History of Modern Art, 7th edition

Published by Pearson (December 12, 2012) © 2013

  • H H. Arnason National Humanities Center in Research
  • Elizabeth C. Mansfield National Humanities Center in Research


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A Comprehensive Overview — available in digital and print formats

History of Modern Art is a visual comprehensive overview of the modern art field. It traces the trends and influences in painting, sculpture, photography and architecture from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The seventh edition deepens its discussions on social conditions that have affected the production and reception of modern and contemporary art. 

This text is available in a variety of formats – digital and print. Pearson offers its titles on the devices students love through CourseSmart, Amazon, and more. To learn more about our programs, pricing options and customization, click the Choices tab.

Learning Goals

Upon completing this book, readers will be able to:

  • Understand the origins of modern art
  • Provide an analysis of artworks based on formal and contextual elements
  • Recognize the influences of social conditions on modern art
  • Comprehensive exploration of modern art — Provides an overview of modern art. It explores the movements, trends and influences of artists from the mid-nineteenth century through contemporary art. Includes Photorealism, Conceptualism, Pattern and Decoration, New Image, and Neo-Expressionism.
  • Encompasses all media of modern art — Covers photography, performance art, installation art, collaboration, video, and mixed-media works.
  • Chronological organisation – The chronological structure of the text puts works of art in historical perspective.   
  • Illustrations - Over 1100 illustrations, all color as appropriate, with 300 new and updated images.
  • Contextual information – Political, social, and historical context of artists, movements, and individual works provide additional reference information.
    • Three categories of boxed features emphasise this information:
      • Context
      • Technique
      • Sources
  • Central Themes - Six central themes guide readers to make connections between works of art. Themes include:
    • Intersections between art and science
    • Role of technology in shaping modern art
    • The relationship between modernism and femininity
    • The influence of criticism on the reception of modern art
    • The development and effects of the art market
    • The persistence of the exotic as an aesthetic ideal
  • Globalisation chapter – The final chapter examines globalisation. It looks at the economic and political conditions currently affecting artists and audiences internationally.

In this Section:
1) Overall changes

2) Chapter-by-Chapter changes

Overall Changes

  • The key change for the seventh edition is its availability as a two-volume version as well as a single comprehensive text. 
    •  Volume I concludes with a chapter on American art between the wars and the reception of Surrealism, as well as a conclusion to the volume.
    • Volume II has an introductory chapter summarizing main points relating to the development of modernism through Surrealism, as well as the American reception of Surrealism.
  • Chapters continue to be realigned and updated to better reflect new scholarly research and criticism.
  • Over 1100 illustrations, all color as appropriate, with 300 new updated images.

Chapter-by-Chapter Changes

Chapter 1

  • A streamlined introduction to the origins of modern art
  • Traditional, academic approaches to art making highlight modernity’s challenges to expectations about art

Chapter 2

  • Realism discussion sharpens the distinctions among the various movements and techniques
  • Photography and  Realism
  • Impressionism’s relationship and reaction to Realism
  • Women artists’ contributions and the significance of the female nude as a persistent subject of modern art

Chapter 3

  • Focus on the diverse artistic movements in France following the Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune
  • Post-Impressionism emergence
  • Closer analyses of fewer artworks

Chapter 4

  • Architecture’s central role for Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau is made clear
  • Greater emphasis on sculpture’s importance
  • The Wiener Werkstätte is now cast in relation to Arts and Crafts, as well as Jugendstil.

Chapter 5

  • Chapter develops around the works of Henri Matisse and Constantin Brancusi
  • Closer examination of the relationship between photography and early twentieth-century experiments
  • Special note of Brancusi’s use of photography as part of his artistic process

Chapter 6

  • Examples of German and Austrian Expressionism
  • A focus on Expressionism’s preoccupation with female nude relating to contemporary social conventions and aesthetic trends within modernism

Chapter 7

  • Discussions on Cubism emergence and French social conditions in the early twentieth century give rise to the artistic experiments by Picasso and Braque
  • Cubism’s distinct aesthetic concerns are treated at length, but not as ideas divorced from history

Chapter 8

  • Photographs of buildings help readers to understand early twentieth-century architecture
  • An expanded discussion on functionalism strengths theoretical framework for discussions on buildings

Chapter 9

  • The European response to Cubism is highlighted through diverse artists in Paris
  • A look on how Italian and Russian artistic innovations lead to movements such as Futurism and Constructivism

