Modern apocalyptic art has its roots in the earlier forms of apocalyptic art but seems to be more fantasy than the artwork of previous ages. As you can see from the sample above by Karl Nordman, it takes on a feeling of cartoons, and yet, it has a taste of fantasy. There is a certain realism about it, which seems to be lacking in the art of earlier times. The dark background seems to contrast with the brighter one in the book. The earlier artist is using the colors for contrast and tension. The more modern art seems to use the background to convey a feeling of death using black or dark colors to produce a more somber mood.
My impression of earlier work is that the artist was stiff, holding to a pattern that was laid out. His art is not realistic as in our more modern versions. They are trying to convey similar themes, but in much different ways. In our book, you can see the difference between The Four Horsemen on page 52 compared to Nordman’s artwork. I’m sure modern techniques have contributed to part of the difference, but even accounting for that, there is a monumental difference.
The education level of our modern day must contribute to what the artist wants us to see. The artists of old were more interested in conveying fear, to convince his uneducated audience to repent of their sins and to be humble members of the church. They would have been supported by the church, perhaps monks or at least commissioned by the church. Our modern artist is producing a piece of artwork not associated with the church and has the ability to use that independence in his interpretation. His is more a love of the art, not a job to be dealt with in some manner as a monk would have.