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Ideas of Modernity?

1a. Bureaucracy--impersonal, social hierarchies that practice a division of labour and are marked by a regularity of method and procedure. & Universalismapplication of ideas/claims to all cultures/circumstances regardless of local distinctions.
2b. Disenchantment of the world–the loss of sacred and metaphysical understandings of all facets of life and culture. & Homogenisation–the social forces that tend toward a uniformity of cultural ideas and products.
3c. Rationalisation–the world can be understood and managed through a reasonable and logical system of objectively accessible theories and data. & Reductionism--the belief that something can be understood by studying the parts that make it up
4d. Secularisation–the loss of religious influence and/or religious belief at a societal level. & Objectivism–the belief that truth-claims can be established by autonomous information accessible by all.
5e. Alienation–isolation of the individual from systems of meaning–family, meaningful work, religion, clan, etc. & Democratisation–political systems characterized by free elections, independent judiciaries, rule of law, and respect of human rights.
6f. Commodification–the reduction of all aspects of life to objects of monetary consumption and exchange. & Industrial society--societies formed around the industrial production and distribution of products
7g. Decontexutalisation–the removal of social practices, beliefs, and cultural objects from their local cultures of origin. & Mass society–the growth of societies united by mass media and widespread dissemination of cultural practices as opposed to local and regional culture particulars.
8h. Individualism –growing stress on individuals as opposed to meditating structures such as family, clan, academy, village, church. & Subjectivism–the turn inward for definitions and evaluations of truth and meaning.
9i. Nationalism–the rise of the modern nation-states as rational centralized governments that often cross local, ethnic groupings. & Totalitarianism–absolutist central governments that suppress free expression and political dissent, and that practice propaganda and indoctrination of its citizens.
10j. Urbanisation–the move of people, cultural centres, and political influence to large cities. & Mechanisation–the transfer of the means of production from human labour to mechanised, advanced technology.
 

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Definitions and Characteristics of Modernity

From: http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/modernit.htm

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernity

Since the term “Modern” is used to describe a wide range of periods, any definition of modernity must account for the context in question. Modern can mean all of post-medieval European history, in the context of dividing history into three large epochs: Antiquity, Medieval, and Modern. Likewise, it is often used to describe the Euro-American culture that arises out of the Enlightenment and continues in some way into the present. The term “Modern” is also applied to the period beginning somewhere between 1870 and 1910, through the present, and even more specifically to the 1910-1960 period.One common use of the term, “Early Modern” is to describe the condition of Western History either since the mid-1400’s, or roughly the European discovery of moveable type and the printing press, or the early 1600’s, the period associated with the rise of the Enlightenment project. These periods can be characterized by:

    • Rise of the nation state
  • Growth of tolerance as a political and social belief
  • Industrialization
  • Rise of mercantilism and capitalism
    • Emergence of socialist countries
  • Discovery and colonization of the Non-Western world
  • Rise of representative democracy
  • Increasing role of science and technology
  • Urbanization
  • Mass literacy
  • Proliferation of mass media
  • The Cartesian and Kantian distrust of tradition for autonomous reason

In addition, the 19th century can be said to add the following facets to modernity:

  • Emergence of social science and anthropology
    • Romanticism and Early Existentialism
    • Naturalist approaches to art and description
    • Evolutionary thinking in geology, biology, politics, and social sciences
    • Beginnings of modern psychology
    • Growing disenfranchisement of religion
  • Emancipation

Defining Characteristics of Modernity

There have been numerous attempts, particularly in the field of sociology, to understand what modernity is. A wide variety of terms are used to describe the society, social life, driving force, symptomatic mentality, or some other defining aspects of modernity. They include:

