Difference Wiki

Modernity vs. Modernism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 5, 2023
Modernity refers to the state and quality of being modern, typically relating to recent times or current trends, while modernism is an artistic and cultural movement emphasizing innovation and breaking from traditional forms.

Key Differences

Modernity encompasses the societal changes and advancements post-Middle Ages, focusing on rationality and scientific thought. Modernism, in contrast, is an artistic movement that emerged as a response to the rapidly changing modern world, challenging previous art forms.
Modernity deals with the broader aspects of society, including technology, politics, and culture, while modernism specifically refers to a style and philosophy in the arts, emphasizing new techniques and expressions.
Modernity reflects the evolution of social structures and norms, marked by industrialization and urbanization. Modernism, however, critiques and reinterprets these changes through various art forms, such as literature, painting, and architecture.
The essence of modernity lies in its embrace of progress and forward-thinking, influencing every aspect of human life. Modernism, meanwhile, represents an artistic quest for new forms of expression, often characterized by a break from tradition and conventional styles.
Modernity impacts daily life, shaping contemporary lifestyles and technologies. Modernism, distinctively, manifests in artistic endeavors, symbolizing a break from the past and a quest for the avant-garde.

Comparison Chart


State of being modern, reflecting current trends
Artistic movement seeking innovation


Societal changes, technology, culture
Art, literature, architecture

Era of Emergence

Post-Middle Ages
Late 19th to mid-20th century

Key Characteristics

Progress, rationality, industrialization
Experimental, anti-traditional, avant-garde


On daily life, technology, and social structures
On artistic expression and cultural critique

Modernity and Modernism Definitions


The quality or condition of being modern.
The city's skyline reflected the modernity of its architecture.


An artistic and cultural movement breaking traditional forms.
Picasso's work exemplified the spirit of modernism.


Contemporary, current practices or characteristics.
His ideas were a blend of tradition and modernity.


Emphasis on innovation and experimentation in the arts.
Modernism challenged conventional narratives in theater.


An era marked by technological and social changes.
The rapid modernity of the 20th century transformed societies globally.


A style in art and literature seeking new expression.
Joyce's stream of consciousness writing was a hallmark of modernism.


A period distinguished by industrialization and urbanization.
The shift to modernity was evident in the new factory systems.


A movement reacting to the complexities of modern life.
Modernism in architecture moved away from ornate designs to simplicity.


The adoption of new ideas, styles, or innovations.
The fashion industry constantly evolves with modernity.


The pursuit of the avant-garde in cultural practices.
Modernist poetry often broke free from traditional rhyme schemes.


The state or quality of being modern
"Warriors of the ... tribe, imposing symbols of a nomadic culture ... are caught between tradition and modernity" (Sheila Rule).


Modern thought, character, or practice.


The quality of being modern or contemporary.
He was impressed by the architecture's modernity.


Modern times.
The organization survived from ancient times to modernity.


(history) Quality of being of the modern period of contemporary historiography.


Modernness; something modern.


The quality of being current or of the present;
A shopping mall would instill a spirit of modernity into this village


Is modernity only about technology?

No, modernity encompasses social, cultural, and technological aspects.

What defines modernity?

Modernity refers to the state of being modern, often associated with technological and social progress.

How did modernity impact society?

Modernity brought significant changes in technology, social norms, and lifestyles.

What are examples of modernism?

Examples include Picasso's paintings and Virginia Woolf's novels.

Can literature be modernist?

Yes, literature like T.S. Eliot's works are key examples of modernism.

Why was modernism important in art?

Modernism represented a shift towards experimentation and breaking from tradition in art.

What is modernism in simple terms?

Modernism is an artistic movement that challenges traditional forms in search of new expression.

Can modernity be seen in fashion?

Yes, fashion continually evolves reflecting the modernity of its time.

Did modernism influence music?

Yes, modernism greatly influenced classical and experimental music forms.

Did modernism impact philosophy?

Modernism influenced philosophical thought, encouraging new ways of understanding reality.

Is modernity a historical period?

Modernity is more a condition or quality of being modern than a specific period.

What characterizes modernist architecture?

Modernist architecture is characterized by minimalism and functional designs.

How does modernity relate to globalization?

Modernity often drives and is influenced by the process of globalization.

How does modernity affect urban planning?

Modernity influences the development of cities, prioritizing efficiency and functionality.

Does modernity affect culture?

Yes, modernity significantly influences and transforms cultural practices.

Is modernism still relevant today?

Modernism's influence is still evident in contemporary art and culture.

What are the impacts of modernity on religion?

Modernity often leads to a reevaluation and sometimes secularization of religious beliefs.

What role does innovation play in modernism?

Innovation is central to modernism, especially in artistic expression.

What themes are common in modernist literature?

Alienation, fragmentation, and existential angst are common in modernist literature.

Are there critics of modernity?

Yes, some critics argue that modernity leads to social and environmental issues.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons