Art History – Characteristics, Aspects and Periods

Art history, also known as art historiography, is the historical study of the visual arts, which deals with the identification, classification, description, evaluation, interpretation and understanding of artistic products and the historical development of the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, drawing, engraving, photography, interior design, etc.

INTRODUCTION

What is art?

Human creation with aesthetic values (beauty, balance, harmony, revolt),  which synthesise their emotions, their history, their feelings and their culture.

Who makes art?

Man creates art as a way of life, to let the world know what he thinks, to publicise his beliefs (or those of others), to stimulate and entertain himself and others, to explore new ways of looking at and interpreting objects and scenes.

What is style? Why do we label art styles?

Style is how the work shows itself, after the artist has made their decisions. Critics and historians often classify them into categories and label them.

 How can we see the changes in the world through art?

We can see what kind of art was made, when, where and how. In this way we can understand the changes the world has undergone;

The history of art has been divided into the following periods:

1. PRE-HISTORY

  • LOWER PALEOLITHIC
  • UPPER PALEOLITHIC
  • NEOLITHIC
  • METALITY

2. ANCIENT

  • GYPSY
  • GREEK
  • ROMAN
  • PALEOCHRISTIAN
  • BIZANTINE
  • ISLAMIC

3. MIDDLE AGE

  • Romantic
  • Gothic

4. MODERN AGE

  • RENASCIMENTO
  • MANEIRISM
  • BARROCO
  • ROCOCO

5. CONTEMPORARY

  • NEOCLASSIC
  • ROMANTIC
  • REALIST
  • IMPRESSIONISM
  • EXPRESSIONISM
  • CUBISM
  • ABSTRACTIONISM
  • FAUVISM
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM
  • SURREALISM
  • DADAISM
  • OP ART
  • POP ART
  • INSTALLATION
  • INTERFERENCE
  • COBRA
  • FUTURISM
  • ART NAIF
  • METAPHYSICAL PAINTING

ART

1. PRE-HISTORY

Prehistory corresponds to the period of history that precedes the invention of writing, from the beginning of recorded historical times until approximately 3,500 BC.

1.1 LOWER PALEOLITHIC

Up to 25,000 BC.

The main characteristic of Chipped Stone Age drawings is naturalism.

Grota dos Caboclos (Boqueirão da Onça - Bahia)
Rupreste Painting – Grota dos Caboclos (Boqueirão da Onça – Bahia)

The artist  painted the beings, an animal for example, the way he saw it from a certain perspective, reproducing nature as he saw it.

This art was carried out by hunters, who used rock paintings, i.e. those made on rocks and cave walls. The people of this period were nomadic.

1.2 upper palaeolithic

The artists of the Upper Palaeolithic also worked in sculpture.

However, in both painting and sculpture, there is an absence of male figures.

Female figures predominate. Highlights: Venus of Willendorf.

Upper Palaeolithic - Venus of Willendorf
Upper Palaeolithic – Venus of Willendorf

1.3 NEOLITHIC

The Neolithic period extended from 10,000 BC to around 3,000 BC and was one of the periods of Prehistory.

The settlement of Polished Stone Age man was guaranteed by the cultivation of the land and the keeping of herds.

His power of observation was replaced by abstraction and rationalisation. Representations of collective life began.

The Sanctuary of Stonehenge, in the south of England, is the first work of architecture recorded in history.

neolithic - Stonehenge Sanctuary
neolithic – Stonehenge Sanctuary

1.4 AGE OF METALS

Emergence of metallurgy, cities, invention of the wheel, invention of writing and the ox plough.

Age of Metals
Age of Metals
  • The Metal Age was a transitional period between Prehistory and the Ancient Age, and was therefore the last period of Prehistory.
  • It was characterised by the mastery of metal technology, including bronze and iron.
  • Their characteristics include the use of metals for utensils, weapons, art and technology and the flourishing of ancient civilisations, such as the Mesopotamian.
  • Their periods were: the Copper Age (Chalcolithic), the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, each marking distinct technological and cultural advances.
  • It marked the transition from Prehistory to the Ancient Age.
  • Their discoveries included the creation of metal alloys, advanced metallurgical techniques, writing systems and the transformation of ancient societies.
  • The main differences between the Palaeolithic, the Neolithic and the Metal Age involved the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary farmers, the technological advancement of metallurgy and the complexification of urban societies.

2. ANCIENT ART

Ancient art refers to the many types of art produced by the advanced cultures of ancient societies with different forms of writing, such as those of ancient China, India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

The art of pre-literate societies is usually referred to as prehistoric art and is not discussed here.

Although some pre-Columbian cultures developed writing during the centuries before the arrival of Europeans, for reasons of dating, these are covered in Pre-Columbian Art and articles such as Mayan art, Aztec art and Olmec art.

2.1 EGYPT

  The religion invaded all of Egyptian life and the artistic production of this people.

The Egyptians believed in an afterlife.

The ideological foundation of Egyptian art is the glorification of the gods and the divinised deceased king, for whom funerary temples and grandiose tombs were erected.

2.1.1 ARCHITECTURE

The pyramids of the Giza desert are the most famous architectural works.

pyramids of the Giza desert
pyramids of the Giza desert

The general characteristics of Egyptian architecture are: the pyramids of the Giza desert;

  • solidity and durability
  • feeling of eternity
  • mysterious and impenetrable aspect

The most significant temples are Karnac and Luxor, both dedicated to the god Amun. The most expressive monuments of Egyptian art are the tombs.

2.1.2. SCULPTURE

The pharaohs and gods are almost always represented from the front, without showing any emotion.

They often exaggerated the proportions of the human body, giving the figures represented an impression of strength and majesty.

Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs

The Egyptian bas-reliefs were an expression of quality. The hieroglyphs themselves were often transcribed in bas-reliefs.

2.1.3. PAINTING

Colourful decoration was a powerful element in complementing religious attitudes. Its general characteristics are: absence of three dimensions and ignorance of depth. The people with the most importance were represented, in this order of greatness: the king, the king’s wife, the priest, the soldiers and the people.

2.2 GREEK ART

Greek art is linked to intelligence, because its kings were not gods, but intelligent and just beings who dedicated themselves to the well-being of the people, to the enjoyment of the present life.

In their constant search for perfection, rhythm, balance and ideal harmony predominate.

2.2.1 ARCHITECTURE

The buildings that aroused the most interest were the temples.

The most important is the Partenon in Athens.

Parthenon of Athens
Parthenon of Athens

The columns are divided into the following orders:

  • The Doric Order – was simple and massive.
  • The Ionic Order – represented grace and the feminine.
  • Corinthian Order – suggests luxury and ostentation.
2.2.2 PAINTING

Greek painting is found in the art of ceramics. Vases were used to store, among other things, water, wine, olive oil and provisions.

Greek painting in ceramic art
Greek painting in ceramic art

Therefore, its shape corresponded to its function

2.2.3 Sculpture

Greek statuary represents the highest standards ever achieved by man. In sculpture, anthropomorphism – sculptures of human forms – was unsurpassed. As well as balance and perfection of form, statues acquired movement.

  • In the Archaic Period sculptures appear symmetrical, in a strict frontal position.
  • In the Classical Period, movement is sought in statues. The female nude emerges, since in the archaic period, figures of women were always sculpted clothed.
  • In the Hellenistic period naturalism grew: human beings were also represented by their emotions and the state of mind of a moment.

2.3. ROMAN ART

Roman art suffered from two strong influences:

  • that of Etruscan art, in lived reality, and with the use of the arch and the vault
  • Greco-Hellenistic art, with its ideal of beauty.
2.3.1. ARCHITECTURE

The general characteristics of Roman architecture are:

Pursuit of the immediately useful, a sense of realism, material grandeur, emphasising the idea of strength.

Buildings were of five types, according to function:

  • Religion: Temples – the Pantheon, built in Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, was designed to bring together the great variety of gods that existed throughout the Empire
  • Commerce and civility: Basilica – with its rectangular plan, it was the seat of commerce
  • Hygiene: Thermal baths – the baths were the social centre of Rome.
  • Entertainments – Circus, theatre, amphitheatre
  • Decorative monuments – Arch of Triumph, Triumphal Column
  • Housing – was built around a courtyard called the Atrium.
2.3.2. PAINTING
Herculano - Mosaicode Neptuno e Amphitrite
Herculano – Mosaicode Neptuno e Amphitrite

Mosaics were widely used in decoration. What we know today comes from the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 BC.

2.3.3 Sculpture

Because the Romans were realistic and practical, their sculptures were a faithful representation of people and not that of an ideal of human beauty, as the Greeks had done.

With the invasion of the barbarians, concerns were raised about the arts. It was the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire which, in the 5th century – precisely in the year 476 – lost control of its vast western territory to the Germanic invaders.

2.4 PALEOCRISTIAN

  Christians (those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ) began to create a simple and symbolic art executed by people who were not great artists. Because of the persecution, the painting is symbolic.

In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legalised Christianity, beginning the 2nd phase of Paleo-Christian art: the basilica phase.

The Romans ceded some basilicas for them to use as venues for their celebrations.

