Modern art - not to be mistaken with contemporary art - has a rich and varied history spanning many great historical artists and a wide range of styles and techniques. It spans a breadth of theories and attitudes, being a part of a tradition-breaking movement whose effects richocetched throughout culture and society.

Following the great societal advances of the industrial age, life as we knew it had shifted so drastically that a new way of thinking, seeing, and creating quickly followed suit. Modernist artists shirked tradition, believing they needed new ways of expressing that would better reflect their new existence. An art movement founded on finding new styles for personal expression, it challenged the conventions of the past, the traditional and historic artistic methods that preceded it were rejected and in their place came art born from imagination and feeling, with distorted shapes, angular movement and loose brushstrokes being just a few methods used to convey this criticism of the ‘old’.

Here we explore the history of this world-changing art movement, the influence of which can still be seen in many great artworks today.

The History of Modern Art

Modern art is widely accepted to have spanned the period of 1860 to around 1960, and in that time it went through a great range of styles as the core of its value was to continuously embrace the new. Technological advancement and events of great historical significance were all incorporated and used to further this progressive movement. 

Its birth was around 1860, and its development can be not only attributed to the aforementioned socio-economic situation, but also with progressive thought relating to the existence of the subconscious such as the publication of Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899. This led to an even greater artistic investigation of the self and the internal experiences of that.

Modern art became increasingly avant-garde, moving further and further away from the historical notions that art should depict the ‘real’ world as it is seen, moving instead into abstract and challenging ways of visually representing the human condition.

This continued through the early 1900’s and it wasn’t until around the 1960’s that there was a clearer splintering into more specific factions and the rise of the postmodern, which is accepted to have drawn a close to this deeply experimental and influential era.

Modern Artwork at Trent Gallery

Modern art continues to inspire and enthrall many artists and art connoisseurs, with its impact still ricocheting throughout the art world. If you’re interested in purchasing art that has taken direct inspiration for the modernist movement, speak to our experts who can recommend some of our wonderful artists.

With galleries in Oakham, Beverly, and Newark, we are poised locally for a wide range of areas and our website means no matter where you are in the country you can order from our wonderful range of art. Get in touch to speak with one of our experts today.