- /mod"euhr niz'euhm/, n.1. modern character, tendencies, or values; adherence to or sympathy with what is modern.2. a modern usage or characteristic.a. the movement in Roman Catholic thought that sought to interpret the teachings of the Church in the light of philosophic and scientific conceptions prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: condemned by Pope Pius X in 1907.b. the liberal theological tendency in Protestantism in the 20th century.4. (sometimes cap.) a deliberate philosophical and practical estrangement or divergence from the past in the arts and literature occurring esp. in the course of the 20th century and taking form in any of various innovative movements and styles.[1730-40; MODERN + -ISM]
* * *In the arts, a radical break with the past and concurrent search for new forms of expression.Modernism fostered a period of experimentation in the arts from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, particularly in the years following World War I. In an era characterized by industrialization, rapid social change, advances in science and the social sciences (e.g., Darwinism, Freudian theory), Modernists felt a growing alienation incompatible with Victorian morality, optimism, and convention. The Modernist impulse is fueled in various literatures by industrialization and urbanization, by the search for an authentic response to a much-changed world. Among English-language writers, the best-known Modernists are T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf. Composers, including Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern, sought new solutions within new forms and used as-yet-untried approaches to tonality. In dance a rebellion against both balletic and interpretive traditions had its roots in the work of Émile Jaques-Delcroze, Rudolf Laban, and Loie Fuller. Each of them examined a specific aspect of dancesuch as the elements of the human form in motion or the impact of theatrical contextand helped bring about the era of modern dance. In the visual arts the roots of Modernism are often traced back to painter Édouard Manet, who beginning in the 1860s broke away from inherited notions of perspective, modeling, and subject matter. The avant-garde movements that followedincluding Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Constructivism, De Stijl, and Abstract Expressionismare generally defined as Modernist. Over the span of these movements, artists increasingly focused on the intrinsic qualities of their mediae.g., line, form, and colourand moved away from inherited notions of art. By the beginning of the 20th century, architects also had increasingly abandoned past styles and conventions in favour of a form of architecture based on essential functional concerns. In the period after World War I these tendencies became codified as the International style, which utilized simple, geometric shapes and unadorned facades and which abandoned any use of historical reference; the buildings of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier embodied this style. After World War II the style manifested itself in clean-lined, unadorned glass skyscrapers and mass housing projects.
* * *in Roman Catholic church history, a movement in the last decade of the 19th century and first decade of the 20th that sought to reinterpret traditional Catholic teaching in the light of 19th-century philosophical, historical, and psychological theories and called for freedom of conscience. Influenced by non-Catholic biblical (Bible) scholars, Modernists contended that the writers of both the Old and the New Testaments were conditioned by the times in which they lived and that there had been an evolution in the history of biblical religion. Modernism also reflected a reaction against the increasing centralization of church authority in the pope and the Roman Curia (papal bureaucracy).In France the movement was closely associated with the writings of Alfred Firmin Loisy (Loisy, Alfred Firmin), who was dismissed in 1893 from his teaching position at the Institut Catholique in Paris for his views about the Old Testament canon. These views, later expressed in La Religion d'Israel (1900; “The Religion of Israel”), and his theories on the Gospels in Études évangéliques (1902; “Studies in the Gospels”) were both condemned by François Cardinal Richard, the archbishop of Paris. In England George Tyrrell (Tyrrell, George), an Irish-born Jesuit priest, was dismissed from his teaching post and from the Jesuits for his views on papal infallibility and for a doctrine that minimized the intellectual element of revelation and thus seemed to contradict the teachings of the First Vatican Council (1869–70). His theories influenced others, notably the French layman Édouard Le Roy. Also in England, a scholar, Baron Friedrich von Hügel (von Hügel, Friedrich, Baron Von Hügel), was critical of some methods of church government and defended the right of Loisy and Tyrrell to publish their views; he did not, however, reject the papacy or share some of Tyrrell's philosophical opinions. In Italy the writings of Loisy and Tyrrell influenced the priest-scholars Ernesto Buonaiuti and Giovanni Semeria, the novelist Antonio Fogazzaro, and other Catholics. In Italy, as also in Germany, concern with reform of church institutions was a more prominent theme than rejection of doctrine.The reaction of Rome included the suspension or excommunication of certain priests and scholars who were associated with the movement, the placement of books on the Index of Forbidden Books, the establishment in 1903 by Pope Leo XIII of the Pontifical Biblical Commission to monitor the work of Scripture scholars, and the formal condemnation in 1907 in the papal encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis and the decree Lamentabili Sane Exitu of the Curia's Holy Office. In order to ensure enforcement, the priest-scholar Umberto Benigni organized, through personal contacts with theologians, a nonofficial group of censors who would report to him those thought to be teaching condemned doctrine. This group, known as Integralists (or Sodalitium Pianum, “Solidarity of Pius”), frequently employed overzealous and clandestine methods and hindered rather than helped the combating of Modernism. On June 29, 1908, Pius X (Pius X, Saint) publicly admitted that Modernism was a dead issue, but at the urging of Benigni on Sept. 1, 1910, he issued Sacrorum antistitum, which prescribed that all teachers in seminaries and clerics before their ordination take an oath denouncing Modernism and supporting Lamentabili and Pascendi.
* * *