2.5 BIZANTINA

  Around the 4th century, the invasion of barbarian peoples into the Roman Empire began, which led Constantine to transfer the capital of the Empire to Byzantium, a Greek city, later named Constantinople.

The move led to the emergence of the first style of Christian art – Byzantine art, a new style, rich in both technique and colour.

Byzantine art was directed by religion.

The regime was theocratic and the emperor had administrative and spiritual powers.

The mosaic is the ultimate expression of Byzantine art.

People are represented head-on and verticalised to create a certain spirituality; perspective and volume are ignored and gold is overused due to its association with the greatest good on earth: gold.

The architecture of the churches received the most attention in Byzantine art, with a circular, octagonal or square base plan. They had huge domes;

Church of St Sophia in Instambul
Church of St Sophia in Instambul

The Church of St Sophia (Sophia = Wisdom), in today’s Istanbul, was one of the greatest triumphs of the new Byzantine technique.

Sculpture was not so prominent in this period. What can be found is limited to bas-reliefs coupled with decoration.

Byzantine art reached its apogee in the 6th century, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. However, this was soon followed by a period of crisis called the Iconoclasm. It consisted of the destruction of any holy image due to the conflict between the emperors and the clergy.

Byzantine art didn’t die out in 1453, when the Turks took Constantinople. This art went far beyond the territorial limits of the empire, penetrating, for example, the Slavic countries.

2.6 ISLAMIC

In the year 622, the prophet Mohammed went into exile in Medina.

Of nomadic origin, the Muslims took some time to establish themselves definitively and lay the foundations of their own aesthetic with which they could identify. This is how the Byzantine domes crowned their mesquitas.

Figurative art was avoided in the sacred sphere, concentrating on the geometric and abstract, more symbolic than transcendental. Hence the use of forms such as the arabesques.

2.6.1 ARCHITECTURE

The mosques are modelled on Muhammad’s house in Medina.

mosque islamica
mosque islamica

The geometer was just as important as the architect. In fact, it was he who actually designed the building, while the latter controlled its realisation.The residences of the emirs constituted the private habitat of the ruler.

2.6.2 carpets

As a nomadic people, these were the only materials used to decorate the inside of the tents. As they became sedentary, silks, brocades and carpets began to decorate palaces and castles, as well as fulfilling a fundamental function in mosques, since the Muslim, when praying, must not stay in contact with the earth.

2.6.3 PAINTING AND GRAPHICS

Islamic paintings are represented by frescoes and miniatures.

Closely linked to painting is the art of the mosaicists. The same function was performed by ceramics, which became more widely used from the 12th century onwards and reached splendour in Spain, where pieces were created for everyday use.

3. ART IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The Middle Ages, the period of European history from the collapse of Roman civilisation in the 5th century AD to the Renaissance period (variously interpreted as beginning in the 13th, 14th or 15th century, depending on the region of Europe and other factors).

3.1 ROMANIC

3.1.1. ARCHITECTURE

At the end of the 11th and 12th centuries in Europe, Romanesque art emerged whose structure was similar to the buildings of the ancient Romans.

The most significant features of Romanesque architecture are: vaults replacing the roof of basilicas, massive pillars supporting the thick walls, rare and narrow openings used as windows.

romanesque architecture
romanesque architecture

The first thing that strikes you about Romanesque churches is their size. They are always large and solid. That’s why they’re called God’s fortresses.

It’s essentially a clerical style. The most famous is the Cathedral of Pisa, with its bell tower being the best-known building of the whole.

3.1.2 PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

Romanesque painting developed above all in the large mural decorations, using the afresco technique, which was originally a technique of painting on a damp wall.

The figure of Christ is always larger than the others around him.

Colourism was achieved through the use of flat colours, without concern for halftones or plays of light and shade, as there was no intention of imitating nature.

Mosaics, especially in blue and gold, were used mainly in churches.

3.2 Gothic

In the 12th century, between 1150 and 1500, an economy based on commerce and the urban bourgeoisie began. These changes led to a profound revolution in the art of designing and constructing large buildings.

3.2.1- ARCHITECTURE

The first difference we notice between the Gothic and Romanesque churches is the façade. In the Romanesque church we have a single portal, in the Gothic church we have three portals The rose window is an architectural element characteristic of the Gothic style.

gothic church
gothic church

Other characteristic elements of Gothic architecture are the Gothic arches or ogivals and the very colourful stained glass windows that filter light into the interior of the church. The best-known Gothic cathedrals are the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartres.

3.2.2 Sculpture

Sculptures are linked to architecture and extend upwards.

3.2.3. ILLUMINATIONS

Illumination is the illustration on the parchment of manuscript books. Engraving had not yet been invented.

