14 Styles of Modern Art
John Spacey, June 25, 2020 updated on April 27, 2023
Modern art is the body of art produced between 1860 and 1970 and the diverse styles and techniques that emerged in this period. This was a period where all convention was challenged in a long parade of brave new ideas about the nature of art. The following are prominent modern art styles and movements.
ImpressionismImpressionism was a rebellious art movement that began in the 1860s that gave birth to modern art. At the time, art was dominated by a style known as Academic Art that was essentially an attempt to standardize art under the guidance of high status institutions such as the Académie des Beaux-Arts in France. Impressionist disregarded the rules and exploded onto the art scene with their depictions of ordinary contemporary life and style of open composition, unusual viewing angles and visible brush strokes. Impressionism is also known for its stunning depiction of movement and the passage of time.
Neo-ImpressionismA movement that sought to create a harmonious vision using principles of modern science. Characterized by complete lack of color mixing, blocks of color, geometric forms and the use of color theory and optics. Viewed as the first avante-garde art movement.
PointillismA neo-impressionist technique that involves creating complex works from individual dots of color. This symbolizes the embrace of rational thought and a modern scientific world.
SymbolismA late 19th century art movement that grew out of Gothic Romanticism movements that predate modern art. As the name suggests, symbolism conveys a moral, ideology or concept as opposed to depicting real life.
FauvismAn early 20th century movement named from the French les Fauves meaning "wild beasts." Fauvism uses vivid unrealistic colors and features pronounced painterly qualities. This originated with the teachings of an influential professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris who advocated the expressive use of potent pure color.
CubismCubism was a revolutionary art movement characterized by the simplification of form and deconstruction of perspective. Inspired later movements such as surrealism and abstract art.
FuturismAn early 20th century art movement that emphasized futuristic themes of speed, technology, youth, risk, confusion and mechanization. Futurism borrows its style from cubism and wasn't particularly influential on the emergence of later styles.
ExpressionismA style that emerged in Germany and Austria in the years leading up to WWI. Characterized by the abstract expression of subjective emotion and thought that differs from objective reality. Heavily influenced by the earlier works of Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh. Greatly influenced later art as the first art movement to portray the inner realities of human thought.
MinimalismExtremely simple works that remove every detail. Inspired by minimalistic industrial design that was intended to scale out unoffensive products with no character whatsoever to the masses. Minimalism emerged in the early 20th century and thrived after WWII. It can be interpreted as a materialistic cult of objects whereby simple geometric shapes are revered. Minimalism is popular as corporate art for its bland and safe qualities.
DadaAn art movement that expressed nonsense, irrationality, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist sentiments. Dada also pokes fun at the art world and its acceptance of extremely abstract works. For example, the well known work sculpture Fountain by Marcel Duchamp that is simply a public urinal. Critics took this very seriously and wrote endless analysis and interpretations of this work. In December 2004, Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by a committee of 500 British art critics. Fountain is viewed as a harbinger of postmodern art with its irony, cynicism and embrace of the subjective over the universal.
SurrealismA post WWI art movement inspired by Dada that tended towards photorealism over the craft-like works of Dada. Surrealist works use uncommon imagery to create unnerving, illogical scenes. These are often supposed to be representations of the unconscious.
Abstract ExpressionismA post WWII art movement centered around New York that offers completely abstracted representations of spontaneity that capture a moment in time. These are often pattern-like compositions.
Pop ArtHighly stylized art of the 1950s and 1960s inspired by popular culture including comic books, advertising and package design.
Neo-expressionismA late modern or early postmodern art movement from the 1970s that is a reaction against the bland abstraction and minimalism of the post-WWII period. Neo-expressionism returns to depicting recognizable objects in chaotic scenes filled with color.
ArtThis is the complete list of articles we have written about art.
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.
The major types of abstract art with an example of each.
A list of art terms.
An overview of the basic characteristics of impressionism that make it instantly recognizable.
An overview of romantic art with a list of its basic characteristics.
The defining characteristics of abstract art.
The defining characteristics of Renaissance art.A list of the common art forms.
The basic characteristics of Art Nouveau with examples.
A list of professions and creative pursuits that are considered art.
The definition of master copy with examples.The definition and common characteristics of postmodernism.
The defining characteristics of modernism.
The definition of realism in art with examples.An overview of the major art styles with examples.
The definition of vanishing point with examples.
A vocabulary for art description, critique and evaluation.The common elements of art with examples.
TrendingThe most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.
Recent posts or updates on Simplicable. Site Map