Modern art represents famous modern paintings produced during the 19th and 20th centuries, and is mainly associated with modern art pieces that eschew the traditions of the past in favour of the spirit of experimentation.Famous modern artists and painters tend to experiment with new ways of looking at things and provide fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. Modern indian painting tends to shy away from the creation of a narrative and focuses more on the modern art abstract, allowing each viewer to interpret a work of art subjectively.

The pioneers of modern artwork were Romantics, Realists and Impressionists. The development of modern artwork designs was heralded by painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The year most commonly associated with the birth of mid century modern artwork is 1863, when Edouard Manet showed his painting, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, in the Salon des Refusés in Paris. However, there are even earlier examples that others consider to be the birth of modern art, going as far back as 1784. Perhaps the best, and most accurate, summarization on the subject was provided by art historian H. Harvard Arnason, who said “Each of these dates has significance for the development of modern paintings, but none categorically marks a completely new beginning .... A gradual metamorphosis took place in the course of a hundred years".

Modern paintings encompasses several movements in the twentieth century, most notably Fauvism, Abstract Art, Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism and Futurism. After the end of the second world war, several new movements emerged, the most prominent being abstract impressionism, minimal art, lyrical abstraction and hard-edge painting.

As the 20th century drew to a close, a number of artists and architects started questioning the idea of "the modern" and created typically Postmodern works.