Talk:Modern art

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the great separation[edit]

Modern art was one of the first times that the general public looked on art as a thing that they couldn't understand and felt that it was crafted with the skill of a six year old. Does this have any relevance in this page? What does modern art reflect about the current mood in western society? Does it show its futile search for individual identity through the production and consumption of meaningless art pieces ment to express uniqueness and different thinking? When reading about the Dada movement I learned, that it was a response to the chaos of WWI and the destruction of the idea that enlightenment thinking would lead to a better utopian society. What was the cause of the post modern movement? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 22 December 2010 (UTC)


I think this first paragraph has some problems:

"MOST of the artistic production" ? -- is not an accurate statement. Perhaps it could be changed to "most of what is now recognized as canonical"

"Modern art refers to the then new approach to art where it was no longer important to represent a subject realistically — the invention of photography had made this function of art obsolete."

Did Impressionist painters "represent a subject less realistically" than earlier painters like Velasquez, Delacroix, Tiepolo etc ? Did they, or their supporters, ever claim that they did ?

And if "photography had made this function of art obsolete" - then why have some of the highest paid artists of the 20th (and 21st) century been portrait painters ?

Who is paid the most is not the typically the factor in determining which artists most define an era. Indeed often the artists recalled most are the ones least appreciated in their own time.
"Instead, artists started experimenting with new ways of seeing, with fresh ideas about the nature, materials and functions of art, often moving further toward abstraction."

But more often than not -- not moving further toward abstraction. Abstraction is only one of many strategies used in this period.--Mountshang 15:51, 15 November 2005 (UTC)I think there needs to be pictures of modern art

I kind of agree that the photography/art distnction is overly simplistic. But I am assuming a general readership, and this is a good place to start. I have rephrased the sentence to make it less emphatic, but have kept the original sense.--Ethicoaestheticist 21:34, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

The original paragraph which contained this sentence: "Modern art refers to the then new approach to art where it was no longer important to represent a subject realistically — the invention of photography had made this function of art obsolete" was preferable to the recent edit. Similarly the recent change to Criticism. Modernist 22:55, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

This section has been dramatically improved. If anyone has incorporated my earlier critique in their attempt to improve the article, thank you for listening. (talk) 05:59, 29 September 2008 (UTC)Larry Siegel

Modern Art[edit]

Surely modern art refers to the use of modern techniques such as acrylic paint, video, installation etc. What I think is meant by "Modern art" here is "Modernist art". There is a need for a new category ie Modernism or modernist art

Consulting a dictionary reveals that modern art is indeed the correct term. Increasingly, the term modern is losing its sense of "contemporary" and referring instead to early twentieth century existence. Theshibboleth 06:56, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Modern Art's Artists[edit]

With regard to where in the list to place Georgia O'Keeffe (GOK): she was indeed active before WW1: already 18 years old in 1905,

  • she studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago during 1905-1906; then
  • moved to New York where she worked within the then-growing community of abstract expressionists;
  • from 1907-1908 she was at the Art Student's League in NY with William Merritt Chase, F. Luis Mora, and Kenyon Cox;
  • 1908-1911 she moved to Chicago to work as free-lance commercial artist, then to Charlottesville where she took over a teaching schedule and charge of the Art Department at Chatham Episcopal Institute in 1912;
  • in 1912 back to NY and took classes with Alon Bement and Arthur Wesley Dow at Columbia;
  • in 1912-1914 she went to Amarillo Texas and taught art through 1914 with summers spent teaching in Virgina;
  • 1914-1915 went to Columbia in NYC and spent time painting and in museums and seeing shows;
  • in 1915 went to South Carolina where it is nearly universally agreed amongst her biographers that she hit her stride;
  • in 1916 began her correspondence with Stieglitz who was already aware of her work, then went back to Texas to be hired as the head of the art department at West Texas State Normal College.
  • in 1917 Stieglitz opens "Georgia O’Keeffe", the first one-person show of her work, at 291 gallery;
  • then in 1918 she gets the Spanish flu and upon recovery goes back to NYC, already an established artist.