Chapter 10

  • New images convey the depth of the social and cultural rupture caused by World War I
  • The intense outrage, confusion, and despair felt by those who experienced the war is shown through works such as Dada and the New Objectivity

Chapter 11

  • The artistic response to World War I in Paris
  • The importance of art dealers in the promotion of avant-garde art
  • The role of the dealer is given renewed consideration
  • Artists, critics, dealers, and patrons contribution to the culture “Call to Order”  characterizing the post-war period

Chapter 12

  • New architectural views devoted to the de Stijl movement
  • The complex significance accorded to abstraction by Piet Mondrian is elaborated

Chapter 13

  • Clearer and more historically accurate images have been introduced to support the idea that Bauhaus was founded on the principle of arts integration in pursuit of a unified aesthetic

Chapter 14

  • Surrealism’s reliance on concepts derived from Freud’s theories contributes to the movement’s presumptions regarding femininity as a dangerous yet irresistibly seductive manifestation of the psyche
  • The movement’s representation of women and its ambivalence toward women artists is under sharper critique
  • Photographer Dora Maar’s work is included

Chapter 15

  • Chapter now begins with artist Romaine Brooks and uses her career as an entry point into American artists’ relationship to the European avant-garde

  • Social concerns animating progressive American artists are discussed
  • American artists visual responses to urban poverty, child labor, and isolationism

Chapter 16

  • A more focused approach to Abstract Expressionism and the emergence of American modernism
  • More in-depth discussion of selected pieces
  • Subtler treatment of the contributions of women to modern art in North America

Chapter 17

  • European art of the immediate postwar period has been contextualized in relation to the era’s difficult economic conditions and to existentialism
  • Inclusion of new comparative pieces enhance the discussion of Francis Bacon’s painting

Chapter 18

  • Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus have their own chapter

Chapter 19

  • The importance of Pop art to the history of twentieth and twenty-first-century and allied movements are discussed
  • French artists Evelyn Axell gives women involved with Pop art a stronger presence

Chapter 20

  • Subtler treatment of the legacy of Clement Greenberg in order to lend greater accuracy to the treatment of Minimalism
  • Chapter further emphasizes  uncertainty and competing claims that pervade the history of modern art, a point made clearly by discussion of the Minimalist project

Chapter 21

  • This chapter has been enhanced with new, clearer images and architectural plans
  • A discussion of the architecture and design work of Eileen Gray has been added

Chapter 22

  • Conceptual art, Performance art, feminist art, protest art, and the Situationists are addressed through works by Marina Abramovic, Ulay, Jean-Michel Sanejouand,and Sylvia Sleigh
  • Josef Beuys’ contribution to Conceptual art is discussed at greater length

Chapter 23

  • A more in-depth analysis of Post-Minimalism, Earth art, and New Imagists
  • The chapter opens with Process art, giving readers a clearer understanding of the relationship among the various movements that characterized modern art in the 1970s

Chapter 24

  • The section on architecture discusses the differences among Postmodern, Constructivist, and Deconstructive approaches
  • The chapter now closes with a single painting by Mark Tansey

Chapter 25

  • The chapter focuses on easel painting
  • Several comparative works introduce the growing social and aesthetic interest in painting

Chapter 26

  • Explanation of contemporary artists willingness to work outside the bounds of established institutions and practices
  • The DIY movement in the visual arts is revealed with works by Charles LeDray and Guy Ben-Nur
  • Christian Marclay and Andrea Fraser, whose distinct confrontations with the culture of the art world offer divergent approaches to institutional critique, are introduced

Chapter 27

  • Significantly updated to accommodate works of visual art produced in response to postcolonialism, neocolonialism, and globalization
  • How the “Arab Spring” protests and the global Occupy Movement has brought greater awareness to digital technology in spreading and shaping information
  • Works of art include pieces that address issues related to digital cultures, personal confrontations with globalization, and arts in the service of social justice
  • Artists added to this edition include Walid Raad, Rirkrit Tiravanija, El Anatsui, Do-Ho Suh, Pierre Huyghe, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ai Wei Wei, and Bernadette Corporation


