Modernist Style | Be inspired by artistic interiors
Find your modern art style
To most, modernism is synonymous with mid-century style that highlights sculptural furniture and organic silhouettes. But there’s much more to the modernist look than you think. In fact, the style began as the frontline for a creative rebellion.
At the end of the 19th century, artists and designers became disillusioned with the stiff confines of tradition and broke away to discover their own unique style. This led to a series of distinctive, artistic looks that all came under the modernist umbrella.
So, we’ve pulled together five of our favourite artistic movements from the modernist period to inspire you. From romantic impressionism to lively colour-block expressionists, each avant-garde look has one thing in common: a defiant desire to shake up the status quo.
What is modernism?
Modernism is a style in art, philosophy and literature that began in the late 1800s and carried on through to the mid 20th century. It gave rise to numerous artistic movements in a short amount of time, and started with paintings by the ‘father of modern art’ Paul Cezanne. With the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock following suit, it meant that experimental self-expression was brought to the forefront of modern art.
Embrace nature like an Impressionist
Impressionism began in France in the late 1800s with painters like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. These artists abandoned perfectionist brushstrokes in favour of painterly daubs that would better capture the subtle changes in natural light. Their work gave an ‘impression’ of the scene, rather than showing their subject exactly as it appeared.
If you’re a fan of natural light, leafy foliage, French-style furniture, and sunlit palettes of soft pastels, then the impressionist look is your calling.
Be bold with colour like the Fauvists
By the early 1900s, the fauvism movement became popular with the likes of Andre Derain and Henri Matisse. They believed in the expressive power of colour, which was used to convey feelings rather than being bound to realism. There were no rules — the sky could be green and the ground blue, it gave complete artistic freedom. This freedom of expression translated into the way paints were applied, too. They went straight from tube to canvas in bold, explosive bursts of colour.
To recreate the fauvist look, be bold when it comes to colour. Fill your home with all your favourite hues in unique and unexpected combinations.
Pare it back with Concrete Art
Around 1910, the vibrant multicoloured works of fauvism gave way to a new, simplified style of linework grids and bright primary colours against a background of neutral tones. Artists like Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesberg reduced scenes to a series of shapes and colours which they believed would better capture the essence of their subject.
If you love this style, you’re probably a bit of a minimalist. Capture the look in your own home with sleek ironwork mirrors, geometric furniture, and a rare yet well-chosen block of colour to draw the eye.
Sculpt your style with Organic Modernism
From the 1920s, organic modernism emerged. It was a movement influenced by the human body and other natural forms. Working mostly in bronze and stone, artists like Henry Moore sculpted abstract artworks with simplified curves and rounded shapes.
Bring the earthy tones of natural forms to life in your own home with terracotta stoneware and burnished metal in imperfect curved shapes.
Go your own way with Abstract Expressionism
There were two types of abstract expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s. Artists like Mark Rothko blocked out entire canvases with colour, whereas Jackson Pollock poured and dripped paint in seemingly random ways. But both had a unique, spontaneous approach that couldn’t be imitated.
If you’re drawn to abstract expressionism, then you’re most likely someone who’s fairly spontaneous when it comes to decorating your home. Live in the moment and discover thrifted finds and new homewares that reflect your personality.
We hope you’re feeling inspired by this fascinating period in art history. But if you’re still searching for artistic touches to add to your home, then take a look at our modernist Pinterest board.