Modern Art In 19th-20th

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It refers to late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century art. Modern art contained a unique assortment of styles, movements, and artistic techniques. Artwork that was being produced, was influenced and impacted from artists own emotions and inner imagination. It went beyond the standard expectations of traditional art. Modern Art, showcase artists’ “interest in re-imagining, reinterpreting, and even rejecting traditional aesthetic values of preceding styles” (Richman-Abdou).

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Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: Pablo Picasso

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon completed in 1907 by Pablo Picasso is the most exceptional painting in the history of Western art. It has five naked characters staring outward with unique expressions capturing the attention of the audiences. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon means: “The women of Avignon, drawn about the prostitutes of Barcelona’s red-light district” (MoMA).

Cubism, a form of art invented by Picasso, consists of geometric forms along with influences of African culture and Oceanic art. Picasso was determined to change and challenge the traditions of Western Art, which ultimately solidified his artwork as a part of the Modern Era. “Modern artists also experimented with the expressive use of color, non-traditional materials, and new techniques and mediums” (MoMA Learning).With his determination and experimental creativity, he didn’t let anyone stand in his way, creating the art he wanted to this date has amazed the world.

The Starry Night: Vincent Van Gogh

A Post-Impressionism movement painting by Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night (1889) is considered Modern Art as it’s a creation of his direct observations, imagination, memories, and emotions. His ingenuity to use small brush strokes and color to create The Starry Night’s moving sky has stunned the art world.

Scholars have noted that Van Gogh was, “intrigued by the idea of painting a nocturnal landscape from his imagination” (Mansfield 64) thus influencing his artistic creation of this famous painting. “Modern artists also expressed the symbolic, by representing scenes and places that brought forth an inner mood rather than a realistic landscape” (MoMA Learning).

The Scream: Edvard Munch

The Scream, painted in 1893 by Edvard Munch is based on Munch’s personal experiences which inspired his work. He changed the art world by using his own mental issues as inspiration for his work as is evident with this painting which, is considered a symbol of modern anxiety and alienation. Although many people didn’t like the idea of showcasing his mental health and his insanity, Munch continued with this artform sort of unphased about his critics and is considered a Modern era artist as he created art based strictly on what he wanted regardless of his critics and their traditional artistic beliefs.

“Munch defined how we see our own age – wracked with anxiety and It also explored the progression of modern life by focusing on the themes of love, angst, and death uncertainty” (MoMA Learning). The painting has expressive and bold colors.

Landscape at Collioure: Henri Matisse

Landscape at Collioure painted in 1905 shows characteristics of the artistic movement know as Fauvism depicting the Mediterranean landscape surrounding a small coastal town in the Languedoc-Roussillon province. This is another Modern Era art form which challenged the art world as Matisse expressed his own feelings into his paintings with the use of bright colors utilizing elements to create a certain depth, while also inducing a calming and soothing sense on the audience. “Henri Matisse used color to capture the emotion of places in landscapes that were considered ‘wild’ and ‘reckless’” (MoMA Learning).

This Is Not A Pipe: René Magritte

This Is Not A Pipe painted in 1929 is Surrealist artist René Magritte’s attempt to challenge the audience to look deeper and not just at the surface, or ‘face’ value of the item depicted in the painting. He does not want us to accept the word ‘pipe’ is actually connected to the physical item itself. Rather he wants us to think about the ‘pipe’ from an abstract point of view. “A drawing of a thing is not the thing itself.” 

Considered Modern Art as it symbolizes pure imagination and complete freedom from the constraints of reality attempting to unify dreams and fantasy into the real world.

Magritte’s ‘word-image’ paintings are based on abstract creativity comingling words, with images, and objects to identify a deeper meaning. “He became an icon of modern art and influenced a big group of a younger generation of conceptually oriented artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Edward Ruscha, and Andy Warhol” (lacma).

Modern Art was, “a response to the diverse political, economic, and cultural pressures of modernity”(Mansfield 3). This era of Modern Art changed the way people viewed art. The artists started to make art based on their own personal experiences and about topics that they had chosen and imagined. Each and every one of these artists, in their own way, broke from the traditional forms of art and created their own ideas on what art looks like to them. Therefore, deliberately defining them and their artwork as Modern.


  • · Picasso, Pablo. “Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907: MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art,
  • “The Treachery of Images (This Is Not a Pipe) (La Trahison Des Images [Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe]).” The Treachery of Images (This Is Not a Pipe) (La Trahison Des Images [Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe]) | LACMA Collections,
  • Mansfield, Elizabeth C., H. Arnason. History of Modern Art (Paperback), 7th Edition. Pearson, 20130723. VitalBook file.
29 April 2022

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