Movimientos artísticos

Historia del arte. Arte prehistórico antiguo y moderno. Arte egipcio y griego. Helenismo. Bizancio. Gótico. Renacimiento. Barroco. Impresionismo

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  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: México México
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Prehistory 40,000-10,000 BC This period of the human history includes Peleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic. The art begin with simple figures inside the caves.

Mesopotamia 3,500-331 BC It is part of the ancient cultures. Its located “between two rivers”, Tigris to the East and Euphrates to the west.

Egypt 3,200-1,070 BC One of the most amazing cultures because their traditions, society, love for the death, etc.

Crete 3,000-1,100 BC This civilization was developed in a small island part of Greece.

Greece 800-150 BC One of the favorite cultures of the times because the marvelous mythologic, the art created by this civilization is exeptional.

Paleo-christian I-IV AD The christianism begins, that's why the people have to hide themselves in catacombs, because all the christians were persecuted and killed.

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

Romanesque XI-XII A European style developed in France. Its sculpture is ornamental, stylized and complex. Some Romanesque frescoes survive, painted in a monumental, active manner.

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

Renaissance XIV-XV Meaning "rebirth" in French. Renaissance art which began in Italy, stressed the forms of classical antiquity, a realistic representation of space based on scientific perspective, and secular subjects. The works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael exemplify the balance and harmony of the High Renaissance

Baroque XVII-XVIII A movement in European painting, characterized by violent movement, strong emotion, and dramatic lighting and coloring. Bernini, Caravaggio and Rubens were among important baroque artists.

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

Neoclassicism XVIII-XIX A European. Its elegant, balanced works revived the order and harmony of ancient Greek and Roman art. David and Canova are examples of neoclassicists.

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

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

Impressionism 1870-1890 A French school of painting. It focused on transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, with an emphasis on the changing effects of light and color. Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro were important impressionists.

Postimpressionism 1890-1920s A term coined by British art critic Roger Fry to refer to a group of painters, including Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin, who were dissatisfied with the limitations of expressionism. It has since been used to refer to various reactions against impressionism, such as fauvism and expressionism.

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

Fauvism 1903-1907 From the French word fauve , meaning "wild beast ." A style adopted by artists associated with Matisse. They painted in a spontaneous manner, using bold colors.

Cubism 1905-1939 A revolutionary movement begun by Picasso and Braque. It employs an analytic vision based on fragmentation and multiple viewpoints.

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

Surrealism 1924-1930 A movement that began in France. It explored the unconscious, often using images from dreams. It used spontaneous techniques and featured unexpected juxtapositions of objects. Magritte, Dali, Miro, and Ernest painted surrealist works.

Abstract expressionism 1945 Movement in painting, originating in New York City in the 1940s. It emphasized spontaneous personal expression, freedom from accepted artistic values, surface qualities of paint, and the act of painting itself. Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell, and Kline, are important abstract expressionists.

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

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

Art, a disciplined activity that may be limited to skill or expanded to include a distinctive way of looking at the world. The word art is derived from the Latin ars, meaning “skill.” Art is skill at performing a set of specialized actions, as, for example, the art of gardening or of playing chess.

Art in its broader meaning, however, involves both skill and creative imagination in a musical, literary, visual, or performance context. Art provides the person or people who produce it and the community that observes it with an experience that might be aesthetic, emotional, intellectual, or a combination of these qualities.

What precisely is prehistoric art? Some believe that prehistoric art is any art which does not show the human form remotely similar to what actually exists. That is, there is no definate nose, mouth, eyes, or other complex facial features. Some compare prehistoric art to the art of younger children playing with crayons and in some ways this belief is not entirely dissimilar to the actual truth.

Old Stone Age or the Paleolithic period marked the development of the human species - no really. Now we're not talking about folks who were in the habit of creating any sort of magnificent art masterpieces here. These guys and girls were nomadic (meaning they moved around a lot) people who were hunters and gatherers. They hung out in caves with their stone tools and sometimes they even decorated their surroundings with cave paintings and rock carvings. Prehistoric paint was created by mixing dirt, ground up rocks and animal fat. Sometimes, bits of burnt wood were ground up, mixed with animal fat and used for painting as well. Cave paintings aside, one of the earliest examples of prehistoric art is the Venus of Willendorf - a limestone carving of a female with rather exaggerated bits. Generally speaking, prehistoric art had a great deal to do with magic, fertility and hunting.

