Visual Art Movements

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There are 23 articles in this category.









Abstract expressionism

Abstract expressionism was an American post-World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence...

For more information, please see the main article about Abstract expressionism.

There are 5 articles in this category.

This USPS stamp illustrates Pollock's drip technique.
This USPS stamp illustrates Pollock's drip technique.

Abstract expressionism was an American post-World War II art movement. It 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, a role formerly filled by Paris.

The term was first applied to American art in 1946 by the critic Robert Coates.

Technically, its most important predecessor is often said to be surrealism, with its emphasis on spontaneous, automatic or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock's dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of Max Ernst.

The movement gets its name because it is seen as combining the emotional intensity and self-expression of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic.

In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working in New York who had quite different styles, and even applied to work which is not especially abstract nor expressionist. Pollock's energetic "action paintings", with their "busy" feel, are very different both technically and aesthetically to the rather violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning (which is not particularly abstract) and to the serenely shimmering blocks of colour in Mark Rothko's work (which does not seem particularly expressionist), yet all three are classified as abstract expressionists.

That said, abstract expressionist paintings do tend to share certain definite characteristics, such as a fondness for large canvases, an emphasis on the canvas's inherent flatness, and an "all-over" approach, in which all areas of the canvas are treated with equal importance (as opposed to the center being of more interest than the edges, for example).

As the first truly original school of painting in America, abstract expressionism demonstrated the vitality and creativity of the country in the post-war years, as well as its need (or ability) to develop an aesthetic sense that was not constrained by the European standards of beauty.

Articles on two leading abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock ( and Philip Guston (, by American artist Dorothy Koppelman, relating their art to their lives from the Aesthetic Realism point of view, can be seen on the Terrain Gallery ( Web site.

Canadian artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), helped introduce abstract impressionism to Paris in the 1950s.

By the 1960s, the movement had lost most of its impact, and was no longer so influential. Movements which were direct responses to, and rebellions against, abstract expressionism had begun, such as pop art and minimalism. However, many painters who had produced abstract expressionist work continued to work in that style for many years afterwards extending and expanding its visual and philosophical implications.

Abstract expressionism's main representatives were:

American Impressionism

Notable North American Impressionists include:

Art Deco

Art Deco was a movement in decorative arts that also affected architecture, deriving its name from the World's fair held in Paris in 1925, formally titled the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which showcased French luxury goods and reassured the world that Paris remained the international center of style. Art Deco did not originate with the Exposition; it was a major style in Europe from the early 1920s, though it did not catch on in the U.S. until about 1928, when it quickly modulated into the Moderne during the 1930s, the decade with which the concept of Art Deco is most strongly associated today.

The term Art Deco was coined during the Exposition of 1925 but did not receive wider usage until it was re-evaluated in the 1960s. Its practitioners were not working as a coherent community. It is considered to be eclectic, being influenced by a variety of sources, to name a few:

The Art Deco spire of the Chrysler Building
The Art Deco spire of the Chrysler Building

Corresponding to these influences, the Art Deco is characterised by use of materials such as sharkskin and zebraskin, zigzag and stepped forms, bold and sweeping curves (unlike the sinuous curves of the Art nouveau), chevron patterns, sunburst motif, etc. Some of these motifs were ubiquitous- for example the sunburst motif was used in such varied contexts as a lady's shoe, a radiator grille, the spire of the Chrysler Building. Art Deco was an opulent style and this opulence is attributed as a reaction to the forced austerity during the years of World War I. Art Deco was a popular style for interiors of cinema theatres and ocean liners such as the Ile de France and Normandie.

A parallel movement following close behind, the Streamline or Streamline Moderne, was influenced by manufacturing and streamlining techniques arising from science and mass production- shape of bullet, liners, etc., where aerodynamics are involved. Once the Chrysler Air-Flo design of 1933 (date) was successful, "streamlined" forms began to be used even for objects such as pencil sharpeners and refrigerators. In architecture, this style was characterised by rounded corners, used predominantly for buildings at road junctions.

Some historians see Art Deco as a type of, or early form of, Modernism

Though Art Deco slowly lost patronage in the West, and was cut short by the austerities of World War II, in colonial countries such as India, it became a gateway for Modernism, and continued to be used well after, even in the nineteen sixties.

Contents [hide]

Noted Art Deco artists and designers

Noted Art Deco architects

Noted Art Deco designs

External links

Art Nouveau

Alfons Mucha, lithographed poster, 1898
Alfons Mucha , lithographed poster, 1898

Art Nouveau (French for "New art") is an art and design style that peaked in popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Other, more localized terms for the cluster of self-consciously radical, somewhat mannered reformist chic that formed a prelude to 20th-century Modernism, included Jugendstil in Germany, named for the snappy avant-garde periodical Jugend ('Youth') or Sezessionstil in Vienna, where forward-looking artists and designers seceded from the mainstream salon exhibitions, to exhibit on their own in more congenial surroundings.

In Italy, Stile Liberty was named for the London shop that had been distributing good modern design emanating from the Arts and Crafts movement, a sign both of the Art Nouveau's commercial aspect and the 'imported' character it always retained in Italy.

In Spain, the movement was centred in Barcelona and was known as modernisme in Catalan and modernismo in Spanish. Antoni Gaudí is the main architect in the movement.

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Career of Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau started in the 1880s and had its climax in years 1892–1902. The name 'Art Nouveau' derived from the name of a shop in Paris, Maison de l'Art Nouveau, run by Samuel Bing, who showcased some objects that followed this approach to design.

A high point in the evolution of Art Nouveau was the Universal Exposition of 1900 in Paris, in which the 'Modern Style' triumphed in every medium. In the following decade, the new style was so rapidly commercialized in trivial mass-production that Art Nouveau was looked down upon after about 1907, and the term was ascribed a pejorative meaning.

Character of Art Nouveau

St Louis World's Fair, 1904: entrance to the "Creation" exhibit
St Louis World's Fair , 1904: entrance to the "Creation" exhibit

One of the most important characteristics of the style is a dynamic, undulating and flowing, curved 'whiplash' line of syncopated rhythm. Hyperbolas and parabolas were used in art. Conventional moldings seem to spring to life and 'grow' into plant-derived forms.

As an art movement it has certain affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolist painters, and certain figures like Aubrey Beardsley. Alfons Mucha, Edward Burne-Jones, Gustav Klimt, and Jan Toorop could be classed in more than one of these styles. Unlike Symbolist painting, however, Art Nouveau had a distinctive visual look of its own; and unlike the backwards-looking Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau was not shy about the use of new materials, machined surfaces, and abstraction in the service of pure design.

Art Nouveau in architecture and interior design eschewed the eclectic historicism of the Victorian era. Though Art Nouveau designers did select and 'modernize' some of the more abstract elements of Rococo style, such as flame and shell textures, in place of the historically-derived and basically tectonic or realistic naturalistic ornament of High Victorian styles, Art Nouveau advocated the use of highly-stylized Nature as the source of inspiration and expanded the 'natural' repertory to embrace seaweed, grasses, insects.

