1,550 artworks, 125 artists
Modernism (fr. moderne – “new, contemporary, modern”) as a cultural trend arose in the 20th century and comprised many art movements which were in the opposition to classical art. All of them are characterized by deep individuality, inner freedom, a challenge to the established canons. The early trends of modernism include impressionism and post-impressionism. Later, such art movements in modernism as fauvism, expressionism, cubism, futurismDadaism and surrealism developed. Kinetic art and op art (optical art) are considered later styles within modernism.

Considering contemporary art, critics claim 1863, when the Salon des Refusés opened in Paris, as the conventional date of the birth of modernism. The Salon displayed the artworks by the artists who had been rejected by the strict jury of the Paris Salon, for example, the scandalous “Luncheon on the Grass”(1863) painting by Édouard Manet. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture did not approve the creativity of many of these painters, but it was the Salon des Refusés that attracted the attention of the public, causing fierce debate and ridicule from critics.

Modernism has shifted the artists’ focus from realistic and imitative to a more subjectivist, abstract art, which was dedicated to the inner worlds; to depict it within a space of a painting, artists began to use new techniques. Colour and form, line and space, symmetry and tonality became the autonomous tools that were not only a means of expression, but also the subjects of the works.

Some critics believe that the formation of the new ways of aesthetic expression was facilitated by the spiritual crisis of the West, which began in the middle of the 19th century and continued until the First World War. It was associated with the firm establishment of capitalism as the main economic and social model of the world pattern along with the decline of monarchies and great empires. The industrial revolution, the overpopulation of cities, military and civil instability, the syndrome of the “end of the century” — these were the conditions that influenced the development of the art movements united under the title of modernism, which denied the vulgarity and bad taste of the bourgeois class.