Well, as the saying goes, it's all relative.
The modern art movement actually started in the 1860s, so from a 2014 perspective it doesn't seem modern at all. This period lasted more than a century — until the 1970s, according to Wikipedia.
The Museum of Modern Art has a fine PowerPoint slide show that gives an interesting overview of the movement. Two key points from the slide show:
- In the mid-1800s modern artists departed from the norm of showing real scenes in life to creating art that expressed the inner experiences of humans. “Many artists explored dreams, symbolism and personal iconography as ways to depict their experiences,” according to MoMA.
- These artists experimented with “new” forms of capturing images, such as art based on photography. Paul Cezanne's “The Bather” (ca. 1885), for instance, was inspired by a sepia photograph by an unknown photographer.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, another influential modern artist, was in the vanguard of creating art for posters, according to Wikipedia. Posters had been in existence before, the site adds, but the posters to which Toulouse-Lautrec contributed his formidable talents were made possible by advancement in color lithography and mass production in printing.
Other artists considered in the forefront of modern art included Paul Gaugin, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh. To check out the museum's slide show, head to: http://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/what-is-modern-art. Put your mouse on “Tools & Tips: What is Modern Art” at the upper right-hand corner of the page.
“Ambassadeurs – Aristide Bruant”
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892
Photo of poster courtesy of Wikipedia
“Port-en-Bessin” (Entrance to the Harbor)
Georges Seuret, 1888
Photo of painting courtesy of Wikimedia
"I am quite certain in my heart of hearts that modern music and modern art is not a conspiracy, but is a form of truth and integrity for those who practise it honestly, decently and with all their being."
Sir Michael Tippett
English composer (1905-1998)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia