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Modern Art

  • Aug 16, 2010
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I've been a staunch supporter of "Modern Art" in its many incarnations. For me, I suppose I consider any Post-Impressionist, Surrealist, Expressionist, or Abstract works to be the foundations of what we call "Modern Art". There are of course many different movements that fall into sub-categories such as Dadaism, Cubism, Pointillism, Pop Art, Op Art, etc. that can also be included under "Modern Art".
Rather than include my usual explanations, I've chosen to include some Wikipedia information about select pieces.
Hope you enjoy!
The Scream

The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik; created in 1893–1910) is the title of expressionist paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo (then Kristiania), Norway. Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media.
(from Wikipedia)

In the late 1880s and into the mid 1890's Munch, in his mid-twenties, had begun to create his series of Puberty pieces. At this time Munch had already established himself as a notable artist in Berlin. During this period of his life Munch often found residence in Berlin where his new found fame and circle of friends were. His new group of friends are attributed for helping push Munch further into his sexually depressed state of mind. Munch allowed this sexual depression to seep into Puberty and like other works he created later this piece was created with symbolism reflecting feelings which continued growing increasingly within the next ten years. This state of sexual depression is one that not only his circle of friends shared with him, but that the psychological scholars had also been curious about having just written the first research on the stages and occurrences of puberty in young adults.
(from Wikipedia)
The Persistence of Memory

The well-known surrealist piece introduced the image of the soft melting pocket watch. It epitomizes Dalí's theory of "softness" and "hardness", which was central to his thinking at the time. Many also consider that the melting watches were there to symbolize the irrelevance of time.

Although fundamentally part of Dalí's Freudian phase, the imagery precedes his transition to his scientific phase by fourteen years, which occurred after an atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.

It is possible to recognize a human figure in the middle of the composition, in the strange "monster" that Dalí used in several period pieces to represent himself – the abstract form becoming something of a self portrait, reappearing frequently in his work. The orange clock at the bottom left of the painting is covered in ants. Dali often used ants in his paintings as a symbol for death, as well as a symbol of female genitalia.

The figure in the middle of the picture is symbolized as a "fading" creature, as which, when you often dream you cannot pin-point the exact form and composition of a creature. The iconography of this famous painting is that of a dream that Dalí had experienced. The clocks symbolize the passing of time that one experiences in a dream state.
(from Wikipedia)

The Son of Man

The Son of Man (French: Le fils de l'homme) is a 1964 painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.

Magritte painted it as a self-portrait. The painting consists of a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing in front of a small wall, beyond which is the sea and a cloudy sky. The man's face is largely obscured by a hovering green apple. However, the man's eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple. Another subtle feature is that the man's left arm appears to bend backwards at the elbow.
(from Wikipedia)

Drawing Hands

Drawing Hands is a lithograph by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher first printed in January 1948. It depicts a sheet of paper out of which rise, from wrists that remain flat on the page, two hands, facing each other and in the paradoxical act of drawing one another into existence. Although Escher used paradoxes in his works often, this is one of the most obvious examples.

The lithograph may signify mutual constitution; that is, the principle of one entity being formed by the other and vice versa (e.g., the state vs. the demos, predator–prey co-evolution, the subject and objects, "chicken or the egg?", agency-structure).

It is referenced in the book Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, who calls it an example of a strange loop.
(from Wikipedia)

Hand with Reflecting Sphere

Hand with Reflecting Sphere also known as Self-Portrait in Spherical Mirror is a lithograph print by Dutch artist M. C. Escher, first printed in January 1935. The piece depicts a hand holding a reflective sphere. In the reflection, most of the room around Escher can be seen, and the hand holding the sphere is revealed to be Escher's.

Self portraits in reflective, spherical surfaces are common in Escher's work, and this image is the most prominent and famous example. In much of his self portraiture of this type, Escher is in the act of drawing the sphere, whereas in this image he is seated and gazing into the sphere. On the walls there are several framed pictures, one of which appears to be of an Indonesian shadow puppet.
(by Wikipedia)


Relativity is a famous lithograph print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher, first printed in December 1953.

