Page 17 || Encyclopedia Article || Fantasy Arts || Modern Surrealism Art Observation || Modern Art and Architecture
Modern Art and Architecture, a term that can be applied to all Western or Western-inspired art and architecture from about 1900 onwards, but which is generally used more specifically to designate forms of visual expression from this period that are consciously in tune with progressive aesthetic attitudes. In the second sense, Modern Art and Architecture represents a breakaway from the historical revivalism that had characterized much 19th-century art and a repudiation of many ideals and assumptions that had prevailed since the Renaissance.
Even in this more restricted sense (with which this article is concerned), Modern Art and Architecture is a broad and imprecise term, which is used in different ways by different scholars. Some extend it back to the mid-19th century-in painting, for example, to the work of Gustave Courbet, douard Manet, and the Impressionists (with their contemporary subjects and unconventional techniques), and in architecture to the buildings of Sir Joseph Paxton (with his novel use of industrial materials). However, in everyday usage (and particularly as applied to painting and sculpture) the phrase is generally restricted to art since the beginning of the 20th century, when a series of revolutionary movements fundamentally changed the way artists saw and represented the world.
This aesthetic revolution was characterized by a profusion of styles, movements, and "isms", many of them short-lived, expressing a restlessness in the search for new directions and novel principles. Some major artists were involved in more than one of these groupings and trends, while others stood apart from them and pursued their own ideals and experiments. Many of these leading figures were based in Paris, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was unrivalled as the world capital of art, but several other countries were prominent in the birth and development of Modern Art; Germany, for example, was particularly important as a centre of Expressionism, and Russia of various types of Abstract Art. Paris maintained its position as the chief focus of artistic innovation until World War II, after which the United States-particularly New York-took the lead.
In the following sections, some of the main trends and outstanding individuals of Modern Art are discussed in roughly chronological order under three main headings: painting, sculpture (which includes also newer forms of expression now usually grouped with the traditional visual arts), and architecture. It must be remembered that while these developments were taking place, the majority of painters and sculptors (and to a lesser degree architects) continued to work in much more traditional styles-unmoved or only superficially influenced by avant-garde styles and attitudes.
Avant-garde painters of the late 19th century, for example the Post-Impressionists and the Symbolists, pursued many different ideals, but a common denominator among most of them was a diminished concern for realism and a greater concern for personal freedom of expression. In the early 20th century a younger generation of painters adopted even greater distortions of line, colour, and pictorial space, and the decade from about 1905 up to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 was a time of unprecedented artistic experimentation. During this period a series of revolutionary movements transformed painting (and to a lesser extent sculpture), creating what we now generally understand by the term "Modern Art". The most important of these movements were Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism (which had various offshoots), and Abstract Art.
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