Modern art encompasses a whole variety of different art movements, extending from the mid-19th century through to the late 20th century.
Modern Art is art in which traditional forms of painting have been cast aside in favour of new and fresh methods. The styles to emerge from Modern Art range from gritty scenes of common day-to-day chores to spacious and colourfully abstract splashes of paint on canvas.
You can see below the evolution of Modern Art and some of its most prominent art movements, from its beginning in the mid-1800s right the way through to the late 1900s.
History of Modern Art - An infographic by the team at PictureStore
A Brief Overview
Realism was a precursor to Modern Art. Realist artists such as Gustave Courbet rejected the idealist tendencies of Romanticism, preferring instead to reproduce the social reality around them.
Impressionism, which emerged on the art scene in the 1860s, heralded a new era of art, in which paintings were created quickly, imprinting the impression, rather than the reality, of a scene upon canvas.
Impressionists such as Claude Monet often commenced their work in the open and reproduced the same image during different seasons and weather to portray the changing nature of light and colour.
Post-impressionism was a reaction to Impressionism; it followed the same painting styles of thick brushstrokes, vivid colours and real life subject matter, but also emphasized form and shape.
In the early 1900s, Expressionism hit the art scene with bold, passionate works of art designed to represent the world through emotion.
Abstract Art came into vogue during the early 1900s, characterized by a number of movements, including Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Abstract art refers to any art that does not feature instantly recognizable objects. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Jackson Pollock were all notable abstract artists.
The era of modern art concluded with the Pop Art movement that optimistically portrayed popular culture during the consumer boom following World War II.
Finally, art trends shifted once again during the 1970s, as artwork without a centre became popular and past styles were mixed and reworked to create something entirely new.
The beauty of art is in its ability to be redefined over and over again. The history of Modern Art shows how malleable art can be as new trends emerge and old ones fade away. Yet even as an art movement fades away, it comes to be viewed nostalgically since the artwork represents a moment in time. It is because of this that artwork from each movement is as treasured today as it was when the style first emerged.
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