As the U.S. didn't enter the war until 1918, and as GOK was already an established artist by then, she should be included in the pre-WW1 group. Her ouevre for this pre-war period is scant but it nonetheless exists. We should perhaps not measure who should be included in which time-period by the mere volume of their output at a particular time as we may not be accurately representing who was actually working at a given time. Instead, we should defer to established references and biographers with regard to where someone belongs in the larger picture of time. In GOK's case, she was active and working before WWI, her work is most prodigious after this period but her style during her most prodigious period is informed by this earlier period, especially during 1915 in South Carolina. Sctechlaw (talk) 19:45, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

This is not an article on Georgia O'Keeffe. She was like many other artists listed born during the 1880s largely unknown, conventional, and just getting started by the time Picasso and Braque revolutionized modern painting. By the end of WWI other movements began to resonate including the group that is associated with O'Keeffe. Modernist (talk) 20:31, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Of course its not about O'Keeffe. My point with O'Keeffe is simply that she and her contemporaries, Davis, Dove, & Hartley, were all active and showing before WW1 and as such should be included in the pre-WW1 group. American Modernists were experimentalists and evolved in the crucible of pre-WW1 art circles, especially Stieglitz's, so we should put them in the timeframe in which they came together as a group with similarities. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sctechlaw (talkcontribs) 11:16, 15 June 2009 (UTC)


Question: why is Joseph Cornell not included in this page? Or are his contributions better classified elsewhere? Summer1979 23:25, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

April 10, 2007 - I've fixed up some wording and deleted the absurd statement that photography made representative art obsolete.

How about Georgia O'keefe?? Shouldn't she be included? 08:42, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Part I - The section labelled as 'criticism' is completely subjective garbage! e.g. the opening sentence: "Modern art is often viewed as a degenerate form of art by antimodernists as it requires relativley no skill, thought or research to produce." - subjective rubbish, with no basis in fact! (which is the point of Wikipedia, no?)

Part II - IMHO there really *needs* to be an image or an explicit reference to Pablo Picasso's painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), it comes up repeatedly in nearly everything I have ever read/seen about modern art as one of the paradigm shifts into this era of art. - I would change/add it, but this is my first visit (as a potential editor) and I am still learning the correct techniques for editing articles. Anyone else have an opinion on this?

Part III - Who and what is "Evasion Lyrique by Maryse Casol, 2004.", and why is an image of a painting from 2004 in the modern art page? Sam.B 23:30, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the critique of the criticism section...this needs a serious rewrite; I'll post the old version here in case anything is usable.
The Casol pictures are lovely, but I agree that she is not eminent enough to earn a place here.
It would be sensible to replace the present Picasso with a more significant work if you can find an open-licensed image. Hgilbert 15:09, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

