In the spirit of using this Journal as a basis for developing our understanding of critical theory and critical lenses this is my first consideration of postmodernism in photography.  According to a paper in Tate, postmodernism was not surprisingly a reaction against modernism. Whilst modernism was generally about idealism, a utopian vision of human life and society and based on truth and reason, postmodernism challenged these principles favouring individual experience and the interpretation of that experience. Postmodernism broke the rules about form and style and introduced an era of anything goes – often taking a confrontational or controversial stance.

I have already discussed the work of Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall on this blog both of whom stage their photography in different ways. While Sherman stars in elaborate and unrecognisable self portraits of mock film stills:

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Wall reproduces real scenes in a studio setting or stages everyday scenes:

Jeff Wall – The Overpass

Jeff Wall – The Nightclub

Similar to Sherman, Yasumasa Morimura performs in his photographs as well-known historical people:

Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura

Another photographer that stages his images in an extreme way is Spencer Tunick whose Sea of Hull celebrated Hull’s shortlisting for the City of Culture award:

Sea of Hull – Spencer Tunick

and another taken in Sydney, Australia:

Spencer Tunick

Andreas Gursky in his image The Rhine II (1999) was not looking for the picturesque but a “striking banality” in marked contrast to modern photography.  Indeed, he even removed the buildings and people from this image:

The Rhine II – Andreas Gursky

Postmodern photographers also use found images or others photographers images as a basis to create their own versions of the image. The most famous of these was Richard Prince’s Cowboy image used in the Marlborough advertisements:

Similarly, Sherrie Levine copied others’ photographs.

There is much for me to learn and say about postmodernism.  In future posts I intend to look at different photographers’ work in more detail.

References

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/postmodernism

 

 

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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