Modernism: 1850 to 1945

Important Dates

1901 First transatlantic radio signal
1903 Wright Brothers’ first flight
1920’s Commercial television
1924 Mexican Revolution ends
1936-1939 Spanish Civil War

Target Concepts

  • Contemporary art is the inheritors of Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Symbolism; Academic art lost the war
  • An influx of Japanese objects and culture dramatically influences art being produced in Europe
  • Artists increasingly reveal their techniques, mark-making, and material use in their finished artworks
  • As society begins to change more rapidly, so do artistic movements
  • Increasingly art becomes about the process and nature of art, and less about a narrative

Modernity, Modern Art, and Modernism
Avant Garde


Academic Art

“ . . . Show me an angel, and I’ll paint one.” -Courbet

The Stone Breakers, Gustave Courbet
France, 1849 CE oil on canvas 5’x9’

Olympia, Edouard Manet
France, 1863 CE oil on canvas 4’x6’


Impression: Sunrise, Claude Monet
France, 1872 CE oil on canvas 2’x2’
Plein air

Gare St.-Lazare, Claude Monet
France, 1877 CE oil on canvas 2’x3’

The Tub, Edgar Degas
France, 1886 CE pastel on cardboard

The Coiffure Mary Cassatt
France, 1891 CE drypoint and aquatint on laid paper

Post Impressionism

Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh
France, 1889 CE oil on canvas 2’x3’
Broken color, impasto

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, Paul Gauguin
France, 1898 CE oil on canvas 2’x3’

Mt. Ste. Victoire, Paul Cézanne
France, 1902 CE oil on canvas 2’x3’

German Expressionism
“A well-painted turnip is as beautiful as a well-painted Madonna.” – Max Lieberman

Improvisation 28, Vassily Kandinsky
Germany, 1912 o/c 4’x5’
abstract vs. non-objective

Self-Portrait as a Soldier, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Germany, 1915 CE o/c

Memorial to Karl Liebknecht, Kathe Kollwitz
Germany, 1919 woodcut

“I paint forms as I think them, not as I see them.” – Picasso

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Pablo Picasso
France, 1907 o/c 8’x8’

The Portuguese, George Braque
France, 1911 o/c 4’x3’



Fountain (second version), Marcel Duchamp
USA, 1917 ready-made glazed sanitary china with black paint

Illustration from the Results of the First Five-Year Plan, Varvara Stepanova
Russia, 1932 CE photomontage


The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali
Spain, 1931 o/c 9”x13”

Le Dejeuner en Fourrure, Meret Oppenheim
France, 1936 fur covered cup, saucer is 9” diameter

The Two Fridas, Frida Khalo
Mexico, 1939 o/c 6’x6’

The Jungle, Wilfredo Lam
USA 1943 CE goache on paper

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Park, Diego Rivera
Mexico, 1948 CE fresco


Palace of Westminster (Houses of ParliamentCharles Barry and Augustus Pugin
England, 1870 CE limestone, masonry, and glass

Carson, Pirie, and Scott Building, Louis Sullivan
USA, 1903 CE iron, steel, glass, and terra cotta
curtain walls

The Bauhaus

Villa Savoye, Le Corbusier
France 1929 CE steel and reinforced concrete
International Style

Falling Water House, Frank Lloyd Wright
USA, 1939
Open floor plan

…and Everything Else

The Valley of Mexico from the Hillside of Santa Isabel, Jose Maria Velasco
Mexico, 1882 CE oil on canvas

Burghers of Calais, Auguste Rodin
France, 1884 CE bronze 8’x7’x11”

The Scream, Edvard Munch
France, 1893 CE oil, pastel, and casein on cardboard, 11”x29”

The Kiss, Gustav Klimt
Austria, 20thc o/c 6’x6’

The Steerage, Alfred Stieglitz
USA, 1907 photogravure on tissue

The Kiss, Consantin Brancusi
France, 1908 CE limestone
Truth to the material

Goldfish, Henri Matisse
France, 1912 CE o/c
Fauvism, joie de vivre

Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, Piet Mondrian
France, 1930 CE oil on canvas
De Stijl

The Migration of the Negro, Panel no. 49, Jacob Lawrence

From the Migration of the Negro series
USA 1941 CE casein tempera on hardboard

  • Mt St Victoire
  • Olympia
  • The Stone Breakers
  • Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
  • The Persistence of Memory
  • Illustration from the Results of the First Five Year Plan
  • Where do We Come From…
  • Improvisation 28
  • The Coiffure
  • The Scream
  • Sullivan, Carson, Pirie, Scott Building
  • The Valley of Mexico from the Hillside of Santa Isabel
  • The Tub
  • Fountain
  • Impression: Sunrise
  • The Steerage
  • Memorial to Karl Liebknecht
  • Westminster Palace
  • The Kiss, by Brancusi
  • Starry Night
  • Le Déjeuner en Fourrure
  • Villa Savoye
  • The Kiss
  • Burghers of Calais
  • ThePortuguese
  • Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park
  • Gare St Lazare
  • The Migration of the Negro No. 49
  • The Two Fridas
  • Composition w Red, Blue, and Yellow
  • Goldfish
  • Self Portrait as a Soldier
  • Falling Water House
Back to Top