Modern Art


1900'S - Present What is Modern Art? The definition of "modern" is " of the present or recent times." To apply the term modern to art work now is confusing. Did not artists of the Renaissance apply modern to their work as well? To label the current period of art as Modern Art we can look to the attitudes and characteristics of our modern world and what art means to artist and its viewers today. Modern Art can be viewed as a rapid and radical art style with many variations. Technology brought change to society along with a differing attitude towards art. In older times artists were commissioned by churches or wealthy families, but our times brought about a change that had artists doing "art for art's sake." With the ongoing wars and political upheaval artists found an escape with art. Artists wanted to provide a longer lasting escape from all the world's problems. American artists of this time period were finally recognized as competitive artists and brought the art world looking at art from America. Art now became a movement into a world of color and expression, a world where an apple is only a blotch of red pigment or a toilet is a work of art, leaving more than a few people wondering what can be considered art.


  • Expressionism: Any art that stresses the artist's emotional and psychological expression, often with bold colors and distortions of form. Specifically and art style of the early 20th century followed principally by certain German artists.

  • Impressionism: An art movement which took its name from one particular painting by Claude Monet, Impression: Sunrise of 1872. Arising out of the naturalism of the Realists, as well as an interest in the transitory experience of light and color on objects, Impressionism did two distinct things to painting: it elevated color to the status of subject matter, liberating the artist's marks from previous craft constraints, and it inadvertently asserted painting's relationship to the flat surface.

  • Formalism: The aesthetic arrangement of shapes, colors, and forms . (The formal elements of art)

  • Cubism: The first art movement of the 20th century systematically to reconsider the conventions of painting since the Renaissance. Such work is epitomized by the severe flattening of the space across the picture plane, a consistently inconsistentlight source, and an imploding of the traditional fore-, middle and background areas in painting composition.

  • Surrealism: A literary and visual art movement interested in unleashing and exploring the potential of the human psyche. Loosely based on both Freud's
    and Jung's investigations into the mind, it is also direct heir of earlier
    Dada strategies of unlocking of the unconscious by the use of chance.

  • Pop Art: (Popular Culture)- The elements of society that are recognized by the general public. Popular Culture has the associations of something cheap, fleeting and accessible to all.

  • Abstract Expressionism: A common appelation for the first generation American abstract painting after the Second World War, due to the primary of gesture and color while keeping consistent with the aims of formalism (the all-over application of paint and the dispersal of depth across the surface of the picture plane).

This information was created by Carrie Ann Elkins, April Hall, Genator Hawkins, Danny Hendrix, and Jennifer Payne, students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly was leading artist in the Hard Edge movement, a reaction against the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950’s. His paintings are very concise and simple, often consisting of several panels, each of a different color. Kelly was also one of the first artists to use a shaped canvas. In addition to painting, he worked as a printmaker and as a sculptor

Modern Art at Oxford

Modern Art at Oxford

Press releases WHAT'S GOING ON? 2006 Programme Highlights



This series of exhibitions will continue to introduce the work of artists from the expanded European Union, at Modern Art Oxford and Turner Contemporary in Margate. During 2006 Modern Art Oxford will present work by artists from Latvia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia and Estonia.

Local Stories 7 March to 30 April 2006
Stories are often the starting point for the most powerful contemporary art. Inspirational, pleasurable and moving, the works in Local Stories reveal how the personal and incidental can reflect broader social and political realities. Including video, painting, photography and installation, the exhibition includes artists from the UK, Mexico, India and the Czech Republic.
Rory Carnegie, Daniel Guzman, Katerina Seda, Laura Lancaster, Nalini Malani, Mark Neville and Gillian Wearing. Curated by Andrew Nairne.

Out of Beirut 13 May to 16 July
Beirut is largely known for its history of conflict and violent upheaval. Since the end of the civil war in 1991, it has provided fertile ground for the development of radical and energetic intellectual and artistic milieu. The first of its kind in the UK, this exhibition presents the work of artists living and working in Beirut and asks questions about the role of art and artists within the context of changing societies and global economies. Curated by Suzanne Cotter.

Kerry James Marshall Along the way 25 July to 22 October
One of the most closely watched American artists of his generation, Marshall’s work is characterised by politically-charged references to the Black-American experience. This exhibition presents a focused survey of his paintings since the 1980s to date and reveals his continuing relevance to a younger generation of artists and audiences.

The exhibition is curated by Deborah Smith and organised by Camden Arts Centre in association with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Modern Art Oxford. The exhibition is touring to all three venues.

Daniel Buren 4 November 2006 to 21 January 2007
The first major exhibition in the UK for twenty years by one of France’s leading contemporary artists. The exhibition of new work is part of Paris Calling, a season of contemporary art from France taking place in 20 UK galleries, museums and art centres. Curated by Suzanne Cotter.

For further press information and images, please call Meera Hindocha on ++44 (0)1865 813813 or email