The age of Modern art began in the 1860’s and lasted until the 1970s. The tradition of classical architecture, wherein harmony and balance are aesthetic, was set aside for an era of innovation and experimentation. The century of modern art produced brilliant artistic geniuses and their respective masterpieces which established their own artistic movements.
Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (1896)
Water Lilies is a series of 250 paintings created by Claude Monet which depicts his flower gardens in his home in Giverny, France. They were painted in the last 30 years of Monet’s life where he was also suffering from cataracts. The paintings are an excellent example of Impressionism, an art movement started by Monet. The movement focused on capturing the various changing qualities of light using vivid colours and candid poses.
Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889)
Almost everyone around the world can identify these vibrant and swirling depictions of the night sky. According to scholars, the scene was inspired by Van Gogh’s view of a window in his room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence a little before sunrise. It is now part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The painting is a sample of Post-Impressionist art which began as a response to Impressionism. They are known for the paintings’ abstract content and symbolic qualities.
Henry Matisse’s The Dance (1910)
The painting was made for Sergei Schchukin, a Russian art collector and businessman. The oil painting showcases five nude dancers moving hand-in-hand on a green field in front of a blue background. It was often characterised as the first highlights of modern art and of Matisse’s career. Matisse led the Fauvism art movement, and the name was taken from the French word “fauves” meaning wild beasts. Their name characterises their wild and emotional style with subjects that were painted with dissonant colours.
Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory (1931)
The painting is one of the most renowned works made by Salvador Dali. It is often referenced in popular media. The Persistence of Memory is made up of a landscape background where melting clocks or watches are draped all over it. Salvador Dali is an advocate of the Surrealist art movement. Their goal was to create artworks that transformed everyday objects into expressions of the unconscious mind.
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937)
This large oil painting can be characterised as an amalgamation of human, animal, and objects painted in grey, black, and white. It was inspired by the bombing of the northern Spanish town of Guernica in 1937. The 3-meter painting was Picasso’s contribution to the anti-war movement in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The painting is an example of Cubism, an avant-garde art movement founded by Picasso and Georges Braque. Their movement is characterized by the use of abstract, geometric shapes to show the portrayal of the subject from multiple viewpoints.
Jackson Pollock’s Number Five (1948)
Number Five could be described as a splatter of colour over a black canvass. When it was sold in May 2006, it was claimed as the most expensive painting sold at the time with a price of $140 million. It is created by Jackson Pollock, an American painter under the abstract expressionist movement. Abstract Expressionism was developed after the devastating experiences of World War II. Taking its roots in surrealism, the movement on automatic, on-the-spot, subconscious creation.