Movimientos artísticos
Middle Stone Age, the Mesolithic period occurred more than 10,000 years prior to today (and you thought kindergarten was a long time ago). During this time, the people of the earth were just beginning to settle in communities as they started to grow plants and keep animals in their sight. It was also during this time that the creative folks began to make pottery - which incidentally was useful for storing food.

Otherwise known as New Stone Age, the Neolithic period was a time when people were living in real village-like settings, with farms including animals (now domesticated), crops (grains and eventually rice) and even items that we consider art. Things like pottery and woven items were typical creations of the people of this time period. Functional art you might say ...

Some 97 feet in diameter, Stonehenge consists of thirty stone pillars 13.5 feet tall and weighing nearly 25 metric tons. Additionally, there is an earth mound some 320 feet in diameter surrounding the compound.

Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, was the fertile river plain where civilization was born and where writing first appeared. The culture of Mesopotamia developed a cuneiform writing, characters were stamped on baked clay tablets, held a library, invented the decimal system, and a solar calendar.

When we talk about Mesopotamian art, we are referring to the art of the ancient world which extends from Turkey to Iran. This lengthy stage in art can be broken down into three (sometimes four) key periods.

3500 - 1750 BC: Sumerian/Akkadian

The Sumerian people lived in southern Mesopotamia. The hands of the people portrayed in Sumerian stone carvings are often shown pressed together and the men depicted have large faces with even larger beards. It was not unusual for the Sumerians to incorporate finely polished stones in their carvings as highlights for eyes.

1000 - 539 BC: Assyrian/Neo-Babylonian

The Assyrians crafted limestone reliefs that were quite large in size and importance. These reliefs were used as decorations for the palace walls of ruler King Ashurnasiroal II. Winged bulls were a common theme as were bearded faces, similar to those seen in Sumerian works. The Neo-Babylonians were led by Nebuchadnezzar - known for his conquest of Jerusalem and for the rebuilding of Babylon - to line the streets with artwork which included images of lions and dragons.

539 - 331 BC: Persian.

In Persian art, the so-called animal style which uses animal motifs, can be seen in pottery and bronze sculptures.

The art expression were the ziggurats, statues stiff and impressive.

Egyptian Art can be divided up into the following periods:

  • 3200 - 2185 BC: Old Kingdom

  • 2040 - 1650 BC: Middle Kingdom

  • 1550 - 1070 BC: New Kingdom

  • 1370 - 1340 BC: Amarna Art

When we talk about Egyptian art, we most often talk about paintings and sculptures that were used to decorate tombs or mastabas. In ancient Egypt, there was a strong belief in the afterlife. Death was considered a necessary transition to the next world where the dead would lead a life similar to life as they knew it. This belief was the reason for the embalming of bodies, the abundance of funerary offerings, the statues, the relief carvings, the inscriptions and of course, the paintings.

Sculpture was often painted in vivid hues as well. Egyptian sculpture has two qualities that are distinctive; it can be characterized as cubic and frontal. It nearly always echoes in its form the shape of the stone cube or block from which it was fashioned, partly because it was an image conceived from four viewpoints. The front of almost every statue is the most important part and the figure sits or stands facing strictly to the front.

The many paintings that were created in Egyptian tombs told of who and how the deceased was in life - so that he/she would continue this lifestyle in the hereafter. In these paintings, the important people were given a rather large, out of scale size, the overlapping of outlines was avoided at all costs and all parts of the body were represented as flatly and completely as possible. There's a very good reason for all of this -- by showing the Egyptians in this way, all of the body parts needed in the afterlife would be properly expressed and therefore readily available to the deceased.

The style involved:

  • Profile of the face

  • Frontal view of the eye

  • Frontal view of the upper body

  • Arms - one in front, one at the side

  • Profile of the legs

In addition to the decorations on the tomb walls, in some periods, models for the use of the spirit were included in the funerary arrangements. A model boat was transportation on the waters of eternity. Likewise, models of granaries, butcher shops, and kitchens would guarantee the continued well-being of the deceased in the life after death.

