Marking a significant turning point for the art world, modern art is a movement that embodies the shift from the traditional art techniques and subject matter that had once dominated to the end of the 19th century. Inspired heavily by changing ideas in society sparked by the industrial revolution as well as evolving attitudes toward psychology and the subconscious mind, early 20th century artists began to create artwork that focused on modern life and society, technology, popular culture and themselves as a subject. Prior to this, art was largely focused on visually realistic depictions of stories, parables and fables meant to guide the viewer through a story or to convey specific values and morals.
Modern art embodies several techniques that emerged in the late 19th to early 20th century such as symbolism, impressionism, cubism and surrealism amongst several others. In some way or another, each of these reject the notion that art must depict life in a hyper realistic manner, making way for work that embraces abstraction through shapes, colour, lines, technique and even the medium used to create the art itself.
Far more representative of modern life and the societal sentiment of the day, modern art was embraced for decades after its initial inception, paving the way for movements like pop art and abstract expressionism. As well as eventual postmodern art movements including high and low-brow art, performance and digital art, and more.
An embodiment of liberation, rebellion, expression and artistic freedom, the modern art movement marked an incredible change in art history, with many now famous artists helping to popularise and normalise the bold techniques, mediums, and ideas that had previously been rejected. Some of the most widely recognised artworks in the world were created in the modern and postmodern art movements, making their work – as well as other influential modern artists – a desirable collectible for art lovers.
For lovers of modern art throughout the decades, we’ve curated a short guide to modern art prints you can take home from Art Republic.
Known as a key figure in modern art, French artist Henri Matisse’s use of pattern, shapes, and colour helped to define and drive modernist art in the early 20th century. Primarily a painter, Matisse was also a sculptor and a draughtsman who went on to develop a robust body of work that evolved throughout his career.
Called ‘The Forerunner of Pop Art’, Fernand Léger’s artwork has a lasting legacy that has influenced several follow-on artists of the modern and postmodern art movements. Having been inspired by (and having embraced) cubism, Léger went on to create ‘tubism’ - a form of cubism that embraced cylindrical lines and shapes and lacked a clear subject matter. As one of the first artists to incorporate concepts and inspiration from modern society, Léger is considered one of the pioneers of the pop art movement we know today.
Swiss artist Max Bill is known for founding the Concrete art movement, a type of abstract art heavily based on mathematical, geometric and scientific principles. Incorporating architecture and sculpture, Bill’s art typically features bold, geometric lines and basic shapes, often incorporating primary and other bright colours.
Hardly needing an introduction, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso was a renowned modern artist known for co-founding the cubist movement and for his influence on surrealism and expressionism. Embracing the hallmarks of what we now know to be modern art, Picasso experimented with various mediums, theories, techniques and subject matter, particularly in the early 20th century. By the end of his famously successful career, Picasso had created upwards of 20,000 artworks.
A figurehead of the pop art movement, American artist Andy Warhol’s body of work contains some of the most well-known pieces from the modern art movement. Embracing mundane, everyday subject matter and drawing inspiration from modern society, commercialism and advertising, Warhol’s work was yet another example of modern artists moving away from the traditional to push the boundaries of what ‘art’ could be, rather than what it should be.
Like many late 20th-21st century artists, New York based Cory Arcangel’s work embraced (and is rooted in) modern technology and the digital space. With subject matter centred around video games, music, and other modern digital mediums, Arcangel’s work made him a leader in the world of technology-based art. Throughout his career and even to this day, similar software, mediums and techniques employed by Arcangel have been available to virtually any aspiring artist with an internet connection, thus inspiring his own generation and beyond in the world of digital art making.
Incorporating the early modernist movements of fauvism, abstractism, cubism, and eventually surrealism, Joan Miró helped lay the essential foundations for modern art as we know it today. Eventually claiming to have ‘declared war on traditional art’, Miró rejected the traditional notions that art must realistically depict subjects, be centred around conservative values, or avoid socio-political themes and imagery. Miró’s work, which was highly abstract yet personal, went on to influence other big names in the modern art world including Jackson Pollock.
Perhaps most known for his street art campaign, ‘Andre the Giant has a Posse’ and his subsequent brand Obey, Shepard Fairey is a well-known modern / contemporary artist with work that is widely recognised, worn, and parodied (such as with the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster) even today. A graphic artist and muralist, Fairey’s art was popularised by his sticker campaign, however he eventually went on to embrace online mediums to grow a large following of fans who admire and align with his art style and/or political activism.
Love modern art? Here at Art Republic, we’ve curated a fantastic selection of modern art, ranging from early 20th century through to modern day. Browse our full collection to find your very own modern art prints for your home.
60 x 56 cm
Limited Edition of 150