Where Does It Come From

Mid-Century Art emerged sometime in the 1930s as a result of the economic conditions at the time. As the United States started to focus on mass production after World War II, there was a huge shift in design and art practices. Inspired by Modernism, Mid-Century Art rejected traditional Victorian art styles and focused on a direct, easy-to-understand visual language.


Impact on the World 

With the Mid-Century Art movement, design became more functional rather than just focusing on form. The movement wasn’t just restricted to traditional paintings and sculptures, but also extended to industrial design, bringing a huge revolution in architecture, interior design, landscape, and infrastructure. Combining elements of minimalism and abstract art, Mid-Century Art made way for a lot of innovation with the use of clean lines and bold colors to make visual communication simple and accessible to everyone.


“Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.”

—Paul Rand
Paul Rand-Graphine.com

“Design is a way of life, a point of view. It involves the whole complex of visual communications: talent, creative ability, manual skill, and technical knowledge. Aesthetics and economics, technology and psychology are intrinsically related to the process.”

—Paul Rand

Impact on Art

The Mid-Century Art movement was all about the function of art which is why it made use of graphic design and mechanized printing to give rise to a new era of advertising where billboards, printed posters, and flyers occupied an important place in just about every industry. Mid Century Artists worked to bring down their message into its simplest visual form, using recognizable geometric shapes, bright colors, and clean text. Paul Rand was one of the most popular Mid-Century graphic designers who designed corporate logos for companies like IBM and ABC that are still being used today.

Max Williams

Impact on Fashion

Mid-Century fashion started making its way into the mainstream around the 1950s with designers like Coco Chanel emerging as one of the strongest forces in the fashion world, especially with her idea of ‘the little black dress’, which could be worn on any occasion. Mid-Century modern fashion also favored functionality and practicality. Designers made use of unusual fabrics such as jersey and loose-fitting designs as clothes became more casual and the distinction between formal wear and everyday wear was blurred. However, these pieces were always tailored to perfection and had a very clean look to them, which was one of the primary characteristics of the Mid-Century art movement.

Lucas Hoang

Impact on Film

The Mid-Century art movement had a significant impact on set design, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. A lot of the credit for popularizing Mid-Century modern interiors and furniture actually goes to some of the films of the time that made use of the clean and functional spatial aesthetic that emerged during the art movement. Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most influential filmmakers who incorporated Mid-Century design elements on the sets of his films, with the architecture and locations actively adding to the plot of his stories. The practice has continued to this day with set designers using their film sets to convey important information about the characters and the story, instead of only using them as passive backgrounds.


“When you look at what we can call the golden era of concept albums, which starts in the mid or late ’60s and ends maybe in the early ’80s, it’s an interesting time for music. You see all these very established and popular acts and bands and artists that were somehow on the top of their game but really trying to experiment.”

—Thomas Bangalter

Impact on Music

As the world on the outside changed with the Mid-Century art movement, musicians were also influenced by the importance of function along with form and tried to incorporate the same idea into their work. In this time period, genres like Jazz and Rock had taken over the music industry with their youth-oriented messages and danceable tunes. Mid-Century music was highly experimental and innovative where we transitioned from big musical bands into smaller ensembles that would combine complex instruments together to create new, powerful sounds.

Looking to explore more art genres? Head over to JoeLatimer.com for a multidisciplinary, visually stunning experience. ☮️❤️🎨

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