Modern Art History  

The period of 1860s to the 1970s marks the era of Modern Art in the aesthetic world. This phase characterized a break away from the traditional norms. The artists of this era explored novel ideas of art. The materials used and the significance of art experienced an alteration.

Abstraction was the cardinal feature of modern art. The period of modern art culminated into post modern or contemporary art, which is the terminology used to illustrate creativity of recent times.

The issue of identifying the specific year highlighting the onset of modern art remains arbitrary. Some art historians opine that modern painting surfaced much earlier than modern sculpture and architecture. The inception of modern art has been traced to the year 1863, while modernism in sculpture and architecture showcased towards the end of the 19th century. According to them, 1863 marks the year of initiation of modern art with Édouard Manet exhibiting his painting Le déjeuner sur l'herbe in Paris. There are other dates as well that supposedly project the beginning of modern art such as 1855, the year Gustave Courbet exhibited The Artist's Studio, and 1784, which is the year that Jacques-Louis David produced the painting, The Oath of the Horatii. The most valid explanation comes from the art historian, H Harvard Arnason who states that although each of these dates do have significance but none are categorically correct as the modern art did not come in as a sudden chance. Instead, it was a gradual metamorphosis that took place in the course of a hundred years.

It was actually the French Revolution that put an end to the authoritative powers paving way for a new radical thought process. Modern art was personified by many styles such as romanticism, realism, impressionism, symbolism, expressionism, fauvism and cubism. Artists functioned in mainly two ways, through commissions or exhibitions. This period saw the formation of official government sponsored painters' unions and the organization of public exhibitions of new fine and decorative arts by the government.

The United States witnessed the entry of modern art with the Armory Show in 1913. The European artists who migrated to the country during World War I also played an important role in its prominence. Towards the end of the 1970s, the philosophy stressing on the end of painting and the beginning of new media art came into limelight. It was finally in the 1980s and 1990s that painting saw new life again in the guise of neo-expressionism and figurative art.

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Modern Art History




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