Exploring the Art of the Modern Age with Rick Steves

Are you interested in delving into the captivating world of the modern age? Join renowned travel guru, Rick Steves, as he takes you on an exhilarating journey to explore the art forms that define this dynamic era. Get ready to embark on a thought-provoking adventure that will deepen your understanding and appreciation for the masterpieces that reflect the essence of our contemporary society. So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to be inspired, as we dive into the art of the modern age together.


In the captivating world of art, the Modern Age stands as a testament to the evolution of creativity amidst the turbulence of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th century. Influenced by the Industrial Revolution and the shifting dynamics of society, artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Dalí emerged as pioneers in expressing the complexities of the modern world. With their distinctive styles and unique perspectives, these artists painted vivid pictures that captured the essence of the era. Join us as we embark on a journey through the lens of Rick Steves’ Europe, exploring the rich tapestry of European art in the 1800s.

European Art in the 1800s: A Reflection of Changing Times

The Influence of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought about a radical transformation in Europe. With the rise of factories and machinery came a new way of life, challenging centuries-old traditions and rural existence. This period of rapid change deeply influenced the artistic landscape and provided artists with a new subject matter to explore.

Expressing the Complexity of the Modern World

Artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Dalí were at the forefront of capturing the complexity of the modern world. Their paintings reflected the shifting realities of society, embracing new artistic techniques and concepts that defied traditional norms. Through their art, they delved deep into the human experience, exploring themes of identity, emotion, and the human condition.

Romanticism: Embracing Emotion and Nature

Romanticism emerged as a popular artistic style during the 19th century. Celebrating a range of human emotions and embracing nature and legends, Romantic artists sought to evoke strong emotional responses from their viewers. This movement spread across Europe, with artists from Germany, Scotland, Norway, and Italy expressing their patriotism and longing for freedom through their artwork.

Neoclassicism versus Romanticism

Before the rise of Romanticism, Neoclassical art dominated the European art scene. Neoclassical artists aimed for clean lines, logical composition, and a sense of harmony. However, with the arrival of Romanticism, dramatic and emotional expressions took center stage. Romantic art often depicted scenes of intense emotional turmoil and celebrated heroes fighting for freedom.

Francisco Goya: Exploring Extreme Emotions

One of the most influential Romantic artists of the era was Francisco Goya. Goya’s paintings delved into the depths of human emotion, exploring themes of tragedy, oppression, and political unrest. His artwork captivated viewers by presenting the stark realities of the world, pushing boundaries and provoking thought.

Nature’s Resurgence: A Retreat from the Machine-like Pace of Life

As the Industrial Revolution unfolded, there arose a longing for a connection with nature and a desire to escape the fast-paced, machine-like existence of urban life. Artists like William Turner sought to capture the power and forces of nature in their paintings. Turner’s use of vibrant colors and sweeping brushstrokes drew viewers into awe-inspiring scenes of nature’s majesty.

The Pre-Raphaelites: A Return to Medieval Beauty

In stark contrast to the Industrial Revolution, the Pre-Raphaelites were a group of artists inspired by the dreamy medieval world and the untamed beauty of nature. They rejected the industrialized present in favor of a romanticized past, creating artworks that celebrated the individual, spirituality, and the natural world.


The art of the Modern Age, as explored through the lens of Rick Steves’ Europe, reveals the dynamic interplay between societal changes and creative expression. From the influence of the Industrial Revolution to the exploration of complex human emotions, European art in the 1800s showcased the transformative power of artistic innovation. Artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Dalí ventured into uncharted territories, leaving a lasting impact on the art world. As we reflect upon this era, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate threads that connect art, history, and the human experience.


  1. Q: How did the Industrial Revolution influence European art in the 1800s?

    • The Industrial Revolution brought about significant societal changes, and artists reflected these transformations in their artwork. It provided them with new subject matter, such as factories and machinery, and challenged traditional artistic conventions.
  2. Q: Who were some of the renowned Romantic artists in Europe during the 1800s?

    • Some of the renowned Romantic artists during the 1800s include Francisco Goya, Caspar David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, among others.
  3. Q: What were the main characteristics of Neoclassical art?

    • Neoclassical art aimed for clean lines, logical composition, and a sense of harmony. It drew inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman art, with an emphasis on rationality and order.
  4. Q: How did Romantic artists depict the theme of nature in their artwork?

    • Romantic artists celebrated nature’s beauty and power in their paintings. They often depicted dramatic landscapes, turbulent weather, and awe-inspiring natural settings.
  5. Q: What was the significance of the Pre-Raphaelite movement?

    • The Pre-Raphaelite movement rejected the industrialized present and sought inspiration from the medieval past. It celebrated beauty, spirituality, and the natural world, offering a respite from the industrialization of the era.