is a very vague and loosely defined term, even amongst scholar
s of Art History
. Modern and Post-Modern
(how can anything be post-modern?) Art can generally be taken to be any art
produced in the 20th century
. However, this ignores the work done out of mainstream artistic trends that harkens back to romanticism
. And even some of the works done in the late 19th century
might be considered Modernistic – post-impressionism
and symbolism, for example.
Modern Art, as I see it, can be explained by a trend away from stark representationalism. Artists in the twentieth century became frustrated with the inability of art to convey emotion and real meaning. After all, a painting of a vase is just a painting of a vase. There is no substance to that. Modern artists saw that representationalism had all been done, many times over. It was old, hashed over, worthless. They wanted to discover art for art’s sake. One of the famous examples of this was when Marcel DuChamp took a manufactured urinal, signed it R. Mutt and put it on a pedestal. It was promptly removed from the exhibit. However, he declared that it was art, simply because he as an artist had declared it to be art. He created a ‘new thought for the object’.
Modern Art also grew out of the WW1 and the aftermath of it, when people became disillusioned with life as it is. The absurdity and brutality of existence played a large role in Modern Art, as it did in existentialism.
Some people, of course, say this is a load of crap, but such people are typically not very open-minded. Modern Art may not require the hand-eye coordination that realistic art has, but it is still a result of a thoughtful and deliberate choice of the artist. Pablo Picasso, after all, was a prodigy when it came to realistic drawing. He deliberately moved away from it because he realized that it was inadequate when it came to purveying meaning.
Modern Art can be seen as including the trends of Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Art, futurism, Dada, De Stilj, Bauhaus, and many others. Where will art go next? Who knows. Does it seem like everything has been done? Maybe – but you never know until suddenly everything is bigger than it was before.
Some links to my favorite modern and post-modern artists: Remedios Varo, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Frank Lloyd Wright (yes, he counts as an artist. His houses were works of art, not just living spaces).