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13.1: Overview

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  • From the Modern Art movement, an explosion of art methods, styles, and techniques erupted, breaking traditional rules to create modern art. This chapter discusses the art of architecture, sculpture, and photography, introducing the influence of the 20th century. The artists enjoyed the spirit of experimentation and innovation as abstraction lead to several new and exciting art periods around the world.

    Modern architecture is defined to develop the design of buildings and meet the rapid technological advancements of resources and emerging cities, reconciled by the principles of architectural design. Modern architecture emphasized horizontal and vertical lines while implementing new materials to build higher and unconventional styles. New techniques in welding and concrete allowed architects to push the usual boundaries of the past. The advantages of the newer lightweight concrete include the reduction of load for faster building rates, longer-lasting, and is an excellent thermal protector compared to brick.

    “Form follows function” – Frank Lloyd Wright

    The modern sculpture was societies attempt to understand the new modern era. The artists created art pieces in the same art movements of Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, as discussed in the paintings. Each period of art changed sculpture just as it changed painting styles as artists experimented with their interpretation of the movement and molded the art medium accordingly.

    Modern photography emerged as an art form along with the 20th century. Although photography had been invented in the mid-19th century, the modern art movement inspired photographers to break away from the staged pictures and use radical new ideas and experimentation. Photographers began to travel and use the new technology to capture real societal events and the grandeur of nature.

    New materials helped fuel different movements. The first acrylic paints were developed in 1934 by a German company and became commercially available in 1950. Acrylic paint, a mixture of pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion, slowly replaced oil paint because it was a fast-drying product and cleaned up without chemicals. The paint came in tubes or jars and easily mixed with other acrylics and thinned with water; however, it cannot be used again and is non-removable from the canvas.

    The 20th century brought political art to the forefront of many art movements, depicting partisan perspectives about governmental and social relations. Political artists draw characterized cartoons of politics, printed posters about candidates for elections, or created public art and installations. During World War II, many of the paintings by the artists were declared 'degenerate' by the Nazi regime who took the works, destroyed or stole them. Some masterpieces were found hidden by German generals, including many hidden in Hermann Goering's offices. It is unknown today which paintings were destroyed or still exist. In 2012, over a thousand pieces of the artwork considered degenerate were located in a home in Munich, hidden away after all this time. Perhaps many more of these masterful images still exist in private homes.

    In Chapter 13, The World is One I (1930 – 1960), discusses different art styles, each of the artists listed under their specialty.



    20th Century Architecture






    Mexican Murals and Social Art


    Works Progress Administration Murals

    United States

    Nihonga and Yoga Style




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