  • Chapter 1: The Origins of Modern Art
  • Chapter 2: The Search for Truth: Early Photography, Realism, and Impressionism
  • Chapter 3: Post-Impressionism
  • Chapter 4: Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and the Beginnings of Expressionism
  • Chapter 5: The New Century: Experiments in Color and Form
  • Chapter 6: Expressionism in Germany and Austria
  • Chapter 7: Cubism
  • Chapter 8: Early Modern Architecture
  • Chapter 9: European Art after Cubism
  • Chapter 10: Picturing the Wasteland: Western Europe during World War I
  • Chapter 11: Art in France after World War I
  • Chapter 12: Clarity, Certainty, and Order: De Stijl and the Pursuit of Geometric Abstraction
  • Chapter 13: Bauhaus and the Teaching of Modernism
  • Chapter 14: Surrealism
  • Chapter 15: American Art Before World War II
  • Chapter 16: Abstract Expressionism and the New American Sculpture
  • Chapter 17: Postwar European Art
  • Chapter 18: Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus
  • Chapter 19: Taking Chances with Popular Culture
  • Chapter 20: Playing by the Rules: Sixties Abstraction
  • Chapter 21: Modernism in Architecture at Mid-Century
  • Chapter 22: Conceptual and Activist Art
  • Chapter 23: Post-Minimalism, Earth Art, and New Imagists
  • Chapter 24: Postmodernism
  • Chapter 25: Painting through History
  • Chapter 26: New Perspectives on Art and Audience
  • Chapter 27: Contemporary Art and Globalization


