The Revolutionary Era of Modernist Art: A Journey Through Abstract Expressionism and Cubism


Modernist art was a key movement that revolutionized art in the 20th century. With its emphasis on innovation and experimentation, modernism rejected traditional techniques and styles, paving the way for a new form of artistic expression. Two major movements that emerged within modernism were Abstract Expressionism and Cubism, and this article will explore the history and significance of these streams.

History of Modernist Art

The modernist art movement emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, largely as a rejection of traditional art forms. Artists sought to break free from the constraints of academic painting, questioning the rules of representation and exploring new techniques and materials. They sought to create a new form of art that would reflect the rapid social changes taking place in society.

The modernist art movement was marked by several key periods and movements, each with its own set of principles and practitioners. Among the most important of these movements were Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, and Futurism. These movements set the stage for the birth of two major modernist movements: Abstract Expressionism and Cubism.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism was a post-World War II movement that originated in New York City, with artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. This movement emphasized non-representational art, where the focus was not on what was being painted, but the process of painting itself. Artists used techniques like dripping, pouring, and splattering to create their works.

Abstract Expressionism challenged traditional notions of art, emphasizing the artistic process rather than the finished product. It was characterized by its emphasis on individuality, freedom, and experimentation. The movement’s triumph in the art world solidified New York City’s position as the new capital of the art world, replacing Paris.


Cubism was a movement that emerged in the early 20th century, characterized by the use of abstract geometric forms to depict everyday objects. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque sought to break down objects into their basic geometric shapes, allowing for a more multifaceted understanding of the form. Cubism was multi-dimensional, emphasizing the many sides of an object, rather than a single, fixed perspective.

The development of Cubism marked a significant departure from traditional art practices, emphasizing fragmentation, and subjectivity. It gave artists the tools to create entirely new forms of art, inspiring many other modernist movements that followed.

The influence of Modernist Art Today

Modernist art and its impact continue to influence contemporary artists today. It opened up new possibilities for artistic expression and gave artists the freedom to explore new techniques and materials, abandoning many of the traditional rules, and redefining what art could be.

Modernism challenged traditional notions of art, ushering in a new era of experimentation, innovation, and individuality. The movement continues to inspire artists today and remains a significant cultural influence around the world.

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