diagram shows two fundamental


that have to be added to our former definition
of Post
aspects
it is a movement
that starts roughly in I960 as a set of
modernism:
and
Pluralism, both philosophical
plural departures from Modernism.
a
or
a
to
and
critical
relation
dialectical
stylistic,
preexisting
ideology
are both key definers. There's not one Postmodern
style, although
there is a dominating
classicism,
just as there was not one Modern
was
a
there
International
mode, although
Style.
dominating
if one is going to classify anything as complex as an
Furthermore,
one has to use many
architectural
definers: Anthony
movement,
shows the necessity for
Blunt, in a key text on Baroque and Rococo,
Postmodernism
from Mod
using ten definers, and, in distinguishing
ern and Late Modern
I have used thirty.11 Most of these
architecture,
39

1960

1965

1970

1975

1980

1960-1980.
In any major move
Tree of Postmodern
Architecture,
Fig. 3. Evolutionary
ment
there are various
have to be distinguished
which
strands
running
concurrently
of Postmodernism
show their
because of differing
values. Here the six main
traditions
common
the fact that since the late 1970s Post
and illustrate
and differences
ground
modern
Classicism
have been unifying
forces.
and urbanism

over symbolism, ornament, humor, tech


concern differences
the
of
architect to existing and past cultures.
and
relation
the
nology,
tend to emphasize technical and eco
Modernists
and Late Modernists
tend to empha
nomic solutions to problems, whereas Postmodernists
to their inventions.
size contextual
and cultural additions
art. It also
Many of these points could be made about Postmodern
starts roughly
a succession
in 1960 with
of departures
from
Modernism ? notably Pop Art, Hyperrealism,
Photo Realism, Alle
gorical and Political Realism, Pattern Painting, New Image painting,
La Transavanguardia,
and a host of other more
neo-Expressionism,
or less fabricated movements.
to pro
from the art market
Pressure
definers

duce new labels and synthetic schools has, no doubt,


increased the
tempo and heat of this change. And the influence of the international
so emphasized
as a defining aspect of the postindustrial
soci
media,
cross national
these movements
Post
boundaries.
ety, has made
modern art, like architecture,
is influenced by the "world village" and
the sensibility that comes with this: an ironic cosmopolitanism.
If one
Carlo Maria Mariani,
Sandro
looks at three Italian Postmodernists,
one sees their "Italianess" always in quo
Chia and Mimmo
Paladino,
tation marks, an ironic fabrication of their roots made as much for the
New York they occasionally
inhabit as from inner necessity. Whereas
a mythology
was given to the artist in the past by tradition and the
world,
patron, in the Postmodern
in the mid-seventies,
Mariani,

it is chosen and invented.


created his fictional
of
academy
?
so
on
and
peers ?Goethe,
Winkelmann,
Mengs,
some missing canvasses to fill out a mythic history.

eighteenth-century
and then painted
In the early eighties,
and

painted

an

allegory

he transferred
of

Postmodern

this mythology
Parnassus

to the present
with

his

friends

day
and

enemies, critics and dealers collected around himself in the center ?a


version of Raphael's
and Meng's
versions of the tradi
modern-day
tional subject (fig. 4). Like the structure of myth, we see here a series
of texts layed one on top of another as an enigmatic commentary.
Is it
ironic allegory?
serious, or parody, or more
likely the combination
The facial expressions
and detail would suggest this double reading.
solemn
both
and supercilious,
sits below Ganymede
Mariani,
being
abducted to heaven by Zeus: Ganymede
is not only the beautiful boy
of Greek mythology
being captured in the erotic embrace of the eagle
a
but
artist Luigi Ontani, hence the
Zeus,
portrait of the performance
and
To the right, Francesco Clemente
stick.
gazes past a canvas
hoop
held by Sandro Chia; Mario Merz isHercules
in an understated
bath
New York dealer waddles
to the water personified
tub; a well-known
as a turtle; critics write and admire their own profiles. All this is
carried out in the mock heroic style of the late eighteenth century, the
has made his own. No one
style of La Pittura Col ta, which Mariani
41

del Leone
Costellazioni
1980-1, oil
(La Scuola di Roma),
Fig. 4. Carlo Maria Mariani,
on canvas,
133V8 x 1779/16 in. An elaborate
School
allegory on the current Postmodern
one part critical
satire. (Courtesy
of Rome ?one
of
part eighteenth-century
pastiche,
New York)
Gallery,
Sperone Westwater

gives this "cultured painting" an extended analysis would call it


or straight
critics
many
revivalist,
century,
although
eighteenth
as
to
the
work
branded
have
Postmodernism
again
unsympathetic
had been dismissed by Modern
"fascist." These pictorial conventions
ists as taboo, as frigid academic art.
then so do many Post
IfMariani adapts and invents his mythology,
who are involved in allegory and narrative. This concern
modernists
to the archi
is in a sense comparable
for content and subject matter
who

tects' renewed concern for symbolism and meaning. Whereas Modern


on the autonomy
concentrated
ism and particularly Late Modernism
and expression of the individual art form ?the aesthetic dimension ?
is
focus on the semantic aspect. This generalization
Postmodernists
true of such different artists as David Hockney, Malcolm Morley, Eric
some of whom have
and Paul Georges,
Fischl, Lennart Anderson,
sex
others who have painted political,
painted enigmatic allegories,
ual, and classical narratives. The so-called Return to Painting of the
it
1980s is also a return to a traditional concern with content, although
art.
from Premodern
is content with a difference
had a Modern
First, because these Postmodernists
training, they are
inevitably
42

concerned

with

abstraction

and the basic

reality of modern

60 x 60 in. The most


serious
1975-6, oil on canvas,
Kitaj,
If Not, Not,
as a departure
themes and characters
painter often uses Modernist
point
for his fractured allegories.
These
sustain a mood
of catastrophe
and mystery which
is
alleviated
of hope and a haunting
of Scottish
by small emblems
beauty.
(Courtesy
of Modern
National
Art)
Gallery
Fig. 5. Ron
Postmodern

life,

that

is, a secular,

mass

culture

dominated

by

economic

and

prag

matic motives. This gives their work the same complexity, mannerism,
and double coding that Postmodern
architects have, and also an eclec
tic or hybrid style. For instance, Ron Kitaj, who is the most concerned
with literary and cultural subject matter,
combines Modernist
tech
with Renaissance
niques of collage and a flat, graphic composition
traditions. His enigmatic allegory If Not, Not
is a visual counterpart
of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, on which it is partly based (fig. 5).
Survivors of war crawl through the desert towards an oasis; survivors
of civilization
(Eliot himself) are engaged in quizzical acts, some with
representatives

of

exotic

culture.

