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Modernism Until recently the word modern used to refer generically to the contemporaneous all art is modern at the time it is made As an art historical term modern refers to a period dating from roughly the 1860s through the 1970s and is used to describe the style and the ideology of art produced during that era It is this more specific use of modern that is intended when people speak of modern art The term modernism is also used to refer to the art of the modern period More specifically modernism can be thought of as referring to the philosophy of modern art The roots of modernism lie much deeper in history than the middle of the 19th century For historians but not art historians the modern period actually begins with the Renaissance A discussion of modernism might easily begin in the Renaissance period when we first encounter secular humanism the notion that man not God is the measure of all things a worldly civic consciousness and utopian visions of a more perfect society It is in the ideals of the Enlightenment that the roots of Modernism and the new role of art and the artist are to be found Simply put the overarching goal of Modernism of modern art has been the creation of a better society The 20th century has focused its artistic attention on progressive modernism to the extent that conservative modernism has been neglected and indeed derided as an art form In contrast to conservative modernism which remained fettered to old ideas and which tended to support the status quo progressive modernism adopted an antagonistic position towards society and its established institutions In one way or another it challenged all authority in the name of freedom and intentionally or not affronted conservative bourgeois values Generally speaking progressive modernism tended to concern itself with political and social issues addressing aspects of contemporary society especially in its poorer
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