It has been a while now, and I'm glad to see someone has edited out the 'criticism' section. regarding 'Hgilbert's previous comment, I was not questioning Casols' level of eminence, rather the inclusion of any work of art from 2004... as that is a LONG time after the academically accepted definitions of the period that defines 'modern art' to my knowledge. (A minimum of at least 30 years). The opening sentence of the page, IMHO needs to be adressed, 'modern art' from as early as the 17C?! I have never read/seen/heard any such broad definition of 'modern art'. There may be somewhat differing dates as to when exactly the period encompasses, but if you truly understand the defintion of 'modern art'; the dates are almost always regarded as starting sometime in the late 19th century (sometimes the very, very early 20th century), and lasting until some time in the third quarter of the 20th century. Anyone else have an opinion on changing this, please? Sam.B (talk) 11:18, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Most textbooks agree on a beginning sometime in the 19th century, though they differ on whether early or late. Consulting this article's References section, Arnason 2003, p. 17 says "The most commonly chosen, perhaps, is 1863, the year of the Salon des Refusés in Paris, . . . But other and even earlier dates may be considered: 1855, . . . 1824, when the English landscapists John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington exhibited their brilliant, direct-color studies from nature at the Paris Salon, . . . or even 1784, when Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) finished his Oath of the Horatii. . . .” Hunter, Jacobus, and Wheeler 2004, p. 9, says "Some have persuasively argued that the origins of 20th-century art go back as far as the 1750s, when the 18th-century Enlightenment sparked an aesthetic rehabilitation that would gradually replace elaborate Rococo artifice with soberer form and greater sincerity of feeling," and goes on to mention a succession of later dates that have been proposed (1839, 1855, 1863). Cahoone 2003 considers the era to begin at the time of René Descartes (hence, sometime early in the 17th century). David's Oath of the Horatii was the starting-point when I took a year-long survey of Modern Art (a very long time ago now, to be sure) at the University of Nebraska. Art-school course catalogs today sometimes begin in the mid-19th century (e.g., McGill University ARTH205: "Introduction to Modern Art" places this period "from 1850 to the present"), but often push back the starting-point further. For example, at the University of Washington, ART H 203 "Survey of Western Art--Modern" covers from 1520 to the present, while UCLA ART HIS 54 "Modern Art" covers from the period of the French Revolution to circa 1968. As can be seen, there is also no consensus on whether "postmodern" art marks a new era, or is just the latest subdivision of of the Modern Art period.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:36, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

verification tag reduction[edit]

The refimrove template at the head of the page would seem to obviate the need for a verication tag cluttering nearly every sentence—even a sentence asserting that there's more video art in galleries today than there was in the immediate post-WWII years. This article could be better sourced, and will be. But given the length of time the tags have been in place, and given the difficulty of finding retrospective sources that fully support some of the lines that were tagged here, it seems better to move them to the talk page until they can be replaced with fresh material properly sourced. The controversial lines deleted stated:

  • the 19th century art patron preferred accuracy in artistic depiction, combined with idealism
  • failure by the artist to meet these expectations had economic & social consequences. Ewulp (talk) 08:08, 2 June 2008 (UTC)


The lede as it now stands is inferior to the earlier version (although of course reliable sources to fully support the definition were lacking). That the term "Modern art" is usually understood to describe 20th century & sometimes also late 19th century art goes without saying--and is therefore rarely said, hence the surprising difficulty in locating it through secondary sources. It's like trying to source "Buster Keaton never walked on the moon": you can easily find a good source for a list of those who have walked on the moon, and note that his name is absent, but that's original research. Google hits for the term "moden art" or such phrases as "meant by modern art" make clear that the term is popularly understood to mean contemporary and 20th century art; it rarely extends back to Jan Steen or Hyacinthe Rigaud. My own perusal of books & articles at hand suggests that this term as used by art historians describes 19th-20th c developments in almost every instance. Online, Encarta supports the prevalent usage here but is not the ideal authority to cite. I hope to resolve this matter with a library visit next week. On the other hand, the 6 remaining sources cited for the "17th century onward" definition lack page numbers, and need a closer look. For instance, Dempsey writes of "vocabulary used to define modern art - from Impressionism to Installation, from the Nabis to Neo-Expressionism" and surveys no art predating Impressionism. Ewulp (talk) 23:31, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

This article offers something like a simulacrum of meaning. It presents some vague notions of what modern art might be, which is valuable, and I don't at all object to suggestions that it traces back to Kant or the Enlightenment (but why not also Hegel?), but there are no guiding principles here other than throwing tradition to the winds and and engaging in "experimentation," thus giving short shrift indeed to the ideas animating these experiments. (The article on postmodern art is much more conceptually sophisticated.) It all seems so very cut and dried: potted history. There is little sense of the relationship between the visual arts (here, almost exclusively painting) and literary modernism, or architecture, except somehow a hint of the latter shows up in the lists. As usual, the lists of movements and the names included are subject to some kind of nationalist and probably personal tampering, with the insertion of names and indeed of forms of art that hardly have much purchase in the art world or among art historians. And where is the great Mexican Muralist movement? Where is the vitalism of, say, Matta Echaurren? Also as usual, female participants are given short shrift (I've added one or two). Where does Conceptualism fit? Is it postmodern? How about feminist art? ....Actio (talk) 14:45, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

