Possible originary dates for the birth of modern art  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
modern art, 19th century French art

Several possible originary moments in the history of modern art have been proposed. They include some of the works of Goya, the work of Delacroix, Daumier, Courbet and the work of Manet, especially Le déjeuner sur l'herbe at the first Salon des Refusés. Most accounts agree that modern art began in Paris, then capital of the 19th century and capital of the arts.

Charles Baudelaire thought of Delacroix as the originator of modern art. He said in his review of the Paris Salon of 1846 that "The majority of the public have long since, indeed from his very first work, dubbed him leader of the modern school" (tr. P. E. Charvet).

One of the most distinguishing features of modern art revolves around the concept of realism. On the one hand modern artists rejected both the idealized photographic realism and the 'unrealistic' mythological allegories typical of academic art (e.g. Jean-Léon Gérôme) and on the other hand embraced social realism (Millet, Courbet).

Arthur Danto in his review of the 'MoMA 2000' exhibition, a retrospective of modern art which pinpointed the start of modern art in 1880, objected to MoMA's claim and said that there is no consensus as to when modern art began[1] arguing that "the question cannot be separated from the deeper question of how Modernism is to be defined." He added that "the art historian T.J. Clark ... proposed that modern art began with The Death of Marat, completed by Jacques-Louis David in October 1793--but that is because he construes Modernism politically, as art 'no longer reserved for a privileged minority.' Danto went on to note that "Clement Greenberg thought [modern art] began with Manet, whose flat, thinly shadowed forms were derived from photographs--a modern technology of representation."

Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe notes that the birth of modern art is the celebration of the cult of ugliness.

"It is from Delacroix that the line of progressive modernism extends directly to Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet. In the conservative view, Delacroix's Romanticism, Courbet's Realism, and Manet's Naturalism were all manifestations of the cult of ugliness that opposed the Academic ideal of the beautiful. Delacroix, Courbet, and Manet, were each in turn accused by conservatives of carrying on subversive work that was intended to undermine the State."[2]

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