In Egyptian art, there was a strong sense of order, form and symbolism (certain items held certain meanings). The paintings especially were highly stylized and they told a story. The style of art in Egypt didn't change for three thousand years in part because the artists quite simply obeyed the rules set out for them.

The very first flowering of civilization in Greek lands took place in Crete - An island lying to the south east of the Greek mainland. Considering its small size, isolated location and somewhat unsettled history, the civilizations of the island of Crete made some truly remarkable contributions to both Greek and Western European civilizations.

From the years 2600 BC to 1500 BC, the island of Crete was the center of a wondrous civilization. "Minoan" (after the legendary King Minos) was the name given by Sir Arthur Evans (an excavator early this century of the island of Crete) to the specifically Cretan culture that would otherwise be classified as Copper and Bronze Age. Today, Minoan art and artifacts are widely known. Especially the ceramic ware created in a dazzling variety of forms, techniques and patterns.

Chances are, when you visualize Greek Art in your mind, you think of what is generally referred to as the Classical period. It was during this time that the artists and artisans portrayed perfectly proportioned bodies of young, buff men (and women). In fact, no human body - ever was - or ever will be, as well proportioned as the Greek statues. The statues at this time feature bodies which are 100% flawless - faces were created to look perfect too, in case you were wondering. The Greek ideal of beauty involved Gods looking like humans and humans looking like, well Gods.

In addition to their sculpting ability, the Greeks were masters at painting. The most complete form of Greek painting that has survived throughout the ages is that of vase painting. The black and red figure vases each had an intricate story to share.

Important Greek Works:

  • The Parthenon (wall friezes)

  • Aphrodite of Knidos

  • Kouros and kore figures (male and female forms)

  • Most everything by Polykleitos (sculptor)

  • Most everything by Psiax (potter/painter)

  • Most everything by Praxiteles (sculptor)

In the beginning, funerary urns show excessively geometric patterns. Because of this, lost among other designs, the human body is reduced to arches, circles, and triangles. As time passes, geometry looses importance giving room to more natural forms. The body parts arrangement continues to follow the Egyptian canon. The artists' individualism is shown by the signatures of the potters and painters who decorate the vases with figures from the Mythology and scenes inspired by Homeric traditions.

In the image on this page, it comes from a greek urn. One can notice vertical, horizontal, broken lines and above all, the greek fret, an angular and geometric imitation of the sea waves, visible below the horses.

The women's skirts are clearly rectangular. One can also notice isocephalia: all women are the same hight. Eventhough the case of the horses is less evident, their legs are only lines.

Sculptures were made of melted metal and, mainly, of carved stone. They are found on top of graves and represent natural size women and mostly men. Men (Kuroi) are nude and women (Korai) are dressed. They represent young smiling people. Faces usually show high cheek bones, long and very carefully curled hair. They stand, left foot ahead, and in frontal position. The spaces between legs, arms, and body are free.

During the greek art three styles of columns for the temples were developed:

Doric Style Characteristics:

  • Conical shaft, with strong entasis, no base, decorated by flutes with single arris.

  • Simple capital with circular echinus and square abacus, being both, echinus and abacus, relatively flat.

  • Frieze

  • Also simple, alternating triglyphs adorned with guttae and dentiles, and metopes, either decorated or empty.

  • Cornices with few moldings.

  • In general, the effect is sobre

Ionic Style. Characteristics:

  • Base with torus, scotia, and plinth.

  • Shaft with smaller entasis than Doric Columns, decorated with flutes, alternated with narrow flat areas.

  • Capital with astragal, palmette, volutes and cushions; abacus and circular echinus are present but very flat.

  • Architrave made out of various pieces which recede toward the column.

  • Moldings below the frieze.

  • Complex cornice made out of several simple moldings.

Corinthian Style. Characteristics:

  • Entablatures are a lot more intrincate than the Ionic ones.

  • Architrave is composed of three parts

  • The frieze is continuous and decorated with reliefs.

  • The cornice has dentils and a corona. Columns have at their base several toruses and scotias.

  • The shaft is similar to the Ionic one.

  • The capital is embellished with acanthus leaves ending at the corners in small natural volutes and separated by a small fleuron.

  • Both the echinus and abacus are very thin.


