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An introduction to Modern Art and Artists

The roots of Modern art are based in the art works produced during the period around 1860 to the 1970s. The term Modern Art denoted the style and approach to the art produced during that era. The term Modern Art is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. A tendency toward abstraction is characteristic of much modern art. Today many of the artists who exhibit at Red Rag Bath Art Gallery carry on this modern art tradition.

Although modern sculpture and architecture are believed to have emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, the beginnings of modern painting took place before. The birth of modern art is generally attributed as 1863, when Édouard Manet exhibited his painting Le déjeuner sur l'herbe in the Salon des Refusés in Paris.




Modern art: artist Michael Kidd

The pioneers of modern art were Romantics, Realists and Impressionists. By the late 19th century, additional art movements which were to be influential in modern art had begun to emerge. These included: post-Impressionism as well as Symbolism.

Influences upon these art movements were varied: from exposure to Eastern decorative arts, particularly Japanese printmaking, to the colouristic innovations of Turner and Delacroix, to a search for more realism in the depiction of common life, as found in the art work of painters such as Jean-François Millet. The advocates of realism stood against the idealism of the tradition-bound academic art that enjoyed public and official favour. The most successful painters of the day worked either through commissions or through large public art exhibitions of their own work. There were official, government-sponsored painters' unions, while governments regularly held public exhibitions of new fine and decorative arts.

Artists of the Impressionist period believed that people do not see objects but only the light which they reflect. They therefore argued that painters should paint in natural light (en plein air) rather than in studios and should capture the effects of light in their work. Red Rag Bath Art Gallery artists who still follow this approach include: David Atkins, Jeremy Barlow, David Farren, John Kingsley and Bruce Yardley.




Modern art from Bath artist Bruce Yardley

Impressionist artists formed a group, Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs ("Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers") which mounted a series of independent modern art exhibitions. The art style was adopted by artists from many countries and was chosen in preference to a "national" style. These factors established the view that it was a new art "movement". These traits'establishment of a working method integral to the art, establishment of a movement or visible active core of support, and international adoption'would be repeated by artistic movements in the Modern period in art.

The progression of Modern Art continued into the 20th Century. A number of art movements emerged in the early 1900's. They included: Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Futurism. World War I brought an end to this phase but indicated the beginning of a number of anti-art movements, such as Dada, including the work of Marcel Duchamp, and of Surrealism. Artist groups like de Stijl and Bauhaus developed new ideas about the interrelation of the arts, architecture, design, and art education.




Modern art: artist Jeremy Barlow

Modern art was introduced to the United States with the Armory Show in 1913 and through European artists who moved to the U.S. during World War I. After World War II the U.S. became established as a centre for new art movements. The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, Colour field painting, Pop art, Op art, Hard-edge painting, Minimal art, Lyrical Abstraction, FLUXUS, 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. Larger installations and performances became widespread.




Modern art: artist David Farren 'Bath Abbey'

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. Painting assumed renewed importance in the 1980s and 1990s, as evidenced by the rise of neo-expressionism and the revival of figurative painting.

For further information about Modern Art and Modern Artists please contact the gallery

Red Rag Gallery for Modern British and Irish Art ' artists and paintings



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