Retro is one of the defining styles of modern art. Explore our curators' selection of retro art, discover the aesthetic of retro design, and find a retro artwork for your walls!
Retro Fashion Artworks
Retro Pop Art Artworks
Today's Yesterday: The Aesthetic of Retro Art
Retro as a cultural phenomenon refers to the contemporary taste for styles associated with a past period.
The retro style began with changing tastes in the postwar years. A shift from the futurism and utopianism of simple modernist design to the functionalist aesthetic characteristic of mid century modern art and design entailed a kind of suspension of pastness and futurity in artistic taste. The art of the mid-century purported to be an art out of time. This changed with the ascent of Pop Art, and a nascent interest in the art and design of the recent past. This was during the 1970's, amid broad social changes, and the onset of a period sometimes referred to as post-modernism.
The retro aesthetic is distinct from the vintage aesthetic in its presentism: vintage is an artefact out of the past; retro is a retrospective view of the past from the point of view of the present. In general, the retro taste has been different than both vintage and antiquarian: it stands for an interest in things still in reach of cultural memory, in the timespan of a generation or two, but nevertheless outdated by contemporary standards.
Retro art often encompasses a kind of retro futurism: in the contemporary depiction of scenes out of the past, the future-oriented designs and sentiments of the subject-matter - whether Warhol's famous cans or portraits of figures looking out over the sun - are captured alongside.
In art and design today, retro encompasses a very broad spectrum of themes, from rehashed versions of science fiction and retro futurism in steampunk, to the popping blues, pinks, and purples characteristic of vaporwave. Above all, retro art stands today, as it ever did, for playful anachronism: a style that is every bit the present longing for the past.
Decorating with Retro Art
Retro art is a popular and stylish choice for an interior design concept. In a home, it can have the effect of a poster or a flyer: announcing an event, drawing attention to a motif, or declaring the taste of its owner.
As far as design styles go, you can count on retro art to be eye catching. Other, similar design styles like vintage or Americana are defined by era or motif. By contrast, retro art is specifically distinguished for the pop art qualities with which it is identified. Because retro art today is a direct descendent of the typical subject matter of Pop Art, it shares with it a disposition towards the use of bright color, bold motifs, and pop culture imagery. Because of this likeness and heritage, a retro artwork can be relied on to be a bold optical presence.
Retro art is well-suited to be featured in a home office, or as part of a kitchen decor concept. Both rooms are friendly to motifs which are playful. More importantly, both can priveledge the taste of their main occupants over specific vibes that are seen as necessary to control the atmosphere of the room.