Lamb,

crow,

palm

tree,

turquoise

lake, and a Tuscan landscape, consciously


adapted from the Classical
resonate with common
overtures.
tradition,
They point toward a
Western
and Christian
overlaid by Modernism,
the cult
background
at the top,
of primitivism and disaster. The Classical barn/monument
so reminiscent
of Aldo Rossi and Postmodern
also
face buildings,
43

it represents.
Indeed, the burning
suggests the death camps, which
inferno of the sky, the corpse and broken pier, the black and truncated
trees ?all
suggest life after the Second World War: plural, confused,
but containing
islands of peace (and a
and tortured on the whole,
The title, with its double negative ? If Not,
search for wholeness).
Not?was
taken from an ancient political oath that meant roughly: if
the
you
King do not uphold our liberties and laws, then we do not
of broken promises
and frag
the consequence
you. Thus,
culture are the content of this gripping drama, one given a
classical gravitas and dignity.
nar
of this type of hidden moralistic
could be multiplied
Examples
Ian Hamil
David Salle, Hans Haacke,
rative: Robert Rauschenberg,
ton Finlay, Stephen McKenna?all
make use of the classical tradition
in portraying our current, cultural situation. Their political and ethi
but their intention to revive the tradition
cal views are often opposed,
art is shared, and since they all do this conscious
of
of moralistic
will
double
find
the
Modernism
and secularization,
you
irony,
coding,
uphold
mented

architecture.
that is present in Postmodern
Thus, the
that I have given above holds true for
of Postmodernism
such literary figures as Umberto
artists and, I believe,
Eco, David
Luis
and
John
Barthes,
Borges, among many others. It
Jorge
Lodge,
so
not
of
hold true, however,
does
many artists lumped or thrown
a
Postmodern
label for whom there are much better
together under
and mannerism

definition

appellations.

Modern

and Late Modern

Defined

a
as I have suggested, was, in architecture,
The Modern Movement,
faith in the liberating aspects of
Protestant
Reformation
putting
and mass democracy. Le Corbusier pursued his "cru
industrialization
sade," as he called it, for a "a new spirit," as he also called it, and his
reformed religion was meant to change the public's attitude towards
mass production.
So convinced was this prophet of the beneficent
?
that he ended his bible
environment
effects of a well-designed
"Architec
the ringing exortation:
Towards a New Architecture?with
can be avoided." Walter Gropius,
Revolution
ture or Revolution.
founded the Bau
saint of the Design Reformation,
another militant
haus as a "cathedral of the future" and declared in 1923 the standard
:A New Unity." Ludwig Mies van der
doctrine: "Art and Technology
Rohe made any number of plans to the Spirit of the Age,
that it could
and proclaimed
of the new industrialization,
problems,

44

even

"social,

economic

and

artistic"

ones.12

the Zeitgeist
solve all our

In short, the three leading Modern


architects did not just practice a
common, Protestant
style but believed that if their faith were to gov
ern industrialization,
then it could really change the world physically
and spiritually for the better. This religion of Modernism
triumphed
the globe as itwas disseminated
by the saints and proselyt
throughout
izers: Sir Nikolaus
and the Bible accord
Pevsner, Sir James Richards,
to
and
Time
Architecture.
Modern acad
Giedion,
ing
Siegfried
Space,
emies were formed at the major universities,
and
such as Cambridge
and from there were dispersed
the purist doctrines of John
Harvard,
Calvin Corbusier, Martin Luther Gropius,
and John Knox van der
Rohe. Their white cathedrals were soon built in every land, the black
and white boxes of the International Style, and for a while, the people
and professors
kept the faith. Ornament,
polychromy,
metaphor,
were put on the index, and all
and convention
humor, symbolism,
forms of decoration
and historical reference were declared taboo. We
are all well acquainted with the results ?as Colin Rowe termed them,
"the architecture of good intentions" ?and
there are a lot of pleasant
to prove that the
white housing estates or machine-aesthetic
hospitals
intentions were not all misguided.
The reigning religion of architectural Modernism
could be called
that is, the belief that by "doing more with
pragmatic amelioration,
Fuller said, social problems would slowly disap
less," as Buckminster
seems to
in limited spheres such as medicine,
pear. Technical progress,
one of Late Modernists.
bear out this ideology, still a dominant
as the universal,
architecture
inter
Thus, we might define Modern
the facts of new constructional
means,
style stemming from
new
a
as
to
industrial
and
trans
its
the
society,
adequate
goal
having
But there is
formation
of society, both in its taste and social makeup.
an anomaly
in this Modernism
that is both overwhelming
and missed
on the subject. It is directly opposite
the more wide
by commentators
in the other arts and philosophy;
for these are not
spread Modernism
at all. Think of Nietzsche,
G?del, Heisen
optimistic and progressivist
are closer to nihilism
and Sartre ?who
than to the
berg, Heidegger,
of Fuller ?or Yeats,
T. S. Eliot, and de
Joyce, Pound,
positivism
and Grosz: hardly liberal, not very social
Chirico, Picasso, Duchamp
not
and
in architecture
ist,
certainly
optimistic. Whereas Modernism
has furthered the ideology of industrialization
and progress, Modern
ism in most other fields has either fought these trends or lamented
national

In two key areas, however, the various Modernisms


agree, and
that is over the value of abstraction and the primary role of aesthetics,
or the perfection
of the expressive medium. Modernism,
as Clement
has
defined
has
this
irreducible goal: to focus on
it, always
Greenberg
the essence of each art language. By doing this, he argues, standards
are kept high in an age of secularization,
where there are few shared
them.