  • Chapter 1: The Origins of Modern Art
    • Making Art and Artists: The Role of the Critic
    • The Modern Artist
    • What Does It Mean to Be an Artist?: From Academic Emulation toward Romantic Originality
    • Making Sense of a Turbulent World: The Legacy of Neoclassicism and Romanticism
  • Chapter 2: The Search for Truth: Early Photography, Realism, and Impressionism
    • New Ways of Seeing: Photography and its Influence
    • Only the Truth: Realism
    • Seizing the Moment: Impressionism and the Avant-Garde
    • From Realism to Impressionism
    • Nineteenth-Century Art in the United States
  • Chapter 3: Post-Impressionism
    • The Poetic Science of Color: Seurat and the Neo-Impressionist
    • Form and Nature: Paul Cézanne
    • The Triumph of Imagination: Symbolism
    • An Art Reborn: Rodin and Sculpture at the Fin de Siècle
    • Primitivism and the Avant-Garde: Gauguin and Van Gogh
    • A New Generation of Prophets: The Nabis
    • Montmartre: At Home with the Avant-Garde
  • Chapter 4: Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and the Beginnings of Expressionism
    • “A Return to Simplicity”: The Arts and Crafts Movement and Experimental
    • Architecture
    • Experiments in Synthesis: Modernism beside the Hearth
    • With Beauty at the Reins of Industry: Aestheticism and Art Nouveau
    • Natural Forms for the Machine Age: The Art Nouveau Aesthetic
    • Painting and Graphic Art
    • Toward Expressionism: Late Nineteenth-Century Avant-Garde Painting beyond France
  • Chapter 5: The New Century: Experiments in Color and Form
    • Fauvism
    • “Purity of Means” in Practice: Henri Matisse’s Early Career
    • “Wild Beasts” Tamed: Derain, Vlaminck, and Dufy
    • Religious Art for a Modern Age: Georges Rouault
    • The Belle Époque on Film: The Lumière Brothers and Lartigue
    • Modernism on a Grand Scale: Matisse’s Art after Fauvism
    • Forms of the Essential: Constantin Brancusi
  • Chapter 6: Expressionism in Germany and Austria
    • From Romanticism to Expressionism: Corinth and Modersohn-Becker
    • Spanning the Divide between Romanticism and Expressionism: Die Brücke
    • The Spiritual Dimension: Der Blaue Reiter
    • Expressionist Sculpture
    • Self-Examination: Expressionism in Austria
  • Chapter 7: Cubism
    • Immersed in Tradition: Picasso’s Early Career
    • Beyond Fauvism: Braque’s Early Career
    • “Two Mountain Climbers Roped Together”: Braque, Picasso, and the
    • Development of Cubism
    • Constructed Spaces: Cubist Sculpture
    • An Adaptable Idiom: Developments in Cubist Painting in Paris
    • Other Agendas: Orphism and Other Experimental Art in
  • Chapter 8: Early Modern Architecture
    • “Form Follows Function”: The Chicago School and the Origins of the Skyscraper
    • Modernism in Harmony with Nature: Frank Lloyd Wright
    • Temples for the Modern City: American Classicism 1900—15
    • New Simplicity Versus Art Nouveau: Vienna Before World War I
    • Tradition and Innovation: The German Contribution to Modern Architecture
    • Toward the International Style: The Netherlands and Belgium
  • Chapter 9: European Art after Cubism
    • Fantasy Through Abstraction: Chagall and the Metaphysical School
    • “Running on Shrapnel”: Futurism in Italy
    • “Our Vortex is Not Afraid”: Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism
    • A World Ready for Change: The Avant-Garde in Russia
    • Utopian Visions: Russian Constructivism
  • Chapter 10: Picturing the Wasteland: Western Europe during World War I
    • The World Turned Upside Down: The Birth of Dada
    • “Her Plumbing and Her Bridges”: Dada Comes to America
    • “Art is Dead”: Dada in Germany
    • Idealism and Disgust: The “New Objectivity” in Germany
  • Chapter 11: Art in France after World War I
    • Eloquent Figuration: Les Maudits
    • Dedication to Color: Matisse’s Later Career
    • Celebrating the Good Life: Dufy’s Later Career
    • Eclectic Mastery: Picasso’s Career after the War
    • Sensuous Analysis: Braque’s Later Career
    • Austerity and Elegance: Léger, Le Corbusier, and Ozenfant
  • Chapter 12: Clarity, Certainty, and Order: De Stijl and the Pursuit of Geometric Abstraction
    • The de Stijl Idea
    • Mondrian: Seeking the Spiritual Through the Rational
    • Van Doesburg, de Stijl, and Elementarism
    • De Stijl Realized: Sculpture and Architecture
  • Chapter 13: Bauhaus and the Teaching of Modernism
    • Audacious Lightness: The Architecture of Gropius
    • The Building as Entity: The Bauhaus
    • The Vorkurs: Basis of the Bauhaus Curriculum
    • Die Werkmeistern: Craft Masters at the Bauhaus
    • From Bauhaus Dessau to Bauhaus U.S.A.
  • Chapter 14: Surrealism
    • Breton and the Background to Surrealism
    • “Art is a Fruit”: Arp’s Later Career
    • Hybrid Menageries: Ernst’s Surrealist Techniques
    • “Night, Music, and Stars”: Miró and Organic—Abstract Surrealism
    • Methodical Anarchy: André Masson
    • Enigmatic Landscapes: Tanguy and Dalí
    • Surrealism beyond France and Spain: Magritte, Delvaux, Bellmer, Matta, and Lam
    • Women and Surrealism: Oppenheim, Cahun, Maar, Tanning, and Carrington
    • Never Quite “One of Ours”: Picasso and Surrealism
    • Pioneer of a New Iron Age: Julio González
    • Surrealism’s Sculptural Language: Giacometti’s Early Career
    • Surrealist Sculpture in Britain: Moore
    • Bizarre Juxtapositions: Photography and Surrealism
  • Chapter 15: American Art Before World War II
    • American Artist as Cosmopolitan: Romaine Brooks
    • The Truth about America: The Eight and Social Criticism
    • A Rallying Place for Modernism: 291 Gallery and the Stieglitz Circle
    • Coming to America: The Armory Show
