As a movement, modern art regularly divided critics and the general public, and sometimes it still can today though it is now far more popular. Contemporary art gallery visitors have come to understand that if you want to see something different to old canvasses on a wall, then modern art is a place to see wild ideas, colours, and materials. The list below further explores some of the best modern art galleries and museums around the world.
Kumu modern art galleries, Tallinn, Estonia
Housed in a striking, award winning, modern building, Kumu is one of several emerging galleries in Eastern Europe where the focus is on Estonian art through the modern period and up to the moment. It has drawn praise for displaying realist works from the Soviet occupation, which were juxtaposed alongside modernist, non-conformist pieces creating an impressive effect. This permanent collection is supplemented by temporary exhibitions which include Estonian and international works, and previously won the art gallery a European Museum of the Year Award. Some of the Estonian artists in the collection include von Neff, Hoffmann, Laikmaa, Hagen-Schwarz, Koort, Kallis, Greenberg, and Roode.
Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China
China’s rapidly emerging economy has led to huge modernisation in many cities, and perhaps most so in Shanghai; home to one of Asia’s largest art museums. The gallery was transformed from an abandoned greenhouse into a modernist building with neighbours including the Bolshoi Theatre, Shanghai Museum, and the main art museum. Well known for its unusually themed exhibitions it displays work from artists in Hungary, India, Indonesia, and Finland, and features temporary exhibitions ranging from fashion retrospectives, to street and contemporary art and the work of Pixar. Some of the recent exhibitions have included Zaha Hadid, Philip Colbert, Trevor Andrew, Anna Sui, Bob Dylan, Russell Young and Paul Smith.
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
Already known as an art gallery of pre-20th century work, the Kunsthalle also houses the Galerie der Gegenwart; this features a range of controversial and avant garde modern art pieces. Housed in a cube shaped building, it is one of the largest spaces for contemporary art in Germany, and takes pride in a constantly changing collection which crosses numerous media including large scale special exhibitions. Focused on the 1960s onwards, it includes work by Warhol, Richter, Kitaj, Hockney, Kounellis, Beuys, Morris, LeWitt, Walther, Mucha, the Bechers, Gursky, Demand, and Gilbert and George.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
On the opposite side of the world from the major European art galleries, the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art covers a wide range of mediums from painting and sculpture to video art and contemporary photography. Launching in 1990 the Museum flourished with the appointment of a new artistic director in the late 90s and modernisation of the building in 2010. The gallery has built a strong collection of contemporary Australian work and so stages regular showcases of artwork by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists including bark paintings, sculpture and weaving. The museum has its strongest reputation for exhibitions and experiential installations combining multi-media art with unique spatial design and aural soundscapes. Some of the artists featured have included Pipilotti Rist, Grayson Perry, Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor, Annie Leibowitz, Marina Apramovic, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring.
The Art Institute of Chicago modern art galleries, USA
An outstanding art gallery, covering thousands of years of art history and holding a phenomenal collection of modern art. The Art Institute of Chicago is home to many American masterpieces including Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, and one of the best collections of impressionism and post-impressionism in the world. It includes great pieces by Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, and many works by Monet. 20th Century modern art is also well represented by Picasso, Magritte, Jasper Johns, vast drip canvasses by Jackson Pollock, and some of Warhol’s best known pop art prints including the portraits of Marilyn and Mao.
And of course, you can buy modern art inspired prints from a range of contemporary artists in our online shop, based just outside London in Kent.