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IDEA Photographic: After Modernism Essays
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Idea Photographic | After Modernism

Steve Yates

Advances in modern photography over the last century helped to lay the foundation for contemporary art. Artists apply ideas through a wide range of sources—from cubism, Dadaism, and surrealism, to pop art and conceptual art, and through postmodern discourse as well. Using historical styles and movements only as starting points, today's artist moves beyond the "isms" of modern art.

Idea Photographic: After Modernism traces various facets of historical modernism into the current changing milieu. Rather than a survey, the exhibition examines the evolution of those ideas that continue to advance beyond the modern era. Late modernist works are paired with examples from the dawn of modern photography in the first decade of the twentieth century. Thematic groups provide further comparative context. These comparisons and groupings establish historical relationships among many artists for the first time. The combinations provide a rare overview of the changing art of photography, from and after modernism into the new century.

Although inventive breakthroughs in modes of vision were the foundation of modern art, artists first concentrated on developing new and often unconventional ideas within the limitations of their chosen art medium. Lines were clearly drawn between painting and drawing, sculpture and architecture, and between all other art mediums.Experimentation provided redefinition and new direction, which in turn led to the development of various styles by early modern masters, such as Alvin Langdon Coburn, Pierre Dubreuil, Paul Strand, and Alexander Rodchenko.

Today, artists explore and express the new epoch through an ever-increasing diversity of photographic ideas. Experimentation continues but without the limitation of the medium or lines that once divided the traditional arts. As a result, photographic ideas play a more significant role in life and art around the world.

Steve Yates
Curator of Photography
Senior Fulbright Scholar


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