History of Modern Art

By Strickland, Carol | The Christian Science Monitor, October 26, 1995 | Go to article overview

History of Modern Art


Strickland, Carol, The Christian Science Monitor


It's fashionable to view the evolution of modern art as a line unrolling toward greater abstraction, culminating in Minimalism. Here are the main schools of modern art, which are mostly after-the-fact groupings based on artists' similar aims and styles.

1. Post-Impressionism (1880-1905): Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat. Provided the starting point for 20th-century art. Emphasized distorting reality for expressive purposes rather than accuracy. Pioneered new spirit of subjective response.

2. Fauvism (1904-8): Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck. Art of "Fauves," which means "wild beasts," linked to unnatural use of color as a personal approach to a scene, such as tomato-red trees and lemon-yellow sky.

3. Expressionism (1905-30): (Inspired by Munch) Kirchner, Kokoschka, Schiele, Nolde. Insisted art should express artist's feelings, used distorted, angular forms and garish colors for emotional impact.

4. Cubism (1908-16): Picasso, Braque, Leger, Gris. Established principle expressed by Leger: "Art consists of inventing and not copying." Analyzed form by breaking objects into faceted planes; later introduced "real" world into art by creating collages with wallpaper, newsprint.

5. Futurism (1909-18): Boccioni, Severini, Balla. Glorified machine age of speed, violence, war. Tried to express propulsion through overlapping images of object traveling through space, as in time-lapse photo. …

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