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Modern Art
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Modern Art

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45-60 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Publisher(s): Mayfair Games

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Product Description

Going once... Going twice... Sold! Congratulations! You're now the proud owner of a fine work by an aspiring artist. Who knows... he could become the next Picasso! Of course, he could also be the next Trueba. What, you've never heard of Trueba? Don't worry, no one has. He all but disappeared after his first painting sold for... oh, about the same price you just paid. Not to worry though, I'm sure yours will be worth... something.

In Modern Art, players compete to gain the most money by buying and selling paintings at auctions and reselling them for profit. The game consists of four rounds--in each, works by up to five Artists will be offered for sale, and auctioned off in various ways. Players take on the roles of art dealers / collectors. It is their decision which artworks to sell, and how to sell them. So, successful players must balance two aims, firstly collecting the best artworks for their own collections, forwarding the careers of those artists from whom they have most to gain--and at the same time, raising as much money as possible by successfully auctioning off those works that don't fit their own strategy, and picking up their own fancies as cheaply as possible.

All players take turns running the auctions, which come in many different styles. Whoever offers the top bid owns the painting and sells it at the end of the round. The price the painting fetches is based on the popularity of the artist and how well his paintings have sold in the past. The player with the most money at the end of four rounds of buying and selling wins.

These Art Dealers dream of fame and riches, but dreams can vanish in an instant, leaving the player with a gallery full of last year's art, unwanted and valueless. Only those with a nose for tomorrow's tastes today will rise to the top of the Art world!

This is a re-release of the classic art market manipulation game designed by Reiner Knizia, with improved components and a lower price!

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Publisher(s): Mayfair Games

  • Year: 2004

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 45 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 400 grams


  • 1 scoring board
  • 70 art cards
  • 5 auction house screens
  • money chips
  • 15 market value chips
  • rulebook
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 19 reviews

by Andy
Tight auction battle till the end...
August 11, 2004

This is a very good game if you have a group of gamers that love a battle of wits. How much do you ask for a painting, do you bid up other players and them stop bidding when you think they payed too much? Lots of fun choices and you have the ability to catch up with the right cards in your hand.

I would give it five stars but the game doesn't seem to have enough chips for five players. The banker is kept very busy trying to keep each player with the right amount of small value chips (which are need to closed auctions). If there were more of these low value chips then the game would be a better value. I checked with Mayfair and they don't offer additional chips.

Wonderful auction game
July 11, 2004

This is my favourite game, I really like modern art. It looks like they have changed the board and art used in the game slightly from the original english version I played with. However the basic game mechanics in this game are wonderful. A great simple auction game and my favourite game.

by Marc
Strategic Flexibility Required.
July 01, 2002

I still prefer Adel Verflichtet to this game, but I'd give this game a close 2nd place with auction games. The 5 different auctioning elements are pretty straight forward. There are plenty of options for developing strategic play by overpricing and/or underbidding a hyped up work of art that you plan to undercut with other works making these higher priced buys worthless at the end of the round when you or someone else closes the auction house. The 'building' dollar amounts create an exciting tension when trying to see how you can make the most money as the latter rounds begin. You definitely have to be flexible to succeed at this one.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Best Auction Game Around
June 12, 2002

Of Knizia's auction/bidding games (Modern Art, Ra and Medici), Modern Art stands out as the finest. On every turn, every player is involved. There is player control not found in other bidding games and so opposing players may foil your plans.

The bidding is much more controled and logical than in Ra so it is easy to teach a new player the rules.

The only drawback to the entire game is the artwork itself (it is nothing you will ever find hanging in my home).

