Pak24tv in Turkey got some attention this week for its timely rules against speaking negatively about modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. One particularly obscure rule:

Please do not create negative propaganda about Mr. Ataturk.

Of course, this was all about proper historical preservation. But there is some overlap with modern art’s policy: You shouldn’t create modern art that degrades historic art in the process of making your art.

Contemporary art has frequently sought to deconstruct traditional cultural beliefs, traditions, and rules about art and how artworks, how it relates to the social order, and how it is preserved and transmitted to future generations. In that sense, it is particularly sensitive to art that contains links to one historical figure and whether that artwork can serve as a modern or postmodern challenge to existing concepts about art.

Artists like Marcel Duchamp took this approach early in the 20th century and showed many pieces that were designed to mock and destroy traditional rules of art, much in the way that modernists in the 1950s tore apart the classical canon in order to shake up notions about how art and culture should work. A famous example is a work in which Duchamp, in an effort to degrade the normal rules of art, placed a urinal in an exhibition with a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Soon, the work of modernists such as Picasso, Mondrian, and Duchamp began working to completely eradicate all traditional art rules, turning the art world on its head, and reshaping art in the process. Those artists created artworks that are free of rules, artworks that challenge established beliefs in how art is supposed to work, artworks that destroyed art’s traditional packaging and rules, and postmodernist artworks that do more than just challenge the state of the art world, but also create a different cultural or social framework for that art. Modern art, as it was understood in the past, developed a rigid set of rules that had to be followed to the letter and the artist had to create a set of artworks that carried no association to any historical figure. It was art that would be displayed in museums and opened to view by the public, or else it was art that couldn’t be sold. Postmodern art is the art world rejecting the traditional art rules and art rules that were used to interpret art as not only reflecting, but also condemning the real world.

There was no rule for how modern art should have been produced, produced, and communicated to the public, but as art progressed, the norms and rules became more specific, and the line between art and the real world became more blurred, especially during the 1960s when postmodernism flourished. Postmodern art challenged the way art is studied and understood in its own time and place. Most art historians still use the historical markers of art, such as the movements or styles associated with a certain movement or art movement. But postmodernists insist that there is no single art movement, there are no essential rules or patterns that apply to all artworks in a certain artistic period, and there is no way to pinpoint how art fits within that artistic period. Modern art, as we know it today, was just one of the artistic movements that emerged in art history.

There is a good example of this in the work of the Brazilian artist Lula Bixby, who created the famous artwork Modernity Is the Rage of Modern Art. There is no doubt that modern art’s rules and norms had the effect of diminishing the artistry of some artworks and deranging the work of others. But the cultural realm of art was also responsible for changing its own rules and creating new rules that had a direct impact on art. The modernists in the 19th century created rules for how art should look, the cultural rules that they wanted artworks to adhere to, and postmodern artists now created new rules that they wanted artworks to follow, and create a new set of rules for art history.

Pak24tv published a special cartoon to ridicule the new rules of art that postmodernism has created. The cartoon features modern artworks that look like Islamic monuments, something that is clearly controversial, as postmodernist art has deeply offended Muslims, so a satire on postmodern art would seem logical. But the cartoon’s cartoonist ignored that fact and instead created a cartoon that disparages Islamic art and Islamic art traditions and paints postmodern art as being similar to modern art, a cartoon that resembles a crude Islamic caricature of modern art.

Not only is this not a proper satire, but it also teaches a very unfortunate lesson about how art and art tradition are viewed in some parts of the world. At the end of the cartoon, the cartoonist poses a question: “So what kind of art tradition would you recommend?” But the question has the potential of instilling the idea that art and art tradition are a part of something akin to a different cultural foundation.