Classical Modern: The Dawn of New Painting Style
Classical Modern is the name of the artistic and architectural period from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. This phase marks the culmination of several art epochs particularly relevant to art history from today's perspective. The collective term Classical Modern includes the avant-garde tendencies in various European countries. The most important include Cubism, Constructivism, Expressionism, Bauhaus, Dada, and Surrealism. However, the artists of Classical Modern did not work as a homogeneous community but rather developed their idea of contemporary art independently of each other. The only common feature was the rejection of the traditional representational forms of the 19th century. Through this approach, the artists of Classical Modern set a decisive course for the art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Characteristics of Classical Modern Painting
Since Modern painting is not a uniform artistic movement, it is difficult to identify universally valid characteristics. However, the great common achievement of the styles in Classical Modern is the detachment from the representational depiction mode and the naturalistic design. Until the end of the 19th century, the painting was still more or less committed to the natural proportions of humans and nature. This was to change fundamentally at the turn of the 20th century. Although objects did not completely disappear from the paintings of the Classical Modern, the avant-garde painters completely reinterpreted the role and function of pictorial objects. Thus, the Expressionists put everything in their paintings at the service of the expression of their emotional world. The standard was no longer depicting reality but the subjectively experienced and passionate interpretation of reality. The imagery of the Expressionists was characterised by strong, contrasting colours and unconventional and abstract ways of representing pictorial objects. The Cubists had already gone one step further from 1906 onwards. They generally rejected a three-dimensional painting style and oriented the contours of the pictorial objects to geometric figures such as spheres, cones, or pyramids. By reducing the forms to a few basic building blocks, they took a significant step in the direction of abstraction – even if the underlying objects from reality were still recognisable. The Surrealists also referred to concrete objects in their paintings, but their reinterpretation of reality consisted in detaching the objects from their usual contexts or depicting them in an alienated way. In this way, they created a "parallel reality" of dreams, fantasies, and visions, some of which had bizarre and absurd features. With this form of expression, surrealists explored the limits of human consciousness and abandoned the narrow framework of rationality. The Constructivists went furthest in their detachment from figurative painting. They advocated very technical design principles and worked exclusively with coloured surfaces, lines, and geometric forms in their paintings. People, landscapes, or other real objects no longer appeared in strict Constructivism.
Famous Artists of Classical Modernism
In the phase of Classical Modern, many artists achieved world fame, and their works are still very popular at exhibitions and auctions today. Artists such as Franz Marc, August Macke, and Gabriele Münter who belonged to the "Blaue Reiter" artists' group and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel who were members of the Dresden "Brücke" artists' group can be mentioned here in connection with Expressionism. The legends of Cubism include Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who are considered its founders, and Juan Gris or Fernand Léger. Joan Miró, René Magritte or Max Ernst had a decisive influence on Surrealism, Kasimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, or László Moholy-Nagy on Constructivism. Nevertheless, some artists of Classical Modern used not only one but several of the avant-garde styles: Paul Klee, for example, created a highly diverse body of work that can be classified as Expressionism, Constructivism, Cubism and Surrealism. At our online shop, you can buy paintings from a wide range of artists in the style of Classic Modern.