Learning Modern & Postmodern Art History Free with Amazon Prime Video

Welcome to part four of my series on learning art history with Amazon Prime! In this four-part article series, I’ve assembled an organized guide to art history videos available for free viewing for Amazon Prime members. We’ll look at resources available on Amazon Prime Video for learning about Modern and Postmodern art history and artists in this part of the series.

[Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.]

Modernism and Postmodernism were the art of the 20th century. Art in the modernist and postmodernist period is often misunderstood, and as a result also often disrespected. Many of the famous artists of this period are (in true age of media form) as famous for being famous as they are for their artworks. 

Pompidou Centre Paris
Pompidou Centre – Paris

Travelers have plenty of destinations to choose from to see Modern and Postmodern art. The United States is home to several extremely high quality museums: the Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA) in NYC, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, among others. Europe loves modern art – in Paris alone you’ll find at least a half-dozen places (like the architecturally controversial Pompidou Centre) to view work of various Modernists and Postmodernists), along with a plethora of Postmodern street art by artists like Banksy and Invader. And of course London is home to the incomparable Tate Modern.

With these guides you’ll be able to select just the content on Amazon Prime that you are looking for. Work your way through each section in chronological order, or go straight to a specific topic or artist. Simply find the era you want to learn about and then select either a general educational resource, or for more detail select an artist from the alphabetical listing.

[Content Warning: Some programs in these Amazon Prime listings feature art that contains nudity or unvarnished intimate details of artists’ personal lives. I suggest pre-screening content before showing it to children if that concerns you.]


Modern & Postmodern Art

Modernism and Postmodernism are a brave new world in art that leave something important behind: images of reality. Instead of trying to faithfully depict what they saw around them, artists began to interpret it – or even to paint their own internal space. Although we may think of modernism as a 20th century invention, it was truly invented in the 19th century by Realists, Impressionists, and Post-Impressionists. The great realist painter Edouard Manet is considered by many to be the true father of Modernism.

Postmodern (or Contemporary) art is considered to cover the period roughly after 1970. One new element of postmodern art is the encompassing of kitsch, commercialism and pop culture into “high art”. Neo-Expressionism also has brought back a version of the Expressionist style that originally was created 100 years ago by artists like Edvard Munch and Max Beckmann. This period of art is more eclectic in form and style than previous eras, as street art, performance art, digital art, and other mediums have become part of the art world.

End of the Art World

History of Modern Art

ReArt: Modernism: Ferdinand Hodler,  Franz von Stuck, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, Henri Rousseau, Konstantin Somov, Mikhail Vrubel, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1871-1934)

ReArt: Expressionism: Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele, Jackson Pollock, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning

ReArt: Surrealism: Giorgio de Chirico, Lucian Freud, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy 1902-1944

ReArt: Abstractionism: Kazimir Malevich


Modern & Postmodern Artists

Within the umbrella of Modernism and Postmodernism, these artists represent a variety of different styles: Neo-Expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Symbolism, and more. Some of them have work that has crossed more than one style during the evolution of their career. But they all share in common the freedom and experimentation of the modern age of art.

The list below is alphabetical and may be missing artists of note because they do not have free content on Amazon Prime Video.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)

Basquiat, an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, first gained fame as part of the graffiti street art duo SAMO in 1970’s Manhattan. After SAMO split up, Basquiat rapidly became a sought-after solo artist with shows in the U.S. and Europe. Like his admirer Warhol, Basquiat became part of celebrity culture: his girlfriend was a (then un-discovered) Madonna, and David Bowie was one of the first collectors of his work. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

American Masters: Basquiat

Miriam Beerman (1923-)

Beerman, an American artist from Rhode Island, is known for her expressionist style paintings. Her images frequently contain beastly characters and dark themes, such as plague, halocaust, and nuclear war. The 2015 movie by Jonathan Gruber “Expressing the Chaos” chronicles her artistic and personal journey through tragedy. 

Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos

Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Braque was a painter, sculptor, collagist, and printmaker who was instrumental in Cubism and Fauvism. He was influenced by Matisse and Cézanne, and worked closely with Picasso on the development of Cubism. After he served (and was wounded) in World War I, his work took on a more realistic style, but always maintained influences of Cubism. 

Nazi Art Thieves: This 54-minute documentary tells the story of Nazi art theft by tracing the paths of three paintings by Schiele, Braque, and Matisse from their theft to eventual restitution.

William S. Rubin on Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism

Eduardo Carrillo (1937-1997)

Carrillo, a Mexican-American artist known for his murals and for promoting recognition of Chicano art, was a professor for 25 years at University of California-Santa Cruz. His work ranges from dramatic oil paintings featuring Mexican icons to softer watercolors of everyday life. His 1979 mural “Father Hidalgo in Front of the Church of Dolores” can be seen in the park next to the Museum of Social Justice in Los Angeles. 

A Life of Engagement

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Chagall windows St Stephan Mainz
Stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in St. Stephan’s of Mainz.

Chagall’s modernist work was influenced by artists like Gauguin, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Matisse, Manet, and others. It also heavily reflected his Russian Jewish background. Late in his career, Chagall became known for creating stained glass windows for churches (such as Metz Cathedral & Reims Cathedral) and other institutions. He also painted the ceiling of the Opera Garnier in Paris during the same period. 

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 5 – Marc Chagall “The Promenade”)

Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

This versatile Spanish surrealist was as famous for his publicity stunts as for his art. His work reflected a wide range of influences from Picasso to Vermeer. The largest collection of Dali’s work is held today by the Dali Theatre and Museum in Dali’s hometown of Figueres, Spain. But major collections of the prolific artist’s work can also been seen in London, Berlin; Paris; San Juan Capistrano, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; and several other Spanish museums. Dali’s famous 1931 painting “The Persistence of Memory”, which features images of melting pocket watches, can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

Paintings of the World (Episode 15)

Dali’s Greatest Secret

Salvador Dali the 4th Dimension – Chronicle of an Artistic Genius

Salvador Dali the 4th Dimension – The Death and Rebirth of Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali the 4th Dimension – An Artist “Outside the Human Norm”

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 12 – Episode 5 – Salvador Dali – The Burning Giraffe)

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 5 – Salvador Dali “The Persistence of Memory”)

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 6 – Salvador Dali “The Architectonic Angelus of Millet”)

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

De Chirico’s work is divided into two distinct periods – a pre-1919 period of metaphysical paintings, and a post-1919 period of more traditional work. His work influenced numerous artists who followed him in the Surrealist movement such as Yves Tanguy, Dali, and Max Ernst among others. 

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 1 – Giorgio de Chirico “Mystery and Melancholy of a Street”)

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 2 – Giorgio de Chirico “The Red Tower”)

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)

Dutch American artist Willem de Kooning is known for his abstract expressionism in painting and sculptures. He was part of the so-called “New York School” with artists like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, and was strongly influenced by Picasso and Ashile Gorky. The influence of Picasso can especially be seen in de Kooning’s famous series of “Woman” paintings. A de Kooning oil painting, “Interchange”, sold for $300 million in 2015, which for a short time was the highest ever sale price for a painting until it was surpassed by DaVinci’s “Salvator Mundi”. 

Willem de Kooning Artist

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 11 – Willem de Kooning “The Wave”)

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 21 – Episode 5 – Willem de Kooning – Morning the Springs)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Duchamp is credited by many art historians as being one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. He created in both the Surrealist and Cubist styles, and is also considered a founder of the Dada movement. His most famous painting is a Cubist work entitled “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” that is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 4 – Marcel Duchamp “Play”)

Masterworks from Great Museums of the World (Season 5 – Episode 1 – Marcel Duchamp – Sad Young Man on a Train)

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)

British painter Lucian Freud was the grandson of famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Starting in the 1950’s. His work shows influences of both surrealism and realism in different periods. Freud founded the group of painters known as the “London School” along with Francis Bacon. In the 1950’s Freud transitioned to painting mostly portraits, eventually focusing exclusively on nudes. He was known for the slow pace of his work, often taking thousands of hours to complete a single painting. 

