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What Are the Different Types of Modern Artists?

Eugene P.
Eugene P.

There are several‭ ‬types of modern art styles that have become an integral part of art history.‭ ‬These different periods of modern art began in the middle of the‭ ‬19th century and progressed into the‭ ‬1970s.‭ ‬Many of the modern artists who produced works during this time frame helped define one or more artistic styles that became part of the larger movement.‭ The different types of modern artists include impressionists, cubists, pointillists, Dadaists and surrealists. ‬Most of the‭ ‬types of modern art focused on expanding the genre by challenging‭ ‬previously‭ ‬held views of what visual art is.

Impressionistic-style painting.
Impressionistic-style painting.

Impressionism was one of the first painting methods that helped to usher in modern art.‭ Modern artists who practiced impressionism deviated from traditional,‭ ‬realistic painting techniques and instead focused on recreating the feeling of a scene or subject.‭ ‬They substituted areas of color for strict forms and relied more on the perception and feeling of a painting than on realistic details.

Surrealist art installation on the exterior of the Dali Museum.
Surrealist art installation on the exterior of the Dali Museum.

In contrast with the sometimes ethereal lights,‭ ‬darks and colors of impressionism,‭ cubism moved toward finding strong forms.‭ ‬Although‭ ‬the name suggests squares or cubes,‭ modern artists who practiced cubism were actually more concerned with deconstructing a scene or subject into‭ ‬any type of‭ ‬primitive geometric shapes,‭ ‬not just squares.‭ ‬These final scenes explored composition as it related to the lines and ‬the‭ ‬spatial relationships of the forms created.

Cubism involved deconstructing a subject or scene into geographic shapes.
Cubism involved deconstructing a subject or scene into geographic shapes.

The method of‭ pointillism developed in the late‭ ‬19th century as new types of paints and pigments came into existence.‭ ‬Pointillism is a method in which an artist uses small dots or daubs of paint to‭ ‬form a larger image.‭ ‬When viewed up close,‭ ‬the dots are clearly visible.‭ ‬If a viewer steps away from the painting,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬the dots‭ ‬merge together to reveal the full image.‭ ‬The light and shadow effects that can be achieved through pointillism are unique ‬but can be‭ ‬very time consuming to create.

Dadaism was a unique form of art that emerged as a reaction to the events of World War I.‭ ‬The Dada movement intentionally sought to create pieces that were‭ ‬the direct opposite of previously accepted forms of visual art.‭ ‬Dadaists created works that were often absurd or that were seemingly random.‭ ‬The ultimate focus of‭ ‬Dadaism was to provide critical commentary about cultural establishments that the artists felt were detrimental.

Emerging from‭ ‬Dadaism,‭ s‬urrealism took art into a realm of decided unreality.‭ ‬Unlike artists who did portraiture or landscape paintings,‭ surrealists painted images that existed only in the imagination.‭ ‬The subjects in surreal art vary greatly,‭ ‬but the genre itself is generally identified by disparate or seemingly unrealistic representations of objects and places.‭ ‬Many surrealists felt that their works were expressive of a philosophy,‭ ‬theory or ideology and did not always strictly focus on the aesthetics of the painting itself.‭

Abstract artists removed all boundaries from their form of visual expression.‭ ‬Unlike surrealism,‭ ‬which still often had some recognizable object in the painting,‭ ‬abstract art focused more on the expression of an unquantifiable feeling or thought.‭ Although abstract art can be defined very broadly,‭ ‬many pieces attempt to explore an aspect such as movement or composition with unconventional painting methods,‭ ‬shapes or mediums that‭ ‬were decoupled from‭ the ‬rendering of real objects.

In the middle of the‭ ‬20th century,‭ ‬a proliferation of graphics and images began to flood into average homes through advertising,‭ ‬magazines and product packaging design.‭ ‬Some modern artists found that this constituted a medium unto itself and began to create art from cultural references‭ ‬that were not,‭ ‬in general,‭ ‬intended to be art in the first place.‭ ‬This form of art became known as popular art,‭ ‬or pop art.‭ ‬Pop artists used standard products and images from popular culture to create artwork that blurred the lines between what was fine art and what was functional,‭ ‬commercial design.

Discussion Comments


@Ana1234 - Actually I see a lot of what they call hyper-realism paintings created by modern day artists. If you look it up online you'll see a wide variety.

Sometimes they paint mundane things, I guess to contract with the vivacity of their technique, but there are plenty of essentially paint subjects similar to traditional artists, like still life works with fruit and flowers, or portraits of lovely men and women.

Some of them you would absolutely swear were photographs until you saw them very close up, because the detail is so fine. Finer than most traditional artists would be able to achieve actually, because our materials are so much more advanced.


@croydon - I like impressionistic paintings as well, but I do think it's a shame that most modern paintings are more about the intellect or creativity and not so much about actually making the paint look like something beautiful.

But it used to take years and years for artists to get those lovely old oil paintings to look so vivid and real, so I guess it's not the kind of thing that would work today.


I remember when I was a kid I was always so impressed with realistic paintings and thought that modern art paintings like impressionist works were done by people who weren't talented enough to really capture what something looked like.

After I studied a little bit of art I read that impressionist painters painted the way they did because they wanted to really capture a scene, and there was always so much changing that it was impossible to really do that in a lot of precise detail. So they developed methods of painting quickly and capturing the essence of a place or event rather than trying to make it look photo realistic.

Now I have to admit that most of my favorite artists are impressionists and I love the fact that they basically broke free of the rules of the time to paint the way their hearts told them was right. I had very poor taste as a child!

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    • Impressionistic-style painting.
      By: Lauren Rinder
      Impressionistic-style painting.
    • Surrealist art installation on the exterior of the Dali Museum.
      By: teddyh
      Surrealist art installation on the exterior of the Dali Museum.
    • Cubism involved deconstructing a subject or scene into geographic shapes.
      By: Bob Hall
      Cubism involved deconstructing a subject or scene into geographic shapes.