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Masters of modern art

Not to be confused with contemporary art, the term "modern art" refers to works produced between the late nineteenth and the mid-twentieth century. In response to growing urbanisation, artists rejected the aesthetics of art movements from previous centuries and began to leave more room for creativity in their paintings. The modern art period saw the emergence of Cubism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Abstract Expressionism and many other key movements.

Modern art began with Impressionism and finished with Abstract Expressionism, witnessing the development of several very important and very different art movements. The status of artists changed radically during this period, placing the great modern masters at the forefront of the art world. Artsper invites you to follow modern art's journey through the years, and discover the 20th century artists that permanently changed the way we see the world.

Claude Monet's 1872 Impressionist painting, Impression, Sunrise, is widely regarded as the catalyst for the modern art period, as it rejects the strict rules of academic art. Other artists such as Renoir, Degas and Manet quickly followed suit, causing Impressionism to dominate France's artistic scene. This was until the arrival of post-Impressionism at the end of the century. Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin lead the post-Impressionist movement, captivating viewers with their colourful, inspiring and never seen before paintings.

Henri Matisse and André Derain made up the avant-garde groupe of the 20th century through their introduction of Fauvism. Although they dismissed the idea that art should depict reality, they equally used the world around them as a source of inspiration. Their expressive, multicoloured and energetic paintings played with light and highlighted individual experience.

Shortly after the First World War, painters in Germany and Austria adopted a more experimental approach to art, known today as Expressionism. They took the traits from other art movements and adapted them, resulting in artists depicting the world from a subjective perspective whilst using garish colours and tones.  

Cubism was probably the most influential movement in the modern art period. Its transition toward abstraction revolutionised not only painting and sculpture, but also music and literature. Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso began the movement in 1907, where they analysed objects, figures and landscapes before breaking them up and reassembling them into abstract compositions. This allowed the artists to depict multiple viewpoints in their work, and present their subject in a wider and more truthful context. Geometric shapes and an infinite palette of colours make up the Cubist movement, highlighting the details that would otherwise go unnoticed.  

The 1920s saw the introduction of Surrealism, where artists like Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miro and René Magritte used dreams and the unconscious mind to create psychedelic and whimsical artworks.

Finally Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning paved the way with Abstract Expressionism. A movement that was not only focussed on colour, but actually considered the process of creation itself, with new artistic techniques such as dripping and pouring.

Collector’s Guide: How to buy art online?

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Our recommendations Victor Vasarely, Operenccia, Painting

Victor Vasarely

Operenccia, 1986
40 x 66 x 1 inch
Painting

$350,000

Our recommendations Niki de Saint Phalle, L'Arbre aux Serpents, Print

Niki de Saint Phalle

L'Arbre aux Serpents, 1970
29.5 x 19.7 inch
Print

$2,787

Alexander Calder, Dice, Painting

Alexander Calder

Dice, 1974
37 x 51 x 1 inch
Painting

$380,000

Tom Wesselmann, Jeannie's Backyard, East Hampton, Print

Tom Wesselmann

Jeannie's Backyard, East Hampton, 1990
59 x 72 x 2 inch
Print

$18,000

Yves Klein, Petite Vénus bleue, Sculpture

Yves Klein

Petite Vénus bleue, 2001
2.4 x 0.9 x 0 inch
Sculpture

$9,693

Our recommendations Egon Schiele, La Mère & la Fille / Mother and Daughter - 1913, Print

