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Modernist Art

Modernist Art

Authored By George Sprouse

As you guys probably noticed, RetroStyleShop has been recently exhibiting pieces of modernist art through the page. The idea is to put light on this exciting period in the western culture which has such a strong impact on nowadays art concepts and on overall high human culture. From this week on, we’re extending the project with one article a week about the movement’s influences and big modernist artists.

This article isn't going to be about anyone in particular, but it will address an overall look of the semi-definition of modernist art.

The birth of modernism and modern art can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution, a period that lasted from the 18th to the 19th century, in which rapid changes in manufacturing, transportation, and technology profoundly affected the social, economic, and cultural conditions of life in Western Europe, North America, and eventually the world. New forms of transportation, including the railroad, the steam engine, and the subway changed the way people lived, worked, and traveled, both at home and abroad, expanding their worldview and access to new ideas. As urban centers prospered, workers flocked to cities for industrial jobs, and urban populations boomed.

Prior to the 19th century, artists were most often commissioned to make artwork by wealthy patrons, or institutions like the church. Much of this art depicted religious or mythological scenes that told stories and were intended to instruct the viewer. During the 19th century, many artists started to make art about people, places, or ideas that interested them, and of which they had direct experience. With the publication of psychologist Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and the popularization of the idea of a subconscious mind, many artists began exploring dreams, symbolism, and personal iconography as avenues for the depiction of their subjective experiences. Challenging the notion that art must realistically depict the world, some artists experimented with the expressive use of color, non-traditional materials, and new techniques and mediums.

One of these was photography, whose invention in the 1830s introduced a new method for depicting and reinterpreting the world. The Museum of Modern Art collects work made after 1880 when the atmosphere was ripe for avant-garde artists to take their work in new, unexpected, and “modern” directions.

Modern art represents an evolving set of ideas among a number of painters, sculptors, writers, and performers who - both individually and collectively - sought new approaches to art-making. Although modern art began, in retrospect, around 1850 with the arrival of Realism, approaches, and styles of art were defined and redefined throughout the twentieth century. Practitioners of each new style were determined to develop a visual language that was both original and representative of the times.

Definition of Modern Art

Modern art is the creative world's response to the rationalist practices and perspectives of the new lives and ideas provided by the technological advances of the industrial age that caused contemporary society to manifest itself in new ways compared to the past. Artists worked to represent their experience of the newness of modern life in appropriately innovative ways. Although modern art as a term applies to a vast number of artistic genres spanning more than a century, aesthetically speaking, modern art is characterized by the artist's intent to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to his or her unique perspective and is typified by a rejection of accepted or traditional styles and values.



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