Richard Weston (1996, pp.7) describes a modernism as someone who has “faith in the tradition of the new” while dictionary.com explains postmodernism to be “that reacted against the pared-down modern school by reintroducing classical and traditional elements of style.” Modernism was more of rational movement forward, with the use of new techniques introduced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but the actual view on art and literature remain mainly the same. A piece of art had one deeper meaning behind it, given to it by the artist. It was a reaction to Realism, that proceeded the modernist era, the idea of science no longer fascinated people in the same way, but despite the expression being different it was still interpreted by the same means.
Postmodernism peaked during the mid-to-late twentieth century and the postmodernist artists had yet even more new technology at their disposal, enabling them to develop their art even further. The main thing that separated it from modernism, though, was the change in mentality. The dominating way of looking at art was challenged and a piece of art could have as many meanings as viewers. It has received a lot of criticism for being the death of fine culture, for being too populistic. British literary theorist Terry Eagleton once said that “postmodernism is among other things a sick joke at the expense of revolutionary avant-gardism.”
Personally I think that the criticism was simply a scream in panick by the people who could still remember the times before media took over. (Like the generation gap between Martin and Julia in George Orwell’s 1984. He, being older that her, can still vaguely remember the times before big brother took over and is intimidated by the system. She, on the other hand, being a native to that regime knows nothing else, and can slip through the gap and fuck the system up from the inside in a way Martin never could.)
– Brad Holland