The Most Popular Modern Drawing and Painting Styles

These are the Most Popular Modern Drawing & Painting Styles

Little Blue Horse, 1912 (oil on canvas)
Little Blue Horse, 1912. Saarland Museum, Saarbrucken, Germany

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous statement piece of artwork on their wall?

More and more people are moving towards having custom, one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork over stock images in their homes. Some do still gravitate to the classics, but the flavor of modern art is making a big splash with art consumers. 

Modern art isn’t actually “new”. The term “modern art” actually covers the period of art that spans from the 1860s and continues through the 1970s, and there are some distinct categories of modern art.

Abstract Art

Abstract art is the name for the type of art that most often makes people say “huh.” This is because abstract art does not use reality as a reference. Instead, abstract art captures the essence of the subject rather than the visual reality of the subject. Within abstract art, there are four main categories.below here:

Abstract Expressionism Paintings

This type of abstract art is very visceral and emotional. They are created in a spontaneous, creative flurry, and they usually communicate actions or gestures rather than subjects. Notable abstract artists are Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey.

Color Field Paintings

Color field paintings use color as the subject rather than concrete objects. These modern paintings are often on large canvases, and unlike abstract art, the colors are applied with a lot of care and the goal of creating a cohesive piece. Notable color field artists are Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Hans Hoffman.


Lyrical abstract painting are very soft, romantic, and possess a relaxed, random quality to them. They are called “lyrical,” because they can be easily interpreted by the viewer. Notable lyrical artists are Paul Jenkins, Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, and Pierre Soulages.


Cubism is defined as art created by way of geometric shapes.

The artist creates their subjects by breaking them down into the base geometric shapes. Some cubism paintings are fully abstract, while others are less so. Notable cubists are Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger, Robert Delauney, and Fernand Leger


Surrealism is created by combining various images to create a cohesive, though often jarring, piece. While things seem close to reality, proportions are often distorted. This type of art is very dream-like and thought-provoking. Notable surrealists are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Valentine Hugo, Joan Miro, and Toyen.

Conceptual Art

As the name suggests, the emphasis of conceptual art is the concept rather than the end visual. The goal of conceptual art is to convey meaning rather than to create something that is aesthetically pleasing. Conceptually art is rarely found as mere paintings; more often it is in the form of an installation or sculpture. A lot of conceptual art is interactive. Notable conceptual artists are Marcel DuChamp, Yoko Ono, Yves Klein, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Pop Art

Pop art is designed to cement the viewer in a time and a place, bringing real-world objects into art. Anything from the mundane world is seen as a possible subject for creating pop art.

Notable pop artists include Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Wayne Thiebaud.


Photorealism is as it sounds: it is a painting that looks like a photograph. This takes a great deal of care, and it can be done either from a photo reference or with a model as a reference. Famous photorealists include Glennray Tutur, Robert Bechtle, Tom Blackwell, Don Eddy, Cindy Wright, and Chuck Close. 


Beyond hyperrealism is photorealism, wherein artists create painted representations of reality but accentuate certain aspects of it, such as shadows and lines. A lot of the time, hyperrealism depicts inanimate objects as having life and personality. The focus of hyperrealism is a false reality. Some notable artists include Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Bert Monroy, Duane Hanson, and Charles Bell.


This type of modern art is defined by its simplicity. Minimalist paintings focus on the essence or core of the subject, stripping away anything else that is unnecessary. Some famous minimalists are Barnett Newman, Kazmir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and Frank Stella.


Futurism has – you guessed it! – a futuristic element to it. The main focus of these paintings are speed, violence, technology, and the world’s future. A lot of the time futurism paintings depict the triumph of man over nature. One of the techniques employed in futurism is actually to use cubist attributes, breaking subjects down into their base geometric forms in order to show movement. Some famous futurists are David Burlyuk, Aristarkh Lentulov Fortunato Depero, and Gerado Dottori.


Impressionism originated in Paris, France, and it noted as being one of the first styles of modern art. These paintings are characterized by fine, thin brushstrokes, and light is given a lot of care in its depiction. Because of this, a lot of the art was made outdoors. During its birth in the 1870s, impressionism was considered radical because it broke a lot of the rules about painting upheld at the time. Famous impressionists are Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Armand Guillaumin. 

How to Market Your Artwork

In this modern age of modern art, you don’t have to head to an art fair, gallery, or flea market to get your artwork out into the community; you can market your artwork online! Artists find great success selling art on many corners of the internet, among those places being eBay, Pinterest, and Etsy.

People are always looking for creative, unique, original pieces of artwork to display in their homes, and more and more they are turning to the web as the source of that art. The best part of putting your art up for sale online is that it reaches a far bigger market than if you were to display it in a local shop. You can link to the website through social media – sites like Instagram and tumblr are full of artists – and create a global network of people who like your style.