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Modernism Vs Postmodernism
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This question highlights one of the themes central to the account of modem art offered in this course: the tension between the theoretical perspectives of, on the one hand, Modernist criticism and, on the other, an approach focused on the relationship of the art of any given period to its social, political and historical context. The two quotations given above may be interpreted as representing these polarities. It would be an oversimplification to suggest that to accept a Modernist account of modem art must imply rejection of a socio-historical view, or vice-versa the discussion between TJ Clark and Michael Fried...
may become marginalised and lose its ability to challenge.

Furthermore, if the main impact of a work depends on its contemporary relevance, it is likely to lose conceptual value with the passage of time; Haacke"s The Safety Net pl.D24 borrows its meaning from contemporary politics rather than conforming with Greenberg"s idea of art as self-defining, and is hence now arguably of historic rather than artistic interest. The aesthetic of Greenbergian Modernism may never recover a dominant position within art history but, as Harrison and Wood have suggested, "the contingency of the historical is only half the point of art".

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