A Complete Guide on Modern Art

A Complete Guide on Modern Art

The avant-garde style of modern art and its creators are widely admired. Since it evolved over a period of around a century, it unavoidably features an eclectic blend of styles and elements from a wide variety of periods and schools of painting.


Recognising and comprehending the various genres that make up modern art is essential to tracking its extraordinary development. To accomplish this, however, it is useful to develop a definition of modern art.


What is Modern Art?


Do not confuse "modern art" with "contemporary art," as this term only applies to works created between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. Artists of the time produced works that rethought, reinterpreted, and sometimes completely rejected the aesthetic standards of earlier styles.



Artistic and Cultural Revolutions


The modern art genre spans a wide range of styles, from the ethereal Impressionism at its start to the kineticism of Abstract Expressionism at its close.






Impressionism is often cited as the movement that sparked the contemporary art movement by questioning academic painting's adherence to strict rules and photorealistic renderings. In 1872, with his painting "Impression, Sunrise," Claude Monet pioneered the trend by incorporating blurred brushstrokes, an emphasis on light, and a bold colour palette.


Until the turn of the century, Impressionists like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas ruled French painting.






Artists such as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec were encouraged to experiment by the Impressionists, leading to the development of their own unique and often radical styles.


This vibrant art movement, known as Post-Impressionism, emerged in the 1890s and is characterized by an emphasis on emotion and a preference for subjective interpretation over realistic representation.






Fauvism emerged in the early 20th century, the brainchild of les Fauves, a group of avant-garde artists that included André Derain and Henri Matisse. Fauvists, like Post-Impressionists, often depicted recognisable (but somewhat abstracted) forms in vivid colours and with a focus on the viewer's own perceptions.




Just before World War I, artists in Germany and Austria began experimenting with new techniques. These artists, who became known as Expressionists, took the novel aspects of other modern trends and ran with them. Expressionist works, like their Post-Impressionist and Fauvist counterparts, display a fondness for vivid, synthetic colour and distinctive iconography.






Cubism, with its fragmented, deconstructed forms, was a watershed moment in the development of abstract art in the modern era. The avant-garde movement, started by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in 1907, manifested as upside-down paintings, three-dimensional sculptures, and innovative collages.


Cubism, like other modern art movements, emphasized the artist's own experience in the creative process. Picasso states, "When we discovered Cubism, we did not have the intention of discovering Cubism. We just wanted to say what was on our minds.






A group of artists including Salvador Dal, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miró, and Yves Tanguy founded the Surrealist art movement in the 1920s. Without "any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern" (André Breton, Manifestos of Surrealism), the genre's culmination was a wide range of surrealist depictions derived directly from the artists' subconscious.


Abstract Expressionism


A group of avant-garde painters emerged in the middle of the twentieth century, rejecting traditional representational techniques in favour of a more experimental abstract mode of expression. These artists, known as Abstract Expressionists, put a premium not only on modernist elements like colour, composition, and emotion, but also on the act of painting itself.


Who Invented Contemporary Art?


Paul Cézanne is sometimes called "the Father" of modern art by those who study the history of art. Late 19th-century French oil painter Paul Cézanne. His paintings were pivotal in the development of post-impressionist and contemporary art.


How Long Has Modern Art Been Around?


Generally speaking, modern art can be dated from the 1860s through the 1970s of the current century.


Artists at the time attempted to break free from the bounds of formally sound realism. Artists tried to capture the newness they felt in society and technology in their works of painting and sculpture.


Politics, transportation, society, manufacturing, and technology all underwent dramatic shifts as a result of the Industrial Revolution. It was a time that would go down in history as pivotal.


More people were able to experience the liberating effects of travel by train and industrialization. Massive numbers of people left the countryside for the burgeoning cities.

Paintings had been the standard for depicting the world until the discovery of photography art.

After that, artists stopped trying to depict the world as it actually looked. Instead of relying on objective fact, they started drawing motivation from subjective sources like their dreams, emotions, personal iconography, and symbols.


In the centuries before to the nineteenth century, artists frequently completed projects for the church or wealthy patrons in exchange for payment. This meant that many works of art from those eras focused on religious subjects.


However, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, artists started to create more works about topics of their choosing. This opened up opportunities for artists to remark on larger societal issues, take political or social stands, and portray a more global perspective in their works.

The creative community found motivation in both historical moments and contemporary innovations.


Artists of the time were also facilitated in their ability to meet and form schools through the period's increased urbanization.


The modern art trend can be traced back to Impressionism as its inciting force. Blurred brushstrokes and an emphasis on light were hallmarks of this groundbreaking new approach to painting.


Contemporary Art vs. Modern Art


The experimental character and shared subject matter of both modern and contemporary art lead to frequent misidentification. A clearer distinction can be seen after the underlying motions that make each type distinct are understood.


By definition, modern art encompasses a wide range of movements and styles, from Impressionism through Abstract Expressionism and beyond. Therefore, Pop Art, the first significant trend after modernism, marks the beginning of contemporary art and, of course, continues to the present day.


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