45

values and little left of a common symbolic system. All one can do in
an agnostic age of consumer pluralism
is sharpen the tools of one's
of
the
and T. S. Eliot
the
trade, "purify
tribe," as Mallarm?
language
defined the poet's role.
This idea relates closely to the nineteenth
century's notion of the
on the myth of a
of
is
and
Modernism
course,
based,
avant-garde,
romantic advance guard setting out before the rest of society to con
and social order. The
quer new territory, new states of consciousness
as
a
artistic military was
of
and
the
political
metaphor
avant-garde,
formulated
in the 1820s, and although there were very few artists who
were politically active, like Gustav Courbet,
and even fewer that were
the
effective politically
myth of social activism sus
(like Marinetti?),
a patronless
class.
tained an elevated role for what was becoming
were
of
at
and
the
often
like
mercy
architects,
Artists,
underemployed
a heartless, or at least uninterested,
economic
system. Where before
a
a
to
had
defined
social
patron, the state, church, or
relationship
they
to
a
now
that was competitive
related
individual,
they
marketplace
and

agnostic.

as the first great ideological


can thus see Modernism
response
to this social crisis and the breakdown
of a shared religion. The intel
lectuals and creative elite, faced with a post-Christian
society, formu
lated a new role for themselves,
inevitably a priestly one. In their most
exalted role, they would heal society's rifts; in "purifying the language
of the tribe," they could purify the sensibility and provide an aesthetic
moral base ?if not a political one. From this post-Christian
role, two
between them that has
positions developed as well as a contradiction
I will resort, as
this confusion,
caused much confusion. To overcome
and Robert Stern have done, to two
others such as Frank Kermode
technical terms, because the word "modern" hides at least two differ
One

ent meanings.13

the "split between


role of the artist, to overcome
located in
and
Giedion
T.
Eliot
that
S.
Siegfried
thinking
to
I
"Heroic
would
call
what
this
leads
the nineteenth
century, and
of the
role
and
romantic
Then there is the subversive
Modernism."
art
to
differ
new
make
artist to conquer
territory, "to make it new,"
and critical: what I will call "Agonistic
self-referential
ent, difficult,
There

is the healing
and feeling"

Modernism."
tional

versus

These
schismatic

two meanings
Modernism,"

relate to what
humanism

Stern
versus

labels "tradi
agonism,

con

tinuity versus "the Shock of the New," optimism versus nihilism, and
the second of
so on. For Stern, and other writers such as lhab Hassan,
?
itself
or
?has
Modernism
Resistant
schismatic
these traditions
"Post
writes:
Thus
Hassan
into schismatic Postmodernism.
mutated
in form and
subversive
on the other hand, is essentially
modernism
in art even
of
its
lack
faith
It
dramatizes
in
cultural
its
anarchic
spirit.
46

as it produces new works


artistic dissolution."14
As
Hassan
examples,

of art intended

to hasten

both

cultural

and

mentions
the literature
of Genet
and
Beckett ?also
what George Steiner calls the "literature of silence" ?
art of Tinguely and Robert Morris,
the self-abolishing
the mechanistic
and repetitive art of Andy Warhol,
the nonstructural
music of John
Fuller.15 All of this
Cage and the technical architecture of Buckminster
to an
takes Early Modernism
and its notion of radical discontinuity
to
the
hermeticism
of
the
sixties
and
seventies.
extreme,
leading
Because
the later tradition was obviously
different
from the Heroic
Modernism
of the twenties, quite a few critics loosely applied the
and
prefix "post-." For instance, the popular critics Paul Goldberger
to dis
Douglas Davis used it in the New York Times and Newsweek
cuss the ultra-Modern
work of Hardy Holzman
and Pfeiffer, Cesar
Pelli and Kevin Roche, all of which exaggerate
the high-tech work of
Mies and Le Corbusier.16 The art critic Edward Lucie Smith,
like
Center.17 In
others, even applied it to Rogers and Piano's Pompidou
meant
that was different
from High
short, Postmodern
everything
and usually, this meant
Modernism,
skyscrapers with funny shapes,
brash colors, and exposed technology.
That such architects actually
as I was defining
it, was beside these critics'
despised Postmodernism,
a current phrase for discontinuity
and
point. They
just adopted
lumped every departure under it.
In artistic theory and criticism,
the same permissive
categorization
was practiced,
were held on the subject,
and so, when conferences
as to whether
artists were confused
the post
they were supporting
or were against
it.18 In fact, a whole
modern,
book, The Anti
Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern
to this con
Culture, was dedicated
fusion.19 Here,
the editor Hal Foster uses it to mean a cultural and
to the critical use
political resistance to the status quo; Craig Owens,
of postindustrial
in art (computers and photography)
and
techniques
the "loss of master narratives"
in this).
(he follows J. F. Lyotard
Frederic

Jameson

uses

it as

an

umbrella

term

to cover

all

to

reactions

the
High Modernism
(again, John Cage and William
Burroughs),
of
distinctions
between high and mass culture, and two of its
leveling
features": pastiche and schizophrenia.
Jean Baudrillard
"significant
refers to it as epitomizing
our era and its "death of the subject,"
caused basically by television and the information
revolution
("We
live in the ecstasy of communication.
And this ecstasy is obscene").20
And most of the remaining authors use it in different ways, some of
which may have a relation to resistance, or "deconstructing"
the com
mon assumptions
of our culture. In short, itmeans almost everything
and,

thus,

Before

nearly

I discuss

nothing.

