Modernism was a movement that took hold with the coming of the 20th
century and lasted up until the end of World War II. There is no clear cut
definition due to Moderism's erratic nature and countless contextual
meanings. It contains so many facets that even today we are still refining
many of it's concepts. It was based on the belief that through
enlightenment we could figure out many of the problems related to living
with ourselves while considering others and rejecting hundreds of years of
traditions and superstitions.
It is the push that moved society forward.
Some of the major political, cultural, and social events that
occurred at this time include:
The Battle of Wounded Knee; aspirin being invented; the first steel framed
skyscrapers were installed; Plessy vs. Ferguson went to trial; The Gold
Rush started; The Spanish-American War was fought; President McKinley was
assassinated and Roosevelt took office; Ford established Ford Motor
Company; Music was listened to through the radio; the Panama canal was
dug; Woodrow Wilson took office; the Titanic sunk; WWI came and went;
Prohibition was ratified; The Russian Revolution occurred; Race riots in
Chicago; the Black Sox scandal; Odessa (now the major city of the Russian
mob) was taken by the Red Army; the gun was patented; Einstein won the
Nobel peace prize; the KKK flared up; Joyce's Ulysses was burned by
the USPO; the USSR was established; Gandhi did time for civil
disobedience; Insecticides were first used; Marie Curie won the Nobel
Prize; the Scopes Monkey Trial ensured the right to learn about evolution;
Women received the right to vote; Hitler wrote Mein Kamph Vol.1;
Tommy Guns were produced; Hoover was elected president; TV began to be
broadcast; the stock market crashed; The Depression set in; Color movie
film was invented; The empire state building was erected; the Lindberg
kidnapping took place; the USSR starved; Hitler rose to power; Spanish
Civil War; the WAR of the WORLDS was delivered by Orson Wells;
World War II declared; and women got that
extra lift so desperately needed from the Bra.
The Women's movement also took root with works such as Kate
Chopin's Awakening, Virginia Woolf and her use of 'stream of
consciousness,' the Sanger birth control clinic opened, bobbed hair
becomes the rage, Marianne Moore is published in the twenties, Gertrude
Stein surfaces and Josephine Baker WOW-ed Paris.
Some of the prevalent Avant Guard movements through the arts included
With these movements, artists were free to explore form and substance
rather the concentrate on fine tuning realism techniques, since
photography was able to conquer that realm.
With the booming media of film and photography, public film
exhibitions were held in Paris, Stieglitz open gallery 291 on 5th avenue,
Mayakovsky produced the first meta-cinematic film, Nosferatu was released,
and cinema determined how the government was to spread a fevered
nationalism and patriotic propaganda.
a Russian Futurist
Taking all of the above information into account, we can take a look
outside our windows and see what kind of impact Modernism has had upon our
Since we are post Jung and Freud (except for PhD. Webber) they
represent a critical way of viewing our environment and thinking about
ourselves and our situations in relation to the world around us. Their
cultural impact moves over us like seismic waves, bring a new way of
seeing something each time the earth settles.
Politics was constructed and deconstructed in an endless pattern.
Walls went up in order to be torn away; Communism did not flourish;
women did get the right to vote. The internal structures of our political
system was not damaged by the other problems the rest of the world faced,
but it was forced into change and consequently redefined stricter social
convictions throughout the fifties because of the Cold War and fear.
Our art, our politics, everything that we are today went through this
revolution of Modernism and every thing reflects the massive change that
enabled the Technological Age to begin and humans to better