Christopher Crounch, defined modernity as a period in the history of mankind that shows a transition of their life from traditional agricultural practices to the industrial revolution, through individualism way of living and finally, whereby a state achieves economic stability. It basically shows the changes in terms of intelligence and cultural practices. In modernity, as Hall Stuart noted, some aspects of culture were done away with, while others were basically improved resulting in a complete change in lifestyle. Modernism on the other hand refers to the practice of modern culture or western culture. Richard Weston further noted that basically, these modern practices revolve around religion and arts. Modernism according to Houston Baker was brought about by the changing economic status and the industrial revolution. Modernity is closely related to modernism but there is a difference. While modernity describes the relationship between the past and the present in terms of the time differences, modernism describes the change in the actual activities and shows the final outcome.
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The difference between modernity and modernism
Modernity is also an acronym of modern society. Hall Stuart explained further that it shows the people’s perception as far as the world is concerned and the changes in need of being done through the intervention of people. It also describes the state of the economy with reference to the present status of industries and the market. It also shows the political transition. Therefore, according to Houston Baker, modernity shows dynamism in terms of politics, culture and the economy where it so much entails reflection on the past. It is associated with enlightening mankind hence alleviating ignorance and the attitude of irrational thinking. It should be noted that modernity is not the same as westernization this is because westernization has to do with the actual adoption of the culture of the western. In the artistic field, Modernity in view of Hall Stuart is also the act of innovation. This is because, the artists, invent some changes that are perceived to be better than the existing ones through their innovative power. Modernity, also according to Hall Stuart, deals with the things which are physically visible by human beings. For example, increase in production and transportation of goods and people as well as the spread or transfer of information, the spread of new technologies like means of transport and the emergence of new ways of production like specialization and division of labor.
According to Weston Richard, Modernism, on the other hand, is the actual practice of the modern ways. It entails identification of the outdated and non-profitable practices in terms of economic, cultural, industrial production and political output, then doing away with them and embracing new ways of doing things. It is basically involved in questioning the ways, beliefs and lifestyles of old age. It entails real experimentation so as to come up with the difference. It is associated with the process of challenging false ways of thinking and perceiving things. It recognizes that the world is very dynamic and old ways of doing things are no longer relevant hence seeking to bring changes. It is associated with giving human beings the power to change, denounce, and create some ways of doing things with an aim of creating a better environment to live in. It is the process through which any society’s progress in terms of economic, industrialization, political and religion can be measured. Hall Stuart also urges that it is the aspect of embracing new technologies.
Bevis Hillier describes Art Deco as a movement that existed between the early 1920s and late 1930s dealing with decorative art designs like architecture, industrial designs, interior and exterior designs among others, fashions, film technology and painting technology among others. It was actually very popular due to its fantastic and attractive outcome and entailed so many types of styles. The popularity of this movement started with the Europeans than the Americans. As a decorative movement, it was purely started for the purposes of decorations and not for political or other agendas. According to Christopher Crounch, Art Deco is based on geometrical shapes of mathematics like cubes, trapezium, zigzag, jumble and geometry. Therefore, it is very much associated with modernism and it is from this Art Deco that many other modern designs were birthed. Its popularity in the 1920’s was due to the great works of archeology that were taking place at that time. It was the movement that gave birth to technologies like electricity, aviation technology and radio production.
Bevis Hillier noted that it is associated with the designs found in building erected during the era of the First World War as well as cinema halls at that particular time. It was also applied in the construction of railway stations in the United States of America, especially in the late 1920s. It mainly incorporated 2 styles namely the motif and different types of ornaments. The design uses a range of well-known materials like steel, aluminum and wood. Some other materials known to be used include skins from zebras and sharkskin.
Bevis Hillier also noted that art deco was very popular in designing products like cars, furniture, watches, ashtrays, lamps and a wide range of jewelry. It should be noted that Art Deco did not lose its popularity after 1930, in an actual sense it remained still very popular in the designs of decorating houses as well as offices. Due to emerging new ideas and also creativity, artists modernized the ideas as it was noted by Christopher Crounch in his work. It was not a modern idea but it was later improved in the modern world.
Crouch, C, Modernism in Art Design and Architecture. St. Martins Press, New York, 2000, p. 47
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Hillier, B, The World of Art Deco. E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc., New York, 1971, p. 28
Houston, B, Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987 p. 53
Stuart, H, Modernity. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1996, p. 19
Weston R, Modernism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996, p. 74