Modern art decorates the rooms of museums, corporate offices, and homes, but what exactly is it? Modern art describes artwork from architects, painters, sculptors, and illustrators from the 1860s through the 1970s. It coincides with the modern era, an artistic period in music, theater, visual art, and literature. Since modern art spans generations, you may not realize that some of your favorite artists are modern. Below, we list our favorites!
One artist who always comes to mind when speaking of modern art is Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She continues to be world-renowned due to her amazing paintings, specifically her famous self-portraits. Kahlo channeled her many health hardships and her turbulent relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, into her art and was profoundly inspired by indigenous Mexican colors, symbolism, and culture.
French artist Henri Matisse had his first solo exhibition at the Ambroise Vollard Gallery in 1904; however, it wasn’t very successful. In the same year, he painted one of the most important pieces of his career – “Luxe, Calme et Volupté” (1904) – where his love of bright and expressive colors flourished. It was the beginning of Fauvism.
Spaniard Salvador Dalí, once a key figure of the surrealist movement and later expelled due to his sociopolitical beliefs, incorporated bizarre images in his works that were open to interpretation. He participated in the first Iberian Artists’ Society exhibition in Madrid in 1925. His second exhibition, a year later, was held at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, and he also participated in the Autumn Salon, where he revealed works with surrealist influences.
In 1862, Claude Monet joined the private studio of Charles Gleyre, a painter of historical art. During his apprenticeship, he painted “Camille” (“The Woman in the Green Dress”) (1866) and “Women in the Garden” (1866). His work was entrenched in the realist style, but by the 1870s, it evolved and transformed into impressionism. An example is “Madame Monet and Child” (1875). Of course, he would later be known for his paintings of Giverny, including the famous “Water Lillies” series.
Russian painter, photographer, and graphic designer Alexander Rodchenko rose into notoriety just before becoming a founding member of the First Working Group of Constructivists in 1921. Constructivists defined themselves as artists who created art because of their professional expertise, not because it was a calling. They used materials and tools typically used by architects and engineers, such as compasses, rulers, and plywood.
Walter Richard Sickert
Walter Richard Sickert was an artist, photographer, writer, and teacher. From 1911 to 1913, he welcomed the Camden Town Group, a group of post-impressionist painters at his studio. Sickert became criticized for his “Camden Town Murder” series (1908-09). In 2002, crime fiction writer Patricia Cornwell maintained that Sickert was Jack the Ripper, though it is widely agreed that this is improbable.