in the Late 1960's/early 1970's
Contemporary Realism is the straightforward realistic style of painting which
continues to be widely practiced in this post-abstract era. It is different from
Photorealism, which is somewhat ironic and conceptual in its nature.
Contemporary Realists form a disparate group, but what they have in common is
that they are literate in the concepts of Modern Art, but choose to work in a
more traditional form. Many actually began as abstract painters, having come
through an educational system dominated by an establishment dismissive of
Among the best-known artists associated with this movement are Neil Welliver,
William Bailey, and Philip Pearlstein. There is an identifiable "group" of
Contemporary Realists, but we have used a fairly loose definition to allow
inclusion of a larger number of 20th-century realists.
Emerged in the
Minimalism is a style of art in which objects are stripped down to their
elemental, geometric form, and presented in an impersonal manner. It is an
Abstract form of art which developed as a reaction against the subjective
elements of Abstract Expressionism.
Minimalist art frequently takes the form of installations or sculpture, for
example with Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Sol LeWitt. However, there
are also a number of minimalist painters, including Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank
1960's to 1970's
Photorealism is a movement which began in the late 1960's, in which scenes are
painted in a style closely resembling photographs. The subject matter is usually
mundane and without particular interest; the true subject of a photorealist work
is the way we unconsciously interpret photographs and paintings in order to
create a mental image of the object represented.
The leading members of the Photorealist movement are Richard Estes and Chuck
Close. Estes specializes in street scenes with elaborate reflections in
window-glass; Close does enormous portraits of neutral faces. Other
photorealist also typically specialize in a particular subject matter: trucks,
horses, diners, etc.
1950's to 1960's
Optical Art is a mathematically-oriented form of (usually) Abstract art, which
uses repetition of simple forms and colors to create vibrating effects, moiré
patterns, an exaggerated sense of depth, foreground-background confusion, and
other visual effects.
In a sense all painting is based on tricks of visual perception: using rules of
perspective to give the illusion of three-dimensional space, mixing colors to
give the impression of light and shadow, and so on. With Optical Art, the rules
that the eye applies to makes sense of a visual image are themselves the
"subject" of the artwork.
In the mid-20th century, artists such as Josef Albers, Victor Vasarely, and M.C.
Escher experimented with Optical Art. Escher's work, although not abstract, also
deals extensively with various forms of visual tricks and paradoxes.
In the 1960's, the term "Op Art" was coined to describe the work of a growing
group of abstract painters. This movement was led by Vasarely and Bridget Riley.
Other Op Artists included Richard Anuszkiewicz, Jesús-Rafael Soto, Kenneth
Noland, François Morellet, and Lawrence Pons
Centered in New
York City, 1946 to 1960's
Abstract Expressionism is a form of art in which the artist expresses himself
purely through the use of form and color. It is form of non-representational, or
non-objective, art, which means that there are no concrete objects represented.
Now considered to be the first American artistic movement of worldwide
1943 to 1950's
Magic Realism is an American style of art with Surrealist overtones. The art is
deeply rooted in everyday reality, but has overtones of fantasy or wonder. The
term was later also applied to the literary works of authors such as Jorge Luis
Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.
Artists most commonly associated with the style are Paul Cadmus, Philip Evergood,
Ivan Albright, and George Tooker. Andrew Wyeth is sometimes associated with this
group, due to the slightly mysterious nature of his work.
Academic Art is the painting and sculpture produced under the influence of the
European Academies, where many artists received their formal training. It is
characterized by its highly finished style, its use of historical or
mythological subject matter, and its moralistic tone. Neoclassical Art was
closely associated with the Academies.
The term "Academic Art" is associated particularly with the French Academy and
its influence on the Salons in the 19th century. Artists such as Bouguereau and
Jean-Leon Gerome epitomize this style.
American Scene Painting
American Scene Painting is an umbrella term for the mainstream realist and
antimodernist style of painting popular in the United States during the Great
Depression. A reaction against the modern European style, it was seen as an
attempt to define a uniquely American style of art.
The American Scene basically consists of two main schools, the rural American
Regionalism, and the urban and politically-oriented al Social Realism.
An American term, Regionalism refers to the work of a group of rural artists,
mostly from the Midwest, who came to prominence in the 1930's.