... forgot: WHERE is photography, which is so very critical to the acceptance of modernism, esp. in the US? This article, I am afraid, displays the resolute insistence of art historians of painting on ignoring photography.Actio (talk) 14:51, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Proposal for removal[edit]

"===After World War II===

It was only after World War II, though, that the U.S. became the focal point of new artistic movements.[citation needed] The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, Color field painting, Pop art, Op art, Hard-edge painting, Minimal art, Lyrical Abstraction, Postminimalism, Photorealism and various other movements. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, Land art, Performance art, Conceptual art, and other new art forms had attracted the attention of curators and critics, at the expense of more traditional media.[1] Larger installations and performances became widespread.

Around that period, a number of artists and architects started rejecting the idea of "the modern" and created typically Postmodern works.[citation needed]

By the end of the 1970s, when cultural critics began speaking of "The End of Painting" (the title of a provocative essay written in 1981 by Douglas Crimp), new media art had become a category in itself, with a growing number of artists experimenting with technological means such as video art.[2] Painting assumed renewed importance in the 1980s and 1990s, as evidenced by the rise of neo-expressionism and the revival of figurative painting.[3]"

Modern art stops before ww2. This should be removed.Research Method (talk) 06:23, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Categorically disagree with the above somewhat incorrect opinion...The material is correct and should remain in place...Modernist (talk) 11:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree. If you have a reliable source that says Modern art ended before 1939, I can find one that says it ended in 1968. We can't endorse one date while rejecting all others. Ewulp (talk) 23:19, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
A section examining the various definitions would be viable. Ty 23:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Modern art is a weapon?[edit]

Modern art was CIA 'weapon' by Frances Stonor Saunders. It's an old article. Komitsuki (talk) 10:16, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

I wonder how notable this is, should it be mentioned, myself and some others wonder why things like Jackson Pollack tossing paint against a wall is considered art. CIA funding it to confuse the soviets helps explain it. Popish Plot (talk) 18:28, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Seeking Members for WikiProject MoMA[edit]

As the new Wikipedia-in-Residence fostering institutional cooperation at the the Museum of Modern Art, I'd love to invite all interested Wikipedians to come participate! Let me also know if you have any further questions about this project (see also Wikipedia:GLAM/MoMA/Members).--Pharos (talk) 15:59, 26 May 2011 (UTC)


We don't add everyone who has an opinion or point of view about a subject. Because a person does not like modern art (there are many 1000s) we don't create separate sections to accomodate those opinions especially from lay persons with no notable expertise in this subject...Modernist (talk) 18:05, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Refusing to hear critique from laymen? I thought art was for everyone, not just the select few insiders who pretend to be experts on how a garbage can is "art". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:47, 24 November 2017 (UTC)


Why is "sculpture" a category under "Art Movements and artist groups"? It's not like we've classified most of the other groups by their media (with the exception of ones like "video art", where the medium is the basis for the movement). We don't have categories of "Paintings" or "Pencil-drawings" listed as art movements.

Also, "sculpture" is hardly specific to modern art. Shouldn't each of the artists listed under "sculpture" be categorized by some other group- or movement-affiliation? Picasso was a cubist and whatknot...not just a "sculptor". (talk) 06:29, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree that's it's not ideal. However, in modern art, sculpture is often treated as a separate entity, much like a movement, even though there are clear movements in sculpture and sculpture is found in a number of movements. However, I'm not certain how we can include the information. Are there other terms we can use? freshacconci talktalk 22:41, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
    • ^ Mullins 2006, p. 14.
    • ^ Mullins 2006, p. 9.
    • ^ Mullins 2006, pp. 14–15.