Three of the Biggest Art Movements of the 20th Century

In art as in life, the 20th Century was one in which things moved quickly; the world of modern art exploded and art became a much greater part of the average person’s life.

We’ve taken a look at three of the 20th Century’s biggest art movements d what they were all about:



Modernism actually began towards the end of the 19th Century, but it blossomed in the 20th. Fauvism in France and Die Brucke in Germany championed the use of non-representational colour, figurative painting and emotional expressionism, leading on from the impressionism of the 19th Century, in which the ‘impression’ of the subject was prioritised over exact realism.

Eventually, modernism broke up into many different movements, including Cubism (practised by Picasso) which introduced multiple viewpoints into a two-dimensional image.



Based on the psychology of Sigmund Freud, surrealism explored the hidden subtexts of dreams and the subconscious through the medium of art. It quickly became one of the most memorable art movements of the century thanks to the wacky subject matter and installations it spawned. They were instantly recognisable.

One of the biggest names in surrealism was Salvador Dali, who remains one of the last century’s most famous artists to this day.


Pop Art

Inspired by the brashness of commercial imagery and the growing consumerism of the developed world, Pop Art sprung onto the scene in the 1960s. Andy Warhol was one of the original artists involved in the Pop Art movement and became one of the first bonafide celebrity artists at the same time, as famous for his nightlife and girlfriends as he was for what he produced.

Warhol also moved the focus of art away from its production in some ways, often employing assistants to help create his works and for the first time, employing methods such as silk-screening which meant that art was easy to reproduce, and not necessarily by the original artist.

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