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Mountain Dwellings, a Copenhagen apartment building by architectural firm BIG.

In philosophy and aesthetics, metamodernism is a recent reaction to postmodernism informed by elements of both modernism and postmodernism. The term was introduced in 2010 by cultural theorists Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker as an intervention in the post-postmodernism debate. In their article "Notes on metamodernism,"[1] they assert that the 2000s were characterized by the return of typically modern positions that did not forfeit the postmodern mindsets of the 1980s and 1990s. The prefix "meta" here refers not to a reflective stance or repeated rumination, but to Plato's metaxy, which denotes a movement between opposite poles as well as beyond them.[2]

Van den Akker and Vermeulen define metamodernism as a continuous oscillation, a constant repositioning between mindsets that are evocative of the modern and postmodern but are ultimately suggestive of another sensibility: one that negotiates between a yearning for universal truths on the one hand and relativism on the other, between hope and doubt, sincerity and irony, knowingness and naivety, construction and deconstruction. They suggest that the metamodern attitude orients itself toward another future, another metanarrative, whilst acknowledging that that future or narrative might not exist, or, if it does materialize, may be inherently problematic.

Vermeulen and van den Akker cite as examples of the metamodern attitude the multiple responses (for instance, 'informed naivety', 'pragmatic idealism', and 'moderate fanaticism') to climate change. In the arts, they cite the return of transcendentalism, Romanticism, hope, sincerity, affect, narrativity, and the sublime. Artists and cultural practices they consider metamodern include the architecture of BIG, musicians such as Georges Lentz, the artworks of Peter Doig, Olafur Eliasson, Ragnar Kjartansson, Šejla Kamerić and Paula Doepfner, and the writings of Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen.

The artist Luke Turner published a metamodernist manifesto in 2011, calling for an end to "the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child", and proposing instead "a pragmatic romanticism unhindered by ideological anchorage."[3]


In January 2011, the German newspapers Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel proclaimed metamodernism the new dominant paradigm in the arts.[4]

In September 2010, Galerie Tanja Wagner curated the first exhibition explicitly linked to metamodernism, including the artists Mariechen Danz, Routes Award winner Sejla Kameric, Issa Sant, Angelika Trojnarski and Paula Doepfner.[5] There have since been three exhibitions on metamodernism: No More Modern[6] at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, Notes on Metamodernism at the Moscow Biennial, and Discussing Metamodernism at Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.[7] Artists included in these shows were Olafur Eliasson, Mona Hatoum, Monica Bonvicini, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sejla Kameric, Andy Holden, David Thorpe, Luke Turner, Kris Lemsalu, Guido van der Werve, Pilvi Takala, Ulf Aminde, and Mariechen Danz.

In June 2010, van den Akker and Vermeulen founded the webzine Notes on Metamodernism.[8] The webzine brings together scholars and critics from a variety of nationalities and disciplines, all of whom are working on tendencies in philosophy, politics, and the arts that can no longer be described in terms of postmodernism. Since the webzine's inception, it has featured the work of, amongst others, Niels van Poecke (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Reina Marie Loader (Exeter University), Leonhard Herrman (University of Leipzig), Nadine Feßler (University of Munich), James MacDowell (University of Warwick), Hanka van der Voet (Modelectoraat ArtEZ), Luke Butcher (Manchester School of Architecture), as well as the New York-based critic David Lau.

In 2013, the artist Ankit Love created Mist, a magazine that juxtaposes fashion and science with an eye toward "the metamodern age."[9]

Previous uses[edit]

The term metamodernism was previously adopted by literary theorist Alexandra Dumitrescu to describe the contemporary paradigm, the poetry of William Blake,[10] the fiction of Arundhati Roy,[11] and Michel Tournier.[12] Andre Furlani has also used the term, specifically to describe the work of Guy Davenport. In Brazil, Philadelpho Menezes and Jayro Luna have used the term since 1986. Philadelpho Menezes published the book A Crise do Passado: Modernidade, Vanguarda, Metamodernidade (The Crisis of the Past: Modernity, Vanguard, Metamodernity) in 1994, and Jayro Luna published several relevant papers in 1986: "Meta Metamoderno nisso aí", "Bibliotecas Metamodernas", and "Da Metalinguagem ao Metamoderno", compiled thereafter in the book Participação e Forma (Participation and Form, 2001). The Indian spiritual teacher, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, used the term in her 1995 book Meta Modern Era.