Correspondingly organic forms, curved lines, especially floral or vegetal, etc., began to be used. Japanese wood-block prints with their curved lines, patterned surfaces and contrasting voids, and flatness of their picture-plane, also inspired Art Nouveau. Some line and curve patterns became graphic clichés that were later found in works of artists from all parts of the world. An important fact is that Art Nouveau did not negate the machine as other movements such as the Arts and Crafts Movement but used it to its advantage. In terms of material usage, the principal ones employed were glass and wrought iron, leading to a very sculpturesque quality even in architecture.

Art Nouveau at its best is considered a total style, meaning that it encompasses a hierarchy of scales in design — architecture, interior design, jewellery, furniture and textile design, utensils and art objects, lighting, etc. Today Art Nouveau is viewed as a forerunner of the most innovative cultural movements of the 20th century, such as expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and Art Deco.

Art Nouveau media

Daum, Nancy circa 1900
Daum, Nancy circa 1900

Glass making was an area in which the style found tremendous expression— for example, the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York and Émile Gallé and the Daum brothers (see illustration) in Nancy, France.

In jewellery Art Nouveau revitalised the jeweller's art, with nature as the principal source of inspiration, complemented by new levels of virtuosity in enamelling and the introduction of new materials, such as opals and semi-precious stones. The widespread interest in Japanese art and the more specialised enthusiasm for Japanese metalworking skills, fostered new themes and approaches to ornament. For the previous two centuries the emphasis in fine jewellery had been on gemstones, particularly on the diamond, and the jeweller or goldsmith had been principally concerned with providing settings for their advantage. Now a completely different type of jewellery was emerging, motivated by the artist-designer rather than the jeweller as merchant.

It was the jewellers of Paris and Brussels who created and defined Art Nouveau in jewellery, and it was in these cities that it achieved the most renown. Contemporary French critics were united in acknowledging that jewelry was undergoing a radical transformation, and that the French designer-jeweller René Lalique was at its heart. Lalique glorified nature in jewellery, extending the repertory to include new aspects of nature— dragonflies or grasses—, inspired by his intelligent encounter with Japanese art.

The jewellers were keen to establish the new style in a noble tradition, and for this they looked back to the Renaissance, with its jewels of sculpted and enamelled gold, and its acceptance of jewellers as artists rather than craftsmen. In most of the enamelled work of the period precious stones receded. Diamonds were usually given subsidiary roles, used alongside less familiar materials such as moulded glass, horn and ivory.

"O grave where is thy sting," by Jan Toorup, 1892
"O grave where is thy sting," by Jan Toorup, 1892

Principal centers of the style were:

Other centers included :

Among the most remarkable artists of Art Nouveau are:

"The peacock skirt," by Aubrey Beardsley, 1892
"The peacock skirt," by Aubrey Beardsley, 1892

See Also

Art Nouveau Jewellery

External link

Art styles, periods and movements

Styles, periods and movements related to art.


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Ashcan School

The Ashcan School was a realist artistic movement at the beginning of the 20th century, known for painting scenes of daily life in poor urban neighborhoods. Its primary members included:

Members of the Ashcan School were connected with the Macbeth Gallery throughout much of their careers.

COBRA (avant-garde movement)

COBRA was a post-World War II European avant-garde movement (the name is derived from the initials of the members' home cities: Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam).

COBRA was formed from an amalgamation of the Dutch group Reflex, the Danish group Host and the Belgian Revolutionary Surrealist Group.

There is a COBRA Museum in Amstelveen, Netherlands, displaying works by Karel Appel and other international avant-garde art.

Some of the prominent participants in COBRA were:

The group held two large expositions, one at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1949) and the other at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Liège (1951). The primary focus of the group consisted of semiabstract paintings with brilliant color, violent brushwork, and distorted human figures inspired by primitive and folk art and similar to American Action Painting. Cobra was a milestone in the development of European Abstract Expressionism.

External link


Chinoiserie refers to an artistic style which reflects Chinese influence and is characterized through the use of elaborate decoration and intricate patterns. Its popularity peaked around the middle of the 18th century.

The term is also used in garden design to the type of garden houses, bridges and other structures which became popular in the Western world in the 18th century.

Upscale houses, like the Casa Loma, sometimes feature an entire guest room decorated in the chinoiserie style, complete with Chinese-styled bed, phoenix-themed wallpaper, and china.

Die Brücke

Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a group of expressionist artists formed in Dresden in 1905. Four Jugendstil architecture students led by Hermann Obrist - Fritz Bleyl (1880-1966), Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) and Karl Schmidt-Rofluff (1884-1976) decided to devote themselves to painting. They formed an exhibiting group which lasted until 1913.

Although they were named for a passage in Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra that spoke of humanity's potential to be the evolutionary "bridge" to a more perfect future (Übermensch), Die Brücke's members demonstrated little interest in advancing the evolutionary process.

Their style was a good example of modernist primitivism - purposefully simple and direct and also quite focused on the female nude.


The Dessert: Harmony in Red (1908) by Henri Matisse
The Dessert: Harmony in Red (1908) by Henri Matisse

Les Fauves (French for "wild beasts"), a short-lived movement of early Modernist art, emphasized paint itself and the use of deep color over the representational values retained by Impressionism, even with its focus on light and the moment.

The mantra of the Fauves was a quote from Paul Gauguin to Paul Serusier in 1888 to the effect that if the trees looked yellow to the artist then painted a bright yellow they must be. The name, which translates as "wild beasts," was given the group by an art critic following their 1905 seminal show in Paris. The painter Gustave Moreau was the movement's inspirational teacher, a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, who pushed his students to think outside of the lines of formality and to follow their visions.

The leaders of the movement, Moreau's top students, were Henri Matisse and André Derain, friendly rivals of a sort, each with his own followers. The paintings, for example Matisse's 1908 The Dessert or Derain's The Two Barges, use powerful reds or other forceful colors to draw the eye. Matisse became the yang to Picasso's yin in the 20th century while time has trapped Derain at the century's beginning, a "wild beast" forever. Their disciples included Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, Charles Camoin, the Belgian painter Henri Evenepoel, Jean Puy, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Emile-Othonriesz, Georges Rouault, the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, and Picasso's soul brother Georges Braque.

See also

Land art

Land art or earth art is a form of art which came to prominence in the late 1960s and 1970s primarily concerned with the natural environment. Materials such as rocks, sticks, soil and so on are often used, and the works frequently exist in the open and are left to change and erode under natural conditions. Particularly large works are sometimes known as earthworks.

The movement was inspired mostly by modern and minimal movements such as De Stijl, Cubism, and Minimalism. Perhaps the best known artist who worked in this genre was the American Robert Smithson. His best known piece, and probably the most famous piece of all land art, is Spiral Jetty (1970), for which Smithson arranged rock, earth and algae so as to form a long (1500 feet) spiral-shape jetty protruding into Great Salt Lake in Utah. How much of the work, if any, is visible is dependent on the fluctuating water levels. Since its creation, the work has been completely covered, and then uncovered again, by water.