The Hellenistic period began with the 323 BC expiration of Alexander the Great. After his death, the ruler's empire was in a sense "liquified" and split into several different kingdoms. This was all rather symbolic of the art which was created during the years that followed the break down...

The main characteristic of the painting, architecture and sculpture of Hellenistic Greece was exaggeration. Artwork during this time expressed pain, suffering, anguish, ecstasy and all the rest of the emotions. Athletic youths were a favorite subject as were the acts of those ever popular Greek Mythological figures. This period of art is of particular importance because it was during this time that folks began collecting the stuff ...

Important Hellenistic Work:

  • Great Altar of Zeus, Pergamon

The Romans inherited much from the Etruscans, but they also borrowed many ideas from the Greeks. Sculpture was used to decorate public and private buildings and much of Roman art was made as official propaganda to glorify the ruler, proclaim victories, or to make pious references to the state and its governance. From the time of Augustus, the first emperor, artists created idealized representations of the imperial family. Such statues could portray important personalities in armor to proclaim a military victory, as an orator in reference to learned activities, or even as a deity to suggest an association with the gods.

The highly organized and well-integrated political structure of the Roman Empire made it possible for citizens in even the most distant provinces to enjoy a level of material comfort and sophistication close to that of Rome itself. Styles and technical innovations spread rapidly, providing, for the wealthy, a luxurious way of life.

Roman art was characterized by the following:

  • Very large-scale creations

  • Events of a historical nature were depicted as were mythical scenes

  • Every work of art told a tale

  • Paintings were created by working on fresh plaster -- otherwise known as fresco painting.

  • Statues were made of marble

  • Mosaics appear most everywhere

Important Roman Work:

  • Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

The "Paleo-Christian" art ("paleo" means stone) of the early centuries will be displayed and described. This art form comes prior to the medieval and Renaissance art of Western Europe and to the icons and frescoes of Eastern Europe. It arises from the earliest forms of Christian art (of catacomb and tomb) and has become a nearly forgotten treasure store for us today. A freshness and robustness is found here to rekindle aspects of Christian life and faith. The use of coloured stone in depiction is evocative in a unique way. The mosaics of Ravenna and Rome will be our main focus.

From the early Byzantine era to the late Byzantine era, a transformation took place. In the beginning, people depicted in art were large and solemn. Later, those immortalized in art works, started to look somewhat more noble, while at the same time succeptable to suffering. It was during this time that many glorious mosaics, paintings and miniature sculptures were created. The icons were portraits of sacred personages, often rendered in a strictly frontal view and in a highly conceptual and stylized manner. Mosaics were the favored medium for the interior adornment of Byzantine churches. The small cubes, or tesserae, that composed mosaics were made of colored glass or enamels or were overlaid with gold leaf. The luminous effects of the mosaics, spread over the walls and vaults of the interior.

The Romanesque style was marked by the following:

  • Art contained a great deal of symbolism in the form of colors and shapes.

  • Artists were not at all concerned with perspective or even of depicting events or people in a realistic way.

  • Figures that were depicted were quite large - especially the important ones.

  • Lines were combined to create patterns of all sorts.

  • There was a sense of urgency in both painting and sculpture.

  • The great French cathedrals were born.

Romanesque churches tended to be somewhat dark and "heavy". Reason being that the churches were made out of masonry and thus needed rather large support systems. These supports were located in the interior of the church and because of this location, light from the few windows - to put it simply - just didn't shine through very well. The problem was that the architects of the time did not quite know how they could place larger windows in the walls without the walls collapsing...

Important Artist:

  • Gislebertus


The Gothic style was marked by the following:

  • Cathedrals, cathedrals and more cathedrals.

  • Bright colors were very common in paintings.

  • Figures portrayed in artworks appeared more natural than in the earlier Romanesque style.

  • Warmth and emotion "flowed" from most art pieces.

  • Flying buttresses, pointed arches, stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts were the important creations of the day.

