Art Movements

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism (1940s - 1960s) was an artistic movement that emerged in New York City and was regarded by many as the golden age of American art.  This movement was marked by its use of texture and brush strokes with the act of chance on large canvases. This art conveyed powerful emotions within the act of the painting itself to create the freedom of individual expression.

Art Deco

Art Deco (1920 - 1930) was an artistic movement involving a mix of modern decorative art styles. This is a kind of panting wherein the subjects are not moving, usually food, fruits, flowers, pottery etc. exhibited the aspects of Cubism, Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism in order to celebrate the rise of commerce, technology and speed. It was popularly considered to be an elegant style of cool sophistication in architecture and the applied arts.

Art Nouveau

A painting, printmaking, decorative design, and architectural style developed in England in the 1880s. Art Nouveau, primarily an ornamental style, was not only a protest against the sterile Realism, but against the whole drift toward industrialization and mechanization and the unnatural artifacts they produced. The style is characterized by the usage of sinuous, graceful, cursive lines, interlaced patterns, flowers, plants, insects and other motifs inspired by nature.


Supporting the emphasis of aesthetic values more than socio-political themes for literature, fine art, music and other arts, this movement was popular in Europe during the 19th century. The Aeshetics wanted artistic freedom, not just from the rules of the classic art academies, but also from the expectations of the public. They felt that their art did not need to fulfill any particular purpose and did not need to satisfy any edifying, utilitarian or moral function. They believed that art need only to be beautiful. Their slogan was "l'art pout l'art", which translates to"art for art's sake" taken from a review written by the French novelist and critic Théophile Gautier.


An art style developed in 1908 by Picasso and Braque whereby the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of pictorial space. In contrast to traditional painting styles where the perspective of subjects is fixed and complete, cubist work can portray the subject from multiple perspectives. 


An art style founded by Hans Arp in Zurich after World War I which challenged the established canons of art, thoughts, morality, etc. Disgusted with the war and society in general, Dadaists expressed their feelings by creating "non-art." The term Dada, a nonsense or baby-talk term, symbolizes the loss of meaning in the European culture. Dada art is difficult to interpret since there is no common foundation. Since Dadaists did not claim that the objects they created were art, all objects (including found objects that were retrieved from waste bins and such, could be incorporated to create non-art.


An art movement of the early 20th century in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion was replaced by the artist's emotional connection to the subject. These paintings are often abstract, the subject matter distorted in color and form to emphasize and express the intense emotion of the artist. 


An art movement at the start of the 20th century using symbolic color to to visually translate a range of emotions. The group was nicknamed 'Les Fauves' which meant 'wild beasts' in French. Their exaggerated, bold and intense use of color was important than the realistic portrayal of the subject and the sheer joy of expression through color, revolutionized attitudes towards color in art.


An art movement founded in France in the last third of the 19th century. Impressionist artists sought to break up light into its component- colors and render its ephemeral play on various objects. The artist's vision was intensely centered on light and the ways it transforms the visible world. This style of painting is characterized by short brush strokes of bright colors used to recreate visual impressions of the subject and to capture the light, climate and atmosphere of the subject: at a specific moment in time. The chosen colors represent light- which is broken down into its spectrum components and re-combined by the eyes into another color when viewed at a distance (an optical mixture). The term was first used in 1874 by a journalist ridiculing a landscape by Monet called Impressionist-Sunrise.


An art movement from the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance in which artist developed their characteristic style from the observation of nature and the formulation of a pictorial science. Compositions are jammed with contrasting colors and have no focal point. Space can be ambiguous and figures can be twisted with distortions, exaggerations or an elastic elongation of the limbs. 


An art movement where the design is stripped down to its most fundamental features. Minimalists made art that was about a specific object and how it work in the space in which it was presented. Minimalist sought to question if there can be art without it representing something else.


Contemporary art movement where hyper-realism and photographic realism (or photorealism) are alternative names, and some artists who practice the style do indeed work from photographs (sometimes using color slides projected on the canvas); sharpness of detail is evenly distributed over the whole picture (except where out-of-focus effects in the photograph are faithfully recorded), but the scale is often greatly enlarged, as when portrait heads are blown up to giant size. (Some critics prefer to use the terms ‘Photographic Realism’ or ‘Photorealism’ only when a picture has been painted direct from a photograph, but most are not so restrictive.)

Pop Art

An art movement which drew its inspiration from commercial art and items of mass culture (such as comic strips, popular foods and brand name packaging). Pop art was first developed in New York City in the late 1950's and soon became the dominant avant-garde art form in the United States.


Regionalism is an artistic movement, during the 1930s. It was used to describe the work of a number of rural artists from the Midwest. American Gothic painted by Grant Wood is the most famous artwork from this period. Regionalists often rejected modernism and shared a humble point of view with a desire to depict everyday American life. 

The Rococo

An art movement in the late 18th century with a kind of painting that has a playful, light-hearted romantic quality and often depicts the aristocracy at leisure. 


An art movement which originated in the second half of the 18th century. It emphasized the personal, turbulent emotional and dramatic through the use of exotic, literary, or historical subject matter. It also had intense colors, complex composition, soft outlines, and sometimes heroic subject matter. 


An art movement which developed in Europe in the 1920s, characterized by using the subconscious as a source of creativity to liberate pictorial subjects and ideas. Surrealist paintings often depict unexpected or irrational objects in an atmosphere of fantasy, creating a dream-like scenario. 


An art movement that developed in the late 19th century characterized by the incorporation of symbols and ideas, usually spiritual or mystical in nature, which represent the inner life of people. Traditional modeled, pictorial depictions are replaced or contrasted by flat mosaic-like surfaces decoratively embellished with figures and design elements. It began as a reaction to the literal representation of subjects preferring to create more suggestive and evocative works. Symbolism had its roots in literature with poets such as Baudelaire believing ideas and emotions could be conveyed not only through the meaning of words but also in their sound and rhythm.