    • Sharpening the Focus on Color and Form: Synchromism and Precisionism
    • The Harlem Renaissance
    • Painting the American Scene: Regionalists and Social Realists
    • Documents of an Era: American Photographers Between the Wars
    • Social Protest and Personal Pain: Mexican Artists
    • The Avant-Garde Advances: Toward American Abstract Art
    • Sculpture in America Between the Wars
  • Chapter 16: Abstract Expressionism and the New American Sculpture
    • Mondrian in New York: The Tempo of the Metropolis
    • Entering a New Arena: Modes of Abstract Expressionism
    • The Picture as Event: Experiments in Gestural Painting
    • Complex Simplicities: Color Field Painting
    • Drawing in Steel: Constructed Sculpture
    • Textures of the Surreal: Biomorphic Sculpture and Assemblage
    • Expressive Vision: Developments in American Photography
  • Chapter 17: Postwar European Art
    • Re-evaluations and Violations: Figurative Art in France
    • A Different Art: Abstraction in France
    • Postwar Juxtapositions: Figuration and Abstraction in Italy and Spain
    • “Forget It and Start Again”: The CoBrA Artists and Hundertwasser
    • The Postwar Body: British Sculpture and Painting
    • Marvels of Daily Life: European Photographers
  • Chapter 18: Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus
    • “Sensibility in Material Form”: Klein
    • Fluxus
  • Chapter 19: Taking Chances with Popular Culture
    • “This is Tomorrow”: Pop Art in Britain
    • Signs of the Times: Pop Art in the United States
    • Getting Closer to Life: Happenings and Environments
    • “Just Look at the Surface”: The Imagery of Everyday Life
    • Poetics of the “New Gomorrah”: West Coast Artists
    • Personal Documentaries: The Snapshot Aesthetic in American Photography
  • Chapter 20: Playing by the Rules: Sixties Abstraction
    • Drawing the Veil: Post Painterly Abstraction
    • At an Oblique Angle: Diebenkorn
    • Forming the Unit: Hard-Edge Painting
    • Seeing Things: Op Art
    • New Media Mobilized: Motion and Light
    • The Limits of Modernism: Minimalism
    • Complex Unities: Photography and Minimalism
  • Chapter 21: Modernism in Architecture at Mid-Century
    • “The Quiet Unbroken Wave”: The Later Work of Wright and Le Corbusier
    • Purity and Proportion: The International Style in America
    • Internationalism Contextualized: Developments in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Australia
    • Breaking the Mold: Experimental Housing
    • Arenas for Innovation: Major Public Projects
  • Chapter 22: Conceptual and Activist Art
    • Art as Language
    • Conceptual Art as Cultural Critique
    • The Medium Is the Message: Early Video Art
    • When Art Becomes Artist: Body Art
    • Radical Alternatives: Feminist Art
    • Erasing the Boundaries between Art and Life: Later Feminist Art
    • Invisible to Visible: Art and Racial Politics
  • Chapter 23: Post-Minimalism, Earth Art, and New Imagists
    • Metaphors for Life: Process Art
    • Big Outdoors: Earthworks and Land Art
    • Public Statements: Monuments and Large-Scale Sculpture
    • Body of Evidence: Figurative Art
    • Animated Surfaces: Pattern and Decoration
    • Figure and Ambiguity: New Image Art
  • Chapter 24: Postmodernism
    • Postmodernism in Architecture
    • “Complexity and Contradiction”: The Reaction Against Modernism Sets In
    • In Praise of “Messy Vitality”: Postmodernist Eclecticism
    • Ironic Grandeur: Postmodern Architecture and History
    • What Is a Building?: Constructivist and Deconstructivist Architecture
    • Structure as Metaphor: Architectural Allegories
    • Flexible Spaces: Architecture and Urbanism
    • Postmodern Practices: Breaking Art History
  • Chapter 25: Painting through History
    • Primal Passions: Neo-Expressionism
    • Searing Statements: Painting as Social Conscience
    • In the Empire of Signs: Neo-Geo
    • The Sum of Many Parts: Abstraction in the 1980s
    • Taking Art to the Streets: Graffiti and Cartoon Artists
    • Painting Art History
  • Chapter 26: New Perspectives on Art and Audience
    • Commodity Art
    • Postmodern Arenas: Installation Art
    • Strangely Familiar: British and American Sculpture
    • Reprise and Reinterpretation: Art History as Art
    • New Perspectives on Childhood and Identity
    • The Art of Biography
    • Meeting Points: New Approaches to Abstraction
  • Chapter 27: Contemporary Art and Globalization
    • Lines That Define Us: Locating and Crossing Borders
    • Skin Deep: Identity and the Body
    • Occupying the Art World Globalization and Arts Institutions

Elizabeth C. Mansfield  is Vice President for Scholarly Programs at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  She  has taught art history at New York University and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee . A scholar of modern European art and art historiography, her publications include books and articles on topics ranging from the origins of modernism to Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon to the contemporary performance and body art of Orlan. Her 2007 book Too Beautiful to Picture: Zeus, Myth, and Mimesis was awarded the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey book prize.

The late H.H. Arnason was a distinguished art historian, educator, and museum administrator who for many years was Vice President for Art Administration of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York. He began his professional life in academia, teaching at Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and the University of Hawaii. From 1947 to 1961, Arnason was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota.

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