Egon Schiele

La Mère & la Fille / Mother and Daughter - 1913, 2016
31.5 x 22.8 inch
Print

$1,939

Peter Klasen, Manette/G/fond rouge, Print

Peter Klasen

Manette/G/fond rouge, 1997
24 x 19.7 inch
Print

$606

Peter Klasen, SE 7 fond jaune, Print

Peter Klasen

SE 7 fond jaune, 1991
39.4 x 29.9 inch
Print

$909

Our recommendations Hervé Di Rosa, Paris Vector 06, Print

Hervé Di Rosa

Paris Vector 06, 2010
49.6 x 40.2 inch
Print

$1,454

Our recommendations Salvador Dali, Moi, aussi, j'ai connu l'Empereur, Print

Salvador Dali

Moi, aussi, j'ai connu l'Empereur, 1970
25.6 x 19.7 inch
Print

$4,846

Joan Miró, Lithograph III, Print

Joan Miró

Lithograph III, 1972
14 x 21 inch
Print

$6,000

Joan Miró, Journal d'un graveur 5, Print

Joan Miró

Journal d'un graveur 5, 1975
22.8 x 17.7 inch
Print

$3,392

Our recommendations Erró, Boy Toy, Print

Erró

Boy Toy, 2018
33.1 x 24.4 x 0.8 inch
Print

$1,939

Hans Hartung, Farandole 7, Print

Hans Hartung

Farandole 7, 1971
19.3 x 29.1 inch
Print

$1,817

Hans Hartung, Farandole 3, Print

Hans Hartung

Farandole 3, 1971
19.3 x 29.1 inch
Print

$1,817

Man Ray, Untitled - 4, Print

Man Ray

Untitled - 4, 1975
19.3 x 13.6 inch
Print

$1,817

Max Ernst, Lewis Carroll's Wunderhorn 28, Print

Max Ernst

Lewis Carroll's Wunderhorn 28, 1970
13 x 9.8 inch
Print

$1,817

Max Ernst, Lewis Carroll's Wunderhorn 25, Print

Max Ernst

Lewis Carroll's Wunderhorn 25, 1970
13 x 9.8 inch
Print

$1,817

Charles Lapicque, La chute, Print

Charles Lapicque

La chute, 1952
20.9 x 16.5 inch
Print

$485

Antoni Tapies, Poems 6, Print

Antoni Tapies

Poems 6, 1974
29.9 x 22 inch
Print

$2,666

Antoni Tapies, Carmi 1, Print

Antoni Tapies

Carmi 1, 1993
22.4 x 29.9 inch
Print

$7,875

François Morellet, 2 trames de tirets-positif, Print

François Morellet

2 trames de tirets-positif, 1960
24.4 x 24.4 inch
Print

$1,817

Charles Lapicque, Iago, Print

Charles Lapicque

Iago, 1967
22.4 x 15 inch
Print

$363

Man Ray, Untitled, Print

Man Ray

Untitled, 1975
19.3 x 13.6 inch
Print

$4,604

Our recommendations Carlos Cruz-Diez, Caura-4, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Caura-4, 2015
23.6 x 27.6 inch
Print

$5,452

François Morellet, Pi rococo 1=30°, Print

François Morellet

Pi rococo 1=30°, 2003
11.4 x 13 x 0.4 inch
Print

$3,029

Our recommendations Corneille, La fleur et l’oiseau, Print

Corneille

La fleur et l’oiseau, 1995
29.9 x 39.4 inch
Print

$1,757

Our recommendations Corneille, Le doux félin de l’été, Print

Corneille

Le doux félin de l’été, 1992
43.3 x 29.9 inch
Print

$1,999

Erró, Looking back, Painting

Erró

Looking back, 2005
31.9 x 46.9 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$42,406

Paul Gauguin, She is Haunted by a Spirit (Manu Tupapau), Print

Paul Gauguin

She is Haunted by a Spirit (Manu Tupapau), 1921
10.2 x 16.7 x 0 inch
Print

$11,510

Corneille, Lithographie n°3, Print

Corneille

Lithographie n°3, 1985
15 x 11 inch
Print

$606

Corneille, Lithographie n°2, Print

Corneille

Lithographie n°2, 1985
15 x 11 inch
Print

$606

Alexander Calder, Santa Klaus 3, Print

Alexander Calder

Santa Klaus 3, 1974
20.1 x 26.4 inch
Print

$1,817

Jean Fautrier, Nu couché II, Print

Jean Fautrier

Nu couché II, 1944
15 x 22.4 inch
Print

$2,181

André Derain, Le Satyricon, Print

André Derain

Le Satyricon, 1934
17.4 x 13.2 inch
Print

$424

Our recommendations Robert Combas, Série glitter brillant, Painting

Robert Combas

Série glitter brillant, 1997
15.7 x 23.6 x 0.4 inch
Painting

Sold

Our recommendations Jean Cocteau, Portrait, Print

Jean Cocteau

Portrait, 1993
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Print

Sold

Salvador Dali, L'énigme sans fin, Print

Salvador Dali

L'énigme sans fin, 1985
22 x 29.9 inch
Print

Sold

Otto Dix, Skull, Print

Otto Dix

Skull, 1924
10.8 x 7.7 x 0.1 inch
Print

Sold

Alexander Calder, Portrait de Constantin Tacou, Print

Alexander Calder

Portrait de Constantin Tacou, 1974
19.3 x 13.4 inch
Print

Sold

Jacques Villeglé, 50 rue Turbigo, Print

Jacques Villeglé

50 rue Turbigo, 2014
37 x 30.7 inch
Print

Sold

Fernand Léger, Etude de fresque, Print

Fernand Léger

Etude de fresque, 1968
20.5 x 40.6 inch
Print

Sold

Fernand Léger, La marchande des quatre saisons, Print

Fernand Léger

La marchande des quatre saisons, 1959
26.8 x 20.9 x 1.2 inch
Print

Sold

Jean Cocteau, Europe - L'Europe pont des civilisations, Print

Jean Cocteau

Europe - L'Europe pont des civilisations, 1961
13 x 18.1 inch
Print

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Max Ernst, Sans titre 4, Sculpture

Max Ernst

Sans titre 4, 1970
11.8 x 11 x 0.8 inch
Sculpture

Sold

Roy Lichtenstein, La nouvelle chute de l'Amérique : Une Fenêtre ouverte sur Chicago, Print

Roy Lichtenstein

La nouvelle chute de l'Amérique : Une Fenêtre ouverte sur Chicago, 1992
20 x 14.9 inch
Print

Sold

Georges Braque, Zétès et Calaïs, Sculpture

Georges Braque

Zétès et Calaïs, 1963
45.3 x 32.3 x 1.2 inch
Sculpture

Sold

Serghei Ghetiu, Thinking about Degas, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

Thinking about Degas, 2021
29.5 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

Sold

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