Smithson's Gravel Mirror with Cracks and Dust (1968) is an example of land art existing in a gallery space rather than in the natural environment. It consists of a pile of gravel by the side of a partially mirrored gallery wall. In its simplicity of form and concentration on the materials themselves, this and other pieces of land art have an affinity with minimalism. There is also a relationship to Arte Povera in the use of materials traditionally considered "unartistic" or "worthless".

Land artists have tended to be American, with other prominent artists in this field including Alice Aycock, Michael Heizer and James Turrell. Turrell began work in 1972 on possibly the largest piece of land art thus far, reshaping the earth surrounding an extinct volcano in Arizona. Perhaps the most prominent non-American land artists are the British Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. Some works by Christo, who is famous for wrapping monuments, buildings and landscapes in fabric, are also sometimes considered to be works of land art.


Modernisme (not to be confused with modernism) is the Catalan variant of Art Nouveau. Antoni Gaudí is the most well-known architect from this movement.

Nazarene movement

The name Nazarene was adopted by a group of early nineteenth century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.

In 1809, six students at the Vienna Academy formed an artistic cooperative in Vienna called the Brotherhood of St. Luke or Lukasbund, following a common name for medieval gilds of painters. In 1810 four of them, Johann Friedrich Overbeck, Franz Pforr, Ludwig Vogel and Johann Konrad Hottinger moved to Rome, where they occupied the abandoned monastery of San Isidoro. They were joined by Philipp Veit, Peter von Cornelius, Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow and a loose grouping of other German artists. They met up with Austrian romantic landscape artist Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839) who became an unofficial tutor to the group.

The principal motivation of the Nazarenes was a reaction against Neoclassicism and the routine art education of the academy system. They hoped to return to art which embodied spiritual values, and sought inspiration in artists of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, rejecting what they saw as the superficial virtuosity of later art.

In Rome the group lived a semi-monastic existence, as a way of re-creating the nature of the medieval artist's workshop. Religious subjects dominated their output, and two major commissions allowed them to attempt a revival of the medieval art of fresco painting. Two fresco series were completed in Rome for the Casa Bartholdy (1816-17) (moved to the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin) and the Casino Massimo (1817-29), and gained international attention for the work of the 'Nazarener'. However, by 1830 all except Overbeck had returned to Germany and the group had disbanded. Ironically, many Nazareners returned to teach in German art academies.

Legacy of the Nazarene movement

The artistic achievement of the Nazarenes is difficult to evaluate; their finished paintings appear less impressive with the perspective of history than they did to their contemporaries. Awkward composition, weak colouring and derivative themes detract from the challenge of their work in its time. However, the programme of the Nazarenes - the adoption of honest expression in art and the inspiration of artists before Raphael - was to exert considerable influence in Germany, and in England upon the Pre-Raphaelite movement. In their abandonment of the academy and their rejection of much of the artistic legacy of western art, the Nazarenes can be seen as pioneers of an avant-garde tendency in art which would dominate the late nineteenth century.

Notable members of the Nazarene movement

Further information

Op art

Op art is a term used to described certain paintings made primarily in the 1960s which exploit the fallibilty of the eye through the use of optical illusions.

Op art works are usually abstract, with many of the better known pieces made in only black and white. When the viewer looks at them, the impression is given of movement, flashing and vibration, or alternatively of swelling or warping.

The term first appeared in print in Time Magazine in October 1964, though works which might now be described as "op art" had been produced for several years previously. It has been suggested that Victor Vasarely's 1930s works such as Zebra (1938), which is made up entirely of diagonal black and white stripes curved in a way to give a three-dimensional impression of a seated zebra, should be considered the first works of op art.

In 1965, a show called The Responsive Eye, made up entirely of works of op art, was held in New York City. This show did a great deal to make op art prominent, and many of the artists now considered important in the style exhibited there. Op art subsequently became tremendously popular, and op art images were used in a number of commercial contexts. Bridget Riley tried to sue an American company, without success, for using one of her paintings as the basis of a fabric design.

Bridget Riley is perhaps the best known of the op artists. Taking Vasarely's lead, she made a number of paintings consisting only of black and white lines. Rather than giving the impression of some real-world object, however, Riley's paintings frequently give the impression of movement or colour.

Riley later produced works in full colour, and other op artists have worked in colour as well, although these works tend to be less well known. Violent contrasts of colour are sometimes used to produce similar illusions of movement.

Other noted op artists include Jesús-Rafael Soto and Richard Anuszkiewicz.

External links


This article is about the art movement. In computer graphics, the phrase "photorealism" is used to describe photorealistic rendering of scenes.

Photorealism is the quality of resembling a photograph, generally in a hyperrealistic sense. In art, the term is primarily applied to paintings from the photorealism art movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As a full-fledged art movement, photorealism sprang up in the late 1960s and early 1970s in America and Europe (where it was also commonly labeled superrealism) and was dominated by painters. The first generation of American photorealists includes such painters as [[Richard Estes], Audrey Flack, Robert Cottingham, Don Eddy, Ron Kleemann, Tom Blackwell, Charles Bell, Chuck Close, John Kacere, David Parrish, Robert Bechtle, Ralph Goings, Richard McLean, John Salt and Ben Schonzeit. Duane Hanson was a rare exception of a photorealistic sculptor, famous for his amazingly lifelike painted sculptures of average people, complete with simulated hair and real clothes. Often working independently of each other and with widely different starting points, photorealists often tackled mundane or familiar subjects in traditional art genres--landscapes (mostly urban rather than naturalistic), portraits, and still lifes.

Photorealists very consciously took their cues from photographic images, often working very systematically from photographic slide projections onto canvases and using techniques such as gridding to preserve accuracy. The photorealist style is tight and precisionistic, often with an emphasis on imagery that require a high level of technical prowess and virtuosity to simulate, such as reflections in specular surfaces and the geometric rigor of man-made environs.

20th century photorealism can be contrasted with the similarly literal, hyperrealistic style found in trompe l'oeil paintings of the 19th century. However, trompe l'oeil paintings tended to be carefully designed, very shallow-space still-lifes with illusionistic gimmicks such as objects seeming to lift slightly from the painting. The photorealism movement moved beyond this double-take illusionism to tackle deeper spatial representations (e.g. urban landscapes) and took on much more varied and dynamic subject matter.


Pointillism is a style of painting in which non- primary colors are generated, not by the mixing of pigments in the palette nor by using pigments directly, but by the visual mixing of points of primary colors, placed in close proximity to each other.

When viewed from a distance, the points or dots cannot be distinguished, and blend optically into each other. This means that with the same set of primaries, pointillists generate a different range of colors when compared to artists using traditional colors or color-mixing techniques.

The result is sometimes described as brighter or purer since the eye does the mixing and not the brush. An explanation for this could be sought in the subtractive and additive theories of color.

Usually when colors are produced by pigments being mixed physically, the subtractive color theory is at work. Here the mixing of pigments of the primary colours produces less light; so if we mix red, blue and yellow pigments(subtractive primaries), we get a colour close to black. However when colours are produced by the mixing of light, then the additive color theory is at work. Here the mixing of lights of the three primary colours produces more light; so if we mix red, blue and green light(additive primaries) we get something close to white light. The brighter effect of pointillist colours could rise from the fact that subtractive mixing is avoided and something closer to the effect of additive mixing is obtained even through pigments.

