What is Modernism?

Modernism is an international movement of the 20th century which covers a wide variety of movements subversive to the romantic impulse of the previous centuries and disposed towards abstraction.


  • Experimentation in order to reach sophistication, thought it also involves a tendency towardschaos.
  • Technical display  (showing off, ex: mannerism)
  • Internal skepticism  after all beliefs decayed

Changes in Arts:

  • Abstract paintings = Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Futurism
  • Atonalism in music
  • Free-verse in poetry
  • A stream of consciousness narrative conveyed through an interior monologue in the novel
  • General dehumanization of art (in romanticism human elements prevailed) = formal desperation

By destroying the aesthetic and technical ideals ofRomanticism, Modernism leads to a crisis of culture, which brings the artist to be aware of contingency (nothingremains forever). The movement is an answer to this scenario of chaos, which expressed humanity’s modern consciousness.

Causes of Chaos:

  • Destruction of civilization and reason in WW1
  • Capitalism and constant industrial acceleration
  • Destruction of the individual caused by Marx, Freud and Darwin
  • Einstein’s relativity theory
  • New sciences as Psychoanalysis, Linguistics and Anthropology contributed to relativism (all realities become subjective fictions)

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