Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Dallas Denery


The switch from late modernism to postmodernism in Western aesthetic theory and criticism took place in the mid-to-late 20th century, radically changing the face of cultural criticism. Much has been written on how postmodernism broke from modernism, but what factors paved its way in the decades following the Second World War? This paper argues that postmodernism represents both a reaction to and a necessary evolution of late modernism, specifically as it manifests in architecture, politics, and the politics of architecture. It focuses on the crisis of confidence among Western left-wing circles following the upheaval of the Second World War and posits that, because of this upheaval, primitivism came to dominate the epistemology of a renewed modernism led by figures such as Clement Greenberg, Reyner Banham, and the practitioners of “the New Brutalism.” The paper then explores how the Western left-wing reaction to developments like decolonization and postwar modernization challenged primitivity’s newfound importance, resulting in a shift towards a “postmodern populism” in aesthetics and politics by the 1960s as described by Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Robert Venturi, and Reyner Banham.