The Gothic style was one rooted in architecture and any other forms of art were basically created to help embellish the houses of the Lord. Gothic churches were - in contrast to the Romanesque churches - very "light". The belief in divine light and the powers it contained had a great deal to do with how Gothic cathedrals were constructed. Gothic architects solved the problem of very little light coming through the windows (as in Romanesque churches), by conceiving of a superior form of building. How'd they do that? Well, instead of having large walls with large interior support - as in Romanesque style - the Gothic churches were made of "exoskeletons". In other words, the church itself was like a skeleton with the walls and windows hanging as skin, off of this skeleton. Also, the weight of the construction was transferred from the interior to the exterior by way of what is known as the "flying buttress" system - massive piers on the outside of the church.

With heavy walls no longer needed, walls were freed up for large, light colored stained glass windows. The sun could finally shine in...

Important Artists:

  • Giotto di Bondone

  • Duccio di Buoninsegna

  • Pisano, Nicola

The Renaissance is defined as the revival or rebirth of the arts. Beginning in Italy in 1400, it spread throughout Western Europe, lasting until 1600. There were several phases or periods of the Renaissance. The period from 1420 to 1500 is most often referred to as the Early Renaissance whereas the term High Renaissance is used to describe anything that happened from 1500 through 1530 -- involving pure, classical, balanced harmony. It was then that artists were in complete control of their materials and were capable of executing masterful works of art. Beyond that, a period known as Mannerism came into play -- although still technically part of the Renaissance, Mannerism marked a time when elegance was key.

Generally speaking, the main elements of the Renaissance were:

  • Oil paint was used for the first time. Prior to this point, egg tempera was the medium of choice.

  • Both symbols and real-life events were represented together in the same art works.

  • Chiaroscuro (the balance of light and dark was for the first time shown within a picture by using shadows rather than blocky outlines).

  • Balanced compositions. The arrangement of things like lines, colors and form were seemingly "correct".

  • Ancient Roman ideals were the inspiration for many works in Italy.

  • Larger than life figures appear in German art.

  • Dutch works of art began to show hints of daily life (hunting, farming) rather than religious themes.

  • French art featured clean simplicity.

Important Works:

  • The Betrothal of the Arnolfini (Arnolfini and His Bride), Jan van Eyck

  • David, Michelangelo

  • Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Self Portrait (1500), Albrecht Durer

  • The Hunters in the Snow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Important Artists:

  • Bosch, Heironymus

  • Botticelli, Sandro

  • Bruegel, Pieter

  • da Vinci, Leonardo

  • Donatello

  • Dürer, Albrecht

  • El Greco

  • Michelangelo Buonarroti

  • Raphael

  • Van Eyck, Jan


Baroque works of art were dramatic, emotional and included real people as the primary subject. Looking at a Baroque painting today, you can't help but notice the fact that those portrayed in the work look rather as you would expect people to look. Poor people look poor and wealthy folks look, well-off. It was during this time that art was created to appeal to the average person's sense of emotion. Colors were brighter than bright, dark was darker than dark and light was lighter than light. In other words, even with all the realistic imagery, the more dramatic ... the better. Artists of this time were concerned with the inner workings of the mind and attempted to portray the passions of the soul on the faces they painted and sculpted. In the Netherlands, genre painting - the art of depicting real life everyday subjects - was invented and the idea of painting still-life works became quite popular.

Important Works:

  • The Calling of St. Matthew, Carravaggio

  • Te night watch, Rembrandt

Important Artists:

  • Carravaggio

  • Rembrandt

  • Rubens, Peter Paul

  • Vermeer, Jan

The Rococo painting style developed in France and was a very relaxed, rather playful style of art. In it, showing brightness was very important as were curves, colors and other tiny details. Rococo artists were particularly concerned with properly depicting things like slippers and ribbons. Also, they created landscapes that looked like they were straight out of fairy tales. Basically, this style was full of fun. Plain and simple. The decoration is characterized by lightness, delicacy, and elaborate ornamentation; it appears in France, hallmarks of the full-fledged style are architectural decoration based on arabesques, shells, elaborate curves, and asymmetry; iridescent pastel colors.

Important Artists:

  • Fragonard, Jean-Honore

  • Watteau, Jean-Antoine


Neo-Classicism originated in Rome and spread like wildfire in reaction to the utter excesses of the early Baroque and especially the Rococo periods. During this time, scenes from Roman history became popular again. And again the history repeats itself. In a neo-classical work of art, composition is balanced, colors are bright and the work has soul. Artists at this time started to copy and imitate antique art.