The brushwork used to perform pointillistic color mixing is at the expense of traditional brushwork which could be used to delineate texture. Color television receivers and computer screens, both CRT and LCD, use tiny dots of primary red, green, and blue to render color, and can thus be regarded as a kind of pointillism.

Georges Seurat is generally associated with this Post-Impressionist movement. Other artists influenced by this movement include Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross.

The term pointillism was later borrowed by musicians to describe a style of composition first seen in the works of Anton Webern and used by his followers such as Pierre Boulez through the 1950s and 1960s, in which carefully chosen sounds of different timbres, each apparently standing in isolation rather than linking up to form more obviously melodic relationships, make up the piece.

Pop art

Pop art is an artistic movement that is a rejection of abstract expressionism and aims to return to figurative art while incorporating themes and techniques from mass culture. The term was coined in 1956 by British critic Laurence Alloway but didn't entirely stick until well into the 1960s. In the meantime the movement was being called Neo-dada, a name which reveals some of the thinking behind this type of art. There is a strong influence of Dadaism in Pop art.

Pop art is also to some extent a satire of the philistine acquisitiveness of patrons of art and of official art institutions – for example, early pop artists induced important museums to invest large sums of money in paintings of mundane subjects, done with acrylic paint on plywood, which quickly deteriorated. This movement gained strength in the 1960s and was centered in England and the United States early on.

Notable Pop Artists include:

External links


Post-Impressionism is a term applied to a number of painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose style developed out of or reacted against that of the Impressionists. It was first used by the critic Roger Fry, and is applied to the group Les Nabis and other artists such as:


Suprematism means, in Kasimir Malevich's own words, "supremacy of forms". It is almost a study in "abstract" forms conceived in itself - non-objective and not related to anything except geometric shapes and colors.

Malevich created a type of suprematist grammar of forms that was rooted in squares. In the 0.10 exhibition - also called the "last futurist exhibition" - Malevitch exposed his very first experiments in suprematist painting. The centrepiece of his show was the "Black quadrilateral on white", placed in what was called the "golden corner" in ancient orthodox tradition - the place of the main icon in a house. Malevitch considered this picture the ground zero for suprematism. Suprematism follows the ideas of Non-Euclidean geometry and fourth dimension spread by Russian mathematician Lobachevsky. In this view, each picture is a frozen image of an eternal movement of forms in an ideal space of n dimensions - no up nor down, no left nor right.

The fundamental visual grammar of Suprematism also includes the circle and the cross, made of two elongated squares, forming two rectangles that cross one another. Malevitch always used the symbols of orthodox tradition.

Deprived of the right to paint abstract pictures, Malevich nevertheless retained his main conception. In his self-portrait of 1933 he represents himself in a very traditional way - the only way permitted by Stalinist cultural policy - but signs the picture with a tiny black over white square.


Tachisme (alternative spelling: Tachism, derived from the French word tache - stain) was a French style of abstract painting in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism. Other names for this movements are l'art informel (similar to action painting) and abstraction lyrique (lyrical abstraction).

Tachisme was a reaction to cubism and is characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube, and sometimes scribbling reminiscent of calligraphy.


External links

See also

List of French artists and artistic movements


Ezra Pound, who gave Vorticism its name and contributed to Blast.
Ezra Pound, who gave Vorticism its name and contributed to Blast.

Vorticism was a short lived, British art movement of the early 20th century. It is considered to be the only significant British movement of the early twentieth century but lasted less than three years.

Wyndam Lewis in 1916
Wyndam Lewis in 1916

The name "Vorticism" was given to the movement by Ezra Pound in 1913, although Wyndham Lewis, usually seen as the central figure in the movement, had been producing paintings in the same style for a year or so previously. The style is said to have grown out of Cubism, but is more closely related to Futurism in its embrace of dynamism, the machine age and all things modern. However, Vorticism diverged from Futurism in the way that it tried to capture movement in an image. In a Vorticist painting modern life is shown as an array of bold lines and harsh colours drawing the viewer's eye into the centre of the canvas.

Other than Lewis, the main figures associated with the movement were William Roberts, Edward Wadsworth, David Bomberg, and the sculptors Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

The Vorticists had only one exhibition, in 1915 at the Doré Gallery. Following that, the movement broke up, largely due to the onset of World War I and public apathy towards the work. Attempts to revive the movement in the 1920s under the name Group X were unsuccessful.


The cover of the 1915 Blast wartime number.
The cover of the 1915 Blast wartime number.

The Vorticists had their own journal, BLAST, edited by Lewis. It published work by Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot as well as by the vorticists themselves. Its typographical adventurousness was cited by El Lissitzky as one of the major forerunners of the revolution in graphic design in the 1920s and 1930s.

Although Lewis is generally seen as the central figure in the movement, it has been suggested that this was more due to his contacts and ability as a self-publicist and polemicist than the quality of his works necessarily. A 1956 exhibition at the Tate Gallery was called "Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists", highlighting his prominent place in the movement, although this angered some other members of the group. Both Bomberg and Roberts protested strongly over Lewis' assertion in the exhibition catalogue that "Vorticism, in fact, was what I, personally, did, and said, at a certain period."

External links

Clement Greenberg

Clement Greenberg (January 16, 1909 - May 7, 1994) was an influential American art critic who was closely associated with the institutionalization of abstract art in the United States. In particular he promoted the Abstract Expressionist movement led by Jackson Pollock.

Greenberg made his name as an art critic with his essay Avant Garde and Kitsch, published in 1939. In this article Greenberg claimed that avant-garde and Modernist art was a means to resist the 'dumbing down' of culture caused by consumerism. Greenberg termed this 'kitsch', a word that his essay popularised, though its connotations have since changed. Modern art, like philosophy, explored the conditions under which we experience and understand the world. It does not simply provide information about it — in the manner of an illustratively accurate depiction of the world.

For Greenberg Modernism provided a critical commentary on experience. It was constantly changing to adapt to kitsch culture, which was itself always developing. In the years after World War Two, Greenberg came to believe that the best avant-garde artists were emerging in America rather than Europe. He promoted the work of Pollock and the other Abstract Expressionists as next stage in Modernist art, arguing that Modernist art was moving towards greater emphasis on the 'flatness' of the picture plane.

These views led Greenberg to reject Pop Art in the 1960s, which was influenced by kitsch culture.

Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning (April 24, 1904-March 19, 1997) an abstract expressionist painter was born in Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The Rotterdam Academy of Fine Art accepted de Kooning as a student in 1916. In 1926 he stowed away on a boat to New York City.

De Kooning made his living for a time as a house painter. Later, he was a teacher at Black Mountain College with John Cage, Buckminster Fuller and Josef Albers.

In the post World War II era, de Kooning painted in the area of abstract expressionism. Others in this movement include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Later, de Kooning experimented with other art movements.