Not being part of a coordinated movement, regionalists often had an
idiosyncratic style or point of view. What they shared, among themselves and
among other American Scene painters, was a humble, antimodernist style and a
fondness for depicting everyday life. However, their rural conservatism put them
at odds with the urban and leftist Social Realists of the same era.
The three best-known regionalists were Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry,
and Grant Wood, the painter of the best-known and one of the greatest works of
American art, American Gothic.
The Bauhaus School
The Bauhaus School is a school of design founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter
Gropius. Its signature modernist style, integrating art with the fields of
design and architecture, was enormously influential Expressionist throughout the
It was later led by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The school's faculty
included such artists as Paul Klee, Lionel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo
Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers and Annie Albers.
Others associated with the Bauhaus include Johannes Itten, Oskar Schlemmer,
Günter Stolzl and George Grosz.
The school was closed by the Nazis in 1933, and many of the artists subsequently
emigrated to the United States in search of intellectual freedom.
1920's to 1930's
Art Deco is an elegant style of decorative art and especially architecture,
similar in some regards to the earlier Art Nouveau style, but with a more
The Art Deco style is reminiscent of the Precisionist art movement, which
developed at about the same time.
Well-known artists within the Art Deco movement included Tamara de Lempicka,
glass artist Rene Lalique, fashion illustrator Erte and graphic designer Adolphe
Mouron, known as Cassandre.
The Group of Seven
The Group of Seven were Canadian wilderness landscape painters inspired by the
work of Tom Thomson, who died under mysterious circumstances while on a trek in
Ontario's Algonquin Park in 1917 (his body was found floating in Canoe Lake, but
an autopsy showed an injury to the head and no evidence of water in his lungs).
Group of Seven artists were strongly influenced by Post-Impressionism, creating
bold, vividly-colored canvases, and instilling elements of the landscape with
The group was not limited to the seven founding members, and they eventually
changed their name to the Canadian Group of Painters. Besides Thomson, the group
included Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, Lionel Fitzgerald, Lawren Harris,
Edwin Holgate, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, F.H. Varley. Emily
Carr was inspired by the group early in her career.
Holland, 1920 to
Neo-Plasticism is a Dutch movement founded (and named) by Piet Mondrian. It is a
rigid form of Abstraction, whose rules allow only for a canvas subsected into
rectangles by vertical and horizontal lines, colored using a very limited
Neo-Plasticism was somewhat influential on Russian Constructivism.
Precisionism (also known as Cubist Realism) is a style of representation in
which an object is rendered realistically, but with an emphasis on its
geometrical form. An important development in American Modernism, it was
inspired by the development of Cubism in Europe.
Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth are most closely associated with Precisionism. The urban works of Georgia O'Keeffe are also highly typical of
Dealing as it did with pure form more than with narrative or subject matter,
Precisionism gradually evolved towards Abstraction, and faded away as an
The Harlem Renaissance
early 1920's to
The Harlem Renaissance was a flowering of African-American social thought which
was expressed through the visual arts, as well as through music (Louis
Armstrong, Eubie Blake, Fats Waller and Billie Holiday), dance (Josephine
Baker), theater (Paul Robeson) and literature (Langston Hughes, Zora Neale
Hurston, and W.E.B. DuBois). Centered in the Harlem district of New York City,
the New Negro Movement (as it was called at the time) had a profound influence
across the Unites States and even around the world.
The intellectual and social freedom of the era triggered a widespread migration
of Black Americans from the rural south to the industrial centers of the north -
and especially to New York City.
Artists at the core of the Harlem Renaissance movement included William H.
Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones and the sculptor and printmaker Sargent Claude
Johnson. Other prominent artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance included
Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Archibald Motley.
Later artists influenced by the movement included Charles Sebree, John Biggers,
Hale Woodruff, Beauford Delaney and Ernie Barnes (Barnes' Sugar Shack is the
now-famous painting featured at the end of the TV show Good Times).
Artists closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance are listed below. Or you
can click here for a list of all African-American artists in our database.
Die Neue Sachlichkeit
Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity) is an Expressionist movement founded
in Germany in the aftermath of World War I by Otto Dix and George Grosz. It is
characterized by a realistic style combined with a cynical, socially critical
Other artists associated with the movement included Max Beckmann and Christian
Dada was a protest by a group of European artists against World War I,
bourgeois society, and the conservativism of traditional thought. Its followers
used non sequiturs and absurdities to create artworks and performances which
defied intellectual analysis. They also included "found" objects in sculptures
The founders included the French artist Jean Arp and the writers Tristan Tzara
and Hugo Ball. Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp were also key contributors.
