Baudelaire’sConcept of “Modernity”
Inhis book “The Painter of Modern Life” Charles Baudelaire definesmodernity as “ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half ofart whose the other half is the eternal and immutable” (Baudelaire23)Further, he states that every master has his own modernity.Baudelaire states the term modernity as an ethical task ofself-articulation instead of temporal description. It is a project ofself-fashioning that mainly characterizes modernity rather than aperiod in history. According to Baudelaire, the attitude of modernityrequires one to take a firm stand with respect to innovation andreplace tradition attitude with the modern attitude. Therefore,rebellion is an insufficient aspect of modernity attitude.
Modernityplays a great role in matters of art. In other words, modernity meanscontingency. Therefore, a modern painter has the ability to givemeaning to the modern form of existence through his or her art orpainting. Actually, modernity corresponds to transitory aspect ofbeauty whereby fashion gives the classic expression. Baudelairesuggests that artists should look around and take note of the beautyof everyday life that he calls “modern beauty,” which isdifferent from beauty of all other ages. Modernity is different fromfashion that is only associated with time. Modernity is an attitudethat grasps the “heroic” aspect of current moments. Modernity isnot a phenomenon that concentrates on the past, but it tries to“heroize” the present. The modern artists used modernity totransfigure the present to bring the fleeting and ideal worktogether. As a result, the artists give his or her piece of work apresent meaning. According to Baudelaire, modernity gives a painter’smodern task a meaning that is transient and ephemeral.
Baudelaire,Charles. "The Painter of Modern Life Charles Baudelaire." Modernart and modernism: A critical anthology (1982):23.