It depicts a world in which the normal laws of gravity do not apply. The architectural structure seems to be the centre of an idyllic community, with most of its inhabitants casually going about their ordinary business, such as dining. There are windows and doorways leading to park-like outdoor settings. Yet all the figures are dressed in identical attire and have featureless bulb-shaped heads. Identical characters such as these can be found in many other Escher works.
(by Wikipedia)

The Starry Night
The Starry Night (Dutch: De sterrennacht) is a painting by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. The painting depicts the view outside his sanatorium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. Since 1941 it has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Reproduced often, the painting is widely hailed as his magnum opus.
(from Wikipedia)
The Funeral (Dedication to Oskar Panizza)

The Funeral (often attributed as The Funeral (Dedicated to Oskar Panizza)) is a painting by the German Expressionist artist George Grosz completed between 1917 and 1918. The work mixes elements of Futurism and Cubism to show a funeral procession, set in a modern urban city, depicted as an infernal abyss filled with twisted and grotesque human forms.[2]

The Funeral is dedicated to the German psychiatrist and avant-garde writer Oskar Panizza, noted for his play Liebeskonzil, which references the first historically documented outbreak of syphilis and depicts God the Father as a senile old man. Although his works were deemed blasphemous at the time by both the Church and government of Emperor Wilhelm II, they were greatly admired by the young, idealistic Grosz.
(from Wikipedia)

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Seurat spent two years painting A Sunday Afternoon, focusing scrupulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original as well as completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He would go and sit in the park and make numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of color, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (6 ft 10 in x 10 ft 1 in) in size.

Motivated by study in optical and color theory, he contrasted miniature dots of colors that, through optical unification, form a single hue in the viewer's eye. He believed that this form of painting, now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes. To make the experience of the painting even more vivid, he surrounded it with a frame of painted dots, which in turn he enclosed with a pure white, wooden frame, which is how the painting is exhibited today at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In creating the picture, Seurat employed the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), most visibly for yellow highlights on the lawn in the painting, but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting's completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown—a color degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat's lifetime.
(from Wikipedia)
One of the earliest known examples of pop art, Whaam! adapted a comic-book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics' All-American Men of War. The painting depicts a fighter aircraft firing a rocket into an enemy plane, with a red-and-yellow explosion. The cartoon style is heightened by the use of the onomatopoeic lettering "Whaam ! " and the yellow-boxed caption with black lettering, "I pressed the fire control... and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky..."
(from Wikipedia)

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August 19, 2010
My computer has been giving me a lot of problems lately. For the past week it's alternated between freezing up and just droppong the page so I might not be able to make a lot of comments on the individual pieces right now. It's a nice looking list though. Glad to see some Diego Rivera represented.
August 19, 2010
Sadly, I could only fit one Rivera on here. I wanted to include more of his work, as well as more Gauguin, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Dali, but I ran out of room. A second list may be necessary.
August 20, 2010
Plenty of Frida though.
August 21, 2010
Only four.
August 24, 2010
That's a pretty fair representation.
August 25, 2010
I'd have included some of her more surreal and obscure works, but I couldn't find many decent pics. Same with the early Picasso and a lot of Gauguin's work.
August 26, 2010
One of the drawbacks. You can never find a good print of the one you really want that you can use.
August 26, 2010
Yep, but that's going to change. I've just ordered a bunch of art books full of Victorian art and Rackham!
August 26, 2010
August 26, 2010
Yes, I'm quite excited. I also bought a pictorial history of the hippie movement.
August 27, 2010
I have a nice book called The Art of Rock that covers the posters etc from most of the San Francisco venues in 60s, primarily the Filmore of course.
August 27, 2010
Groovy. I used to know someone who collected those.
August 27, 2010
I collected too. I still would if I had any money. Although what I collected were the postcards and handbills because the posters were just too big and impractical.
August 18, 2010
Love pointilism; I especially like using it to mimic skin tone, sweat and goosebumps--great touch with colors. Very nice list!
August 19, 2010
Thanks. I've been meaning to put this together for quite some time, but kept finding myself distracted by all my notifications once I logged in. I'll probably do another list soon too.
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