Modern and Impressionist Art


"Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask." —Robert Motherwell

What is Modern art? Today, most agree that it refers to works made from the rise of Impressionism (1880s) until roughly the 1960s. Past these boundaries, defining "the Modern" raises a host of (often fierce) debates—over whether it "began" with Gustave Courbet or Édouard Manet or Paul Cézanne or Pablo Picasso (or even J.M.W. Turner or Jacques-Louis David); whether it includes the supposed "anti-Modern" or "anti-aesthetic" movements of the mid 20th century; whether it includes figurative painting or just abstract works; and whether it is a label that can be applied to non-Western art.

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