Contrary to what might seem logical modern art is not in reality art of the moment or present day it is in fact a period of time from the 1860s to the 1970s. During this time span several different styles of art were developed and popularized as a reaction to and a move away from the more traditional and exclusive nature of the previous eras. At this moment in time the dawn of a new age was fast approaching and things were literally becoming modern, hence the term.
The Industrial Revolution and Art
With the advent of the industrial revolution the literal landscape of the developed world had drastically changed, and the young artists of the day saw a need to reflect that in their work. No longer did it seem appropriate to idealize life or continue in the religious or mythological styles so dominant in the years before. Art as a means of social commentary now sought to illustrate this changing landscape and the very nature of the lives people within would now experience.
Art and Innovation
About this time photography became a new and important asset to the artist who could capture the reality of a subject with all its nuances. Interestingly the advent of this means of capturing the literal was juxtaposed by the emergence of artists like Matisse and who represented the world in a more abstract fashion. This challenge to conventional schools of thought involved work of the imagination more than seeking a close representation of a subject, as illustrated in many pieces from the turn of the 20th century featuring unusual perspectives and angles.
Events That Shaped the Art
Over the years significant events were to have a dramatic effect on the way that artists worked and represented their feelings about what they saw unfolding. In this era of extreme change many major social issues rose to the fore not least of all those surrounding the World Wars and The Great Depression. The work of those artists embraced the changes in technology and thus developed new and innovative styles of expression. The British painter Francis Bacon is one such artist whose work was of the post war era and reflected the concerns and feelings of that generation. In an almost continued frenzy the evolution of the modern movement sought to break down all conventions and move as far away as possible from former tradition and definition of what constituted acceptable art. Experimentation and abstraction continued to a point where many critics feared that random splotches of color or unexplained everyday objects set in a box would be the lasting legacy of this dramatic creative period.
Of course, all things come to an end and the modern art era really died when it ceased to be modern any more. Following this time in the 70s what is known as the postmodern period began and now we have contemporary or post modernistic art that is similarly finding a way to reflect the feelings and events of the present time.