For a great 'beer and pretzels' game with strategy you need to get Modern Art.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Paul
Interesting way to jazz up a 'weak' theme
May 13, 2002

Several people here have described Modern Art as 'weak' or 'dry.' I'd like to tell you a way my game group has found of making the game very enjoyable and very funny. We've introduced a standing rule that you must first 'pitch' your artists to the artworld and then secondly, name the paintings. It often produces uproarious laughter and quite a bit more enjoyment to the game. i.e. 'New York Galleries would like to intoduce you to an up and coming artist we feel is going to be very hot on the art scene this year.' or 'Paris Galleries would like to bilk you of all of your money on the most pretentious garbage to ever be described as painting.' Then, you must come up with an original title like 'Lipstick or Dog D**k?' or 'Untitled #7372b.' Try it! If you have a creative group, you'll be in stitches!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Terrific for introducing people to board gaming.
March 13, 2002

Most of the reviews have said it all about the game and mechanics. I think the best thing about this game, is that it is accessible to people who are not 'board gamers'. People who might play Yahtzee, hearts, spades, etc. Of course, the more boisterous your group, the better the game, but having everyone involved all the time is a key factor in the game as well as the short play. So far, I have introduced 7 people to this game and they have all enjoyed it. 4 of those people would not normally play board games with us, so I consider this an unqualified success. I plan to unleash it on some neighbors that we play Bridge with and see how it goes. This is an excellent, elegant game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A classic auction game!
October 20, 2001

I had owned over 10 Knizia-designed games before I was finally tempted to buy Modern Art, and now I regret having waited so long.

This is super design with rigorous player interaction. There are various strategies and tactics available--a Knizia trademark, and why his fans (of which I am one) love his games. The auctions can be very tense, and even first time players really get into it. Also, there is virtually no downtime, because all players are involved in each player's turn.

I whole-heartedly recommend this great game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Bart
Wonderful player interaction
September 09, 2001

We took this game to the beach this summer, along with several others we had recently purchased. After playing once, this became the staple of our afternoon game sessions. While the game rewards strategic play, the high level of player interaction makes this game interesting even to non-gamers.

This game is well worth its price. Perhaps one of the top ten I've ever played, and most games really do take less than an hour.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Fred
A lot of FUN, esp 4-5 players. Priced steep though.
July 20, 2001

A friend at work brought Modern Art and we've played it a number of times at lunch. The game play is easy to explain, but the game is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to figure out a winning strategy with the varying personalities of opponents seems nearly impossible--one game you come in 1st place, next game dead last, then on top again--but it's a lot of fun.

Why not 5 stars then? I think the price is a ripoff: 70 cards, a small board, and some plastic poker chips... you can make the game from teaching supplies for under $10. It costs about the same as [page scan/se=0899/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Princes of Florence, and La Citta, and in those games you know someone spent coin to fill the box you opened. I'm still going to buy my copy, because I'm a Knizia fan; however, someone lost their way pricing this game. Compare with Knizia's Money! card game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Art with no soul
July 17, 2001

I recognize, along with many others, that Reiner Knizia is a brilliant designer. I, along with a smaller crowd, find Knizia's games to have very little theme or soul, and thus are not very enjoyable.

The game is simple: offer paintings (cards) up for bid amongst the big art galleries (players). There are several types of auctions and determining how much to pay is a real exercise!

My main problems with this game are art and enjoyment. I find the art on the cards to be utterly loathsome with the exception of Christian P's paintings. (I like art but I don't like Modern Art art.) And the game itself is so utterly mechanical and systematic (no matter how brilliant the mechanics and systems are) that I don't find any true fun in the game. It's enjoyable in the same way that logic puzzles can be a neat exercise in thinking, but when I play games, I play to have fun, and I don't find this game fun.

My game group (Terminal City Gamers) likes this game, and I am willing to play it, but I don't recommend it at all. It is brilliantly dull and not for everyone. Just like [page scan/se=0874/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Tigris & Euphrates, if you like Knizia you'll really like this game, as it is one of his best. If you find Knizia's games too dry, this one is one of the worst offenders.

