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Modern Art Movements

Updated: 2019-10-25

What does an artist, art historian or gallery owner actually mean when he or she talks about art styles and movements? Is one better than another, more in demand, or just different? What lights up a room for one person and makes someone else want to run can be defined only by what’s known as art appreciation.

Art appreciation is the fundamental understanding and knowledge of the enduring and universal qualities that define great art. Fine art can be defined as using any medium with creative skill and imagination to express an artist’s idea or sentiment, and that is appreciated for its beauty or emotional power. Some examples include paintings, drawings, sculpture, and photography.

Art evolves as our culture changes. Journey with us as we look at modern art movements and how art styles have changed over the last several decades.

Art Movements

SohoCollectively, the term art movement is given to artworks that share the same artistic style, ideals, timeframe or technical approach. There are no hard and fast rules here about what constitutes an art movement. Grouping artists of a certain period or style helps to understand them within a specific context. Modern art movements are the 20th-century development when a greater variety of styles erupted than at any other period in the history of art.

The more you appreciate and understand the different art styles, eras, techniques and movements, the better you are able to identify and understand your likes and dislikes, your preferences, and which art style choices would work best in your home. Following is a brief timeline of some of the more significant art movements.

Modern Art Movements

The 1870s – 1880s Impressionism

An impromptu Plein-air style of landscape painting, Impressionism strives for the exact representation of natural light effects. Porto Venere View is a wonderful example of this art movement.Draper

1880s Neo-Impressionism

Based on the optical painting technique called Pointillism, Neo-Impressionism mixes colors before they’re applied to the canvas, primary-colors are placed directly onto the canvas -- arranged in groups of tiny dabs or dots -- to allow the viewer's eye to do the "mixing".

1890 – 1914 Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is a highly decorative style characterized by intricate flowing patterns of sinuous asymmetrical lines, based on plant-forms. Leaf and tendril motifs are popular designs, Natures Imprint tryptic offers a compelling example.

The 1880s - 1990s Post Impressionism

Post Impressionism incorporates many styles of painting, some with a rigorous classical approach to Plein-air painting; indoor studio painting; or painting outdoors not to capture nature but to express inner emotions.

1905 onwards Expressionism

Expressionism aims to portray an interpretation of a scene rather than simply replicate its true-life features. Stormy Sea I and II are beautiful examples.

1908 - 1914 Cubism

Cubism refocused attention on the essential 2-D nature of the flat canvas, overturning conventional systems of perspective and ways of perceiving form, in the process. See Mid Century Collage I, II and III.

1885 onwards Photography

Photography grew more important than ever in this era of modern art. Some of this modern art movement's photographic genres developed include street photography, documentary photography, and fashion photography. Fine examples of organic subjects include X-Ray Leaves, Agave Detail, Logging, Approaching Spring, Frosty Pasture and Within the Forest.

1912 onwards Collage Art

Collage art can involve objets trouvés, like bits of paper, photographs, fabric, and other 'found' items to create a mixed-media effect. Witnessing Glory and Mid-Century Collage tryptic are favorites.

1925-1940 Art Deco

Art Deco replaced Art Nouveau’s flowing curvilinear shapes with dramatic and inspired geometric forms.

1958-1970 Pop-Art

Pop-Art and expressionist abstract styles combine inspiration, creative techniques, and philosophy from popular and commercial culture. These unusual sources can encompass film, advertising, product-packaging, pop music and comic strips reflecting the mass consumerism of America in the 1960s. Using bold, easy to recognize imagery, and Maxwellvibrant block colors prove good art can be low-brow and made of anything. Dramatic Lemon and Dramatic Orange give a subtle nod to this style.

The 1960s to today Minimalism

The modern art movement known as Minimalism is known for its extreme simplicity of form and is generally composed of precise, hard-edged, geometric forms, with rigid planes of color in cool hues or sometimes just one. Vertices and Silver Sculpture Wall Hanging represent this movement, Nature’s Imprint is a softer take on minimalism altogether.

Find a Bassett store near you, or shop online at any hour of the day or night. Start a Wishlist and you’ll be well on your way to curating the perfect modern art style for your home.

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