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 3 – Lucian Freud “The Painter’s Room”)

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)

Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter and printmaker who is considered by many to be the pre-eminent 20th century sculptor. He studied in Paris with Antoine Bourdelle, who was himself taught by Auguste Rodin. Giacometti is known for his bronze figural sculptures with elongated limbs that are thin as a pencil.

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 7 – Episode 4 – Alberto Giacometti – Portrait of Jean Genet)

Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

This Swiss painter’s work transitioned from realism to symbolism. Hodler pioneered his own form of symbolism called “parallelism”, which can be seen in paintings like “The Chosen One” and “Eurythmy”. His work has appeared on both Swiss bank notes and postage stamps. The bulk of Hodler’s art is now in the possession of Swiss museums, but some can also be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Musee D’Orsay in Paris, and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 1 – Ferdinand Hodler “Lake Thun, Symmetric Reflection”)

Jasper Johns (1930-)

Johns is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker known for his works that incorporate the design of the American flag. He received the National Medal of Arts in 1990, and the National Medal of Freedom in 2011. His most famous work is the 1954-1955 encaustic “Flag”, which is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

Jasper Johns

Frieda Kahlo (1907-1954)

Mexican-American painter Kahlo was  stricken with polio as a teenager, and then permanently disabled by a car accident at age 18. While recovering from the accident, she began painting. She’s best known for her self-portraits, and for her marriage to fellow artist Diego Rivera. Only 150-200 known paintings are believed to have been created by Kahlo in her painting career. Today, Kahlo is an icon to Mexicans, feminists, and the LGBTQ movement.

At Frieda Kahlo’s

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

Kandinsky was a Russian painter credited with helping found abstractionism. A teacher at the German Bauhaus school of art, Kandinsky is famous more for his art theories than his paintings. 

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 9 – Wassily Kandinsky “Autumn in Murnau”)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 10 – Wassily Kandinsky “Rapallo Boats”)

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

Klimt began his painting career partnering with his brother to paint commissions for murals and ceilings in public buildings in Vienna. After a controversy arose when a ceiling he designed for the University of Vienna was declared to be pornographic, he stopped doing public commissions and turned to private artistic work. Before his life was cut short by Spanish Flu in 1918, he created masterpieces like “The Kiss” and “Portrait of Adele Bloch I”, both during what is known as his golden phase. Several of Klimt’s paintings became the subject of a high-profile court battle in 2004 between one of Adele Bloch’s heirs and an Austrian museum over who was the rightful heir that spawned several documentaries and a movie.

Adele’s Wish

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 3 – Klimt “Danae”)

Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935)

This Russian abstract artist worked in various different styles but is known primarily as the creator of Suprematism. He published a Suprematist manifesto, and founded a co-operative for Suprematist artists. However, after Stalin came to power, Malevich was arrested. His works were confiscated, and he was banned from creating abstractionist art. The final few years of his career were restricted to creating more representational style works. 

ReArt: Abstractionism (Episode 1 – Kazimir Malevich “The Reaper on Red”)

ReArt: Abstractionism (Episode 2 – Kazimir Malevich “Red House”)

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 21 – Episode 1 – Kazimir Malevich – An Englishman in

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Matisse was a French painter, printmaker, draftsman and sculptor who influenced later artists like Picasso. Known for his aggressive use of color and expressive shapes, he painted a variety of subjects. Late in life, when his ability to paint was restricted by illness, Matisse turned to creating collages from paper cut-outs as his art form.

Exhibition on Screen (Season 2 – Episode 1 – Matisse)

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 4 – Henri Matisse “The Blue Nude”)

Nazi Art Thieves: This 54-minute documentary tells the story of Nazi art theft by tracing the paths of three paintings by Schiele, Braque, and Matisse from their theft to eventual restitution.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Edvard Munch The Scream Munch Museum
Edvard Munch – The Scream (1910 painting) – Munch Museum, Oslo.