De Kooning's parents, Leendert de Kooning and Cornelia Nobel, were divorced when he was about five years old, and he was raised by his mother and a stepfather. In 1916 he was apprenticed to a firm of commercial artists and decorators, and, about the same time, he enrolled in night classes at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques, where he studied for eight years. In 1920 he went to work for the art director of a large department store.

In 1926 de Kooning entered the United States as a stowaway and eventually settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he supported himself as a house painter. In 1927 he moved to a studio in Manhattan and came under the influence of the artist, connoisseur, and art critic John Graham and the painter Arshile Gorky. Gorky became one of de Kooning's closest friends.

From about 1928 de Kooning began to paint still life and figure compositions reflecting schoolof Paris and Mexican influences. By the early 1930s he was exploring abstraction, using biomorphic shapes and simple geometric compositions?an opposition of disparate formal elements that prevails in his work throughout his career. These early works have strong affinities with those of his friends Graham and Gorky and reflect the impact on these young artists of Pablo Picasso and the Surrealist Joan Miró, both of whom achieved powerfully expressive compositions through biomorphic forms.

In October 1935 de Kooning began to work on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Federal Art Project. He was employed by this work-relief program until July 1937, when he was forced to resign because of his alien status. This period of about two years provided the artist,who had been supporting himself during the early Depression by commercial jobs, with his first opportunity to devote full time to creative work. He worked on both the easel-painting and mural divisions of the project (the several murals he designed were never executed).

In 1938, probably under the influence of Gorky, de Kooning embarked on a series of sad, staring male figures, including Two Men Standing, Man, and Seated Figure (Classic Male). Parallel with these works he also created lyrically coloured abstractions, such as Pink Landscape and Elegy. This coincidence of figures and abstractions continued well into the 1940s with his representational but somewhat geometricized Woman and Standing Man, along with numerous untitled abstractions whose biomorphic forms increasingly suggest the presence of figures. By about 1945 the two tendencies seemed to fuse perfectly in Pink Angels. In 1946, too poor to buy artists' pigments, he turned to black and white household enamels to paint a series of large abstractions; of these works, Light in August (c. 1946) and Black Friday (1948) are essentially black with white elements, whereas Zurich (1947) and Mailbox (1947?48) are white with black. Developing out of these works in the period after his first show were complex, agitated abstractions such as Asheville (1948?49), Attic (1949), and Excavation (1950; Art Institute, Chicago), which reintroduced colour and seem to sum up with taut decisiveness the problems of free-associative composition he had struggled with for many years.

In 1938 de Kooning met Elaine Fried, whom he married in 1943. She also became a significant artist. During the 1940s and thereafter he became increasingly identified with the Abstract Expressionist movement and was recognized as one of its leaders in the mid-1950s. He had his first one-man show, which consisted of his black-and-white enamel compositions, at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York in 1948 and taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1948 and at the Yale School of Art in 1950?51.

Mature works

Whereas de Kooning had painted women regularly in the early 1940s and again from 1947 to 1949, and the biomorphic shapes of his early abstractions can be interpreted as female symbols, it was not until 1950 that he began to explore the subject of women exclusively. In the summer of that year he began Woman I (Museum of Modern Art, New York City), which went through innumerable metamorphoses before it was finished in 1952. During this period he also created other paintings of women. These works were shown at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1953 and caused a sensation, chiefly because they were figurative when most of his fellow Abstract Expressionists were painting abstractly and because of their blatant technique and imagery. The savagely applied pigment and the use of colours that seem vomited on his canvas combine to reveal a woman all too congruent with some of modern man's most widely held sexual fears. The toothy snarls, overripe, pendulous breasts, vacuous eyes, and blasted extremities imaged the darkest Freudian insights. The Woman paintings II through VI (1952?53) are all variants on this theme, as are Woman and Bicycle (1953; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and Two Women in the Country (1954). The deliberate vulgarity of these paintings contrasts with the French painter Jean Dubuffet's no less harsh Corps de dame series of 1950, in which the female, formed with a rich topography of earth colours, relates more directly to universal symbols.

By 1955, however, de Kooning seems to have turned to this symbolic aspect of woman, as suggested by the title of his Woman as Landscape, in which the vertical figure seems almost absorbed into the abstract background. There followed a series of landscapes such as Police Gazette, Gotham News, Backyard on Tenth Street, Parc Rosenberg, Suburb in Havana, Door to the River, and Rosy-Fingered Dawn at Louse Point, which display an evolution from compositional and colouristic complexity to a broadly painted simplicity.

About 1963, the year he moved permanently to East Hampton, Long Island, de Kooning returned to depicting women in such paintings as Pastorale and Clam Diggers. He reexplored the theme in the mid-1960s in paintings that were as controversial as his earlier women. In these works, which have been read as satiric attacks on the female anatomy, de Kooning painted with a flamboyant lubricity in keeping with the uninhibited subject matter. His later works, such as ?Whose Name Was Writ in Water and Untitled III, are lyrical, lush, and shimmering with light and reflections on water. He turned more and more during his late yearsto the production of clay sculpture.

In the 1980s de Kooning was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, and a court declared him unfit to manage his estate, which was turned over to conservators. As the quality of his later work declined, his vintage works drew increasing profits. At Sotheby's auctions Pink Lady (1944) sold for $3.6 million in 1987 and Interchange (1955) brought $20.6 million in 1989.

Willem de Kooning has served as inspiration for the Welsh band Manic Street Preachers for three songs: "Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)", "His Last Painting", about him suffering from Alzheimer's disease and the song "Door to the River" which is named after the painting.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 - August 11, 1956) was an influential American artist and a major force in the abstract expressionism movement.

Jackson Pollock 1950

He was born in Cody, Wyoming, and later moved to New York in 1929, where he studied under Thomas Hart Benton. Pollock moved away from figurative art, and developed techniques of splashing and dripping his paint onto canvas (action painting). Pollock was dubbed "Jack the Dripper" due to his painting style.

From 1938 to 1942 he worked for the Federal Art Project, in the 1950s Pollock was supported by the CIA via the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF).

Pollock's career was cut short when he died in a car crash in 1956.

He was the subject of the documentaries Jackson Pollock (1987) and Jackson Pollock - Love & Death on Long Island (1999) as well as a movie drama called Pollock (2000) starring Ed Harris. The earlier ten-minute documentary Jackson Pollock (1951) was directed by Hans Namuth and had music by Morton Feldman.

Jackson married Lee Krasner in 1944.

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Action painting

Action painting, sometimes called gestural abstraction, is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. The resulting works emphasise the physical act of painting itself. The style was particularly widespread in the 1950s and 1960s, and is closely associated with abstract expressionism (some critics have used the terms action painting and abstract expressionism interchangeably). A comparison is often drawn between the American action painting and the French tachisme.

The term was coined by the American critic Harold Rosenberg in 1952, and signaled a major shift in the aesthetic perspective of New York School painters and critics. While abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning had long been outspoken in their view of a painting as an arena within which to come to terms with the act of creation, earlier critics sympathetic to their cause, like Clement Greenberg, had always focused on their works' "objectness." To Greenberg, it was the sheer physicality of the paintings' clotted and oil-caked surfaces that was the key to understanding them as documents of the artists' existential struggle.

