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Classic & Modern Art Classifying and Appreciating Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 21st, 2021


Many would say that art is an important aspect of human life and it is also a way you can express personal feelings. In history art also plays a vital role in the changes of life over time. But for some, it is also a way you show love and it is even one of the most treasured gifts someone can give to his loved one. This paper is aimed at highlighting the ways and means of classifying and appreciating art, particularly if it’s modern and classic art.

Classic Art

The classical style of art have been those of portraits, still, life, landscape, and the genre itself were used as subjects for the different forms of artworks. Those that were painted and sculpted were exact images of the objects where the images were patterned after. However, cubists and Fauves followed immediately though it still used the different sensible objects only in such a way that representations of such were used instead of the actual objects. Realism was thought to have a new dynamic and kinetic form that shows action and a different meaning for the audience. But real subjects remained to be the object of cubism and fauvism artists. (Pasmore, 1957)

To provide an exact example of how classical art normally looks like:

Ghent Altarpiece.

The above-shown painting is Jan Van Eycks “Ghent Altarpiece”. Many see this piece of artwork as a reflection of the community. There’s a picture of female – which is Eva; there’s male – which is Adam; there are the members of the church – the leaders and the followers; there are the activities conducted inside and outside the church. But behind all these scenes or pictures are various stories which are also clear reminders of how we humans act in a very humanly manner. Indeed, Eycks’s painting is very classical in approach. The faces are clear, the scenes and meanings of every scene are very clear to whoever might view this painting.

Modern Art

Modernism, it was during this time where American artist starting to establish their presence in the field of Arts specifically in paintings. Many Americans during that time either went to France to get a formal study on Arts and improve their skills and be able to have brought those skills once they go back to the US. There were also some instances where French artists would visit the US and then provide some skills enhancement to the country.

The French artists which are also known as “wild beast” are among the early radicals that gave greater impact in the world of Art in the year 1905 and it was greatly felt in the US and it provides much ease in the country’s ambitious artists out of their usual academic instead an opportunity to focus on and some of the famous painters during that time which are now considered as icons are Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Arthur Dove (Cotter, Holland, 1997).

Modernism is known as the movement in visual arts, music, literature that rejected the old Victorian standards of how art should be made, consumed, and what it should mean for the people who patronized it the most, and this at around 1910 to 1930. From the literary perspective, there are some characteristics where you can consider its modernism, and these are the following:

  1. high emphasis on impressionism and subjectivity in writing, which means it should give importance to how the perception of the Art should take place rather than what is being perceived.
  2. Also a way for the Art to be in touch with what the third person has to say or narrated or they termed as fixed clear-cut moral positions.
  3. It should have certain distinction and at the same time giving a more poetic outcome
  4. Emphasis on discontinuous narratives and a mix of randomly formed and different materials.
  5. Tendency towards reflexivity or self-consciousness
  6. favor more on the minimalist design and lastly
  7. Is the rejection between high and low of popular culture.

The movement of American Art to modernism only shows that these are the years where they are trying to develop their skills and knowledge in the field of Arts where the French-dominated during these times. These results to some greater opportunity grab by the European specifically the French Artists where not only they can have exposure to the American soil by having exhibits or providing some teaching to them.

Neo-Dada is a common label applied for visual arts; this was exemplified through its use of modern materials, very popular imagery, and absurdist contrast. The term Neo-Dada was made popular in the year 1960 by Barbara Rose and was referred to a group of artwork developed during that year and up to its preceding decade. As Neo-Dadaist was also termed call for the artist during that time. Some well-known modern artists include Jasper Johns, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Jim Dine. Other notable artists are Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Bruce Conner, Allan Kaprow, and Jasper Johns (Neo-Dada, 2006).

On the other hand, Pop Art is also a grouped and artwork termed in the past. It was also an artistic movement that happens in the late 1950s. It was exemplified with the use of themes and techniques drawn from mass culture and it was backed up by advertising and comic books. It was also the time of optical illusions and abstract expressions. Pop Art is also considered to have a wider range of audiences and is very academic. The term was founded in the year 1958 by British critic Laurence Alloway in response to works by Richard Hamilton and others. Some of the very notable artists during these times are Christian Ludwig Attersee, Derek Boshier, Patrick Caulfield, Dimitrius, and Jim Dine (Pop Art, 2006).

Some of the early US Artist like Man Ray who one of his famous works comes from a photography project entitled “Paris Rooftops, St Sulpice” in 1925. During this time Man ray was in France where he developed his skills in photography. This Paris photography symbolizes a high standard of french with regards to arts and fashion. Where it was also during this date where the French and American edition of “vogue” publish his fashion photographs. (Man Ray a Practical Dreamer, 2001).

Lyonel Feininger is also another earlier artist in the US where one of his famous projects that are also displayed in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts is the Manhattan, the Tower in the year 1944. This was the year where many changes in American History is coming to evolved. Manhattan tower was of great influence to Lyonel because during that time The Manhattan Project was granted the highest project-wide procurement priority and the exact date was July 1, 1944 (The Manhattan Project, 1999).