this "Nothing

Postmodernism,"

where

very little is
47

one of its causes: the view that the


at stake, I would like to mention
to mean any rupture with High Modernism.
word can be appropriated
Rosalind Krauss's essay "Sculpture in the Expanded Field," printed in
this and another anthology on Postmodern
art, shows this appropria
tion.21 Her elegant and quite witty essay seeks to define all departures
from sculpture that appear to break down the category of Modernist
sculpture ?let us say Brancusi's Endless Column ?ana
expand them
to include such things as Christo's Running Fence and wrapped build
in 1972, and vari
constructed
ings, Robert Smithson's use of Aycock
ous earthworks
and "marked sites" such as a sunken framed hole in
the ground by Mary Miss,
1978.
field of
Krauss uses a structuralist diagram to draw this expanded
not
that are not architecture,
landscape,
objects
sculpture ?the
in making
the diagram
indeed, not sculpture, and her wit consists
itself expand to include a lot of combined "nots." The strategy is not
to Modernist
dissimilar
practice of defining
things by what they are
not

and essentiality,
but she
in order to maximize
their differences
"One after
presents their expansion as a "rupture" with Modernism:
Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Richard
another Robert Morris,
Robert
de Maria,
Irwin, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman
Serra, Walter
(between 1968 and 1970) had entered a situation the logical conditions
In her diagram
of which can no longer be described as Modernist."22
matical,
logical terms, this is quite true, but then she goes on to make
a false inference. "In order to name this historical
rupture and the
of the cultural field that characterizes
structural transformation
it,
one must have recourse to another term. The one already in use in
There seems no reason not
other areas of criticism is postmodernism.
use
the not way of not definition,
to use it." Oh, yes, there is not, to
one
it is that you cannot define
for if
things
thing is not obscure
are
not.
All
the things in this room that are not
usefully by what they
men are not necessarily women,
but they are a near infinity of other
are
and not sculptures she mentions
of
And
those
artists
classes
things.
like
not Postmodernists,
but really Late Modernists.
Why? Because
or
and
take
Modernist
ultra-Modernists
neo-,
they
disjunction
to an extreme. Essentially,
their practice goes against the
abstraction
those
I have mentioned
?all
of Postmodernism
thirty or so definers
historical memory, metaphor,
semantics, convention,
for
existing cultures. Their work is much
symbolism and the respect
?
to
closer
except ismore extreme, exaggerated
Agonistic Modernism,

connected

in short,

with

"Late."

Indeed, this brings us to the essential definition of Late Modernism:


in its social ideology
it is pragmatic
and technocratic
in architecture,
the
takes
about
many of
1960,
and, from
stylistic ideas and values of
a dull (or dying)
to an extreme
in order to resuscitate
Modernism
48

art is also singly coded in this way and, like


language.23 Late Modern
the Modernism
of Clement Greenberg,
tends to be self-referential
and
in this concen
involved with its art-specific
language, even minimalist
tration, as so many critics like Umberto Eco have pointed out.24

Schismatic

Postmodernism

Is Late Modernism

I am suggesting here is not a minor shift in nomenclature,


What
but
a complete reshuffling of categories:
that is, to redefine what Davis,
Foster, Jamieson, Lyotard, Baudrillard,
Krauss, Hassan
Goldberger,
and so many others often define as "Post-" ismostly "Late" because it
is still committed
to the tradition of the New and not fundamentally
concerned with a complex relation to the past, pluralism,
the transfor
mation of Western
and
culture, a concern with meaning,
continuity,
I do not for a moment believe that these writers will agree
symbolism.
with me, but I do believe that what is at stake ismore than a linguistic
or pedantic distinction.
It is a difference of values and philosophy.
To
a Postmodernist
call a Late Modernist
a Catho
is to call a Protestant
lic because
they both practice a Christian
religion after the Middle
Ages. Or it is to criticize a donkey for being a bad sort of horse. Such
lead to misreadings,
and this may be very fruitful
category mistakes
as a tragedy ?but
and creative ?the Russians
read Don Quixote
it is
ultimately violent and barren.
Try to read Norman Foster's recently completed Hong Kong Shang
hai Bank as a Postmodern
and you will get as far as the
building,
"nondoor"

where

the

two

escalators

are

shifted

at

an

angle

to accom

modate
the Chinese principle of Feng Shui. Is it contextual or related
to the buildings surrounding
it and the vernaculars of Hong Kong and
China? Only in the most oblique sense is it "high-tech," and one side
has a thin, picturesque
group of towers. Is it involved with the "taste
cultures" of the inhabitants and users? Only in the marginal
sense that
these bankers
like the colors gray and silver. Does
it
traditionally
incorporate a symbolic program or set of consistent metaphors?
Only
in the subliminal sense that its "skin and bones" suggest muscle power.
to the permissive definitions
of "Nothing Postmodernism,"
According
it should be a member
of this class because
it is a "rupture" with
Modernism
and fully committed
to the tradition of the New. Indeed,
most of its parts, adopted
are
from airplane and ship technology,
purposely built in different parts of the globe precisely to be new. It is
?
the first radical "multinational"
in
parts were fabricated
building
and
America
?resolved
Britain, Japan, Austria,
Italy,
by all the tech
nologies of the Postindustrial
society, including, of course, the com
49

to
and, therefore, according
puter and instant world communication
and others,
it should be a prime
of J. F. Lyotard
the definitions
But it is not and if it were, it would be a
example of Postmodernism.
complete failure.
and
No, it has to be judged as the latest triumph of Late Modernism
celebrated
for what it intends, and this is to be the most powerful
and huge
of structural
trusses,
lightweight
expression
technology,
in the air. The cost of the building
open space stacked internally
for when one finds out where the
directly reflects these intentions,
in the
went ?and
it is called the most
money
expensive
building
world ?it turns out to be the bridgelike structure and the superb use of
finishing materials,
surprising areas to take up so much of a budget.
Thus, I do not mean to only criticize the building for its Postmodern
but to support it for its Late Modern virtues. These are,
shortcomings,
as usual, the imaginative and consistent use of the technical language
consists in this integ
of architecture. The morality of Late Modernism
defense of Mod
rity of invention and usage; like Clement Greenberg's
the work has to be judged as an hermetic,
ernist morality,
internally
are self-referential.
related world where the meanings
Literally, does
and function
the high tech fit together and work visually, poetically,
to be positive,
to all these questions
appear
ally? The answers
it is too soon to be sure.
although
of Postmodernism
with Late Modern
to the confusion
Returning
lapse in the
ism, we can locate the chief cause of this embarassing
because
with
Postmodernism
of
the
conflation
society
postindustrial
a
a
common
between
Of
there
is
connection
share
course,
they
prefix.
these two "posts-," but not the simple and direct one that the philoso
implies. He opens his book The Post
Lyotard
pher Jean-Fran?ois
with the elision of the
A Report on Knowledge
modern Condition:
in
two terms: "The object of this study is the condition of knowledge
I have decided to use the word
societies.
the most highly developed
...
as
I define postmodern
to describe that condition,
postmodern
.
.
.
is
that
Our
metanarratives.
toward
working hypothesis
incredulity
is altered as societies enter what is known as
the status of knowledge
the post industrial age and cultures enter what is known as the post
in
modern age.25 Lyotard's
study is mostly concerned with knowledge
is legitimized
our scientific age and the way knowledge
through the
the
such as the liberation of humanity, progress,
"grand narratives,"
so
forth.
These
and
increased
of
the
power,
proletariat,
emancipation
"master

