Modern art emerges as a European movement in opposition to the Western artistic tradition, the so-called academic art, which enjoyed the favor of the official institutions of its time. Although its birth is usually located by the end of the 19th century, as this was a gradual rather than radical change, it is possible to find signs of modernity in some works of art prior to this date pioneering the first modern movements: Romanticism and Realism Some of the innovations of these movements are, for instance, the creation of works in which it enhances the expressiveness of color over the mimesis of nature and the interest in new themes such as everyday life.
Impressionism furthers the experimentation of these movements in opposition to academicism and provoking a strong public rejection, and for some it is the first radically modern art movement. Its influence is vital in the development of the following movements of modern art of the late nineteenth century that give rise to the artistic vanguards of the early twentieth century.
Features and Characteristics of Modern Art
The characteristics of modern art, understood as a chronological concept as well as aesthetic, are the distinctive features of artistic productions representative of Modernity and the new ways of art, as described above.
First of all, it’s an opposition to academic art understood as the Western classical artistic tradition prior to the 19th century. Modern art shows interest in other cultures; while modern art is opposed to Western traditions of academic art, one of its sources of inspiration and experimentation is the artistic traditions of other cultures. Following we can see the constant innovation, where artist experiment with new themes, materials, techniques and processes, which leads to the development of the art trade. Concepts such as the dealer or the art gallery are born and developed together with modern art.
Then something incredible appeared, bourgeois patronage, as the role of artists changed as the intellectual bourgeoisie replaces political and religious institutions as the main customer and consumer of art, making a new art concept. The limits and functions of art are questioned, broadening the concept of what art is. Then artists felt freed and started “the art for the art”. The main function of art ceases to be that of transmitting official political and religious messages. Artists seek to create works whose value resides in themselves and also found independence of nature. With the appearance of photography, plastic artists gradually abandoned the imitation of nature and figurative representation.
Also, the artistic intention, when deliberated deformations occurred. It is not a question of technical flaws, but of artistic decisions as a result of the artist’s aesthetic introspection that is open to multiple interpretations. Once the works moved away from the figurative representation such as abstract art and the observer can’t recognize the figures, they introduce the observer to a more imaginative and spiritual plane.
Artists become prolific. As a result of the constant experimentation, a multitude of artistic and avant-garde movements arise, bringing diversity. The only thing that all these new movements of modern art have in common is that there is no general trend or theme, nor technique, aesthetics that unifies them, thus becoming deeply revolutionary and as a result of it often unpopular and rejected by official institutions and the general public.