Modernist Art Movements Explained By Marcula Stauffer

Avatar for Ebiz Editor
Marcula Stauffer Modernist Art Movements Explained Marcula Stauffer Modernist Art Movements Explained

Marcula Stauffer shares key points of various movements and the artists that contributed to change.

The turn of the 20th century was a time of change that was comprised of artistic movements that altered the world’s definition of what art should be and do for a culture. This time of artistic movement would be labeled as the Modernist Era. World War I and the devastation that ensued challenged cultural belief systems that were previously in place. There was a surge of experimentation and exploration by artists influenced by hardships from World War I. Marcula Stauffer lists some of the most important modernist art movements during this period.


Constructivism is the combination of Cubism and Futurism art movements. Constructivism is the idea that art should be constructed from the modern industrial materials such as plastic, steel, and glass. Marcula Stauffer emphasizes that Constructivists made art to serve a societal purpose instead of solely making a statement. Tatlin’s Monument to the third International is one of the most iconic artworks of the Constructivism movement. It is a spiral-shaped structure that was intended to serve as a government building.


Suprematism began around the same time as constructivism but differed by a stronger emphasis and embracement of the abstraction capable by painting on a canvas. Marcula Stauffer appreciates this movement because it was the first to utilize pure geometrical abstraction in painting. Kazimir Melevich, the founder of Suprematism, aimed to break art down to its bare bones and used basic shapes, such as squares, triangles, and circles with primary and neutral colors. This movement came to an end as Soviet oppression increased.


Surrealism is one of the most famous art movements of the Modernist era. Salvador Dali’s work brought surrealism to the forefront and was largely the reason Surrealism became popular. Marcula Stauffer notes that surrealism sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. Surrealists typically worked with multiple mediums such as sculpture, painting, literature, poetry, and film. Many of the prominent Surrealism artists broke off to other new art forms. However, they still incorporated techniques of surrealism into their new work.


One of the most well-known art movements during the Modernist Era was Cubism. The artform has become synonymous with one person, Pablo Picaso. The movement did not receive its name until 1908, when an art critic depicted Braque’s House at L’Estaque as being formed with cubes. Cubism focused primarily on discarding the conventions of the past to highlight the flat dimensionality of the canvas. Marcula Stauffer notes that the use of conflicting vantage points is how Cubism’s effects were achieved.