The real issue with this is that most postmodern art is incredibly accessible. You don't need an art degree to think that Roy Lichtenstein's paintings "look cool", or that Campbell's Soup cans are "neat". One of the quintessential, textbook postmodern film directors is Quentin Tarantino; there are few directors more adored by the general public. Postmodernism is a descriptive term for artists who mostly reject the Western tradition of 'High Art'. Almost all the difficulty and "unintelligibility" lies in postmodern theory, but not in the art theorists consider postmodern. And I would argue that this is because theorists themselves are artifacts of Western high culture and are therefore unable to articulate a response to something that is outside this framework.
Almost all examples of "unintelligible" art fall into some subcategory of High Modernism. High Modernist schools of thought are almost always exploring questions within the context of Western high culture(ie the "What is art?" questions), and for many of these works you need to have a background in the art in question to really engage with and understand the piece.
If you want to critique postmodernism a good place to start is Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism".
Honestly, I've never found a good explanation of what "postmodern" actually means, and your examples are helping.
And that's almost exactly the opposite of being 'anti-mind' to me. It gives the audience a kind of credit that a lot of other theories of art don't.
Call it what you want: there is a school of thought which embraces the idea that the universe is senseless, and they claim the mind creates artificial order. You can see it in artistic work.
Obviously, this article is about that school of thought.
(which, I think you could make a very reasonable case is decidedly "post-modern." Not every representative of the school has to live in the same time frame, just like Beethoven could be called a Romantic artist, but he was a century earlier than Tchaikovsky. Nietzsche preceded the postmodernists, but his ideas fit squarely with theirs.).
Their claim is that one can give meaning to life by imposing or constructing a meaning or a purpose of ones own. I think it would be a stretch to equate this purposeful overcoming of the futility and the absurd with the general pattern recognition and construction that the mind involuntarily engages in moment to moment.
Postmodernism, if it is anything, is the rejection of or going beyond the project of modernism (the clue is in the name). Modernists still believed in grand projects, ideals, and narratives - for instance, the implicit idea of progress. You could say that postmodernism paradoxically rejects over-arching grand narratives and in a way claims to bring to an end the grand intellectual epochs we've had from the renaissance onwards through the enlightenment and finally arriving at modernism. I've yet to come across a satisfactory account of postmodernism beyond the one I've just relayed.
This is not a school of thought of which I am familiar, who are its proponents? In fact, I have not heard of any assertion that the universe should either a) make sense; or b) have a motivation, outside of religious texts. Of course I don't really know what sense of "senseless" you're using without your defining your terms, so I'm using two common ones.
As to chronology, I'm afraid history isn't on your side. One era does not end sharply as another begins. There's significant chronological overlap between schools of thought and movements in general.
Unfortunately, the author is materialist, which causes them to miss the point that all structure is created. If the author were to remove time and space from their world view and only focus on present moment experience, it becomes impossible to find true objective structure.
It also touches on a few themes from one of my favorite books, "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter...And you mention Derrida who had a profound impact on my thought process and development. La Différance did a lot for my understanding of the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diff%C3%A9rance
I stopped reading at empty canvases, this is hardly original, first empty canvas exhibition was 90 years ago in Paris.
For those that need an introduction to the finer points of POMO, don't miss this: http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/ (don't miss the footer!)
I surmise it can serve as a contrasting backdrop to structure, to better the understanding of the latter.
On the other hand, it could be simply a childish rebellion against the paternalistic oppression of structure and reason.
Or... it can also be a method for newcomers to dislodge the old guard - by undermining their work, you might be able to undermine their social stance and gain some of it for yourself.
It's like when you ask someone for an appropriate gift for an occasion and they say, 'oh, you'll figure something out' instead of telling you what would work. I mean, it's not as though 'anything' would be accepted, but now they are putting the onus on you to get it right.
So rather than being liberating, it can be debilitating.
It had its day in the late 80s and early 90s. Only academia is keeping it alive now. You pretty much have to be able to quote Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault to get a humanities professorship - which is, not nearly ironically enough, not a good thing, IMO. (See also: Postmodern Critical Theory.)
But I think rest of world, including rest of art world, has moved on already.
I prefer Bourdieu, who seems to be tragically underrated in academia.
No. A very concrete example of this for me was when my dad and I designed a ladder-chair(1). We both had pencils and drew the views and measurements on a single piece of engineering paper over the course of 45 minutes, I think with maybe a dozen sentences spoken. But clearly each hand was responding to the other's lines.
Even if you know nothing about art, you only have to look at Wikipedia to find out more about postmodern art and how it differs from modernism.
Because else what would it be? Have we got anything after postmodernism?
This is what makes article hilarious. It is a post-modern piece bashing what it claims to be postmodernism.
UPD: In that respect, saying "I don't like postmodernism" looks as "I don't like air"
That's what you've got. For today.
No. Well, you can, but its equivocation: its certainly something that arises in the period after the height of the movement called "modernism", hence, it is "post-modern" in that sense, but its not part of the particular movement which has been labelled "post-modernism".
> Because else what would it be? Have we got anything after postmodernism?
Yes, in both art and philosophy, there are a number of contemporary movements that are active, many of which postdate postmodernism in their origins.
The thing is: we haven't got anything that is not post-modern. Postmodernism is about going in circles in my opinion, and that's what we do. Can't break out.
No doubt the author would respond to criticism by saying they were only trying to start a conversation. In other words: trolling.
Roy Lichtenstein asked himself "What is art?". And when he took pictures out of instruction manuals and newspaper advertisements (and, later, comic books) and reproduced them on canvas he said "Ok, I took something mundane, something mass-produced, something you see every day all around you, and I reproduced it here on canvas, using tools and techniques that artists use, I painted each of the Ben-day dots by hand, and is this now somehow not mundane? Is it now art?". And when I see one of his pictures a voice in my head says "Yes, this is art."
When I see a canvas painted black (or a shark in a tank, for that matter), that voice says "no".
How about blue? No? What about International Klein Blue? Maybe yes? Just goes to show. I would say that the first deliberate black canvas, yes. After that, no. Derivative :)
Shark-in-a-tank. The contemporary work of art people don't think is a work of art. I wonder why that is? The title alone is intriguing, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living". The formaldehyde gives it a distinctive hue. The vitrine is divided into three rather like a triptych. It's outrageous something gave its life in the creation of this work though people have been worked to death for far more mundane tasks. I don't like shark-in-a-tank, but it's art I'm afraid.
I qualify the code that ran the machine carrying humans to the moon as gloriously beautiful art - in it's own flawed way.
I consider my personal programming projects as art. I try to build beautiful and functional 'things' that at the end I can stand back and admire.
You can qualify much as art, but you can qualify a lot more as crap art. A lot of stuff is dismissed as 'not art' because it is completely stupid and rubbish. For example, that moronic screaming lady - or those once-popular paintings of meticulously detailed cans with labels. Ah, so many hundreds of thousands spent and now completely worthless as the wool is lifted.
I mean, upon analysis, postmodernism tries to escape or reject the traditional perspective on the human mind.