Munch, a Norwegian Symbolist artist, was influenced by Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Latrec. His work is known for its use of bright colors and its emotional depth. Four versions exist of Munch’s iconic work “The Scream” – two paintings and two pastels. The paintings can be seen in Oslo at the National Gallery of Norway and the Munch Museum. The Munch Museum also houses one of the pastels; the other is in a private collection. The collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo holds the majority of Edvard Munch’s work. A new larger building for the museum is currently under construction and expected to open in 2019. 

Exhibition on Screen (Season 1 – Episode 3 – Munch)

Edvard Munch. SFMOMA.

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 9 – Episode 3 – Edvard Munch – Four Girls)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 1 – Edvard Munch “The Girls on the Bridge”)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 2 – Edvard Munch “Moon Light”)

Art of the Heist (Episode 4 – The Search for the Scream)

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Pable Picasso Musee L'Orangerie
Pablo Picasso paintings at Musée L’Orangerie in Paris.

This prolific Spanish painter and sculptor is known for his work in the founding of the Cubism movement in modern art.  Picasso’s work is categorized by art historians into various named periods, such as the Blue Period, the Rose Period, the African-Influenced Period, and several different Cubism periods. A 1939 retrospective of Picasso’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is credited with raising Picasso’s profile among American scholars and the public. Multiple museums are devoted to Picasso’s work: Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Museo Picasso Málaga in Málaga, and Musée Picasso in Paris.

Biography (Season 2 – Episode 5 – Picasso)to

Portraits: Picasso

William S. Rubin on Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 6 – Pablo Picasso “Woman Sitting in an Armchair”)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 7 – Pablo Picasso “Still Life With Tulips”)

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)

The work of American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock was was influenced by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, among others. Pollock is most famous for the paintings created during what is known as his drip period (1947-1950), when he worked in a style of dripping liquid paint onto a flat canvas. Scientists have been exploring using a technique called fractal analysis to analyze Pollock’s paintings and distinguish them from fakes based on their patterns. 

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 4 – Jackson Pollock “Going West”)

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898)

This French artist played an important role in the development of modernism, influencing later artists such as Gauguin, Seurat, Denis, Matisse, Rodin, and Picasso. Known mostly for his decorative murals, today his work can still be seen in many buildings including Hotel de Ville and the Ampitheatre of the Sorbonne (both in Paris). The Prix Puvis de Chavannes is awarded every year in his honor by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which he helped found. 

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 8 – Pierre Puvis de Chavannes “The Pigeon”)

Henri Rousseau (1844-1910)

This self-taught French artist influenced a generation of modernists such as Picasso, Beckmann, and Fernand Leger who are considered masters today. Known for painting jungle scenes, Rousseau had never actually been to jungle and use books and the Paris Jardin des Plantes as his reference for creating those images. One of those jungle paintings by Rousseau was used as the inspiration for the animated film “Madagascar”. 

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 28 – Henri Rousseau “The Sleeping Gypsy”)

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 5 – Henri Rousseau “The Snake Charmer”)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Schiele, an Austrian painter who was a protege of Klimt, had his life and career tragically cut short at age 28 by the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. His preoccupation with emaciated nudes and other disturbing themes have made his work at times controversial, and even led to his arrest in 1912. Notable collections of the artist’s work are held by The Leopold Museum in Vienna and the Egon Schiele Museum in Tulin, Austria. 

Great Artists with Tim Marlow (Season 2 – Episode 12)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 3 – Egon Schiele “Woman in Black Stockings”)

Nazi Art Thieves: This 54-minute documentary tells the story of Nazi art theft by tracing the paths of three paintings by Schiele, Braque, and Matisse from their theft to eventual restitution.

