Art Movements and Periods


abstract expressionism Movement in painting, originating in New York City in the 1940s. It emphasized spontaneous personal expression, freedom from accepted artistic values, surface qualities of paint, and the act of painting itself. Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell, and Kline, are important abstract expressionists.

art deco Design style prevalent during the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by a sleek use of straight lines and slender form.

art nouveau A decorative art movement that emerged in the late nineteenth century. Characterized by dense asymmetrical ornamentation in sinuous forms, it is often symbolic and of an erotic nature. Klimt worked in an art nouveau style.

Ash Can School Group of American artists active from 1908 to 1918. It included members of The Eight such as Henri and Davies; Hopper was also part of the Ash Can group. Their work featured scenes of urban realism.

Barbizon School An association of French landscape painters, c. 1840-70, who lived in the village of Barbizon and who painted directly from nature. Theodore Rousseau was a leader; Corot and Millet were also associated with the group.

baroque A movement in European painting in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, characterized by violent movement, strong emotion, and dramatic lighting and coloring. Bernini, Caravaggio and Rubens were among important baroque artists.

byzantine A style of the Byzantine Empire and its provinces, c. 330-1450. Appearing mostly in religious mosaics, manuscript illuminations, and panel paintings, it is characterized by rigid, monumental, stylized forms with gold backgrounds.

classicism Referring to the principles of Greek and Roman art of antiquity with the emphasis on harmony, proportion, balance, and simplicity. In a general sense, it refers to art based on accepted standards of beauty.

color field painting A technique in abstract painting developed in the 1950s. It focuses on the lyrical effects of large areas of color, often poured or stained onto the canvas. Newman, Rothko, and Frankenthaler painted in this manner.

conceptual art A movement of the 1960s and 1970s that emphasized the artistic idea over the art object. It attempted to free art from the confines of the gallery and the pedestal.

constructivism A Russian abstract movement founded by Tatlin, Gabo, and Antoine Pevsner, c. 1915. It focused on art for the industrial age. Tatlin believed in art with a utilitarian purpose.

cubism A revolutionary movement begun by Picasso and Braque in the early twentieth century. It employs an analytic vision based on fragmentation and multiple viewpoints.

dadaism A movement, c. 1915-23, that rejected accepted aesthetic standards. It aimed to create antiart and nonart, often employing a sense of the absurd.

The Eight A group of American painters who united out of opposition to academic standards in the early twentieth century. Members of the group were Robert Henri, Arthur Davies, Maurice Prendergast, William James Glackens, Ernest Lawson, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, and George Luks.

expressionism Refers to art that uses emphasis and distortion to communicate emotion. More specifically, it refers to early twentieth century northern European art, especially in Germany c. 1905-25. Artists such as Rouault, Kokoschka, and Schiele painted in this manner.

fauvism From the French word fauve , meaning "wild beast ." A style adopted by artists associated with Matisse, c. 1905-08. They painted in a spontaneous manner, using bold colors.

folk art Works of a culturally homogeneous people without formal training, generally according to regional traditions and involving crafts.

futurism An Italian movement c. 1909-19. It attempted to integrate the dynamism of the machine age into art. Boccioni was a futurist artist.

Gothic A European movement beginning in France. Gothic sculpture emerged c. 1200, Gothic painting later in the thirteenth century. The artworks are characterized by a linear, graceful, elegant style more naturalistic than that which had existed previously in Europe.

impressionism A late-nineteenth-century French school of painting. It focused on transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, with an emphasis on the changing effects of light and color. Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro were important impressionists.

mannerism A style, c. 1520-1600, that arose in reaction to the harmony and proportion of the High Renaissance. It featured elongated, contorted poses, crowded canvases, and harsh lighting and coloring.

minimalism A movement in American painting and sculpture that originated in the late 1950s. It emphasized pure, reduced forms and strict, systematic compositions.

Nabis From the Hebrew word for "prophet." A group of French painters active in the 1890s who worked in a subjective, sometimes mystical style, stressing flat areas of color and pattern. Bonnard and Vuillard were members.

naive art Artwork, usually paintings, characterized by a simplified style, nonscientific perspective, and bold colors. The artists are generally not professionally trained. Henri Rousseau and Grandma Moses worked in this style.

neoclassicism A European style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its elegant, balanced works revived the order and harmony of ancient Greek and Roman art. David and Canova are examples of neoclassicists.

op art An abstract movement in Europe and the United States, begun in the mid-1950s, based on the effects of optical patterns. Albers worked in this style.

photorealism A figurative movement that emerged in the United States and Britain in the late 1960s and 1970s. The subject matter, usually everyday scenes, is portrayed in an extremely detailed, exacting style. It is also called superrealism, especially when referring to sculpture.

pointilism A method of painting developed by Seurat and Paul Signac in the 1880s. It used dabs of pure color that were intended to mix in the eyes of viewers rather than on the canvas. It is also called divisionism or neoimpressionism.

pop art A movement that began in Britain and the United States in the 1950s. It used the images and techniques of mass media, advertising, and popular culture, often in an ironic way. Works of Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Oldenburg exemplify this style.

postimpressionism A term coined by British art critic Roger Fry to refer to a group of nineteenth-century painters, including Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin, who were dissatisfied with the limitations of expressionism. It has since been used to refer to various reactions against impressionism, such as fauvism nd expressionism.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood A group of English painters formed in 1848. These artists attempted to recapture the style of painting preceding Raphael. They rejected industrialized England and focused on painting from nature, producing detailed, colorful works. Rossetti was a founding member.

realism In a general sense, refers to objective representation. More specifically, a nineteenth century movement, especially in France, that rejected idealized academic styles in favor of everyday subjects. Daumier, Millet, and Courbet were realists.

Renaissance Meaning "rebirth" in French. Refers to Europe c. 1400-1600. Renaissance art which began in Italy, stressed the forms of classical antiquity, a realistic representation of space based on scientific perspective, and secular subjects. The works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael exemplify the balance and harmony of the High Renaissance (c. 1495-1520).

rococo An eighteenth-century European style, originating in France. In reaction to the grandeur and massiveness of the baroque, rococo employed refined, elegant, highly decorative forms. Fragonard worked in this style.

Romanesque A European style developed in France in the late eleventh century. Its sculpture is ornamental, stylized and complex. Some Romanesque frescoes survive, painted in a monumental, active manner.

romanticism A European movement of the late eighteenth to mid nineteenth century. In reaction to neoclassicism, it focused on emotion over reason, and on spontaneous expression. The subject matter was invested with drama and usually painted energetically in brilliant colors. Delacroix, Gericault, Turner, and Blake were Romantic artists.

suprematism A Russian abstract movement originated by Malevich c. 1913. It was characterized by flat geometric shapes on plain backgrounds and emphasized the spiritual qualities of pure form.

surrealism A movement of the 1920s and 1930s that began in France. It explored the unconscious, often using images from dreams. It used spontaneous techniques and featured unexpected juxtapositions of objects. Magritte, Dali, Miro, and Ernst painted surrealist works.

symbolism A painting movement that flourished in France in the 1880s and 1890s in which subject matter was suggested rather than directly presented. It featured decorative, stylized, and evocative images.



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