The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 1998

Aesthetics and Philosophy of the Arts

W. Stephen Croddy
Pages 27-34

Explaining Modernism

Modernism in the arts commenced during the second half of the 19th century and extended into most of the 20th. A significant feature of this period is that each type of art gave principal attention to dimensions of itself. This was a type of self-analysis. I consider those art forms consisting of an image on a flat two-dimensional surface. I give particular attention to painting, a familiar example of this type of image. Explanations of Modernism are philosophically relevant not only for aesthetics but also for epistemology. The reason is that an analysis of our perceptions as a result of seeing a painted image can contribute to philosophy's analysis of the process by which we obtain knowledge through perception. I argue that we should interpret Modernism as contributing to this investigation.