Portrait of Wally: The story of a Schiele painting looted by the Nazis that triggered a landmark court case over its ownership after it was discovered hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in 1997.

Konstantin Somov (1869-1939)

Somov, the son of a Russian art historian, grew up around art and was a student of Ilya Repin. Much of his work was inspired by the Rococo artists Watteau and Fragonard. Somov’s landscape painting “The Rainbow” sold at Christie’s in 2007 for $7.33 million. 

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 6 – Konstantin Somov “Open Door on a Garden”)

Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)

Stuck was a German symbolist painter. As a teacher at the Munich Academy, he taught students like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. His masterwork “Inferno” may have been inspired by Rodin’s sculpture “Gates of Hell”. Stuck’s Munich home and studio, Villa Stuck, is now a museum open to the public. 

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 2 – Franz von Stuck “Salome”)

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 16 – Episode 4 – Franz von Stuck – Salome)

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

Tanguy, a French Surrealist artist, was inspired to become a painter after seeing the work of Giorgio de Chirico. He was a self-taught artist, and a member of the Paris Surrealist group with close friend Andre Breton.The inspiration of Chirico can be seen in Tanguy’s bizarre, surrealist landscapes like his painting “Mama, Papa is Wounded” on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

ReArt: Surrealism (Episode 7 – Yves Tanguy “Death Awaiting His Family”)

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 7 – Episode 2 – Yves Tanguy – At 4 O’clock in the Summer)

Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910)

Considered now by many the greatest of the Russian symbolist painters, Vrubel eschewed the symbolist label. His work is known for its demonic themed pieces, but he also created fairy tale themed works inspired by his opera singer wife’s performances. 

ReArt: Modernism (Episode 7 – Mikhail Vrubel “Seated Demon”)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

American pop artist Andy Warhol was known for working in a variety of media: painting, silkscreens, film, sculpture and photography. His most famous works include silkscreen images of Campbell’s Soup Cans, and images of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli, and Judy Garland. Warhol didn’t just create pop, he lived it – his trendy New York studio known as “The Factory” was a celebrity hangout and he famously frequented the Studio 54 nightclub. The most notable collection of his work today can be seen at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Andy Warhol

I Knew Andy Warhol

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 9 – Episode 4 – Andy Warhol – The Texan, Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg)

Brett Whiteley (1939-1992)

This Australian avant-garde artist was the youngest living artist to ever have his work purchased by the Tate Gallery in London. His work was influenced by Van Gogh and Bonnard, among others. The Dire Straits album “Alchemy” featured part of a Whiteley work as its cover art. Whiteley’s studio is open to the public as part of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Whiteley

Grant Wood (1891-1942)

Wood was an American painter of Midwest rural scenes, associated with the Regionalism movement. He was heavily influenced by Dutch painter Jan van Eyck and other Northern Renaissance painters whose work he saw on several trips to Europe. His iconic painting “American Gothic” of a pitchfork-holding farmer and his presumed wife (actually Grant’s sister and their dentist) is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century and can be seen today at the Art Institute of Chicago. The studio where Woods worked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is now open to the public as part of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which also owns a collection of Woods’ works. 

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 20 – Episode 2 – Grant Wood – American Gothic)

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

Wyeth, an American Realist, is one of the most famous painters of the mid-twentieth century. His work reflected the landscape around his homes in Pennsylvania and Maine. Wyeth’s most famous work is the 1948 tempura painting “Christina’s World”, which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Critical response to Wyeth’s work has been mixed, but it can be found in the collection of most major American art museums. 

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 4 – Episode 3 – Andrew Wyeth – Christina’s World)


Don’t miss the other parts of this four part series on learning art history with Amazon Prime Video:

Part One: Learning European Art History for Free with Amazon Prime Video

Part Two: Learning Pre-1850 European Art History Free with Amazon Prime Video

Part Three: Learning Realism, Impressionism & Post-Impressionism Art History with Amazon Prime

LEARN MODERNISM & POSTMODERNISM WITH AMAZON PRIME

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