Becoming Modern

Historical Context

The modernist period began in 1850 with the Realism movement and ended in 1960 with Abstract Impressionism. During this time, the western world experienced many changes that have come to define all modern societies. For example, cities and factories replaced agriculture as the center of society, capitalism replaced landed fortunes, religious authority decreased as secularism became more popular, and authors and artists began to target the middle class along with the upper class. Also, whereas before science had been determined by the Bible, during the modernist era, people began to judge scientific discoveries based on the evidence, rather than whether or not they agreed with the Church.

Romanticism

The Scientific Revolution of the Enlightenment era left many people dissatisfied with how cold and calculated the world had seemingly become. These people formed the Romantic movement which aimed to bring emotion and a respect, for both nature and the spiritual, back to the society.

Romantic Artist

Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 has been referred to as the first modern painting. The painting’s spiritual undertones are hard to miss. The works focus, an illuminated figure, dressed in white, posed as though on a cross, is meant to represent Jesus. Goya’s objective was to draw an emotional response from onlookers.

Romantic Artist

Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 has been referred to as the first modern painting. The painting’s spiritual undertones are hard to miss. The works focus, an illuminated figure, dressed in white, posed as though on a cross, is meant to represent Jesus. Goya’s objective was to draw an emotional response from onlookers.

Romantic Writer

In his famous work Les Miserables, Victor Hugo wrote about a small student revolt, doomed to fail, but still protest the injustices of the government on behalf of the lower class. He captured the Romantic movement’s focus on ordinary people, their struggles, their emotions, their lives, and the social injustices that plagued them.

Realist Scientist

After the revolts of 1848, much of Europe turned away from the ideals of the Romantic movement and towards a more realistic worldview, preferring proof to theories.Charles Darwin was a realist scientist because his theories of evolution and natural selection directly challenged the long held “truth” of creationism. Perhaps even more importantly, he had evidence-his study of Galapagos finches-to back up his theories.

Realist Artist

One of the main characteristics of Realist artists was that they wanted to show their subjects as they actually were, without any added mystical or imaginative touches that characterized Romantic artists. Jean-Francois Millet’s work, The Gleaners, depicts a harsh reality of life straightforwardly and without apology for everyone to see.

Realist Writer

Just like Realist artists saw it as their duty to capture the lives of ordinary people in their work, so did Realist authors. Emile Zola, for example, believed that literature should show the most accurate picture of everyday life as possible. Where Romantic works tend to idealize the lives of the working class, Zola presented their difficulties in more practical terms, which drew attention to their plights.

Science

As psychology emerged as an independent discipline, scientists began searching more and more for explanations for human behavior. Sigmund Freud’s research into the human psyche provided a brand new account of the reasons behind human nature which emphasized the roles of unconscious desires and and human irrationality.

Modern Art

Impressionism

At the height of the Impressionist art movement, Claude Monet painted his work The Argenteuil Bridge. Monet used loose brush strokes and, occasionally surprising, dabs of color to paint his landscape in a way entirely different from the traditional method. In doing this, he painted the landscape the way he saw it, not exactly the way it was in reality.

Post-Impressionism

Vincent Van Gough’s simplistic approach to his painting The Bedroom allows the colors, lines, and shapes of the painting could be expressive on their own by departing from the formal elements that dictated many earlier artist’s works. This piece demonstrates the root idea of abstract paintings: that the relationships between colors and shapes could represent emotion on their own.

Created By
Erin McSkimming
Appreciate

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.