Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Minimal art, also called ABC art, is the culmination of reductionist tendencies in Modern art that first surfaced in the 1913 composition by the Russian painter Kasimir Malevich of a black square on a white ground.
- Art has nothing to do with taste, art is not there to be "tasted". Yet a certain mayor believes that art exists to be "judged", and the most modern art to be "judged from a business point of view".
- Max Ernst, quoted in Max Ernst : Sculptures (1996) by Max Ernst, Jürgen Pech, and Ida Gianelli, p. 11
G - L
- Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness. The symbol of art is seen again in the magic flute of the Great God Pan which makes the young goats frisk at the edge of the grove.
All modern art begins to appear comprehensible and in a way great when it is interpreted as an attempt to instill youthfulness into an ancient world.
- José Ortega y Gasset, in "Art a Thing of No Consequence", The Dehumanization of Art and Ideas about the Novel [La deshumanización del Arte e Ideas sobre la novela] (1925)
- By now it has become a formula to attach new ideas on the grounds of extremism and unintelligibility. Every phase of modern art has in turn been attacked on these grounds, until the new phase became acceptable. Although the present attacks are focused on those who emphasize the subjective side of abstract painting, the threat to other sections of the modern painting is implicit. The attacks are always focused on those who are considered the black sheep, for reasons of non-conformity. They are conspicuous, because they are different, and therefore may be easy targets. ( his comment on the attacks on artistic freedom in 1948)
- Adolph Gottlieb Lecture at '‘Forum: the Artist Speaks, museum of Modern Art, New York, May 5, 1948
- Color is primarily Quality. Secondly, it is also Weight, for it has not only color value but also brilliance. Thirdly, it is Measure, for besides Quality and Weight, it has its limits, its area, and its extent, all of which may be measured.
Tone value is primarily Weight, but in its extent and its boundaries, it is also Measure.
Line, however, is solely Measure.
- Paul Klee "On Modern Art," lecture, Kunstverein, Jena (26 January 1924), trans. Paul Findlay in Paul Klee: On Modern Art (London, 1948)
- I like silent pictures and I always have. They are often so much more beautiful than sound pictures are. Perhaps they had to be. At any rate I wanted to restore some of this beauty. I thought of it, I remember in this way: one of techniques of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film.
- Do you realize that people don't know how to read Kafka simply because they want to decipher him? Instead of letting themselves be carried away by his unequaled imagination, they look for allegories — and come up with nothing but clichés: life is absurd (or it is not absurd), God is beyond reach (or within reach), etc. You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself.
M - R
- In ceasing to subordinate creative power to any supreme value, modern art has brought home to us the presence of that creative power throughout the whole history of art.
- André Malraux Les voix du silence [Voices of Silence] (1951) Part IV, Chapter VI
- Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask.
- Robert Motherwell in The Times (17 November 1985)
- The modern artist is living in a mechanical age and we have a mechanical means of representing objects in nature such as the camera and photograph. The modern artist, it seems to me, is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion and the other inner forces... the modern artist is working with space and time, and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating.
- Jackson Pollock Interview by William Wright, Summer 1950 (for broadcasting, but never used); as quoted in Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics, ed. Clifford Ross, Abrahams Publishers, New York 1990, pp. 139-140
- Modern art to me is nothing more than the expression of contemporary aims of the age we’re living in... All cultures have had means and techniques of expressing their immediate aims – the Chinese, the Renaissance, all cultures. The thing that interests me is that today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source, they work from within.
- Jackson Pollock Interview by William Wright, Summer 1950 (for broadcasting, but never used); as quoted in Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics, ed. Clifford Ross, Abrahams Publishers, New York 1990, p. 140
- Each age finds its own technique … I mean, the strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.
- Jackson Pollock, as quoted in Jackson Pollock (1967) by Francis V. O'Connor, p. 79
- The skills of the modern artist are the opposite of those of the craftsman: instead of acquiring techniques for producing classes of objects, the artist today perfects the means suited to his particular work.
S - Z
- Impressionism is at the root of all modern art, because it was the first movement that managed to free itself from preconceived ideas, and because it changed not only the way life was depicted but the way life was seen.
- Francesco Salvi, in Nancy Bachus The Modern Piano: The Influence of Society, Style, and Musical Trends on the Great Piano Composers, Alfred Music Publishing, 1 August 2006, p. 10
- Art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal: that longing which draws people to art. Modern art has taken the wrong turn in abandoning the search for the meaning of existence in order to affirm the value of the individual for his own sake.