The term ‘Modern Art ‘ is one that has been heatedly debated. The exact time period that encompasses modern art is not something that can be clearly defined. It would seem that there were pioneers in the field of modern art as far back as the mid-1800s, or perhaps even further. It is an art form that seems to have developed over a hundred years. Perhaps it does not matter that much when it started. What matters is that modern art has its own unique identity, along with a shock value that separates it from other art forms.
Much of modern art has an abstract quality to it. What doesn’t have an abstract quality goes against past ideas of ‘traditional’ or ‘acceptable’ artwork. Many, many artists have contributed to the modern art movement, some of the first being impressionists and post-impressionists.
Some of the best-known impressionists are Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Alfred Sisley. They had many well-known compatriots, but when people think of Impressionism, the work of these men usually comes to mind. The impressionists used vivid brush strokes, and put great emphasis on light and movement in their paintings. The work was supposed to capture a moment, and make it seem lifelike.
Post- Impressionism was similar to Impressionism, except that it threw away some of the limitations Impressionism still held. They often would distort forms for effect, use geometric shapes, and to use unusual colors. One of the most famous Post-Impressionists must be Vincent Van Gogh.
Expressionism is when an artist distorts reality for an emotional effect, often angst. Expressionism, unlike Impressionism and some other common types of art , is exhibited in many art forms, including painting, film, theatre, and music. It is mostly a twentieth century form of art , but the forefathers of it were such individuals as Edvard Munch, who is most famous for “The Scream.”
There are many other famous styles of art that have flourished in the 19th century and since. Cubism is showcased best by Pablo Picasso, but also used in architecture and literature. Symbolism in art and literature captured the darker, more ‘gritty’ side of life.
Some of the very recent artistic wonders almost cannot be defined. So many styles of art seem to overlap to some degree, and many individual artists seem to take two or more styles and blend them, turning them into something all their own. A couple good examples of very new art are Mark Rothko and Tracy Emin. They are called Young British Artists or YBAs. Mark Rothco’s paintings have been called ‘iconic,’ and are rectangles of varying shapes and sizes painted in a myriad of colors. Tracy Emin has incorporated a lot of sewing into her art . She even showcases her beds, rumpled covers and all.
Modern art is a vibrant thing that is difficult to put parameters around. There are so many aspects and nuances to the works that are considered ‘modern’ that occasionally it seems futile to try to explain it. What is for certain is that modern art has brought us from a period when a lot of art looked the same, and there were exacting rules put on art , to a period where art is boundless and completely unrestrained.