An Analysis & Comparison to Fredric Jameson’s Theory of Postmodernism vs. Modernism
The Deconstruction of Expression by Fredric Jameson obviously is Jameson’s theorization on the development to Postmodernism, and the differences between that and High Modernism throughout the 20th century. Jameson closely compares and contrasts the work of van Gogh’s Peasant shoes, and Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes. These two works of art, very significant for their time, are great examples to the ways in which these artist were thinking in context to their political standpoint in society, which Jameson talks about. Here, van Gogh, creates art that is said “symbolic” to his own life and those around him; Through the “stark rural poverty,” its “backbreaking peasant toil,” and “world [of] reduced, brutal, and menaced, state of being.” Jameson states that this is all compensated with van Gogh’s use of paint and color, for that of worldly suffering. Jameson sees this as a metaphor, that a “utopian” gesture is the compensation for the “tragedy” in van Gogh’s subjects, as in Peasant shoes and more. These views I find true, in that paint reflects emotion, and these emotions are quite valid. Jameson then goes further to contrast van Gogh with the work of Warhol, and his postmodern work of Diamond Dust Shoes. Here, his work is associated with affairs in that of Late Capitalism. For this time in America, Warhol comes about with his subdued view of the disoriented commodification and life of today’s people and lifestyle, and where suddenly now an image is being replaced by that of emotion, specifically this “superficiality,” as Jameson states.
After reading this, I began to further venture into the idea and difference between Modernism and Postmodernism, and I concluded that De Kooning and Saville were two great artists that I could essentially juxtapose this idea with. Knowing there are many areas in which to jump into, I decided to compare the very differences of each other, while still showing the similar connotations that apply to their expression, use of time, and space. What I find when I see these two artists’ paintings, is that they are very different in the sense that one is reflective of its personal feelings and life, and one is not, not meaning—specific to the sense that the subject and content is merely “impersonal” and therefore “devoid of feeling,” which Jameson states as pertaining to postmodern art. Here, Saville is creating work that much differently than De Kooning, in that her subject is not meant to be expressive of herself in its entirety. It is reflecting society in some way, but its not saying this is what is happening now, all the time, and to everyone around. The obese bodies, and burn victims are not hers nor anyone specific to her. She is merely working with this concept, and creating it in such a way that will bring in the viewer. It too “explicitly foregrounds the commodity [of] fetishism, [in] transition to late capital[ism],” like with Warhol’s work.
Artists today have this certain void to them that makes them more mysterious in that its subject and content is more directed to a crowd then merely the self. Not that this is a bad thing, artists can now separate themselves from their art, this “waning of affect” which Jameson mentions—which where expression has become deconstructed in its very aesthetic. DeKooning (much like Van Gogh), stood by this very aesthetic of expression. His voice and outward cry was his beauty. We are not alone with these feelings, we can all relate to anger, anxiety, death, despair. Here, and certainly during in his time—this was his life.