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Modern Paintings And Their Unique Characteristics In Style

The art of painting has been there since time immemorial. It’s visual art that even our forefathers used. The use of painting in ancient times was utterly different from modern paintings. Even now, different types of modern paintings have different characteristics. Our ancestors would use it symbolically, but we do it presently for leisure.

For instance, hunters in the early days would draw animals to symbolize they would hunt them. They believed painting animals meant to capture its image. Therefore, it would be easy to hunt the animal. Some could paint their hands on rocks to show their existence to the generations to come.

On the other hand, modern art is a complete transformation of the traditional gesture. How artists visualize scenarios and use colors in a complex manner is a total evolvement. Here are the most recent modern paintings and their characteristics.

Abstract Art

Abstract art is an illustrational painting that lets you visualize something that isn’t in its real form. Artists use colors and shapes to convey something. You won’t see an image of a man or an animal or a known object. It’s a kind of painting that’s a wonder.

Image by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Artists know how to augment shapes in an exaggerated way to produce their desired results. The colors used will depict emotions and the shapes to stand for objects. They simply use canvas, which makes anything possible.

Abstraction means moving away from reality. It’s imagery. Though it’s practiced today, it was also there in the past. Only that it’s been remodeled by use of modern colors and shapes. Earlier cultures art used symbols, marks on rocks, pottery, and fabrics.

Therefore, you can say that abstract art aims to communicate visually. You don’t have to read to understand. Examples of abstract artists include Edward Scott and George Smith.

Modern Paintings And Expressionism

Many see Expressionism as a form of Abstract Style. It relates to the emotions of a human being. It’s a pictorial expression that’s highly personal and subjective. Artists use it to depict their emotional states or induce some emotional feelings to the viewer.

Image by Carlotta Silvestrini on Pixabay

Elements used in Expressionism include exaggeration, fantasy, distortion, and primitivism. It’s industrialization and growth of cities that triggered the expressionism style of painting. The two phenomena weighed heavily in the minds of people. So, they wanted to illustrate what they perceived as world representation.

Examples of expressionists include Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock. Jackson’s style of painting was pouring paint on canvas rather than using a brush to paint. It was the movement of the paint that could convey the feeling.

Expressionism artwork was there even before world war I and has been there since then. Many artists all over the world have used it such as German artists, Australia, and French artists.

Modern Paintings And Cubism

Cubism paintings
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Geometrical shapes are what characterize Cubism’s form of painting. It’s such creativity. Isn’t it? The shapes eventually blend into an actual form of an object. World-renowned artists like Gris, Braque and Piccasso made this characteristic of modern paintings popular.

Another famous world painter Paul Cezanne believed that every natural object derives its form from the cone, sphere and the cylinder. Since then some people perceived this as the basis of Cubism.

There are also other theories modern artists associate with the origin of cubism. They say Louis Vauxcelles first pronounced the name in his criticism about Georges Braque’s paintings. The critic described the art paintings as reducing everything into geometrical outlines and cubes.

Modern artists today have invented new forms of cubism that help us to express more how we see the World. Thanks to the pioneer cubists who set the pace.

Modern Paintings And Surrealism

Surrealism Paintings
Image by Parkwest Gallery

Surrealism is a modernist art that started in the early 20th Century. It involves writing and visual artworks. It’s been a pronounced art movement for many years. Artists describe it as dream-like since the imagery portrayed is surreal.

It aims to strike the viewer with elements of surprise. You still can’t figure out what it is? Don’t worry, you’re almost there. This type of painting is used for unnerving and illogical scenes. Sometimes it includes a photograph. It aims to explore the unconscious mind to create dreamlike art.

Surrealism, therefore, features the element of surprise, non sequitur, and unexpected juxtapositions. Surrealism artists use it while trying to relate dreams and reality. It manifests itself in literature, photography, music, films, and online galleries.

Modern Paintings And Futurism

This is an artistic movement that emphasized technology, speed, material things like cars, airplanes and more. It portrays a kind of painting that illustrates the human being’s triumph over nature. It glorifies modernity and was particularly used by Italians to signify liberation from the shackles of the past.

