…The Musings of a Strange Guy

Introduction to Art Movements (interesting article)

Introduction to Art Movements

Abstract Expressionism
Emerging in the 1940s, this was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and also the one that put New York City at the center of the art world and replaced Paris as the center for contemporary art. Abstract expressionist paintings are marked by their use of texture and brushstrokes and large canvases. Some of the key artists to emerge from this movement are Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.

Art Deco
This popular design movement from the 1920s and 1930s is marked by its use of geometric shapes and bold colors. This movement was inspired by a mixture of many different styles like Cubism, Russian Constructivism, Futurism, Modernism, Bauhaus and Art Nouveau. Its popularity peaked during the Roaring Twenties. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, functional, ultra modern and sophisticated. Two well-known buildings in the U.S. built in the Art Deco style are the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center.

Art Nouveau
Meaning “new art”, Art Nouveau was an international style of art, architecture, and design that peaked in popularity at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. It is characterized by highly-stylized, flowing and asymmetrical lines frequently incorporating floral and other plant-inspired motifs.

This movement began in Paris in the early 20th Century and revolutionized European painting and sculpture, plus inspired related movements in music and literature. Both radical and influential, Analytic Cubism gathered influences from African art and new theories on the nature of reality. Its second phase, Synthetic Cubism highlighted brighter colors and featured works that were composed of fewer, more simple forms. The movement spread and remained vital until around 1919, when the Surrealist movement gained more popularity. Two of the key artists to emerge from this movement are Pablo Picasso and Georges Baraque.

In this art movement the tendency of an artist is to depict subjective emotions and spontaneous self-expression. Expressionism is exhibited in many art forms, including painting, literature, theater, film, architecture and music. Originating in Germany, Expressionism is an international movement also thought to have inherited aspects of medieval art forms and the Fauvism Movement. Characteristics of this movement are intense color and agitated brushstrokes. Some of the most well-known Expressionists are, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, August Macke, George Grosz and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

This French 19th Century art movement is marked by applying paint in small touches of pure color rather than broader strokes to achieve a more exact representation of the color and tone of the subject. Characteristics of Impressionist painting also include bright and vibrant colors, outdoor scenes, emphasis on light in its changing qualities, ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a significant element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. There were smaller movements within Impressionism, such as Art Nouveau, Fauvism and Pointillism. Some of the key artists to emerge from this movement are Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissaro.

Minimalism emerged in the 1950s and continued through the 1960s and 70s. Minimalism describes various forms of art and design that thrive on simplicity and fundamental features. The goal of Minimalism is to omit any sign of personal expression so that the viewer can experience the art without the distractions of theme, composition, etc. Prominent artists associated with this movement include Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Richard Serra. Minimalism is related to other art movements such as Conceptual Art, Pop Art and Land Art.

Pop Art
The Pop Art movement that emerged in the 1950s is characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular culture, celebrating everyday items such as advertising, comic books, soda and soup cans. A direct descendant of Dadaism, Pop Art is marked by mocking the established art world with images from the street and media while stressing everyday values. Well-known artists to emerge from this movement include, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Roy Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg.

This mid-19th Century art movement has roots in France and was very popular around the mid-to-late 1800s. Realism was heavily against romanticism, a genre dominating French artwork in the mid-19th Century. Realism embraced the ideology of objective reality and rebelled against exaggerated emotionalism. Truth and accuracy that included a moral or sociopolitical message became the goals of many Realists. Some of the more prominent Realists were Honore Daumier, Millet and Gustave Courbet.

This movement began in Italy in the late 14th Century. The term Renaissance literally means rebirth. One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was that it distanced itself from the religion-dominated Middle Ages and the revived interest in the artistic achievements of the classical world. Artists of this movement also developed other techniques, studying light, shadow, and famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Underlying these changes was a renewed desire to illustrate the beauty of nature, and to unravel the principles of aesthetics. Other key artists to emerge from this movement are Michelangelo and Raphael.

Romanticism is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated around the middle of the 18th Century in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution. It was partly a rebellion against Neoclassicism and was influenced by ideas of the Enlightenment. Key characteristics of Romanticism are individualistic, beautiful, exotic and emotional compositions. Key artists associated with Romanticism are William Blake, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich.

This cultural movement began in the mid-1920s, and is best known for expressing imagination as seen in the artist’s dreams – free of reason and control. The works also feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur. Founded in Paris by Andre Breton with his Manifesto of Surrealism, the Surrealist movement’s goal was to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality”. The most important artists of the Surrealism movement are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and Joan Miro.


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