The Dada movement evolved into Surrealism in the 1920's.
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) is a group of Expressionist artists led by
Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. One of the primary goals of the group was to
use art to express spirituality.
Other artists associated with the movement included August Macke, Gabriele
Munter, Alexei Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Heinrich Campendonk The movement was
disrupted by World War I, in which Franz Marc and August Macke were killed.
Cubism was developed between about 1908 and 1912 in a collaboration between
Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Their immediate influences are said to be
Tribal Art (although Braque later disputed this) and the work of Paul Cezanne.
The movement itself was not long-lived or widespread, but it began an immense
creative explosion which resonated through all of 20th century art.
The key concept
of Cubism is that the essence of objects can only be captured by showing it from
multiple points of view simultaneously.
Cubism had run its course by the end of World War I, but among the movements
directly influenced by it were Orphism, Purism, Precisionism, Futurism,
Constructivism, and, to some degree, Expressionism.
Die Brücke (The Bridge) is a group of Expressionist artists, founded by Ernst
Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel. The group's work is
characterized by its intensely emotional and violent imagery.
Other artists associated with the movement included Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein,
Otto Mueller and Edvard Munch.
The group was disbanded due to artistic disagreements and the onset of World War
Germany, C.1905 to 1940's
Expressionism is a style of art in which the intention is not to reproduce a
subject accurately, but instead to portray it in such a way as to express the
inner state of the artist. The movement is associated with Germany in
particular, and was influenced by such emotionally-charged styles as Symbolism,
Fauvism, and Cubism.
There are several different and somewhat overlapping groups of Expressionist
artists, including Die Brücke, Der Blaue Reiter, Die Neue Sachlichkeit and the
Leading Expressionists included Wassily Kandinsky, George Grosz, Franz Marc, and
In the mid-20th century, Abstract Expressionism (in which there is no subject at
all, but instead pure form) was developed into an extremely influential style.
Futurism is an Italian modernist movement celebrating the technological era. It
was largely inspired by the development of Cubism. The core themes of Futurist
thought and art were machines and motion.
Futurism was founded in 1909 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, along with painters
Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, and Gino Severini.
Fauvism grew out of Pointillism and general Post-Impressionism, but is
characterized by a more primitive and less naturalistic style. Paul Gauguin's
style and his use of color were especially strong influences.
The artists most closely associated with Fauvism are Henri Matisse, Albert
Marquet, Andre Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck.
Fauvism was a short-lived movement, but had a substantial influence on some of
Late 19th Century
to Early 20th Century
Art Nouveau is an elegant decorative art style characterized by intricately
detailed patterns of curving lines. Somewhat rooted in the British Arts and
Crafts Movement of William Morris, Art Nouveau became popular across Europe and
in the United States.
Leading practitioners included Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha,
and the American glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Art Nouveau remained popular until about the time of World War I, and was
ultimately replaced by theArt Deco style.
The Golden Age of Illustration
1880's to 1920's
The Golden Age of Illustration was a period of unparalleled excellence in book
and magazine illustration. It was made possible by advances in technology
permitting accurate and inexpensive reproduction of art, combined with an
enormous public demand for new graphic art.
In Europe, Golden Age artists were strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites
and by such design-oriented movements as the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art
Nouveau, and Les Nabis. Leading artists included Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane,
Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, and Kay Nielsen.
American illustration of this period is largely the story of the Brandywine
Valley tradition, which was begun by Howard Pyle and carried on by his students,
who included N.C. Wyeth, , Edwin Austin Abbey, and Maxfield Parrish.
Les Nabis were a Parisian group of Post-Impressionist artists and illustrators
who became very influential in the field of graphic art.
Their emphasis on design was shared by the parallel Art Nouveau movement. Both
groups also had close ties to the Symbolists.
The core of Les Nabis was Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel,
Felix Vallotton, and Edouard Vuillard.