Important Works:

  • The Oath of the Horatii, Jacques-Louis David

  • The Death of Marat, Jacques-Louis David

Important Artists:

  • Canova, Antonio

  • David, Jacques-Louis

  • Ingres , Jean-Auguste-Dominique

In Romanticism, violent activity is emphasized in art as bold brush strokes and rich colors take over. The idea was for art to appeal not so much to the mind, but rather to the senses. Not a new concept but one which was made unique by the artists of the day.

Important Artists:

  • Blake, William

  • Constable, John

  • Delacroix, Eugene

  • Goya y Lucientes, Francisco José de

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William

With Realism, nature and life was for the first time depicted in an honest and unsentimental way. Instead of taking from the past, artists began to actually paint and create from their own life experiences, based on their observations of the world around them. This was a major stepping stone into the world of modern art.

Important Work:

  • The Stone Breakers, Gustave Courbet

Important Artists:

  • Courbet, Gustave

  • Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille

  • Daumier, Honoré

  • Millet, Jean-François

Impressionism (the word) came from a painting by a fellow named Claude Monet. The painting was titled, "Impression Sunrise" and it depicted (among other things) sunlight dancing and shimmering on water. The movement lasted from around 1870 to 1910 and included artists such as Monet, Degas and Pissarro. Light, surface, color and capturing fast fleeting moments... that's what Impressionism was all about. They preferred to paint outdoors, choosing landscapes and street scenes, as well as figures from everyday life. Their primary object was to achieve a spontaneous, undetailed rendering of the world through careful representation of the effect of natural light on objects. Hard to believe that in the late 1800's, many folks hated the stuff, given all the impressionists art calendars we see today...

Important Artists:

  • Bazille, Frederic

  • Boudin, Eugene

  • Caillebotte, Gustave

  • Cassatt, Mary

  • Cézanne, Paul

  • Degas, Edgar

  • Monet Claude

  • Morisot Berthe

  • Pissarro Camille

  • Renoir Pierre-Auguste

  • Sisley Alfred

The term Post-Impressionism was coined by art critic Roger Fry. During this period in art, the work of the artists revealed a freely expressive use of color and form. Post-Impressionists were still interested in color but where the earlier Impressionists were concerned with light falling on objects and the colors produced by this light, the Post- Impressionists were looking to find new ways of expressing color. If this meant that paintings appeared flatter and less three-dimensional than in the past, well then so be it

Important Artists:

  • Cézanne, Paul

  • Gauguin, Paul

  • Seurat, Georges

  • Van Gogh, Vincent

Expressionism was all about the depiction of emotions and the types of responses those same emotions evoked. The traditional goal of representing nature as accurately as possible was thrown out the window and instead vibrant colors, wild abstract shapes and emotional subject matter took over. Expressionism had its roots in African cultures and included many sub-styles within it including Der Blaue Reiter (the blue rider) and Die Brucke (the bridge).

Important Artists:

  • Bacon, Francis

  • Beckmann, Max

  • Kandinsky, Wassily

  • Klimt, Gustav

  • Munch, Edvard

  • Schiele, Egon

Fauvism lasted from about 1898 to just around 1908, give or take a few months either way. This movement was all about color, color and more color. The fauves (or, the "wild beasts" as their friends and enemies referred to them) didn't care much for the softness of impressionism. They did however enjoy the vibrancy and passion of post-impressionism and they particularly liked the animalistic and at times violent qualities of expressionism.

Important Artists:

  • Matisse, Henri

  • Derain, Andre

Cubism began with artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, after the creation of Picasso's 1906-1907 painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (Young Ladies of Avignon). The term cubism derived its name from comments made painter by Henri Matisse and critic Louis Vauxcelles, who described Braque's 1908 work "Houses at L'Estaque" as looking rather like a bunch of cubes.

Cubism can be defined as either analytical or synthetic. Analytical cubism occurred between 1908 and 1912, when Braque and Picasso were becoming terribly aware of the space found around and inside an object. In an analytical cubist painting, the object was "taken apart" and reshaped with the use of flat intersecting planes. The Synthetic Cubism stage occurred from 1912 to 1913. A Synthetic Cubist work had bits of real objects worked into the picture. Items like newspaper clippings, rope and other "found objects" were attached to the canvas. This was the beginning of a "flimsy sculpture" known as Collage. Movements such as Futurism, Constructivism and DeStijl were all outgrowths of Cubist theory and practice.