Don't think I am a Knizia basher though. I still think [page scan/se=0630/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Through the Desert is one of the best games ever, and I think I am really starting to appreciate Titan: the Arena, but on Modern Art, I'll pass.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Lives up to the hype.
June 10, 2001

I purchased this game after reading several reviews (Reiner Knizia didn't hurt either), and I must say this game is clever and it is clear to me why Reiner is among the top in his field. Infinitely playable, instantly accessible and deep as the ocean. This game is for anybody, in my opinion. After one play, you are clear on the strategies. Don't hesitiate! Worth the money.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Anson
Great game for high technique person
May 24, 2001

It is good game for aution and billing. It is not only depend on luck, but also depend the stragery the players used. It is so attractive that I play after the first time. This game will not become boring when playing in every time. It is because variant stragery and result would appear on each round. I used to not to buy board or card games. When I has played this game already, I started crazy in board and card games. May be, it is a drug. Just joke.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by JF
Knizia's best game
April 19, 2001

This is Knizia's best game and is positively Brilliant. It has simple rules, a simple scoring system, plenty of decsion making, some luck, and some psychology and bluffing. An awesome auction game.

I'd like to address a few negative comments:

  1. concering the 'annoying bidding of 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 26...'.

    So what? It adds an extra 15 seconds to each auction, and among experienced players the bids start higher, and jump up faster. We don't count from 20-70 by 1's. We start at 45 and jump by 2's.
  2. 'It all comes down to how many cards are going to be in play for each artist... and this is fairly easily controlled by someone dropping a pair.'

    No, it's not easily controlled. There aren't that many pairs, and if someone else has some of that artist, you won't drop a pair if it greatly helps them.
  3. 'Since this pair closes the bidding, typically someone will close out the auction to guarantee themselves a certain payout.'

    If you are able to buy a couple of paintings of the same artist and then play a pair you should make money as you can probably only do this once per game. And it's not a good idea for others to sell the same artist that you are buying. If A sells you a Lite Metal than B should not offer a Light Metal for sale. Maybe the opponents are inexperienced.
  4. 'It becomes a game of certainty destroyed by other people's plays and the element of control gets lost... turning into a game of luck.'

    What nonsense... how come the best players always win? There is luck, but also skill. With lousy opponents who make erratic moves, the game can play badly. But that's true of any multiplayer game.
  5. 'This is a fun game but doesn't deserve the incredible praise it gets. Get Mamma Mia if you want a fun card game with some strategy.'

    Mamma Mia better than Modern Art? Yeah right! Modern Art is much, much deeper than MM! To play Modern Art well requires skill. It's challenging and fun.

P.S. We play with a house rule where we evenly distribute as many of the = cards among the players initially as we can, to even out their great influence.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A work of art
January 09, 2001

Dr. Knizia seems to design games in trilogies, or perhaps gamers have just found them to fall into broad categories that just happened to have three examples each. At any rate, Modern Art is the centerpiece of his auction trilogy, which also contains Ra and Medici. For those keeping track, there are also the tile-laying trilogy (Durch die Wuste, Euphrat & Tigris, and Samurai) and the less elegantly named multiple-roads-to-victory trilogy (Die Kaufleute von Amsterdam, Stephenson's Rocket, and Taj Mahal).

There are two factors that work to make Modern Art a modern classic. First is the variety of auction types involved. Each type of auction has its own benefits and picking the right auction of the right artist at the right time is a very tough decision to make. Second, this is an essentialy closed monetary system. If one player loses money, another player gains it. No money is siphoned out of the system and new money is introduced sporadically. Players must constantly weigh whether buying a painting is going to benefit them more than it will the seller.

There is a certain understated elegance to this game, and it is one of the better themed Knizia titles. While the play of the game is abstract, it does involve game mechanics--in this case the auctions--that in some way duplicate those of an actual art gallery.

Short, simple, deep, elegant, and fun. This game is well worthy of five stars. Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
One of my all time favorites
May 24, 2000

The game plays quickly, with little down time for any player. Making your game plan, figuring out what the others are up to, and reacting to changing conditions are the skills required.

There are both strategy and tactics involved, but its not a memory game, nor very complex. It's a great family game that doesn't involve screwing the other players. Instead you concentrate on improving your own position. It's not so deep (like chess) that it's beyond many people. I've never had a player say they didn't like it.

