What Are the 6 Modern Art Movements?

Art|Modern Art

Modern art is a broad term used to describe artworks created between the 1860s and 1970s. It covers a wide range of styles and movements, all of which have their own unique characteristics and themes. Here we will explore the 6 main modern art movements – Expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art.


Expressionism was an early modern art movement which began in Germany at the start of the twentieth century. It was characterized by intense emotion and bright colors, often used to express inner turmoil or anxiety.

Expressionist paintings were often distorted or abstracted in order to convey intense emotional states. Some key figures in this movement include Emil Nolde and Ernst Kirchner.


Cubism was a revolutionary art movement that emerged in France during the early twentieth century. It was characterized by geometric forms and fractured perspectives.

Cubist paintings were often composed of multiple points of view or angles simultaneously presented on one canvas. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are considered two of the most influential cubist artists.


Fauvism was an avant-garde modern art movement that emerged in France during the early twentieth century. It was characterized by bold colors and expressive brushstrokes, often used to explore emotion or atmosphere rather than figurative representation. Henri Matisse is one of the most notable figures associated with this movement.


Surrealism was an influential modern art movement that emerged in Paris during the 1920s. It focused on exploring dreams and unconscious desires through a combination of symbolism, automatism (unconscious drawing), and unexpected juxtapositions. Salvador Dali is one of the most well-known surrealists.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism was an abstract modern art movement which originated in New York during the 1940s. It focused on creating large-scale works with strong gestural brushstrokes to convey emotion or atmosphere, rather than representational objects or figures.

Key figures associated with this style include Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko.

Pop Art

Pop Art began as a reaction against abstract expressionists during 1950s Britain, but quickly spread around the world during the 1960s as a popular commercialized form of modern art. It focused on mass media imagery such as comic books, advertisements, television programs etc., often presented with bright colors or repetition for emphasis. Andy Warhol is considered one of its most important figures.

In conclusion, these 6 modern art movements – Expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism , Surrealism , Abstract Expressionism , Pop Art – have all had a huge influence on contemporary visual culture today.