When speaking about modern art many make the mistake of confusing it with contemporary art. While the two may have a slight overlapping in time they refer to completely different and distinct time frames. Modern art tends to refer to the artwork that was created or produced between the 1860's and the 1970's. It is not a single artist style but instead a time frame in which a wide range of art movements took place. The artistic movements of the 1970's can also be considered contemporary art, but this is only the case for another decade or so.
Modern art is often classified as an era where artist experimented with a number of different techniques and ways of seeing their preferred subject matter. It was during the 1860's when most of the traditional techniques had started to be thrown out and replaced with experimentation. Modern artists began to shift from a narrative form of art and towards more abstract creations. While the time period that this new movement began being prevalent in the 1860's it was a movement that had been slowly taken place for at least a hundred years prior to its grand emergence.
Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are among the first modern artist to set these transition from the traditional ways to experimental ways. In Paris, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Jean Metzinger are just a few of the key modern artist who revolutionized the Paris art scene. It is during the modern art era that Pablo Picasso began to implement the idea that nature could be depicted using three shapes; cubes, spheres, and cones, which lead to his first cubist painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.
Romantics, Impressionist and realist where the forerunners of the modern art era. They were all advocates for realism and opposed the ideals of the traditional academic art that until then had been widely favored in public areas. Impressionist based their modern art on the idea that the objects people saw were really just the light that they reflected which is why they opposed working in studios. Many impressionists at this time worked in natural light and allowed this light to show in their works.
Cubism was the first main artistic movement of the modern art era which included Analytic cubism and Synthetic cubism. Surrealism was introduced in the 1920's by the works of Giorgio de Chirico and his brother Alberto Saviano. From the 1920's until the end of the first World War many artists implement a mysterious and dreamlike quality into their works. While Giorgio de Chirico was one of the first painters to showcase this new style it was Andre Breton who actually found the surrealism movement in 1924.
After World War I there was an anti- art movement that includes Dada art. After World War II there was the emergence of Abstract Expressionism. Pop art, Op art, Postminimalism, and Photorealism. From the 1960's to the 1970's there were many newer art forms that implement large installations and the emergence of performance art also became highly popular.