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Futurism was not only practiced in paintings but also in sculpture, ceramics, graphic designs, interior design and more. Other parts of the world like Russia,  England, Belgium and more embraced this artistic notion too.

As earlier indicated, it started in Italy but somehow faded before the first world war. Shortly after the world war I, it resurrected. The futuristic movement developed beautiful paintings that were highly fundamental. They served as an overview of the movement’s ideas as well as highlighting their memorable achievements.

The key figures in this type of painting include  Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, and Giacomo Balla. One futurism painting highly remembered and exhibited in museums is a funeral procession in an urban city. This painting still remains praiseworthy and used even today.

Modern Paintings And Impressionism

Painting Impressionalism
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It’s a style of art that started in Paris, France in the 19th Century. Impressionism features short, thick brushstrokes that highlight light. Artists who use this painting style perform it in natural light. This is to help them capture the sunlight and also see the actual appearance of the objects.

Impressionists don’t use the black color but instead mix complementary colors. Because of using the setting of natural light, many people considered their products as an alternative to photography. In summary, the following characterize impressionism kind of painting:

  • Color application is side by side minimizing color mixing. Here the action of simultaneous contrast is in force to make the color appear clearer.
  • It does not wait for the first layer of paint to dry when applying the second layer.
  • Artists use complementary colors to make gray and dark tones
  • Impressionists use opaque surfaces to paint and use light-colored or white ground


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The name of this modern painting describes itself. It combines drawing, painting, and a real picture. The artist studies the picture in an attempt to reproduce an exact copy.  Photorealism, therefore, aims to capture the realism of the real picture.

The term also describes an American art movement that started in 1960. It evolved from pop art and it came to counter Expressionism and Minimalism art movements. It requires the use of modern technology since the artist must use a camera for his imagery.

The pioneers in photorealism included John Baeder, Ralph Goings, Richard Estes, and Chuck Close. They all had one thing in common. Their subjects of interest were landscape, portraits and still lifes.

Technology evolvement continues to play a significant role in transforming photorealism. Also, the presence of digital cameras and other sophisticated equipment help artists to be more creative and accurate.

Modern Paintings And Hyperrealism

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Hyperrealism is an advancement of photorealism. It looks almost similar to high-resolution photography. Hyperrealists even go beyond to produce beautiful paintings that challenge real photos. They will include narrative, emotion, and charm.

The term hyperrealism was first used in 1973 by Isy Brachot to name his art gallery in Brussels. There are photorealists who dominated his exhibition and they included Robert Bechtle, Chuck Close, Don Eddy, and Ralph Goings. Those artists influenced by these American photorealistic were then referred to as hyperrealists.

There are also people who trace the roots of hyperrealism in the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard. Additionally, it talks about the ‘simulation of something’ that practically never existed. So it’s a method of painting that creates a convincing false reality. In a nutshell, hyperreal paintings are an outgrowth of digital camera photos.


Image by Nika Akin from Pixabay

The term minimalism sounds like to mean timid but let’s explore what it is. It’s a plainly simple art that avoids vibrant colors and designs. While it tries to sketch the target object, it sticks to neutral colors. It started in 1960 in Newyork among a group of young artists who rejected abstract expressionism.

These artists aimed to create art that described itself and allowed the viewer to visualize its pure form immediately. Minimalism art was first presented in 1966 in a Jewish exhibition in Newyork. Since this exhibition appeared to endorse a new style of art, there was a rise of critics who claimed it was a violation of western art canon.

However, many artists supported minimalism and contributed to it by creating self-referential canvases.   

 Pop Art

Modern Paintings
Image by WikiCommons

Pop art is a characteristic of modern paintings; a style of art that began in the mid-1950s in the United Kingdom and the United States. It emerged as a challenge to fine arts traditions as it incorporated imagery from pop culture. In simple terms, what is pop art? It is art that uses commonplace objects like soup cans, road signs, and hamburgers and incorporating them in artwork.

Pop art was a favorite style for an artist like Andy Warhol. He could create enticing but plain pieces of art. Also, some other artists who shaped pop art included Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Larry Rivers. Its aim to use images from popular cultures won many proponents and became a cultural event.

It is apparently classified as a mechanical reproduction by its nature of isolating or removing material from its context. It can sometimes combine unrelated materials.

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