Modern art is generally described as art produced after the Industrial Revolution, a period of global change that reached its peak in the mid-1800s with the invention of new technologies such as electric motors, consumer manufacturing, and photography. As a result of these developments, ways of life changed rapidly—densely populated cities and factory work grew, new forms of travel emerged, and global connections became more accessible.

In response to these dramatic changes, and looking to create new modes of understanding and seeing the world, artists broke away from centuries-long traditions that typically limited art to religious themes and realistic depictions. Instead they used art as a tool for personal expression, theoretical inquiry, and collective social change, experimenting with materials and processes that often challenged the very definition of what art could be.

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