Modern and Contemporary in Art and Design

Pierre Passebon PAD London 2015

Galerie du Passage Pierre Passebon showing inspirational combinations of furniture and art from different eras. Photo courtesy PAD London.

We usually always look forward to PAD, London’s leading fair for 20th Century art, design and decorative arts. This high end show epitomises how modern art, photography, design and decorative arts can be used in combination to create highly personalised and uniquely stunning interiors.

Whilst it's highly doubtful we'll be able to travel there again this year thanks to the ongoing pandemic, you might be interested in the distinctions between 'Modern' and 'Contemporary' as applied to art and design. 

The Modern Art movement is typically quoted as 1860-1950 with the first examples of abstraction. It was the beginning of a backlash to traditional 'academic art' of the Renaissance, and spans a wide variety of artistic styles all of which emphasize the value of being original and doing something innovative. Modern art is all about personal expression.

In the Postmodern era that followed, artworks that had been created using technologies such as silk screening began to appear, deconstructing the idea that artworks had to be originals or indeed that individual artistic genius was required, Art became more about conception than production.

In design, the Modernist movement is mostly quoted as post World War I, from about 1918-1950 and it celebrated the advances in technology that accompanied the industrial revolution. Again there were a number of schools of thought, but the common principle was that they eschewed decorative excess. Modern design was exclusively about form and function.

The term 'Contemporary' is not attached to a historical period but instead simply describes art and design “of our moment". At this point in time, artworks dating back to about 1970 are considered contemporary.

Contemporary interior design can therefore incorporate an eclectic mix of both modern and contemporary furniture and art. And, even though our perspex artworks are often referred to as 'very modern', and indeed the material was popularized during the Modernist movement of design, they are strictly contemporary.

Enjoy the show!