Thursday, June 23, 2011

Metamodernism: Part III

Revision of Fantasy and the Surreal in Contemporary Art


Vermeulen and Van den Akker conceptualize one of the main characteristics of the metamodern as a return to Romanticism. However, their definition of Romanticism involves two major ideas. First, Kant’s nineteenth century opposition to idealism, and second, an oscillation between and among many oppositions based in their own theoretical notions.

“…, essentially, the Romantic attitude can be defined precisely by its oscillation between these opposite poles.”

I have previously explored this notion of Romanticism, one that involves Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome in “Metamodernism: Part II”, and “Metamodernism.


Vermeulen and van den Akker also see the following contemporary works and artists as revisiting the Romantic though it is a Romanticism as viewed through the oppositional lens of the Modern versus the Postmodern (reads idealism versus skepticism). They cite the work of Bas Jan Adder’s films and his surreal life as (I guess) a sort of historical antecedent. They include the Rene Daalder film about Bas Jan Adder’s life; “Here is Always Somewhere Else” by way of example. Additionally they give the architects, Herzog and de Meuron prime importance in a Metamodern constellation of stars. The Danish/Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliason’s workshop/factory is given extreme importance as well. The visual artists, Gregory Crewdson, David Lynch, David Thorpe, and Kay Donachie, Glen Rubsamen, Dan Attoe and Armin Boehm are also given as examples of a metamodern Romantic aesthetic. Instead, I find that all of these folks seem to inhabit a space that can only be described as psychological, fantastic and Surreal. At the same time I do not differ with the use of a redefined romantic sensibility to describe the metamodern, though I do wish to broaden it to include the fantastic and surreal as dominant - dominant because most of the cited visual artists' work is fantastic and/or surreal in the Modern sense which removes it and them at least 1 major step from nineteenth century aesthetics. And, my argument is then subsumed within Vermeulen and van den Akker’s notion that the metamodern is situated in and among all these oscillating oppositions. Thus, they can have their cake and eat it too, a very metamodern trope in and of itself.

My alter ego says, "Your jaded Postmodern skepticism is showing, John."

And I reply in schizophrenic fashion,"Yes, but I still favor the term metamodern over any of the other terms meant to describe the Art World after the Postmodern."

At some point in the near future I will take a look at each of the artists mentioned above in relation to Romanticism of the past and/or a contemporary revision of romantic, fantasy based, and/or surreal art.


1. Deleuze, Gilles, & Guattari, Felix, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: 1987.

2. Herzog and de Meuron , “Elbe Philharmonic Hall,” ArchDaily, Visited 10:00 AM, Thursday, June 23, 2011 EDT.

3. Kuehn, Manfred, Kant: A Biography. Cambridge University Press, 2001

4. Klomp, John B., “Metamodernism,” & “Metamodernism, Part II,” in The Art of John Bittinger Klomp, Visited 10:30 AM, Thursday, June 23, 2011EDT.

5. Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

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