Barnett Newman is another popular American artist that made popular to different types of works like painting, photography, and sculptures. One of his works was the ZIM ZUM in the year 1969. This reflects the common style he does in his works which varies to densities of a particular color rather than through lines or discrete shapes. It shows perceptual values of objects or spaces in the world outside painting (Barnette Newman, 2006).

Another American artist in the early era was Lorser Feitelson who was very much influenced by the European modernist ideas in most of his projects. One of his famous works was “Genesis First Version” in 1934 and the medium used was oil on Celotex. This work only describes the objective style and dept which came out in its result. It is also a reflection of how he works within the classical figurative context (Lorser Feitelson, 2006).

Lastly in the early times of American Art is Dorothea Lange, who was made famous for her black and white paintings during the years 1930’s. In all his works it reflects his love of countryside sites such as this one. This work was used in gelatin silver print and from this work he showcases the calmness of the countryside and peacefulness (Works by Dorothea Lange, 2006).

In the later era, some fine and famous American artists were well known like the first one is Andy Warhol, he is one of the known figures during the Pop Art movement. One of his well-known works was during the year 1960s where he began painting and it was in the year 1962 he painted “Red Liz” wherein he used synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. This reflected his way of painting using silkscreen and this was taken as a reflection of his personality since he was a homosexual and even feels obsessed with coloring his hair to show his lady side ( Andy Warhol, 2006).

Bruce Nauman is another famous American artist and was widely acknowledged as one of the most important living artists. As a contemporary artist, he was also a widely skilled artist which includes, painting, sculptures, neon, photography, video, and drawing. One of his well-accepted works was “Study for Hologram” in the year 1970 using screen print on Kromekote paper. Nauman’s work usually comes from weird and violent comedy. In this specific work, he uses his own body as a sculptural material (Bruce Nauman, 2006).

Robert Rauschenberg was one of the main contributors to redefining American Art in the year 1950s and ’60s. A sculptor, painter, and graphic artist are some of the mediums he was made famous for during his time. One of his famous works of art was “Collection” in 1954. Wherein he uses different mediums which includes: oil, pencil, crayon, paper, canvas, fabric, newspaper, photographs, wood, glass, mirror, tin, cork and found painting with pair of painted leather shoes, dried grass, and Dominique hen mounted on the wood structure on five casters. This work was also highlighted the different vivid colors that make it a very attractive work done by Robert (Robert Rauschenberg, 2006).

Sol Lewitt is another American artist whose medium focuses on painting, drawing, and structures. He has been always a subject for the numerous solo exhibitions worldwide which started in 1965. One of the famous work done was “Steel Structure” in 1975 This work only shows his creativity in creating structures that usually originates from the cube which influence him even before he became an artist (Sol Lewitt, 2006).

Lastly in the later art era was Katherine Sherwood, Also one of the famous American artists in the present time. Most of her work used mixed media on canvas. One of her famous works was “Stimulating” in 2000. This work shows the elegance and superior quality in terms of her use of well-defined color in every work she does. The feminine side of style is also reflected in all her works (Works by Cathering Sherwood, 2006).

A sample of art with a very modern approach is:

Modern Art.

The above-shown painting of Massacio is Adam and Eve, in a seemingly barren land. There’s no one in the area but the two. In this painting, there is a clear reflection that Adam and Eve are very much ashamed of something. Masscio’s is more on the anti-classical or modern type of art. The viewers will have to take a second or third look too deeply grasp what is being “implied” in the painting. There is no direct inclination of what is it about.


Indeed, there are very simple concepts on how one can identify classic art from modern art. Classic arts are more naturalistic, what you see is what you get. Everything from its message to its purpose is reflected in the image or the art itself. Modern arts, on the other hand, normally use various approaches just to imply its message. The message or the purpose of the maker of such art is not implied, but by taking a closer look, studying the image or the art deeply, one can then classify the art’s purpose. This is the very reason why some people consider modern art as loud, abstract, or noisy. But there is one common denominator between classic and modern art – and that is the fact that both are the product of one’s creative imagination, and however clear or unclear the message will be, it deserves appreciation and respect.


Andy Warhol. Artelino – Art Auctions. 2006. Web.

Barnette Newman. BookRags. 2006. Web.

Bruce Nauman. Nucleo Historico. 2006. Web.

Cotter, Holland. ““. The New York Times. 1997. Web.

“Ghent Alterpiece”. 2006. Web.

Lorser Feitelson. Tobey C. Moss Gallery. 2006. Web.

Man Ray a Practical Dreamer. 2001. Web.

“Massaccio’s adam and Eve”. 2006. Web.

” Wikepedia The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. Web.

Pasmore, V. 1957. Abstract Painting and Sculpture in England. The World of Abstract Art. George Wittenborn, New York.

” Wikepedia The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. Web.

Postmodernism. 2003. Web.

. The LightMillennium. 2006. Web.

“Sol Lewitt” Wikepedia The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. Web.

The Manhattan Project. 2006. Web.

Works by Catherine Sherwood. San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts. 2006. Web.

Works by Dorothea Lange. San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts. 2006. Web.

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