  • Bureaucracy–impersonal, social hierarchies that practice a division of labor and are marked by a regularity of method and procedure
  • Disenchantment of the world–the loss of sacred and metaphysical understandings of al facets of life and culture
  • Rationalization–the world can be understood and managed through a reasonable and logical system of objectively accessible theories and data
  • Secularization–the loss of religious influence and/or religious belief at a societal level
  • Alienation–isolation of the individual from systems of meaning–family, meaningful work, religion, clan, etc.
  • Commodification–the reduction of all aspects of life to objects of monetary consumption and exchange
  • Decontexutalization–the removal of social practices, beliefs, and cultural objects from their local cultures of origin
    • Individualism –growing stress on individuals as opposed to meditating structures such as family, clan, academy, village, church
    • Nationalism–the rise of the modern nation-states as rational centralized governments that often cross local, ethnic groupings
  • Urbanization–the move of people, cultural centers, and political influence to large cities
  • Subjectivism–the turn inward for definitions and evaluations of truth and meaning
  • Linear-progression–preference for forms of reasoning that stress presuppositions and resulting chains of propositions
  • Objectivism–the belief that truth-claims can be established by autonomous information accessible by all
  • Universalism–application of ideas/claims to all cultures/circumstances regardless of local distinctions
  • Reductionism–the belief that something can be understood by studying the parts that make it up
  • Mass society–the growth of societies united by mass media and widespread dissemination of cultural practices as opposed to local and regional culture particulars
  • Industrial society–societies formed around the industrial production and distribution of products
  • Homogenization–the social forces that tend toward a uniformity of cultural ideas and products
  • Democratization–political systems characterized by free elections, independent judiciaries, rule of law, and respect of human rights
  • Mechanization–the transfer of the means of production from human labor to mechanized, advanced technology
  • Totalitarianism–absolutist central governments that suppress free expression and political dissent, and that practice propaganda and indoctrination of its citizens
  • Therapeutic motivations–the understanding that the human self is a product of evolutionary desires and that the self should be assisted in achieving those desires as opposed to projects of ethical improvement or pursuits of public virtue

Modernity is often characterized by comparing modern societies to premodern or postmodern ones, and the understanding of those non-modern social statuses is, again, far from a settled issue. To an extent, it is reasonable to doubt the very possibility of a descriptive concept that can adequately capture diverse realities of societies of various historical contexts, especially non-European ones, let alone a three-stage model of social evolution from premodernity to postmodernity. As one can see above, often seemingly opposite forces (such as objectivism and subjectivism, individualism and the nationalism, democratization and totalitarianism) are attributed to modernity, and there are perhaps reasons to argue why each is a result of the modern world. In terms of social structure, for example, many of the defining events and characteristics listed above stem from a transition from relatively isolated local communities to a more integrated large-scale society. Understood this way, modernization might be a general, abstract process which can be found in many different parts of histories, rather than a unique event in Europe.

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MoMA Presents “Shaping Modernity: Design 1880–1980”

http://designtaxi.com/news/30045/MoMA-Presents-Shaping-Modernity-Design-1880-1980/ 

23 December 2009 – July 2010

Paolo Lomazzi, Donato D'Urbino, and Jonathan De Pas. Blow Inflatable Armchair. 1967. PVC plastic. Manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A., Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer

Paolo Lomazzi, Donato D’Urbino, and Jonathan De Pas. Blow Inflatable Armchair. 1967. PVC plastic. Manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A., Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has reinstalled the modern design section of The Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries on the third floor.

“Shaping Modernity: Design 1880–1980” features a selection of visionary objects, graphics, architectural fragments, and textiles from the Museum’s collection that reveal the attempts of successive generations to shape their experience of living in the modern world.

The installation features 300 works organized into five sections: Art Nouveau objects and posters from 1890 to 1914; the graphic design movement known as the ―New Typography‖ (1927–37); works that focus on the relationship of machine, body, and mind (1925–40); the Good Design movement (1944–56); and works from the 1960s and 1970s.

The reinstallation is organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Aidan O’Connor, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

The installation is organized into the following sections:

The International New Art 1890–1914 
The International New Art (1890–1914) flourished in urban centers around the world taking on many localized forms and names (among them Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Arte Modernista, Sezession, and Glasgow Style). Hector Guimard (French, 1867–1942), the leading figure of the movement in France, looked to the natural world to revitalize modern forms. His personal desk and armchair (c. 1899) exemplify the Art Nouveau style with organic, especially inspired by flowers and other plants, and flowing curvilinear forms. The pieces in this installation were used in the office of the MoMA’s founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Other examples in the exhibition include a side chair (1897) by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (British, 1868–1928), a side table (1901) by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (British, 1865–1945), and a plaster cast of Antoni Gaudí’s (Spanish, 1852–1926) original finial sculpture for the Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The poster movement of the 1890s was a new phenomenon that emphasized connections between the graphic and fine arts. Many of the graphics of this time embodied the New Art style. Jules Chéret (French, 1836-1932) was one of the most famous printmakers of the late nineteenth century and is credited as the originator of the artistic lithographic poster. His poster Folies-Bergère, La Loïe Fuller (1893) features the American dancer Loïe Fuller. A video of Fuller dancing is also included. Among the other works are Mackintosh’s poster for the magazine The Scottish Musical Review (1896) and Jan Toorop’s (Dutch, 1858–1928) Het Hoogeland Beekbergen (1896), which advertises a rehabilitation center for the destitute.

