Modern Art

Now that we have covered the good extent of art history, it is time to look at the modern developments of art. Modern art typically refers to late 19th and early to mid-20th-century art. Work during this time showcases the artist’s interest in re-imagining, reinterpreting and even rejecting aesthetic values of preceding styles. We have already covered some of the first styles to emerge under the modern art umbrella so we will be looking at the more recent developments. It is important to not confuse modern art with contemporary art. Contemporary art refers to the art of today, produced by artists who are living in the 21st century. Although there are many interchangeable factors to the two, most people consider the following genres of art to be within the modern art family.


Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism is the term used to describe artists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning. They all subverted the typical labels of what painting was, although, despite this, it was never the ideal label for the movement. It was a term that was somehow meant to encompass not only the work of painters who filled their canvases with fields of colour and abstract forms but also those who attacked their canvases with vigorous gestural expressionism. It was a movement that is comprised of many different artists. Still, the factor that tied them all together was that the artists were committed to art as expressions of the self, born out of profound emotion and universal themes. Most were shaped by the legacy of Surrealism, which was a movement that they translated into a new style fitting of the post-war mood of anxiety and trauma.

Pop Art

Pop Art started with the New York artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. They all drew on popular imagery and were actually part of an international phenomenon. Following on from the popularity of the Abstract Expressionists, Pop’s reintroduction of identifiable imagery, things like soup cans, cars, comics, and famous people, was a major shift for the direction of modernism. The subject matter moved far away from the traditional themes of “high art”. Pop artists celebrated commonplace objects and people of everyday life. The goal, in a sense, was to elevate pop culture to the level of fine art. Perhaps due to the incorporation of commercial images, Pop art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art.


Postmodernism

Postmodernism is often seen as a reaction against the ideas and values of modernism as well as a word to describe the period that followed modernisms dominance in cultural theory and practice. The term is typically associated with skepticism, irony and philosophical critiques of the concepts of universal truths and objective reality. Modernism was generally based on idealism and a utopian vision of human life and society. It held a strong belief in progress. Postmodernism advocated for individual experience and that human experience was more concrete than abstract concepts.


Deconstructivism


One of the most defining characteristics of deconstructivism is that it challenges conventional ideas about form and order as if the designs tried to liberate art and architecture from preconceived rules. Through the controlled chaos, they challenge our own preconceptions. The designs consisted of irregular complex geometries and the objects were often formed by several different fragments put together without any apparent order. Deconstructivism criticizes rational order, purity, and simplicity. It is often considered a branch off of postmodernism.

started with the New York artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. They all drew on popular imagery and were actually part of an international phenomenon. Following on from the popularity of the Abstract Expressionists, Pop’s reintroduction of identifiable imagery, things like soup cans, cars, comics, and famous people, was a major shift for the direction of modernism. The subject matter moved far away from the traditional themes of “high art”. Pop artists celebrated commonplace objects and people of everyday life. The goal, in a sense, was to elevate pop culture to the level of fine art. Perhaps due to the incorporation of commercial images, Pop art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art.