Rosenberg's critique shifted the emphasis from the object to the struggle itself, with the finished painting being seen as only the physical manifestation, a kind of residue, of the actual work of art, which was in the act or process of the painting's creation. Over the next two decades, Rosenberg's redefinition of art as an act rather than an object, as a process rather than a product, was very influential, and laid the foundation for a number of major art movements, from Happenings and Fluxus to Conceptual and Earth Art

In an Aesthetic Realism study of Pollock's painting "Number One 1948," ( Lore Elbel-Bruce has shown how the aesthetic effect of this quintessential example of action painting arises from the way it is at once abandoned and accurate - that is, puts together the very opposites ( that "struggle" or are in conflict not only in the artist but in every individual.

Antoni Gaudí

Antoni Gaudi
Antoni Gaudi
Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia
The Casa Milà, in the Eixample, Barcelona
View of the Parc Güell, El Carmel, Barcelona

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (more widely known in the English speaking world under the Spanish version of his first name, as Antonio Gaudí, or, just simply, Gaudi), (25 June 1852 - 10 June 1926) was a Catalan architect famous for his unique designs expressing sculptural and individualistic qualities. His works are categorised under the Art Nouveau style of architecture, a precursor to modern architecture

He was born at Reus and educated, and worked all his life in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

His first works were influenced by gothic and Catalan architectural modes but he developed his own distinct sculptural style.
In the first years of his career, Gaudí was strongly influenced by a French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc who promoted the return to an evolved form of Gothic architecture.

But Gaudí surpassed Viollet-le-Duc, and created buildings and designs that were highly original - irregular, fantastically shaped with intricate patterns. Some of his masterworks, most notably, La Sagrada Família have an almost hallucinatory power.

He brought the parabolic arch, the organic shapes of nature and underwater fluidity into architecture. While arriving at the form of his buildings he used catenary principle using a scaled model and observing the forces of gravity. He also used the Catalonian trencadís technique of broken tiles to decorate surfaces.

He was ridiculed by his contemporaries, at his beginning being supported only by the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell. His fellow citizens referred to the Casa Milá as La Pedrera ("the quarry"). George Orwell, who stayed at Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, very much disliked his work.

As time passed, though, his work became recognised and he is considered one of Catalonia's best and brightest.

Politically, he was a fervent Catalan nationalist. (He was once arrested for speaking in Catalan in a situation considered illegal by authorities.) In his later years, he left secular work and devoted all his time to Catholic religion and his Sagrada Familia.

He was run down by a tramway and his corpse was thought a tramp's because of his careless attire and the obscurity of his last years.

Though acknowledged as a genius, there is a theory that Gaudí was color blind and that it was only in collaboration with Josep Maria Jujol, an architect 27 years his junior whom he acknowledged as a genius in his own right, that he produced his greatest works.

Gaudi's major works in chronological order :

He left a draft of an aborted project for a sky-scraper Hotel Attraction in New York. It was the inspiration for a reconstruction project for the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001.

Many of these works are found in the Eixample district of Barcelona, and three of them, the Parc Güell, Palau Güell, and Casa Milà, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A process to get Gaudí declared blessed by the Catholic church is being promoted since 1992 by a secular association.

See also: architecture

External links

Category:Modern artists

This category lists important artists who have played a role in the history of modern art, dating from the late 19th century until (approximately) the 1970s. See also the list of modern artists.


There are 4 subcategories to this category.

Articles in "Modern artists"

There are 94 articles in this category.
























Alternate use: There is also a British rock band named Bauhaus.

Bauhaus is a short name for the Staatliches Bauhaus, an art and architecture school in Germany operational from 1919 to 1933. It was one of the most influential strands that constitute what is known as Modernism in architecture.

The school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919, by merging the Grand Ducal School of the Plastic Arts with the Kunstgewerberschule. Most of the contents of the workshops had been sold off during the war. The early intention was that the Bauhaus should be a combined architecture school, crafts school, and academy of the arts. This was a basis of much internal and external conflict that followed.

Gropius felt that a new period of history had begun with the end of World War I, and wanted to create a new architectural style to reflect this new era. His style for architecture as well as consumer goods was to be functional, cheap and intended for mass production. For that purpose Gropius wanted to re-unite art and craft to arrive at high-end functional products with artistic pretensions. He was the head of the school from 1919-1928, followed by Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The Bauhaus was largely subsidized by the early Weimar Republic. After a change in government, the school moved to Dessau in 1925, where the Bauhaus University was built. In 1927, the Bauhaus style and its most famous architects influenced heavily the exhibition "Die Wohnung" ("The flat" ) organized by "Deutscher Werkbund" in Stuttgart. A major component of that exhibition was the Weissenhof Estate.

Bauhaus School in Dessau
Bauhaus School in Dessau
Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart (1927)
Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart (1927)

The Bauhaus was moved again in 1932 to Berlin.

The school was closed on the orders of the Nazi regime in 1933. The Nazis had been opposed to the Bauhaus throughout the 1920s, as had other right-wing political groups. The Bauhaus was considered by them to be a front for communists, especially because many Russian artists were involved with it. Nazi writers such as Wilhelm Frick and Alfred Rosenberg felt that the Bauhaus was "un-German," and did not approve of its modernist styles. However, the Bauhaus had a major impact on art and architecture trends in western Europe and the United States in the following decades, as many of the artists involved were exiled under the Nazi regime.

The school was mainly concerned with architecture, and often built affordable public housing for the Weimar government, but also dealt with other branches of art. The Bauhaus issued a magazine called "Bauhaus" and a series of books called "Bauhausbücher". Its head of printing and design was Herbert Bayer.

One of the main objectives of the Bauhaus was to unify art, craft and technology. The machine was considered a positive element and therefore industrial and product design were important components. Vorkurs – literally 'before course' – was taught; this is the modern day Basic Design course that has become one of the key foundational courses offered in architectural schools all over the world. There was no teaching of history in the school because everything was supposed to be designed and created by first principles rather than through precedent.

The most important contribution of Bauhaus is in the field of furniture design. The world famous and ubiquitous Cantilever chair by designer Mart Stam, using the tensile properties of steel, is an example.

For an example of Bauhaus-influenced industrial architecture, see Beijing's Joint Factory 718, built by East German experts from 1951 to 1957.

The Bauhaus school inspired the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus which existed from 1953 to 1957.

In 1999 Bauhaus-Dessau Collage started to organize postgraduate programs with participants from all over the world by the support of Bauhaus-Dessau Foundation which was founded in 1994 as a public institution.

Some other outstanding artists of the times were lecturers at the Bauhaus :


References include:

Related topics

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De Stijl

Dutch De Stijl (pr. duh-steil), English: The Style - was an art movement (also known as "neoplasticism"- the new plastic art) of the 1920s that sought to express a new Utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. It advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour- the vertical and the horizontal directions and the primary colors of red, blue and yellow along with black and white.