Notable metamodernists[edit]

In architecture[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
& de Meuron, HerzogHerzog & de Meuron Architect Winner of The Pritzker Prize [13]
Ingels, BjarkeBjarke Ingels Architect Winner of The European Prize for Architecture [14]

In cinema[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
Anderson, WesWes Anderson Director/Writer Director of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom [15]
Carax, LeosLeos Carax Director Director of Holy Motors, Boy Meets Girl, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Pola X [16]
Franco, JamesJames Franco Actor Actor in Spider-Man, 127 Hours, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, This is the End and Palo Alto [17]
Gondry, MichelMichel Gondry Director/Writer Director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep [18]
Jonze, SpikeSpike Jonze Director/Writer Director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are and Her [19]
LaBeouf, ShiaShia LaBeouf Actor Actor in Nymphomaniac, Transformers, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull [20]

In comedy[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
Watts, ReggieReggie Watts Comedian/Musician Co-host of Comedy Bang! Bang! [21]
Burnham, BoBo Burnham Comedian/Musician Performer on Words Words Words, Bo Burnham, and Bo Fo Sho [22]

In literature[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
Abramson, SethSeth Abramson Poet Series Editor of Best American Experimental Writing [23] [24]
Bolaño, RobertoRoberto Bolaño Novelist Author of 2666 and The Savage Detectives [25]
Franzen, JonathanJonathan Franzen Novelist Author of The Corrections and Freedom [26]
Murakami, HarukiHaruki Murakami Novelist Author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, and 1Q84 [27]
Wallace, David FosterDavid Foster Wallace Novelist Author of Infinite Jest and The Pale King [29]

In music[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
, Antony and the JohnsonsAntony and the Johnsons Musical Group Performers on Swanlights, The Crying Light, and I Am a Bird Now [30]
, Bill Callahan (musician)Bill Callahan (musician) Singer-Songwriter Performer on Dream River, Apocalypse, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle and Red Apple Falls [31]
, CocoRosieCocoRosie Musical Group Performers on Tales of a GrassWidow, Grey Oceans, and The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn [32]
Banhart, DevendraDevendra Banhart Singer-Songwriter Performer on Mala, What Will We Be, and Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon [33]

In television[edit]

Name Occupation Notability Reference
Harmon, DanDan Harmon Writer Creator of Community and Rick and Morty [34]
Stewart, JonJon Stewart Political Satirist Host of The Daily Show [35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vermeulen, Timotheus and Robin van den Akker. "Notes on metamodernism", Journal of Aesthetics and Culture" 2 (2010): 1–14.
  2. ^ Editorial, 'What meta- means and does not mean' Notes on metamodernism, Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  3. ^ Turner, L. "Metamodernist Manifesto" Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Meixner, C. 'Was Macht die Kunst in 2011?Die Zeit (3 January 2011)
  5. ^ Wagner, T. Die Tur geht nach ihnen auf
  6. ^ "No More Modern : Notes on Metamodernism". MAD Museum. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  7. ^ "Galerie Tanja Wagner: PR_EN_MetaModern_2012". Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  8. ^ Notes on metamodernism
  9. ^ Templar Lewis, Katherine (October 14, 2013). "MAKING SCIENCE SEXY?". Wild Culture. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ Dumitrescu, Alexandra. "Interconnections in Blakean and Metamodern Space". On Space. Deakin University. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Rodopi". Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  12. ^ "Cahiers de l'Echinox, 17, 2009, "Mythos vs Logos"". Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  13. ^ "Herzog & de Meuron". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  14. ^ "Bjarke Ingels Group". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  15. ^ "Wes Anderson, Tone, and the Quirky Sensibility". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  16. ^ "New French Extremity: An Exigency for Reality". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  17. ^ "James Franco". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  18. ^ "Metamodernism As We Perceive It". European Scientific Journal. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  19. ^ "Review of Spike Jonze's 'Her'". Detroit Weekly. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  20. ^ "Shia LaBeouf: My Life Is Performance Art". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  21. ^ "Blow-by-Blow Analysis of a Reggie Watts Performance". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  22. ^ "Shia LaBeouf: Plagiarist or Genius?". Indiewire. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  23. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing Anthology Announced". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  24. ^ "Talks on Metamodernism with Seth Abramson". As It Ought to Be. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  25. ^ "Notes Toward An Adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's '2666'". The American Reader. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  26. ^ "Jonathan Franzen’s post-postmodernism". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  27. ^ "An Interview with Timotheus Vermeulen". Lonely Fingers/Tank Magazine. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  28. ^ "On American Metamodernism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  29. ^ "Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, and the Problems of 'Metamodernism'". C21 Literature: Journal of 21st Century Writings. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  30. ^ "Strategies of the Metamodern". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  31. ^ "Bill Callahan". Loud And Quiet. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  32. ^ "CocoRosie". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  33. ^ "The New Weird Generation". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  34. ^ "The joke that wasn’t funny anymore…". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  35. ^ "The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 

External links[edit]