Great Art Movements That Inspired Modern Web Designers


The first modern designers are, of course, inspired by traditional and classical art. We designers, as a whole, get our ideas of beauty and aesthetics from by viewing paintings, sculptures and artworks from the most powerful art movements in history. Here are among the top art movements in the 20th century that helped shape how we view art and beauty.

Pop Art Movement

The Pop art movement started in Great Britain during the 1950s, whose aesthetic involves isolating the subject, or combining it with other elements for contemplation. Pop art is most known for how it is approached rather than the aesthetic concept behind it, but in simple terms, Pop art makes use of mass-produced items for popular culture but from a fine art perspective. Pop art got its influences from Dadaism and Abstract Expressionism. Pop art makes use of kitschy, everyday objects instead of using lofty subjects found in classical fine art.

Campbell's Tomato Soup, Screen Print by Andy Warhol

The art movement started after the end of the World War II, and coincided with the baby boomer generation. Pop art is influenced by popular culture (particularly American popular culture), such as advertising, comic books and everyday objects. For example, a very popular work by Andy Warhol makes use of a can of Campbell’s Soup. After the war, people had realized how short and fragile life really was. People wanted to enjoy life, so they indulged themselves and wanted more things. Society in general became more materialistic, and that influenced their art. People began to see life less seriously, so humor is now often present in their art.

Photo by Viuu

Thanks to technology, pop art in the 50s had a new medium to play with: silkscreen. Artists now had new art and rendering techniques. Another plus is that they also now had the means to accurately reproduce their work.

Of course, one of the most popular artists of the pop art movement is Andy Warhol. He tried taking Pop Art to another level, from a mere art movement to a lifestyle. Other noted artists of the movement include Tom Wesselman and Roy Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein's 'In the Car'

Pop Art Inspired Websites

Bleu Meuh

Colorful, delectable and sweet pop art inspired website, which is heavily inspired by Japanese ‘kawaii’ figures.

An Idea

An Idea’s web site is colorful, modern and pop art-inspired, making use of common elements of love: hearts, Cupid’s wings, bow and arrow, x’s and o’s, and more.

Markus Daum Gallery

His site and works are inspired by the Pop Art movement and Graffiti Art.

Will Portifolio

Website that is colorful, crisp and with streamlined graphics.

Surrealist Art Movement

The Surrealist art movement was developed during the early 20th century, it is a form of visual art that grew after the early Dadaism movement. It was an art movement that flourished between WWI and WWII. It grew after the horrors of the war and the culmination of the Industrial Revolution.

Surrealism, aesthetically, is art destroying rationalism, but emphasized more on positive expression. Surrealism is a means of combining the conscious and unconscious realms of human experience, the dreams and fantasy found in reality, creating a totally surreal experience. To most artists, they see Surrealism as a philosophical movement first, and the use of art as a tool or artifact. The Surrealist art movement draws most of its philosophy and theories from Sigmund Freud, on the belief that the unconscious, holds the key to the social problems of the real world.

Surrealist Photograph by Salvador Dali (Image by Mark Power Blog)

The Surrealism art movement often featured an element of surprise and random juxtapositions of unexpected objects. The art movement brought together great thinkers, philosophers and artists in search for the expression of the unconscious. Of course, this art movement is the predecessor of the hallucination-inspired Psychedelic art movement.

The most notable artists in the Surrealism art movement are Max Ernst, among the founding pioneers of the Surrealist art movement; and the most well-known Surrealist painter of all time, Salvador Dali.

L'Ange du Foyeur by Max Ernst

The Persistance of Memory by Salvador Dali

Surrealism Web Sites

Recycled Lifeforms

Recycled Lifeforms is a place that you can only encounter in dreams. The website is very surreal, accompanied by quirky music and effects.


Agote’s website is a dreamy landscape with creamy textures and beautiful colors.

Domen Lo

Domen Lombergar’s website, and his works as a whole, are reminiscent of the works of the great Surrealist artists like Ernst and Dali.

De Stijl Art Movement

De Stijl is Dutch for ‘The Style’. The art movement is also called Neoplasticism, which was founded in the Netherlands in 1917. Theo van Doesburg published ‘De Stijl’, a journal that propagated all the art movement’s theories. Along with van Doesburg, other principal members of the group include Piet Mondrian, Bart van der Leck and Vilmos Huszar.

by Piet Mondrian (Image by Adolph Menzel

The main objective of De Stijl movement is to create a utopian ideal of harmony and order. For this, they used pure abstraction for their art, reducing their work to the most essential form and color. Because of this, De Stijl artists only used horizontal and vertical lines, square and rectangle shapes, plus the most basic colors black, white and primary colors red, yellow and blue. The art movement is strictly grid based.