Pointillism is a form of painting in which the use of tiny primary-color dots is
used to generate secondary colors. It is an offshoot of Impressionism, and is
usually classified as a form of Post-Impressionism. It is very similar to
Divisionism, but but where Divisionism is concerned with color theory,
Pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the
The term "Pointillism" was first used with respect to the work of Georges
Seurat, and he is the artist most closely associated with the movement. Among
the relatively few artists following this style were Paul Signac and
Pointillism is considered to have been an influence on the development of
France, 1880's to
Post-Impressionism is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of artists who
were influenced by Impressionism but took their art in different directions.
There is no single well-defined style of Post-Impressionism, but in general it
is less casual and more emotionally charged than Impressionist work.
The classic Post-Impressionists are Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri Rousseau. The Pointillists and Les
Nabis are also generally counted among the Post-Impressionists.
France, 1860's to 1880's
Impressionism is a light, spontaneous manner of painting which began in France
as a reaction against the formalism of the dominant Academic style. Its
naturalistic and down-to-earth treatment of its subjects has its roots in the
French Realism of Corot and others.
The movement's name came from Monet's early work, Impression: Sunrise, which was
singled out for criticism by Louis Leroy on its exhibition.
The hallmark of the style is the attempt to capture the subjective impression of
light in a scene.
The core of the earliest Impressionist group was made up of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Others associated with this period
were Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, Frederic Bazille,
Edouard Manet, and Mary Cassatt.
The Impressionist style is still widely practiced today. However, a variety of
successive movements were influenced by it, grouped under the general term
The Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts Movement was a celebration of individual craftsmanship and
design, which developed as a reaction against transformation of Britain during
the industrial revolution.William Morris, who spearheaded the movement, is
particularly remembered as a book designer. He also produced textiles, stained
glass, and wallpaper - in addition to being a painter and writer.
The movement was closely tied to the Pre-Raphaelites; Burne-Jones and Rossetti,
among others, produced designs for Morris' company.
The Barbizon School
The Barbizon School was a group of landscape artists working in the region of
the French town of Barbizon. They rejected the Academic tradition, abandoning
theory in an attempt to achieve a truer representation of the countryside, and
are considered to be part of the French movement.
Theodore Rousseau (not to be confused with naive artist Henri Rousseau) is the
best-known member of the group. Other prominent members included
Charles-Francois Daubigny and Constant Troyon.
Realist painters Camille Corot and Jean-Francois Millet are also sometimes
loosely associated with this school.
The Barbizon School artists are often considered to have been forerunners of the
Impressionists, who took a similar philosophical approach to their art.
Britain, Mid to
Late 19th Century
Victorian Classicism was a British style of historical painting inspired by the
art and architecture of Classical Greece and Rome.
In the 19th century, an increasing number of Europeans made the "Grand Tour" to
Mediterranean lands. There was a great popular interest in the region's ancient
ruins and exotic cultures, and this interest fuelled the rise of Classicism in
Britain, and Orientalism, which was mostly centered in continental Europe.
The Classicists were closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, many artists
being influenced by both styles to one degree or another. Both movements were
highly romantic and were inspired by similar historical and mythological themes
-- the key distinction being that the Classicists embodied the rigid Academic
standards of painting, while the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was initially formed
as a rebellion against those same standards.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Frederick Leighton were the leading Classicists, and
indeed in their lifetimes were considered by many to be the finest painters of
Realism is an approach to art in which subjects are portrayed in as
straightforward manner as possible, without idealizing them and without
following the rules of formal theory.
The earliest Realist work began to appear in the 18th century, as a reaction
against the excesses of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. This is evident in John
Singleton Copley's paintings, and some of the works of Goya. But the great
Realist era was the mid-19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the
Salon system and the influence of the Academies.
Realism came closest to being an organized movement in France, inspiring artists
such as Corot and Millet, and engendering the Barbizon School of landscape
Besides Copley, American Realists included Thomas Eakins, and Henry Ossawa
Tanner, both of whom also received formal training in France.
French Realism was a guiding influence on the philosophy of the Impressionists.
The Ashcan School, the American Scene Painters, and, much later, on the
Contemporary Realist movement are all following the American Realist tradition.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Britain, 1848 to
Late 19th Century
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was created in 1848 by seven artists: Dante
Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, James Collinson, John Everett
Millais, Frederic George Stephens, and Thomas Woolner.