New Typography 1927–37
In the 1920s and 1930s the movement known as the ―New Typography‖ brought graphics and information design to the forefront of artistic avant-gardes in Europe. Rejecting traditional arrangement of type in symmetrical columns, modernist designers organized the printed page or poster as a blank field in which blocks of type and illustration (frequently photomontage) could be arranged in harmonious, strikingly asymmetrical compositions. Taking his lead from currents in Soviet Russia and at the Weimar Bauhaus, the designer Jan Tschichold (Swiss, b. Germany, 1902–1974) codified the movement with accessible guidelines in his landmark book Die Neue Typographie (1928). Almost overnight, typographers and printers adapted this way of working for a huge range of printed matter, from business cards and brochures to magazines, books, and advertisements. This installation of posters and numerous small-scale works is drawn from MoMA’s rich collection of Soviet Russian, German, Dutch, and Czechoslovak graphics. They represent material from Tschichold’s own collection, which supported his teaching and publication from around 1927 to 1937.

Included in the exhibition are 14 posters by Tschichold, Ladislav Sutnar (American, b. Bohemia [now Czech Republic], 1897–1976), Johannes Molzahn (German, 1892–1965), Theo H. Ballmer (Swiss, 1902–1965), and others, as well as small-scale letterpress works and objects by Herbert Bayer (American, b. Austria, 1900–1985), Frantisek Kalivoda (Czech, 1913–1971), Zdenek Rossmann (Czech, 1905–1984), Joost Schmidt (German, 1893–1948), and Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891–1956).

Mind, Body, Machine 1925–40
The tone of this section is set by a giant railroad-car spring and a boat propeller first shown in MoMA’s landmark Machine Art exhibition in 1934, which celebrated such items of anonymous industrial design as symbols of social improvement and technological progress. The theme is further explored in utilitarian objects such as a streamlined meat-slicer (given in memory of the ―Yippie‖ leader Abbie Hoffman), and the Vipp trash can, designed for a Danish hair salon.

Among the other works in this section are A. M. Cassandre’s (French, 1901–1968) iconic billboard for the Ford Motor Company from 1937. By employing Cassandre, Ford Motors infused their corporate reputation for industrial innovation with the artistic cachet of European modernism. The poster features a giant eye with the slogan ―Watch the Fords Go By,‖ which gives a sense of modern vision in motion, while the V8 icon imprinted on the iris suggests a fusion of mind, body, and technology. Also included are amorphous aluminum coffee tables (1935–38) designed by Frederick Kiesler (American, b. Romania, 1890–1965), and Eileen Gray’s (British, b. Ireland, 1879–1976) elegant lacquered screen (1922).

What Was Good Design? MoMA’s Message 1944–56 
The section What Was Good Design? MoMA’s Message 1944–56, which opened in May of 2009, presents over 100 selections from the Museum’s collection—ranging from domestic furnishings and appliances to textiles, sporting goods, and graphics—to illuminate the primary values of Good Design as promoted by MoMA within an international debate conducted by museums, design councils, and department stores. Iconic pieces by designers including Marcel Breuer (American, b. Hungary, 1902–1981), Charles (American, 1907–1978) and Ray (American, 1912–1988) Eames, Eero Saarinen (American, b. Finland, 1910–1961), and Hans Wegner (Danish, 1914–2007) are shown alongside more unexpected items such as a hunting bow and a plumb bob, as well as everyday objects including an iron, a hamper, a rake, a cheese slicer, and Tupperware.

Continuity and Critique 1960–80
The clean and elegant forms of classic modernism continued to appear in the domestic appliances of Dieter Rams (German, b. 1932) for Braun, and the Vignelli Associates’ stacking plastic dinnerware. For many however, the emphasis on pop music, youth, and counterculture opened up new possibilities in materials, colors, and forms, as well as more humorous, expendable design. The Blow Inflatable Armchair (1967) designed by Jonathan De Pas (Italian, 1932–1991), Paolo Lomazzi (Italian, b. 1936) and Donato D’Urbino (Italian, b. 1935) became a landmark of Pop furniture and an icon of 1960s Italian design. Executed in candy-colored PVC plastic, it was more affordable than many other contemporary works. Ugo La Pietra’s (Italian, b. 1938) Uno sull’altro (One on Top of the Other) Stacking Shelves (1970) exemplifies the strong interest at this time in flexible design suited to new ideas regarding lifestyles and domestic environments.

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