narratives,"

he

contends,

have

gone

the way

of

previous

ones,

and the belief in the destiny of the


such as religion, the nation-state
and incredible.
noncredible
Indeed, all
West;
they have become
in a scientific age,
become
beliefs, or master narratives,
impossible
the
especially the role and ultimate legitimacy of science itself. Hence
50

and pluralism of "language games" that fight


anarchism,
nihilism,
culture entails a "sensi
each other; hence, his belief that Postmodern
and a "war on totality."26 "Postmodern"
is then
tivity to differences"
a period in which everything
is
defined as "a period of slackening,"
Given this nihilism and the sociological
"delegitimized."
jargon, one
can understand why our Sunday reporter at Le Monde was so upset by
onto the breakfast
the specter about to descend,
like a fog of waffle,
as this "slackening"
table. Lyotard has almost defined Postmodernism
defines
the "post
section, he amazingly
relativity. But in another
"What space does Cezanne challenge?
modern" culture as premodern:
The Impressionists.
What
and Braque
attack:
object do Picasso
... A work can become modern
Cezanne's.
only if it is first post
is not Modernism
thus understood
at its end
modern. Postmodernism
but in the nascent state, and this state is constant."27
This crazy idea, which no one had dreamed up before, at least has
the virtue of being original, and it has led to Lyotard's belief in contin
ual experiment,
the agonism of the perpetual avant-garde
and contin
ual revolution. As far as I can tell, it has also led to his exhibition of
disjointed
(TV, computers,
experiments with the media
etc.) at the
Center called Les Immateriaux,
which was touted as an
Pompidou
I have not seen the show but only read
exhibition of Postmodernism.
reports, so I am not sure. But I am convinced of one thing: his classic
of Postmodernism
recent tradition of the
with the most
confusion
that is, Late Modernism.
It is embarassing
that Post
New,
first philosopher
modernism's
should be so fundamentally
wrong.
But this is not surprising because
the "mistake" has such a long
pedigree, predating Ihab Hassan's work, on which Lyotard rests for so
much

of

his

cultural

evidence.

Thus

we

are

at

a "crisis"

point,

to use

one of his concepts of legitimation: whether to go on using the word


to encompass
two opposite meanings
and diverging
"postmodern"
It is literally nonsense
to continue with this linguistic con
traditions.
I would argue that the meanings
fusion. Furthermore,
and definitives
I have proposed ? dichotomizing
"Late" and "Postmodern" ?gain
in
power precisely to the extent that they are used together because they
elucidate opposite
traditions of art, and architecture
that
intentions,
are fundamentally
to
each other. Lyotard,
because he is a
opposed
or
and sociologist
of knowledge
and not an historian
philosopher
critic of these cultural trends, is not finely tuned to their differences.
stated this case for a fundamental
distinction between Post
Having
and Late Modernism,
Iwould, however,
like to add some refinements
an absolute difference.
that modify
Both traditions start about 1960,
react to the wane
both
of Modernism,
and some artists and
architects ? for instance, David
Mario
and Philip
Salle,
Botta,
Johnson ?either
vacillate between or unite the two. This overlap, or
51

existential mixing of categories,


is what we would expect in any period
for instance, an artist such as Michel
since the Renaissance
when,
to Mannerist
and Baroque
angelo could move from Early Renaissance
solutions of sculptural and architectural problems. So there are indeed
many artists whom Hal Foster and others include in their corpus as
of resistance"
that I would
also include as Post
"postmodernists
some feminist
modernists:
Robert Rauschenberg,
Laurie Anderson,
in an ironic way, Hans
conventional
subject matter
and others who might be termed 'agonistic' or combatative.
But I would only do so insofar as their intention was to communicate
with society and its professional
elites through the use of double cod
it would not
ing. And even if such artists are termed Postmodern,
guarantee their value, which must depend, as always, on the imagina
art

that uses

Haacke

of a shared symbolic system. The role of the critic


tive transformation
must be to, first, define the field, that is, the very real traditions that
are evolving, and then make distinctions
of quality and value. I have
tree showing the four main
started to do this with an evolutionary
and
Classical
Postmodern
strands of art: the Metaphysical,
Narrative,
and those who share a classical sensibility
Realist Classicists
(fig. 6).
tradition a slow move
We can see in this return to the larger Western
ment of our culture, now worldwide,
back to a "centre which could
not hold" (to misquote
Yeats). The return has various causes, but
among the most important is the idea that the value of any work must
and quality. The
depend partly on tradition, both for its placement
tradition of the New and the Shock of the New made a fetish of
to such an extent that now a radical work of quality is
discontinuity
likely to have a Shock of the Old.