Their goal was to develop a naturalistic style of art, throwing away the rules
and conventions drilled into students' heads at the Academies. Raphael was the
artist considered to have attained the highest degree of perfection, so much so
that students were encouraged to draw from his examples rather than from nature
itself; thus they became the "Pre-Raphaelites".
The group popularized a theatrically romantic style, marked by great beauty, an
intricate realism, and a fondness for Greek and Arthurian legend.
The movement itself did not last past the 1850's but the style remained popular
for decades, and influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Symbolists, and
even the Classicists.
The Hudson River School
America, 1835 to
The Hudson River School was a group of painters, led by Thomas Cole, who painted
awesomely Romantic images of America's wilderness, in the Hudson River Valley
and also in the newly opened West. The use of light effects, to dramatically
portray such elements as mist and sunsets, developed into a subspecialty known
In addition to Cole, the best-known practioners of this style were Albert
Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church.
to Early-19th Century
Neoclassical Art is a severe, unemotional form of art harkening back to the
style of ancient Greece and Rome. Its rigidity was a reaction to the overbred
Rococo style and the emotional Baroque style. The rise of Neoclassical Art was
part of a general revival of classical thought, which was of some importance in
the American and French revolutions.
Important Neoclassicists include the architects Robert Adam and Robert Smirke,
the sculptors Antonio Canova, Bertel Thorvaldsen, and Jean-Antoine Houdon, and
painters Anton Raphael Mengs, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Jacques-Louis
Around 1800, Romanticism emerged as a reaction to Neoclassicism. It did not
really replace the Neoclassical style so much as act as a counterbalancing
influence, and many artists were influenced by both styles to some degree.
Neoclassical Art was also a substantial direct influence on 19th-century
The Baroque Era
Baroque Art emerged in Europe around 1600, as an reaction against the intricate
and formulaicMannerist style which dominated the Late Renaissance. Baroque Art
is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally affecting than Mannerism.
This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most important patron
of the arts at that time, as a return to tradition and spirituality.
One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Caravaggio, Annibale
Carracci, and Gianlorenzo Bernini, among others. This was
also the age of Rubens, Rembrandt, and .
In the 18th century, Baroque Art was replaced by the more elegant and elaborate
Europe, Mid to
Late 16th Century
Mannerism, the artistic style which gained popularity in the period following
the High Renaissance, takes as its ideals the work of Raphael and Michelangelo
Buonarroti. It is considered to be a period of tecnical accomplishment but of
formulaic, theatrical and overly stylized work.
Mannerist Art is characterized by a complex composition, with muscular and
elongated figures in complex poses. Discussing Michelangelo in his journal,
Eugène Delacroix gives as good a description as any of the limitations of
"[A]ll that he has painted is muscles and poses,
in which even science, contrary to general opinion, is by no means the dominant
factor... He did not know a single one of the feelings of man, not one of his
passions. When he was making an arm or a leg, it seems as if he were thinking
only of that arm or leg and was not giving the slightest consideration to the
way it relates with the action of the figure to which it belongs, much less to
the action of the picture as a whole... Therein lies his great merit; he brings
a sense of the grand and the terrible into even an isolated limb."
In addition to Michelangelo, leading Mannerist artists included Rosso
Fiorentino, Pontormo, and Parmigianino.
By the late 16th century, there were several anti-Mannerist attempts to
reinvigorate art with greater naturalism and emotionalism. These developed into
the Baroque style, which dominated the 17th century.
5th Century A.D.
Byzantine art is the art of the Byzantine Empire, centered in Constantinople
It was centered around the Orthodox church, in the painting of icons and the
decoration of churches with frescoes and mosaics.
The Byzantine style basically ended with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks
in 1453, during the European Renaissance era. However, its influence continued
in Russia and elsewhere where the Orthodox church held sway.
5th Century to
16th Century A.D.
Gothic Art is the style of art produced in Europe from the middle ages up to the
beginning of the Renaissance. Typically religious in nature, it is especially
known for the distinctive arched design of its churches, its stained glass, and
its illuminated manuscripts.
In the late 14th century, anticipating the Renaissance, Gothic Art evolved
towards a more secular style known as International Gothic. One of the
best-known artists of this period is Simone Martini.
Although superseded by Renaissance art, there was a Gothic Revival in the 18th
and 19th centuries, which was largely rooted in nostalgia.