Decoding 5 Amazing Modern Painting Styles

by Neera Sehgal 

Modern painting styles are usually referred to as art that was produced between the 18th and 19th century. Artists fed up of following the rigid art style that was prevalent felt the need to push against existing boundaries. They broke away from realism and past traditions and began experimenting with new themes, materials, bold methods and colours to create spectacular paintings that reflected progressive thinking.

It comes as no big surprise that this phase of modern art was initially rejected and ridiculed. However, once the shock wore off, the various styles started to gain momentum and soon became a source of inspiration for the new generations of artists.

Here are a few modern painting styles that artists follow even today:


Impressionism is an art movement that originated in France in late 19th century. It is characterised by thin brushstrokes with a lot of focus on natural light. Impressionist artists often painted outdoors scenes like landscapes, street settings, common and ordinary themes in order to capture sunlight and the colourful tones of their subject matter. If you look closely at modern painting styles that are impressionist , you will find that the use of black colour is practically negligible. In fact, for dark tones, the artists used and mixed complementary colors. Renowned impressionist painters include Claude Monet, Pierre – Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Armand Guillaumin, among others.

Trainspotter By Christina Banerjee modern painting styles
Trainspotter By Christina Banerjee

Abstract Art: 

Abstract art is among the renowned modern painting styles that involve swirls and shapes of splattered paint sans the use of figurative reality. There is hardly any direction for abstract paintings and the artwork is generally without a beginning or an end. Nevertheless, these paintings are vibrant, extremely appealing and aesthetically satisfying. Abstract art is a product of radical thought and is used to portray emotions, strength and spiritual beliefs of an artist’s inner world. Famous artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline embraced this style.

Untitled By Sunil Balkawade


Surrealism is one of the famous modern painting styles that emerged in the early 20th century. This form of art is illogical with an emphasis on the subconscious.  Surrealist paintings that rely heavily on the element of the unexpected have a dream-like quality about them. Another feature of this style is juxtaposition. Artists tend to place two abstract concepts together in surrealistic paintings for a startling effect. Among the popular Surrealist painters are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Valentine Hugo, Joan Miro, and Toyen.

In The Context Of Vincent Van Gogh by Dilawar Khan


This is one of the revolutionary modern painting styles. Cubism was conceived and developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque but later adopted by other artists like Juan Gris. This abstract form of art evolved at the beginning of the 20th century in response to the changing modern world. Cubism is characterized by geometric figures. A typical Cubist painting depicts real people, places or objects from various angles. The final product is an interesting blend of the actual object form and some geometrical shape.

In Conversation With Spaces By Alka Jhamb
In Conversation With Spaces By Alka Jhamb


Expressionism is another form of the abstract style of painting in modern painting styles. Closely related to intense reactions and feelings of the human heart, the composition is quite dramatic, intended to induce some kind of an emotional resonance within the viewer. Expressionist paintings have an element of spontaneity, a chaotic and rebellious feel. Jackson Pollock is a famous expressionist artist. Another name associated with this style of painting is Vincent Van Gogh.

Traini By Mrinal Dutt
Traini By Mrinal Dutt

Other influential movements of “modern art” and modern painting include Fauvism, Futurism and conceptual art among others. Explore Mojarto for more such artworks.