Piet Mondriaan (Dutch, 1872-1944), the group's most renowned artist, published a manifesto titled Neo-Plasticism in 1920. Painter Theo van Doesburg (Dutch, 1883-1931) published a journal named De Stijl from 1917 to 1928, spreading the theories of the group, which also included the painter George Vantongerloo (Belgian, 1886-1965) and the architects J.J.P. Oud (Dutch, 1890-1963) and Gerrit Rietveld (Dutch, 1888-1965).

In many of the works under this movement, the vertical and the horizontal lines tend to slide past each other and do not intersect- for example some of Mondriaan's paintings, Rietveld's Schröder House and the Red and blue chair.

The movement was influenced by the neoplatonic philosophy of the mathematician M. H. J. Schoenmaekers and his books. The term Neo-Plasticism was also his.

The work of De Stijl exerted tremendous influence on the Bauhaus and the International style as well as clothing and interior design.

Neoplasticists include:

Der Blaue Reiter

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) was a group of expressionist artists that was established in Munich in 1911. Wassily Kandinsky was one of the founders. Other well-known artists that were part of it were Franz Marc, August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Paul Klee. The members were interested in European medieval art and primitivism as well as the contemporary, non-figurative art scene in France.

The name of the movement comes from a painting of a blue knight that was used on the front of an almanac edited by its members.

An extensive collection of paintings by the Blaue Reiter group is exhibited in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich.

New Objectivity

The New Objectivity, or neue Sachlichkeit (new matter-of-factness), was an art movement which arose in Germany during the 1920's in opposition to expressionism. It is thus post-expressionist.

Franz Roh (1925) listed the differences:

Expressionism Post-Expressionism
ecstatic objects plain objects
many religious themes few religious themes
the stifled object the explanatory object
rhythmic representative
arousing engrossing
dynamic static
loud quiet
summary sustained
obvious obvious and enigmatic...
monumental miniature
warm cool to cold
thick coloration thin layer of color
roughened smooth, dislodged
like uncut stone like polished metal
work process preserved work process effaced
leaving traces pure objectification
expressive deformation of objects harmonic cleansing of objects
rich in diagonals rectangular in frame
often acute-angled parallel
working against the edges of image fixed within edges of image
primitive civilized
(Kaes et al, 1994)

The New Objectivity is similar to neoclassicism, and compared to expressionism, is realism. Painters include George Grosz and Otto Dix, and also Max Beckmann. Composer Paul Hindemith may be considered both a New Objectivist and an expressionist, depending on the composition, throughout the 1920s.

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Modern art

Modern Art is a general term, used for most of the artistic production from the late 19th century until approximately the 1970s. (Recent art production is more often called contemporary art). Modern art refers to a new approach to art where it was no longer important to literally represent a subject (through painting or sculpture) -- the invention of photography had made this function of art obsolete. Instead, artists started experimenting with new ways of seeing, with fresh ideas about the nature, materials and functions of art, often moving towards further abstraction.

The notion of modern art is closely related to modernism.

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During its first decades, modern art was an exclusively European phenomenon. The first seeds of modern ideas in art came from artists working in the romantic and realist movements. Next, representatives of impressionism and post-impressionism started experimenting with new ways of representing light and space through color and paint. In the pre-WWI years of the 20th century, a creative explosion took place with fauvism, cubism, expressionism and futurism.

World War I brought an end to this phase, but indicated the beginning of a number of anti-art movements, such as dada and the work of Marcel Duchamp, and of surrealism. Also, artist groups like de Stijl and Bauhaus were seminal in the development of new ideas about the interrelation of the arts, architecture, design and art education.

Modern art was introduced to America during World War I when a number of the artists in the Montmartre and Montparnasse Quarters of Paris, France fled the War. Francis Picabia (18791953), was responsible for bringing Modern Art to New York City. It was only after World War II, though, that the USA became the focal point of new artistic movements. The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of abstract expressionism, pop art, op art and minimal art; in the late 1960s and the 1970s, land art, performance art, conceptual art and photorealism have emerged.

Around that period, a number of artists and architects started rejecting the idea of "the modern" and created typically postmodern works.

Starting from the postwar period, fewer artists used painting as their primary medium; instead, larger installations and performances became widespread. Since the 1970s, media art has become a category in itself, with a growing number of artists experimenting with technological means -- video art is the most well-known example here.

Chronological list of movements and artist groups, with representatives

End of 19th century

Early 20th century (before WWI)

Between WWI and WWII

After WWII

Alphabetical list of important modern art exhibitions and museums

See also


Dadaism or Dada is a post-World War I cultural movement in visual art as well as literature (mainly poetry), theatre and graphic design. The movement was, among other things, a protest against the barbarism of the War and what Dadaists believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society; its works were characterized by a deliberate irrationality and the rejection of the prevailing standards of art.

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Dada probably began in the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916 (by some accounts on October 6), and there were active dadaists in New York such as Marcel Duchamp and the Liberian art student, Beatrice Wood, who had left France at the onset of World War I. At around the same time there had been a dadist movement in Berlin. Slightly later there were also dadaist un-communities in Hanover (Kurt Schwitters), Cologne, and Paris. In 1920 Max Ernst, Hans Arp and social activist Alfred Grunwald set up the Cologne Dada group.

The French avant-garde kept abreast of Dada activities in Zürich due to the regular communications from Tristan Tzara, who exchanged letters, poems, and magazines with Guillaume Apollinaire, André Breton, Max Jacob, and other French writers, critics and artists. The first introduction of Dada artwork to the Parisian public was at the Salon des Indépendants in 1921. Jean Crotti exhibited works associated with Dada including a work entitled, "Explicatif" bearing the word Tabu.

By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists had fled or been forced into exile in the United States. The movement became less active as the founders died off and post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.

The Cabaret Voltaire fell into disrepair until it was occupied by a group claiming to be neo-dadaists in June-August of 2002. After their eviction the Cabaret Voltaire became a museum dedicated to the history of Dada and the Dada movement.

Origins of the word Dada

The origins of the name "Dada" are unclear. Some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Some believe it originates from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words "da, da", meaning "yes, yes" in the Romanian language. Others believe that a group of artists assembled in Zürich in 1916, wanting to form a movement, chose a name at random by stabbing a French-German dictionary, and picking the name that the point landed upon. "Dada" in French is a child's word for "hobby-horse".

An anti-art movement?

According to its proponents, Dada was not art; it was anti-art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored them. If art is to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strives to have no meaning--interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada offends. Perhaps it is then ironic that Dada is a precursor to Modern art. Dada became a commentary on art and the world, thus becoming art itself.

Dada and nihilism

The artists of the Dada movement had become disillusioned by art, art history and history in general. Many of them were veterans of World War I and had grown cynical of humanity after seeing what men were capable of doing to each other on the battlefields of Europe. Thus they became attracted to a nihilistic view of the world and created art in which chance and randomness formed the basis of creation.

The basis of Dada is nonsense. With the order of the world destroyed by World War I, Dada was a way to express the confusion that was felt by many people as their world was turned upside down. There is not an attempt to find meaning in disorder, but rather to accept disorder as the nature of the world. Many embraced this disorder through Dada, using it as a means to express their distaste for the aesthetics of the previous order and carnage it reaped. Through this rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to reach a personal understanding of the true nature of the world around them.

