Art Styles & Art Movements

Abstract – A 20th century style of painting in which non-representational lines, colors, shapes, and forms replace accurate visual depiction of objects, landscape, and figures. The subject is often stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms so that it often expressed in abstract art form.

Art Nouveau – A painting, printmaking, decorative design, and architectural style developed in England in the 1880s. Art Nouveau, primarily and ornamental style, was not only a protest against the sterile Realism, but against the while drift toward industrialization and mechanization and 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.

Cubism – 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 subject is fixed and complete, cubist work can portray the subject from multiple perspectives.

Dadaism – 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, Dadists 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.

Expressionism – 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 form to emphasize and express the intense emotion of the artist.

Impressionism – 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 journalist ridiculing a landscape by Monet called Impressionist-Sunrise.

Pop Art – A style of art which seeks 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 for in the United States.

Realism – A style of painting which depicts subject matter (form, color, space) as it appears in actuality or ordinary visual experience without distortion or stylization.

Romanticism – An art style which emphasizes the personal, emotional and dramatic through the use of exotic, literary, or historical subject matter.

Surrealism – An art style 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.

Symbolism – An art style 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 figurines and design elements.

Tromp L’oeil (Trick of the Eye) – A style of painting in which architectural details are rendered in extremely fine detail in order to create the illusion of tactile (tangible) and spatial qualities. This form of painting was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago in frescoes and murals. Tromp L’oeil can be thought of as a form of architectural realism.