Modernist Movement Facts

Modernist movement facts can be very dry if you look at them only in terms of the names and dates. A more emotional response gives a better understanding of the movement and ties you in with the artists of the time, who were themselves reacting very strongly to the world around them. Industrial revolution, world war, and a dramatic shift in cultural norms all combined to give the modernist movement significant emotional fuel for their work.

Modernists and a world response to change

The modernist movement was born during a time of significant economic upheaval in the world. The Industrial Revolution in Europe and later America dramatically shifted working norms and the daily lifestyles for many people. In a very short time, hard manual tasks became automated and taken for granted. Professions, careers, and life expectations were all turned on their heads as a result.

Modernists used this upheaval as fuel for their works. Many projects from the period, which lasted from the late 19th to the mid 20th centuries, used change and reaction to change as a theme in their work. Some viewed change as a calling to escape to nature's wonders and glorify what mankind couldn't create. Others interpreted change as a calling to abandon old systems of creating art and literature in favor of experimentation, such as Picasso's cubism and e.e. cummings's rejection of traditional punctuation. By creating their own standards and systems, artists of the period could bring a form of order to a world where order seemed to have been thrown out in favor of relentless innovation and advancement.

Modernists and World War I

Modernist movement facts show that the creative leaders of the period were affected by World War I. New weapons systems brought death in larger numbers than in previous wars while a complex system of international alliances drew millions into the fighting. The shock and raw fear of war deeply influenced the later modernist leaders.

One of the most iconic examples of this influence is Picasso's Guernica painting. It combined the horrors of a wartime massacre with a rejection of traditional artistic forms to create a black-and-white painting capable of stirring vivid emotional responses in the viewer. Shocking at the time it was unveiled, the work now has a place of honor in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.

Modernists and changed cultural morals

Modernists were at the forefront of a changing global culture. Women were fighting for the vote worldwide, wartime fighting stripped millions of working men from the population and religion faded as a societal influencer. As a result, modernist painters, artists and writers could express themselves more openly in their work.

Homosexuality, graphic violence and undeveloped nature became popular themes. The idea that 'anything goes' allowed for broad experimentation in areas that had formerly been taboo. Thus, modernists could be very bohemian in their lives and let this lifestyle show in their work rather than conforming to the Victorian rules that came before them.

All in all, the modernist movement shows itself to be less about names and dates and more about emotional responses. With the world changing around them through war, technology and culture, the modernists brought raw emotion to their work and showed their creativity in ways that remain inspiring even today.

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