(play example:) You want Krypto to come in first. Someone is offering 2 Karl Gitter, and they are being bid on by a third player who already has 1 or 2 Karl Gitters (and he can end the round by playing one more). It might be worth it for you to overpay for those 2 paintings to discourage anyone (the 3rd player especially) from ending the round before you get a chance to play more Kryptos and ensure a 1st place finish. It depends on the position of the Karl Gitter auctioneer relative to yourself. If he is way behind, then overpaying doesn't hurt much. But if he's close then it might not be worth bidding at all, so he realizes as little profit from the auction.

When to play the double auction cards is a critical decision. If possible you want to build up an artist in one round, then in a following round after 1 or 2 of that artist are played in a round, play the = and offer 2 very valuable paintings. Dont waste the = early. Another use is to play an = card without a second painting to force the next player or two to lose their turn. This might be necessary to pevent them from ending the round.

One optional house rule we use is to deal out the (=) cards (double auction) to each player at the start of the game, to ensure that each player gets roughly the same chance, as opposed to one player getting none, and another getting 4.

Some auctions here and there may last an extra 20 seconds, but thats no big deal, adding 5 minutes total to the length of the game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Fun bidding has some flaws
August 30, 1999

In this game you all bid on some pieces of art. I found that with a new group of people, everyone went through phases of finding more and more strategy. Then after about 5 games you pretty much know the scoop, and you do some annoying bidding like:

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 26...

It all comes down to how many cards are going to be in play for each artist.. and this is fairly easily controlled by someone dropping a pair. Since this pair closes the bidding, typically someone will close out the auction to guarantee themselves a certain payout. This makes the game not as fun once everyone gets it. It becomes a game of certainty destroyed by other people's plays and the element of control gets lost... turning into a game of luck.

This is a fun game but doesn't deserve the incredible praise it gets. Get Mamma Mia if you want a fun card game with some strategy.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Deserves 10 Stars. Best Game Ever!
August 25, 1999

Everyone else has adequately described this game.

The pleasures of so many wonderful choices cannot be fully appreciated until you play this game. Do you bid on art? Do you pass? Do you try to push up the auction price? Will you get stuck if you do? Do you try to make money by only selling art? Each choice you make is sweet agony, because your opponents are trying outsmart you too. Open auctions are so much fun. People screaming out bids. Sometimes they wait till the 'going, going gone' of the auctioneer to chime in with a bid. Sometimes you take a bid to keep someone else from getting artwork. The look on the person you just jammed can be priceless. Every game is different. Losing is almost as much fun as winning. 'The play is the thing.' Playing is so much fun, you can sometimes forget about winning. But you really do want to win. Because winning in this game is something you savor. You have outdueled, out-thunk, outplayed your opponent. And in this game you can feel the deliciousness of having beaten your friends. Your friends on the other hand will say, ' I would have won if only I had...' Games take about 45 minutes. 45 wonderful enjoyable minutes. Everyone is always involved in the game at all times. There are no lulls. No down time. Just 45 minutes of glorious interaction and cunning thought. If you only own one game, buy Modern Art.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A facinating and enjoyable game
February 11, 1999

This is one of the most entertaining games I've played. It's fairly short, at about 45 minutes for a game, it's very easy to play, and has a nice mixture of skill and luck. Having played this game with dozens of people, regular and casual gamers, I have yet to play with anyone who wasn't fascinated by it. Of all the games I own, this is probably the one with the broadest appeal.

Basically, it's a game of auctioning. You want to buy and sell paintings by various artists, where an artist's eventual value will be dependent on how many of his or her paintings are sold each round. Each player in turn has to auction off one painting from his or her hand, with each painting having a different auction method - from the usual free-for-all to fixed-price and hidden simultaneous bidding. Winner keeps the painting and pays the auctioneer. At the end of each of the 4 rounds, players sell the top-selling paintings they have bought for cash, and each round the stakes increase as each artist can be worth progressively more, or if they fail to place, nothing. Most money wins.

This game has just the right blend of skill, luck, and excitement to appeal to just about anyone who likes games at all. A classic by any measure.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great Game, but not for Everybody.
December 07, 1998

This game has an excellent design, but it is a true gamer's game. You will find yourself counting your money and busting your brain in a classic game of wits. True gamers will revel in this, but I must admit that many I have played with have compared it to relaxing with a final exam. I loved it!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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