The

Counter-Reformation

in Architecture

The Heroic Period of Modernism,


during the twenties, was not just
in many
across the avant-garde
to
extended
architects but
confined
in
Ezra
Pound
a
Eliot
T.
S.
and
short time,
arts. For
literature,
in sculpture, and
in film, Brancusi
in music, Eisenstein
Stravinsky
role of
in painting
shared an implicit reformist
Leger and Picasso
elite
and
the
intellectual
a
new
The
sensibility.
avant-garde
shaping
new
mass
a
culture.
of
leaders
a
common
to
the
become
role:
defined
Partly, this ideal of a new leadership resulted from the breakup caused
as much as the
by the First World War and the Russian Revolution
industrial revolution. But its deeper roots went back to the nineteenth
and seculariza
century and to the radical effects science, Darwinism,
culture. The post-Christian
tion had on Christian
ideology, first pro
52

1960

1965

1970

FMAGRITTE

METAPHYSICAL
CLASSICAL
LATE
DECHIRICO
BALTHUS
k LATE

1975

1980

1985

f C.Bertocci
MODERN
BAROQUE
DeStasi
LBonechi Rit
G.GAROUSTE
R, I
Annigonni
Tibur
CsernusA&PPOIRIER
TRANSAVANTGARDE
Varujan
Boghosian
AI.Abate
U.Pagliari
Fr.Piruca
Oliva
A.B.
MELANCHOLIC
CLASSICAL
CARLO
MARIANI
EXPRESSIONIST
CLASSICAL
MARIA
M.Pistoletto
M.MORLEY
A.LOPEZ
GARCIAG.Gillespie LA
M Paladino
PITTURA
COLTA
ENIGMATIC
ALLEGORIES
F.Botero
J. Ipousteguy S.CHIA
S.CoxG.Paolini
O.Galliani
CLASSICALM.Ramos D.Sinclair
F.CLEMENTE
SELF-CONSCIOUS
INCONGRUITY
kKITSCH
SalvoS.Sosno
/.Tongeren
O.Nerdrurr,

P.Georges
THE
RON
HUMAN
CLAY
76 EROTIC
CLASSICAL
KITAJ
D.HOCKNEY
SUGGESTIVE
NARRATIVE
MEDIA
STYLE
E.Fischl
D.SalleSUBVERSIVE
A.Kiefer
CLASSICAL
G,Segal
IT
SUBJECTS R.Longo
H.HaackeA.Kiefer
R.Dudley
V.Adami
MORALISM
-I,FINLAY J.Brown
A.Panzera
E.Murphy
\l.Bailey N.Charkow

REAUST

CLASSICAL

R.Estes
I.
PHOTO
REALISMW.Bailey G.Segal
Mcllvain
ROBERT
GRAHAM
ANDREATRANSCENDENTAL
HYPERREALISM
J.DE
OBJECTS
'The
Hard-Won
URBAN
REALISM
Image',
W.Beckman
P.Pearlstein
PRECISIONISM
M.Leonard
American
Realism
Since
1981S.F
I960',
'Contemporary
Philadelphia,
U.
A.Katz
B.
G.Pita
MONUMENTALISED
MIMESIS
JOHNSON
Uglow
'TRENDS
INCONTEMPORARY
REALIST
1975'8FIGURATIVE
1980S.Hawley
S.Gjertson
PAINTERS',
PAINTING',
S.Goodman
N.Weymouth
REALISM
P.Saari
PSYCHOLOGICAL
L.Riches

Classical
the five main
traditions.
1960-80,
Fig. 6. Postmodern
Art,
there is a common
which
shows differences
architecture,
approach
artists also tend to work concurrently
within
several traditions.

as with
Again,
of focus. Some

as the philosophy
claimed by Nietzsche
of the superman, was aimed
directly at a creative elite, and it is not surprising that the young Le
and Walter Gropius were brought up, as were so many
Corbusier
artists of the early 1900s, on Zarathustra's
oracular pronouncements:
"He who must be a creator in good and evil ? verily, he must first be a
. . .And whatever will break
destroyer, and break values into pieces.
our truths, let it break! Many a house hath yet to be built [it is clear
. . .Dead are all Gods; now we will
why this appealed to architects].
that superman live. ... I teach you superman. Man is something that
shall be surpassed. What

have ye done

to surpass him?"28
53

role to "transvalue
all
The avant-garde
took on this Darwinian
even adopted
the
Le
these
values" and
Corbusier,
passages,
reading
If one reads art and architecture
biblical
intonation of his mentor.
to Paris, they all
of the twenties, from Berlin to Moscow
manifestoes
sound like this scripture but sent by telegram, and their evangelical
Le Corbusier:
style is basically Nietzsche's.

A great epoch has begun.


There, exist s a new spirit.
Industry, overwhelming
on towards its destined
with new tools adapted
by a new spirit.
Economic
thoughts.

The
The

law inevitably
.
. . We

must

us like a flood which rolls


ends, has furnished us
to this new epoch, animated
governs
create

our acts and our

the mass-production

spirit.

houses.
spirit of constructing mass-production
houses.29
spirit of living in mass-production

in New Testaments
This rhetoric of a spiritual rebirth, proclaimed
out
evil and was
Beaux-Arts
drove
the
of
Machine Aesthetic,
finally
in
The white,
1927.
enshrined in theWiessenhof
Settlement,
Stuttgart,
was
architects
built
the
there
Reformist
Protestant
by
major
style
was
not
the
and the impressive
from Europe,
quality of the
thing
buildings so much as the fact that the leaders had all practiced versions
of the same doctrine, a dogma that excluded ornament,
convention,
and most
detailed polychromy,
traditional craftsmanship,
symbolism,
construc
had
enshrined
that
Western
architecture
except
every quality
aesthetics and urbanism
tional beauty and dynamic space. Traditional
were put on the Calvinist
Index.
in Venice, a rope-making
in
later
the old Arsenale
years
Fifty-three
factory of the sixteenth century, all this transvaluation was itself trans
valued.