Early practitioners

For a more complete list of Dadaists, see List of Dadaists.

For a list of Neo-Dadaists see List of Neo-Dadaists

A Dada coincidence

Interestingly, at the same time that the Zürich dadaists were busy making noise and spectacle at the Cabaret Voltaire, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was writing his revolutionary plans for Russia in a nearby apartment. It is known that he was unappreciative of the real revolutionary activity occurring next to him. Tom Stoppard used this coincidence as a premise for his play Travesties, which includes Tzara, Lenin, and James Joyce as characters.

Modern developments

In 1967, a large Dada retrospective was held in Paris, France.


See also

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Performance art

Performance art is art where the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Another way of understanding this is to say that performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body and a relationship between performer and audience. It is opposed to painting or sculpture, for example, where an object constitutes the work.

A performance artist, with eyes closed, sits motionless for long periods balanced on an uncomfortable railing. Montmartre, Paris, France.
A performance artist, with eyes closed, sits motionless for long periods balanced on an uncomfortable railing. Montmartre, Paris, France.

Although performance art could be said to include relatively mainstream activities such as theater, dance, music, and circus-related things like fire breathing, juggling, and gymnastics, these are normally instead known as the performing arts. Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a kind of usually avant garde or conceptual art which grew out of the visual arts.

Performance art, as the term is usually understood, began to be identified in the 1960s with the work of artists such as Allan Kaprow, who coined the term happenings, Vito Acconci, Hermann Nitsch and Joseph Beuys. Western cultural theorists often trace performance art activity back to the beginning of the 20th century. Dada for example, provided a significant progenitor with the unconventional performances of poetry, often at the Cabaret Voltaire, by the likes of Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara. However, there are accounts of Renaissance artists putting on public performances that could be said to be early ancestors to modern performance art. Some performance artists point to other traditions, ranging from tribal ritual to sporting events. Performance art activity is not confined to European art traditions; many notable practitioners can be found among Asian, Latin American, Third World and First Nations artists.

Genres or strains of performance art include body art, fluxus, action poetry, and intermedia. Some artists, e.g. the Viennese Actionists and neo-Dadaists, prefer to use the terms live art, action art, intervention or manoeuvre to describe their activities.

Artivist = art + activist.

Performance artists include (in alphabetical order):

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Color Field

Color Field is an art movement characterized by canvases being covered entirely by large fields of solid color. Color Field is related to Suprematism, and Abstract Expressionism. Some important Color Field artists include Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Kenneth Noland.

In quantum mechanics, color field is also a whimsical name for some of the properties of quarks.


Woman with a guitar by Georges Braque, 1913
Woman with a guitar by Georges Braque, 1913

Cubism was an avant-garde art movement that revolutionised European painting and sculpture in the early 20th century. The essence of cubism is that instead of viewing subjects from a single, fixed angle, the artist breaks them up into a multiplicity of facets, so that several different aspects/faces of the subject can be seen simultaneously.

It began in 1906 with two artists -- Georges Braque (French) and Pablo Picasso (Spanish) -- who were living in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France. They met in 1907, and worked together closely until World War I broke out in 1914.

The term "cubism" was first used by the French art critic Louis Vauxcelles in 1908. ("bizarre cubiques" = cubes). Afterwards the term was in wide use but the two creators of cubism refrained from using it for a long time.

Picasso and Braque were great innovative artists in search of new ways to express space and form in painting. They were influenced by Paul Cezanne, African tribal art and Iberian sculpture. First they worked alongside one another (1906-1909 pre-cubism) and then started to work hand in hand to further advance their concepts into what was later termed analytical cubism (autumn 1909 - winter 1911/1912), a style in which densely patterned near-monochrome surfaces of incomplete directional lines and modelled forms constantly play against one another.

Violon, verre, pipe et encrier by Pablo Picasso, 1912
Violon, verre, pipe et encrier by Pablo Picasso, 1912

The second phase of Cubism was called synthetic cubism. These works of art were composed of distinct superimposed parts - painted or often pasted onto the canvas.

The Cubism movement, born in the art community of Montmartre and then greatly expanded by the gathering of artists in Montparnasse, was promoted by art dealer Henry Kahnweiler. It became popular so quickly that by 1910 critics were referring to a "Cubist school" of artists influenced by Braque and Picasso. However, many other artists who thought of themselves as 'cubists' went in directions very different from Braque and Picasso, who themselves went through several distinct phases before 1920. Best known cubist artists were:

There were also critics (Andre Salamon, Guillaume Apollinaire), poets (Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, Gertrude Stein) and following Jacques Lipchitz, other sculptors such as Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Elie Nadelman who were soon drawn into the sphere of cubism. Robert Delaunay practiced what he called Orphic Cubism which became an offshoot group known as the Puteaux Group.

Cubism had a major impact on artists of the first decades of the 20th century and it gave rise to development of new trends in art like: futurism, constructivism and expressionism. It remains one of the most famous art forms today.

Pigeons have been trained to correctly distinguish between cubist and impressionist paintings; see discrimination abilities of pigeons for details.

See also

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Futurism (art)

Futurism was a 20th century art movement. Although a nascent Futurism can been seen surfacing throughout the very early years of that century, the 1907 essay Entwurf einer neuen Astetik der Tonkunst (Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music) by the Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni is sometimes claimed as its true jumping-off point. Futurism was a largely Italian movement, although it also had adherents in other countries, most notably Russia.

The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music and even gastronomy. The Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was the first among them to produce a manifesto of their artistic philosophy in his Manifesto of Futurism (1909), first released in Milan and published in the French paper Le Figaro (February 20). Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists, including a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. He and others also espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. The car, the plane, the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of man over nature.

Marinetti's impassioned polemic immediately attracted the support of the young Milanese painters - Boccioni, Carrà, and Russolo - who wanted to extend Marinetti's ideas to the visual arts (Russolo was also a composer, and introduced Futurist ideas into his compositions). The painters Balla and Severini met Marinetti in 1910 and together these artists represented Futurism's first phase.

The painter and sculptor Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) wrote the Manifesto of Futurist Painters in 1910 in which he vowed:

We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshipping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even criminal.

Futurists dubbed the love of the past "pastism", and its proponents "pastists" (cf. Stuckism). They would sometimes even physically attack alleged pastists, in other words, those who were apparently not enjoying Futurist exhibitions or performances.

The Futurists' glorification of modern warfare as the ultimate artistic expression and their intense nationalism allowed those of them who survived World War I to embrace Italian fascism.

Futurism influenced many other 20th century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Although Futurism itself is now regarded as extinct, having died out during the 1920s, powerful echoes of Marinetti's thought, especially his "dreamt-of metallization of the human body", still remain in Japanese culture and surface in manga/anime and the film works of Shinya Tsukamoto.

Futurist visual artists

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List of modern artists

This is a list of modern artists: important artists who have played a role in the history of modern art, dating from the late 19th century until (approximately) the 1970s. Artists who have been at the height of their activity since that date, can be found in the list of contemporary artists.

























See also: Art, List of painters, List of contemporary artists