Having long argued that ‘Modern’ is obsolete as an adjective for the art and design of the twentieth century, I was interested to read today that ‘Modern’ (modernus) was used for the first time in the late fifth century in order to distinguish the present, which had become officially Christian, from the Roman past… the term ‘modern again and again expresses the consciousness of an epoch that relates itself to the past of antiquity, in order to view itself as the result of a transition from the old to the new’. By ‘again and again’ the writer is thinking of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Walpole’s famous 1771 essay, for example, was ‘On modern gardening’. Thankfully, we have new names for the art and culture of times further past. But what other name to we have for the art, design and landscape architecture of the twentieth century? Since I was told recently that ‘Andy Warhol and many contemporary artists are dead’, I do not see Contemporary as a useful candidate.
Image courtesy icstefanescu