Post Modernisn and Op Art

Post modernism distanced itself from the previous scientific values which represented people as a whole; whether that be cultures, race or religion. Instead the movement focused on individual interpretation of the world. Each person has their own mind, the power to construct reality within, instead of following assumptions made by previous rational movements. Its aim was to regain the faith lost due to the overuse of human reasoning.

The movement acted as a catalyst to breaking down social barriers, concentrating on individuality while ignoring class and work. Post Modernism considered age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, region. This in turn redefined male and female roles, destroying dated views and opinions. It also helped globalise the world, bringing together of many cultures, due to the increase in information and communication technologies. There objective shifted towards ‘consumer culture’, creating individual identities.

Although seen by many as impossible to define, Post modernism turned an ordered world on its head. A perfect example of this was the explosion of the swinging 60’s. It was a major turning point in the 20th century, shaping the world wee see today. Recognised as the decade of revolution and experimentation, post-war Britain lacked enthusiasm. Post modernism broke down traditional barriers and offered a new and exciting way of life. The 60’s offered freedom, rejecting the established sexual and gender norms. Homosexuals expressed themselves through the gay culture, considered the largest sexual subculture of the 20th century. Also the introduction of ‘the pill’ enabled woman to be more sexually active and open to experimentation.

At a time when social class and division was at a high, groups known as subcultures and counter cultures where formed. These where like-minded individuals who disregarded these traditional social views, gaining their own unique identity no matter their background. This was achieved through medium such as music, fashion, art and film.

hippies, 1960

Hippies, 1960, Love not War protest  

Mods, 1960's

Mods, 1960’s

These subcultures included Mod, Rockers and Hippies. They each made a mark on society, affording youths the chance to break free from strict traditions and live life the way they want. As well as music, Fashion played a vital part in people lifestyle. Leading figures contributing to fashion were Mary quant (mini-skirt) and Vidal Sassoon(hairdresser) – Influenced by the optical illusions of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. Known as the ‘mother of Op Art’, Riley placed emphasis on the perception of ones eye. The use of black and white abstract geometric shapes and lines, stimulated the senses and created movement.

I couldn’t get near what I wanted through seeing, recognizing and recreating, so I stood the problem on its head. I started studying squares, rectangles, triangles and the sensations they give rise to… It is untrue that my work depends on any literary impulse or has any illustrative intention. The marks on the canvas are sole and essential agents in a series of relationships which form the structure of the painting.

Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley in the mid- 1960s - Photo: John Goldblatt

Bridget Riley in the mid- 1960s – Photo: John Goldblatt

Movement in squares - Bridget Riley 1961 - Tempera on board 122x122

Movement in squares – Bridget Riley 1961 – Tempera on board 122×122

“I regard the five-point cut as the finest cut I have ever created – the geometric design in its purest, most classical form.

Vidal Sassoon

Vidal Sassoon cutting the hair of fashion designer Mary Quant. Photograph: Ronald Dumont/Getty Images

Vidal Sassoon cutting the hair of fashion designer Mary Quant. Photograph: Ronald Dumont/Getty Images

Op Art still from the film "Qui etes-vous Polly Maggoo?" designed by William Klein, 1966

Op Art still from the film “Qui etes-vous Polly Maggoo?” designed by William Klein, 1966

Snobbery has gone out of fashion, and in our shops you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dresses.

Mary Quant, talking about her new Boutique, Bazzar 1955-67

Mary Quant, Mini-Skirt, 1960's

Mary Quant, Mini-Skirt, 1960’s

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About ryanmcginley

Currently studying Graphic Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

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