Paolo

and other critics and architects,


including
Portoghesi
around the theme
the new Biennale of Architecture
the Past." Back were ornament,
convention,
sym

myself,
organized
"The Presence of
bolism, and every
sima, based on a

taboo. The Strada Novis


other practice considered
Renaisssance
stage set, consisted of twenty facades
architects and most were in a Free
designed by leading Postmodern
full repertoire of moldings,
used
the
This
classicism.
key
style
Style
distorted, or
stones, and columnar orders, but usually in a modified,
ironic fashion, again indicating their place in history after modernism.
the return to tradition had to be based on
That is they acknowledged
current social and technical realities. Since then the most challenging
has grown in strength to be practiced around
Classicism
Postmodern
54

con
in Japan ?using materials
the world ?even
such as prefabricated
crete and aluminium.
This Counter-Reformation
has had its new saints and zealous bish
to
who
not
have
failed
establish a renewed orthodoxy.
Aldo
ops,
new
on
the
Italian
of
issued
decrees
Neo
Rossi,
architecture,
Pope
Rationalism
and the importance of memory
for rebuilding
the city
an
The idea of autonomous
(destroyed by Modernism).
architecture,
to
own
architecture
its
laws
of
streets, squares,
responding
typological
and city blocks,
returned. The monument
that Modernists
had
declared
forbidden goods was quickly reinstated
in encyclical
after
a veritable
The most militant
encyclical.
apostle,
Ignatius Loyola,
Leon Krier, established
his following,
called Rational
Architects,
equivalent to the Society of Jesus. And these New Jesuits from Spain,
and France even insisted on building with ancient
Italy, Belgium,
techniques of craftsmanship
ful Saint Ignatius Krier had
structure, is that he was given
High Church of Modernism,
mer of 1985.

and stone. An indication of how power


even without building a single
become,
a grand exhibition of his drawings in the
the Museum
of Modern Art in the sum

The new doctrines


started to spread very quickly with exhibitions
in
was
A
and
northern
Vatican
in
established
Helsinki,
Chicago,
Tokyo.
Frankfurt where Heinrich Klotz, in typical Germanic
a
made
fashion,
?
of
collection
Postmodern
documents
and
thorough
drawings
models ? collected in a museum
that could be called the first Museum
of Postmodern
Architecture
(especially designed by Mathias Ungers).
If the 1927 Wiessenhof
exhibition
represented the triumph of Protes
then the 1980 Venice Biennale and its subsequent re-erections
and San Francisco
the triumph of the Counter
represented
its many Councils
of Trent.
Reformation,
or mythology,
This metaphor,
of recent architecture
is getting
rather heavy, but before I drop it, a last parallel should be mentioned.
The real Counter-Reformation
resulted in the Baroque
style (called
then the Jesuit Style) and the building of many
splendid churches
narrative
and
replete with their exuberant
polychromy,
sculpture,
bubbling architecture. All of this rhetoric was the sign of a new spiri
the stylistic paral
tuality and the new authority of the Church. While
lel of the Counter-Reformation
can be made ?
with Postmodernism
and there is even a new Baroque ? there is no new religion and faith to
In place of this are several substitutes that form the
give it substance.
The atheist art critic, Peter Fuller, in his
agenda of Postmodernism.
book Images of God; The Consolation
calls for the
of Lost Illusions,
equivalent of a new spirituality based on an "imaginative,
yet secular,
like my own,
response to nature herself."30 His "Postmodernism,"
seeks "a shared symbolic order of the kind that a religion provides,"
tantism,
in Paris

55

but without
the religion. How this is to be achieved he does not spell
out any more than I do in four books on the subject.31 But the exam
standards against which we can mea
ples from the past are objective
sure Postmodernism;
artistic traditions may be more widely defined
then scientific ones, but distinctions
of value can still be defined
critics such as Roger Scruton,
objectively.32 Right-wing
left-wing crit
ics such as Peter Fuller, and liberals such as Ernst Gombrich
(and
the relativism that Lyotard's
myself) agree on this and in condemning
the tradition of Post
position entails.33 In both art and architecture,
to mature,
and we can see limited progress
modernism
is beginning
and development
akin to that in the Renaissance.

NOTES
1
G?rard-Georges
Dimanche
Monde
2Clement
William
lished

"Le

Lemaire,

Spectre

du

Dobell

Lecture

Memorial

Post-Modem,"
in Sydney, Australia,

presented

at

(October

31,

year in Arts Magazine


(1980).
an essay
"On Postmodernism,"
Bannard,
Darby
on Postmodernism
at the Modern
Association
Languages

fourth

the

Sir

1979) and pub

the following

3Walter
panel
York

Le

"Decadence,"

post-modernisme,"

18, 1981).
(October
"Modem
and
Greenberg,

originally
annual

at a

presented
meeting

in New

later in Arts Magazine.


28, 1983), published
(December
1981 RIBA annual dis
"R. P. P.-Rats,
Posts and Other Pests,"
?Aldo Van Eyck,
Lotus and most
in RIBA Journal,
course, published
(London)
(July
fully in A. D. News
1981), pp. 14-16.
SBerthold Lubetkin,
1, No. 2, (1982): 48.
6Berthold Lubetkin,

lished manuscript),
p.
is with
The comparison

"Royal

Gold

Medal

"RIBA

President's

13., published
Stalin's giving

Address,"

RIBA

II (London)

Transactions

Invitation
Lecture,"
(June 11, 1985, unpub
in part in Building
(London).
Design Magazine
to the people. The Prince of
columns
Corinthian

the diktat of Stalin fifty


"I can't help recalling
the following memory:
provokes
know better drags theory
that the specialists
years ago when he said "The assumption
The proletariat
into the bog of reactionary
and practice
opinion.'
cosmopolitan
colonnades."
the right to have their Corinthian
acquired
and Bruno Zevi in conver
Serious? Paolo Portoghesi:
7"Is Post-Modern
Architecture

Wales

Architectural

sation,"

Design

1-2 (1982):

20-1.

(Originally

published

in

in L'Expresso

Italian.)
in architecture
started
8My own writing and lecturing on Postmodernism
was published
in a Dutch
book
Architecture"
"The Rise of Post-Modern
magazines:
Architecture
started
"Footnote
London

56

Town Government
1975) and
(July
(Eindhoven),
no. 4 (1975). Subsequently
and Stern
Eisenman
Quarterly,
see the
and by 1977 it had caught on. For a brief history,

Architecture?Inner
Association

the term,
using
on the Term,"
Editions
Academy

9Umberto
Brace

in 1975, and
and British

Eco,

Jovanovich,

Postscript

Language
of Post-Modern
1984), p. 8.
(New York: Rizzoli,
to the "The Name
of the Rose,"

in The

1984), pp. 67-68.