De Stijl art movement is a very different art form of its time, and its influences encompasses everything from the canvas to architecture, furniture to even fashion. De Stijl art later paved way to Germany’s Bauhaus art movement.

De Stijl Furniture by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld

De Stijl Inspired Websites

Pixel Slave

Pixel Slave takes on De Stijl’s grid based design but incorporates a modern take to it; by adding fresh colors and new shapes to their web design.

Where They At

Another great website that creatively uses De Stijl grid based system, plus utilizing greyscale colors and bright yellow only.

Piet Mondrian

Of course, the website dedicated to the late Piet Mondrian makes use of classic grid and de stijl elements, showcasing the works of what Mondrian is best known for.

Minimalist Art Movement

The Minimalist art movement, also referred to as ABC art or literalist art; is characterized by extreme simplicity, removing all unnecessary elements and approaching art in the most literal and objective way. The art movement started in NYC, United States during the 1960s.

Minimalism is all about reduction and simplicity. The idea of the movement started when artist Kasimir Malevich created a 1913 artwork of a black square on a white background.

Black Square by Kasimir Malevich (1915)

The art movement is characterized by simplified, geometric forms on a flat surface. They are often two-dimensional, with precise shapes and lines. They are objective, non-expressive and non-referential.

Minimalism and pop art are actually considered to be the art movements that preceded post-modern art.

Free Ride Sculpture by Tony Smith

Minimalist Inspired Web Designs

Post Machina

Minimalist web designs are simple, beautiful and easy on the eyes. Such is the case for Post Machina’s website, using only black, gray and white hues, creating an interesting contrast and design in the web design.


Omnia shows you us how to do Minimalist web design the right way. You don’t need a lot of color, elements, or text to keep your web visitors intrigued and interested.


Fellswoop’s website is clean and simple. The message is strong: they provide clarity, strategy and design to improve user experience.



  1. Supersfat Webdesign

    This was a great article. We take a similar approach in our business albeit it’s usually more subjective than what you presented. I would be interested to see more in-depth information on how Great Art Movements can Inspired Modern Web Designers.

  2. Interesting article, the connection between “real world” art and web design was not something I’d paid a huge amount of attention to. That was until recently when I was approached by a customer who wanted to create a website about Russian art. His brief had lots of suggestions of layouts and designs based on minimalist Russian art, particularly the Suprematism of Kazimir Malevich. I must say marrying the principles of minimalism with a functioning, easy to use website is not easy!

  3. Sandra

    Really great article – I like concrete and short explanations with great visual examples.

  4. Great article, I love it. I’ve been searching through 20th century art movements for a while to improve and inspire myself, and I really like the connection between 20th century art movements and website design.

  5. Michael Francis

    Beautiful images, thought provoking design, and hyper-simple themes will always captivate. Love the history. It is easy to forget the great ways humanity itself has come.

    The more time your audience spends in your work, the more conversions into sales, clicks, etc. Not to mention, the less time they spend in your competition’s.

    Awesome article.

  6. Paul Mckay

    An interesting post, however do you not think that design today is inspired by more than the art movements of the 20th Century? Do you think that designers are inspired by a broader range of subjects such as the latest trends, the news as well as the people and environments that surround them?

    The Surrealist inspired sites look great, especially ‘Agote’. You can really see possible influences taken from Salvador Dali’s work, though I think ‘Recycled Lifeforms’ has been designed to create a unique user experience by focusing on the 3D aspect / trend that’s taking the world by storm at the moment rather than looking at surrealism.

    As a web designer, I find the first thing that influences me is the client’s brief, I then look at ways I can break out of the typical mould and create a unique solution that will make the client stand out from their competitors.

    Interesting research though. It’s interesting to see if the movements of the 20th Century are still influencing designers today, even if psychologically rather than intentionally.

  7. egiova

    Concise article, but fairly documented. However, I have to add that we are talking about “Artistic Movements” and not about “Imagery”. Web designers tend to reduce deep thinking art movements to a bunch of catching eyes images. Biz, bizness I suppose. A bit of superficiality too, I guess.
    Anyway, good initiation to art post (among an ocean of cultural mediocrity).

  8. Excellent article. You can see in some of today’s websites that you can also use more than one technique in your designs and get magnificent results.

  9. Anna

    I would love to see more in depths article on individual design styles. It would be great to have the nuances of each style explained and how to how implement them on the web as well as more examples. It could be a really cool series and something that I have been looking for.