Difference between Modern Art and Contemporary Art

By: | Updated: May-28, 2019
The contents of the Difference.guru website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!

When people talk about modern and contemporary art, the meanings sometimes get interchanged. However, there is a difference between modern and contemporary art. Such a difference was established by historians, art institutions, curators, and the like. They identified a shift in the methods, medium, and approach of known artists. This article will help you understand that particular shift and the differences between modern and contemporary art.

Summary Table

Modern art Contemporary art
Began in the 1880s to the 1960s Developed after the 1960s and is still emerging
Created by artists who are not alive anymore Created by artists who are still alive
Puts aside traditions and focuses more on new perspectives of seeing the world Has some degree of social, cultural, and political relevance


"Starry Night" by Van Gogh
“Starry Night” by Van Gogh

Modern art emerged during the 1880s to the 1960s, by artists who are no longer alive. The artists of these times chose to put aside traditional artwork, like those depicting mostly religious beliefs. Modern art’s philosophy and style was more focused on experimentation and having a new outlook on the world. This type of art encompasses various movements and brought fresh concepts in the art world.

example of contemporary art
An example of contemporary art

Contemporary art developed after the 1960s and is still an emerging form of art. Contemporary artists are still alive and they are the ones who produce up-to-date artwork. By up-to-date, we mean the art form depicts a certain level of social, economic, and political relevance. This type of art reflects important matters and develops an awareness of pressing issues. Contemporary art is also influenced by emerging mediums and is limitless in forms of expression.

Modern Art vs Contemporary Art

The main difference between modern art and contemporary art is the period where they emerged. Modern art began in the 1880s and lasted up to the 1960s, whereas contemporary art developed after the 1960s and is still an emerging form of art. There are a lot of known artists from the modern art period such as Van Gogh, Edouard Manet, and Pablo Picasso, to name a few. These artists have already passed on. Contemporary art, on the other hand, is created by artists who are still living.

Modern art encompasses various movements such as Surrealism, Cubism, Impressionism, and Abstract Expressionism, among others. This art form focuses on the subjective depiction of subjects, veering away from the traditional and showcasing new perspectives on how the artists see the world. Conversely, contemporary art has imbibed some form of social impact. This art form also saw major cultural and political influences. Contemporary artists enjoy the freedom of experimenting with different styles, influenced by emerging mediums like video art, graphic art, object design, and even social media. Contemporary art has opened a whole new world of possibilities for artists and is headed to a boundless future.

(Visited 872 times, 1 visits today)
Did this article help you?
Thank you!
Thank you!
What was wrong?