Architecture,
(New York:

4th

ed.,

Harcourt

own The Language


Current Architecture
Architecture,
of Post-Modern
New York: Rizzoli,
in Architecture,
1982) and Modern Movements

lOBesides my

(London: Academy;
ed. (Harmondsworth:

Books,
1985), see Paolo
Portoghesi,
After Modern
Penguin
York: Rizzoli,
version Postmodern
1982) and its updated
(New
del Post-Moderno,
Chiva,
(Venice: Edizioni
1983).
1983), and Immagini

Architecture,
York:
Also

(New

Rizzoli,
Heinrich

Postmodern
1960-1980
der Moderne:
Klotz, Die Revision
Architektur,
und Postmoderne,
der Gengenwart
Architektur
1960-1980,
(Braunsch
/ Wiesbaden:
Friedr, Vieweg & Sohn,
1984). We have debated his notion of post

and Moderne
weig
modern

as "fiction"
in Architectural
and this has been published
architecture
Design,
no. 78 (1984). See also my discussion
in "La Bataille
of users and abusers of postmodern
in Nouveaux
Des Etiquettes,"
d'Architectures
(Paris: Center Georges
plaisirs
Pompi
dou,
1985), pp. 25-33.
11
as
"Some Uses and Misuses
and Rococo
Blunt,
Anthony
of the Terms Baroque
to Architecture
Architecture,
Jencks, Late-Modern
(Oxford,
1973); Charles
Applied
New York: Rizzoli,
(London: Academy;
1980), p. 32.
i
van der Rohe,
"Industrialized
in Pro
1924, reprinted
?Ludwig Mies
Building,"
on 20th Century Architecture
and Manifestoes
Lund Humphries,
grammes
(London:
1970), p. 81.
i3The two basic

are discussed
strands of Modernism
by many critics. See for instance
The Theory of the Avant-Garde.
Mass.:
Harvard
Uni
(Cambridge,
of Bradbury
and McFarlane
is particularly
versity Press,
1968). The discussion
relevant;
see their "The name
in Modernism,
and Nature
of Modernism,"
ed.
1890-1930,
and James McFarlane,
Malcolm
Books,
Bradbury
(Harmondsworth:
1976),
Penguin
Renato

Poggioli,

inModern
46; Frank Kermode,
"Modernisms,"
(London,
Essays
1971). For
"The Doubles
the best discussion
is Robert
of Post-Modern,"
architecture,
Stern,
as my text makes
1 (Spring,
Harvard
Review
Architectural
clear, I
1980), although,
use the term Late Modern
would
for his "Schismatic
Post-Modern."
pp. 40-41,

i4lhab Hassan,

and

Beckett,

"Joyce,

1975), p. 200.
i5lbid., Paracriticisms:

the Postmodern

Imagination,"

34

TriQuarterly

(Fall

nois Press,

1975),

Seven

16For references,
17The work of Archigram
late seventies,
Edward

Tech.

about

Speculations

of

the Times

(Urbana:

of

University

Illi

pp. 55-56.
see Jencks

before

critics

Lucie-Smith

The Language
Architecture,
p. 8.
of Post-Modern
and Richard Rogers was often termed Postmodern
in the
the term and its distinction
from High
began to understand
followed

this usage

in his book

on Modernism,

published

this time.

a symposium
at the Institute for Architecture
and Urban
Stud
is'Tost-Modernism,"
ies (March 30, 1981) was attended
Sherrie Levine, Craig Owens,
Hubert,
by Christian
David Salle, and Julian Schnabel,
in Reallife,
and was published
n.d.
i9Hal Foster,
ed., The Anti-Aesthetic:
send, Wash.:
1983).
(Bay Press,
mbid,
p. 130.
2Ubid.,
Richard
way

pp.
Hertz.

31-42.

See

(Englewood

also
Cliffs,

Essays

on Postmodern

Culture,

the anthology
Theories
of Contemporary
N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
Inc., 1985), authors

Port

Town

Art.

ed.

in a loose

in this anthology.

22Krauss, p. 39.
23The essential definitions

of Modern,
by me inA.D. News
(July 1981) and was
ture: The True Inheritor of Modernism,"

were initially proposed


Late, and Postmodern
also later published
in "Post-Modern
Architec
Transactions
RIBA,
3, (London),
(1983), pp.

37-40.
24Eco, pp. 66-67.
25Jean-Francois
Lyotard,

The

Postmodern

Condition:

Report

on Knowledge

57

(Manchester:
published

Manchester

University
in 1979.

in French

Press,

1984),

pp.

23-24,

3. The

book

was

first

p. 25, 82.
p. 79
28Friedrich Nietzsche,
26Ibid.,

vibid.,

from Will Durant,


The
Thus Spake Zarathustra
(1883), quoted
(New York: Washington
1981), p. 417.
Story of Philosophy
Square Press,
a New Architecture,
29Le Corbusier,
Towards
Press,
1927),
(London: Architectural
p. 12.
30Peter Fuller, Images of God:
and Windus,
1985), p. 13.
3iThe notion
that Postmodernists
is a fundamental
Modern
32This

idea has
of General

published

in Ideals

pp.

33Ibid.; also
36-42.

58

Illusions

(London:

Chatto

must

to develop
attempt
in the books cited in n.

and
Knowledge,"
and Idols, Phaidon,
see Peter Fuller's
review

Tradition

of Lost

a "shared symbolic order"


10, as well as in my "Post
a Sym
5/6 (London)
(1980), and Towards
Design
New York: Rizzoli,
Editions;
1985).
(London: Academy
others.
See his "The
been reiterated
among
by E. H. Gombrich,

idea put forward


Architectural
Classicism,"

bolic Architecture.

The Consolation

"Art History
and the Social Sciences,"
papers
London
1979, esp. pp. 21-3 and 143-66.
"Roger

Scruton

and Right

Thinking,"

op.

cit.