Important Works:

  • Guernica, Pablo Picasso

  • Houses at L'Estaque, Georges Braque

Important Artists:

  • Braque, Georges

  • Picasso, Pablo

  • Mondrian, Piet (Neo-Plasticism: 1917-1944)

  • Juan Gris

  • Fernand Leger

Dada is a French word that when translated means hobby horse. A nonsensical name for a nonsensical art movement --- that's the way the artists (or non-artists) wanted it. With Dadaism, usual, everyday objects were altered ever so slightly and called "art". Prime example being Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" which was actually a urinal that he signed "R. Mutt". The idea here was that art really meant nothing and had no purpose whatsoever. The artists involved were essentially ridiculing those who came before them. Rebels you might say.

Important Artists:

  • Arp, Jean

  • Ernst, Max

  • Duchamp, Marcel

  • Ray, Man

Surrealism was a movement in both art and literature that involved an upbeat fascination with the strange. The emphasis was on the unconscious, with artists often drawing on images seen in dreams or while in dream-like states. Quite often, objects that appear next to one another in a surrealist painting seem to have little if any relationship, with no logical reason why certain images appear together. Like Dadaism, surrealism emphasized the role of the unconscious in creative activity, but it employed the psychic unconscious in a more orderly and more serious manner. In painting and sculpture surrealism is one of the leading influences of the 20th century. Surrealist painting exhibits great variety of content and technique.

Salvador Dali in particular was very much interested in psychoanalysis and his works demonstrate this passion quite clearly.

Important Artists:

  • Arp, Jean

  • Dali, Salvador

  • Ernst, Max

  • Kahlo, Frida

  • Magritte, Rene

  • Ray, Man

  • Miro, Joan

Abstract Expressionism was an art movement which began in New York City. After WWII, with images of the Holocaust everywhere they turned, it seemed redundant for socially-aware artists to paint these same images ... a photograph at the time was much more powerful. Therefore, to have no subject matter ... no imagery at all, seemed to be "the thing to do". Artists began to explore color and shape and to paint an entire canvas orange or blue was not an odd thing to do (Color Field Painting). The ideas of existentialism also played a large role in how artists created. Artists began to wonder: "If there is no God, what are the reasons for our being here? Why do we do what we do?" The result was a period of self discovery and there was a sense that one could do and say anything and everything. With no rules, many creative minds could explore ideas freely - hence the splish splash creations of folks like Jackson Pollock - otherwise known as "Jack the Dripper".

Important Artists:

  • de Kooning, Willem

  • Pollock, Jackson

  • Rothko, Mark


Op Art was an art movement which occurred in the 1960s. It was a time when the artist was very much interested in the idea of creating movement on a two dimensional surface by tricking the eye with a series of optical illusions. "Op" for "Optical Illusion"

Important Artists:

  • Riley, Bridget


From the late 1950s to today, a movement known as Pop Art has permeated our lives. What's it all about? Simple ... popular culture and consumerism. The thing about pop art is that the subject matter involves common objects and commercial images. These objects are often distorted, enlarged, simplified and decorated using strange colors. Pop Art is a western cultural phenomenon, having been born in New York and London and it's initial aim was to break down the barriers between art and life. Commercial materials and techniques such as silk screening are used to produce the art. In the 1960s, Pop Art mirrored contemporary reality and reflected upon the cultural changes of the time including the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the idealism of the Kennedy era, the reality of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the outbreak of the Vietnam war in 1964.

Important Artists (selected list):

  • Christo

  • Lichtenstein, Roy

  • Rodrigue, George

  • Warhol, Andy

Minimalism of the early 1970s really marked the end of the modern art movement. Not that artists ceased to create ... they just began to create a different type of art. Pluralism is the idea that more than one, two or even three art movements can exist at a single time and artists can work in one or all of these styles. Appropriation on the other hand is the taking from past styles and creating a sort of new style of art. This is where we are today ... current artists are working and waiting for something to happen - thinking that maybe it might be them who starts the new movement. In the meantime, artists will continue to do what they do best - show the viewer a small slice of life -- familiar or otherwise...

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