Modern Art

Modern Art (Board Game): The Art of Strategic Bidding – Rules, Strategies & Winning Instructions


As an avid board game enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the unique blend of strategy and creativity that Modern Art, the board game, offers. This game, designed by the renowned Reiner Knizia, is a testament to the dynamic world of Modern Art auctions. It’s a game that combines the thrill of bidding, the strategic elements of market speculation, and the unpredictability of the art market. The game was first published in 1992 and has since been reprinted multiple times, gaining popularity among board game lovers worldwide.

The equipment needed to play Modern Art includes a game board, 70 art cards, 5 museum screens, 12 bidding tokens, and money. The art cards, which represent paintings, are the heart of the game. They are divided into five different artists, each with their unique style. The goal of the game is to earn the most money by buying and selling these paintings.

Key ProTip to Win Modern Art

To win at Modern Art, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on the market and adjust your strategy based on the changing value of the paintings.

Rules for playing Modern Art

The rules of Modern Art are straightforward yet offer a depth of strategy. The game is played over four rounds, representing four years of art auctions. Each player starts with a hand of paintings and will take turns as the auctioneer, deciding which painting to sell. The type of auction depends on the symbol on the card. There are open auctions, fixed price auctions, one-round auctions, and secret auctions.

The painting is sold to the highest bidder, and the money goes to the auctioneer unless the auctioneer wins the auction, in which case the money goes to the bank. At the end of each round, the paintings are valued based on their popularity, and players earn money for the paintings they’ve bought. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

While the official rules provide a balanced and exciting game, some players introduce ‘house rules’ to add variety. For example, some players like to play with a ‘sudden death’ rule, where the game ends immediately if a certain condition is met, adding an extra layer of tension to the game.

How do you play Modern Art?


Each player receives a museum screen, behind which they keep their money hidden. The art cards are shuffled, and each player is dealt a hand of paintings. The game board is placed in the center of the table, with the bidding tokens and money nearby.


Players take turns as the auctioneer, choosing a painting from their hand to sell. The type of auction is determined by the symbol on the card. Players bid on the painting, with the highest bidder winning. The auctioneer then draws a new card to replace the one sold.

End of the Game

The game ends after four rounds. The paintings are valued based on their popularity, and players earn money for the paintings they’ve bought. The player with the most money wins.

How to Win at Modern Art

Winning at Modern Art requires a blend of strategic bidding, market speculation, and a bit of luck. Here are some strategies that can help you win:

  1. Understand the Market: The value of the paintings changes each round based on their popularity. Keep a close eye on the market and adjust your bidding strategy accordingly.
  2. Be Flexible: The type of auction can greatly affect the value of a painting. Be flexible and ready to adjust your strategy based on the type of auction.
  3. Bluff: Sometimes, bluffing can be a powerful tool. By bidding high on a painting, you can trick your opponents into thinking it’s more valuable than it actually is.
  4. Manage Your Money: Money management is crucial in Modern Art. Don’t overspend early in the game, as you’ll need money to bid on valuable paintings later.

Best Strategies for playing Modern Art

While there’s no surefire way to win at Modern Art, here are some strategies that can increase your chances:

  1. Value Assessment: Always assess the potential value of a painting before bidding. Consider its current popularity and the potential for it to increase in value.
  2. Timing: Timing is crucial in Modern Art. Knowing when to sell a painting can make a big difference in its value.
  3. Reading Your Opponents: Try to read your opponents’ strategies. If you can anticipate their moves, you can adjust your strategy to counter theirs.
  4. Control the Auction: As the auctioneer, you have control over which painting is sold. Use this to your advantage by choosing paintings that will benefit you the most.

Scenarios for Modern Art

Modern Art is a game of ever-changing scenarios. Here are some common situations you might find yourself in, and how to turn them to your advantage:

  1. You’re running low on money: If you’re running low on money, consider selling a painting with a fixed price auction. This guarantees you’ll receive money, even if it’s less than what the painting could potentially earn in an open auction.
  2. Your opponents are bidding high: If your opponents are consistently bidding high, consider bluffing by bidding high on a painting of low value. This can trick your opponents into overspending, leaving them with less money for future auctions.
  3. You have a painting of a currently unpopular artist: If you have a painting of an artist who’s currently unpopular, consider holding onto it. The popularity of artists can change quickly in Modern Art, and the painting could become valuable in a later round.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Modern Art

  1. What happens if two players bid the same amount in a one-round auction? In a one-round auction, if two players bid the same amount, the player closest to the auctioneer’s left wins.
  2. Can the auctioneer participate in the auction? Yes, the auctioneer can participate in the auction. If the auctioneer wins, the money goes to the bank.
  3. What happens if no one bids on a painting? If no one bids on a painting, the auctioneer must buy it at the minimum bid price.
  4. How is the value of a painting determined? The value of a painting is determined by its popularity. The more paintings of an artist are sold, the more valuable they become.
  5. Can I sell a painting I bought in the same round? No, you can only sell paintings from your hand. Paintings you’ve bought are kept in