3.2.4 PAINTING

The main artists in Gothic painting are the true forerunners of Renaissance painting.

Lamentation by the painter Giotto
Lamentation by the painter Giotto

As an example we have Giotto  – identification of the figure of the saints with human beings, in a humanist vision of the world.

4. ART IN THE MODERN AGE

4.1 Renaissance

  In addition to reviving ancient Greco-Roman culture, this period saw a great deal of progress and countless achievements in the arts, literature and sciences, which surpassed the classical heritage.

The ideal of humanism with the valorisation of man and nature, as opposed to the divine and the supernatural, concepts that had permeated the culture of the Middle Ages.

 General characteristics:

  • rationality
  • Dignity of the Human Being
  • Scientific rigour
  • humanist ideal
  • reuse of Greco-Roman arts
4.1.1 ARCHITECTURE
Architecture of the Renaissance
Architecture of the Renaissance

In Renaissance architecture, the occupation of space by the building is based on mathematical relationships (geometry, perspective)

4.1.2 Painting

Main features: Perspective, use of chiaroscuro, realism: Renaissance artists no longer see man as a simple observer of the world that expresses God’s greatness, but as the grandest expression of God himself.

And the world is thought of as a reality to be understood scientifically, and not just admired. The use of canvas and oil paint began.

Another characteristic of Renaissance art, especially painting, was the emergence of artists with a personal style, different from the rest, since the period was marked by the ideal of freedom and, consequently, by individualism.

The Birth of Venus - Botticelli
The Birth of Venus – Botticelli

The main painters were:

    • Botticelli – His paintings are beautiful because they manifest divine grace. Outstanding works: The Spring and The Birth of Venus.
    • Leonardo da Vinci – He wisely mastered an expressive play of light and shadow. It starts from reality but stimulates the viewer’s imagination. Outstanding works: The Virgin of the Rocks and Monalisa.
    • Michelangelo – Painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Notable works: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Holy Family

.

    • Rafael – his works communicate a sense of order and security

to the observer.

Outstanding works: The School of Athens and Madonna of the Morning.

4.1.3 Sculpture

Protectors of the arts, the popes took up residence in the Vatican.

Michelangelo's Moses
Michelangelo’s Moses

There, great sculptors reveal themselves, the greatest of whom is Michelangelo, who dominates all Italian sculpture of the 16th century. Some of his works: Moses, David (4.10 metres) and the Pieta.

Main characteristics:

  • They sought to represent man as he really is
  • Proportion of the figure while maintaining its relationship with reality
  • Depth and perspective
  • Study of the human body and character

4.2 Mannerism

Parallel to the classical renaissance, an artistic movement consciously departing from the model of classical antiquity developed in Rome from 1520 to around 1610: Mannerism (maniera in Italian means manner).

An evident tendency towards exaggerated stylisation and a whimsical attention to detail.

Great empires begin to form, and man is no longer the main and only measure of the universe.

Painters, architects and sculptors were forced to leave Rome for other cities. Using the same elements as the Renaissance, they created an art of labyrinths, spirals and strange proportions.

4.2.1 ARCHITECTURE

Mannerist architecture prioritised the construction of churches with a longitudinal plan, with spaces that were longer than they were wide, with the main dome over the transept, in the distribution of light and in the decoration.

4.2.2 PAINTING

It was in painting that the Mannerist spirit manifested itself in the first place, seeking to deform a reality that no longer satisfied them and trying to revalue art for art’s own sake;

Main characteristics : permanent tension, slender and elongated forms, melancholic faces. The real protagonists of the painting are no longer positioned in the centre of the perspective, but somewhere in the architecture, where the attentive eye must, not without some difficulty, find them;

Christ heals a blind man - EL Greco
Christ heals a blind man – EL Greco

Main Artist: EL GRECO

4.2.3 Sculpture

In sculpture, Mannerism follows the path traced by Michelangelo. Main characteristics: seemingly fragile balance and the gracefulness of the whole.

4.3 Baroque

Baroque art originated in Italy (17th century) but soon spread to other European countries and also to the American continent, brought by the Portuguese and Spanish colonisers.

Baroque works disrupted the balance between sentiment and reason or between art and science. In Baroque art, the emotions predominate, rather than the rationalism of Renaissance art.

It was a time of spiritual and religious conflict. Man finds himself in a constant dualism: Paganism vs. Christianity and Spirit vs. Matter.

4.3.1 Painting

Characteristics of Baroque painting: Diagonal composition, marked contrast between light and dark (expression of feelings) and realism, covering all social strata. Italy was the radiating centre of the Baroque style.

Judite and Holofernes - Caravaggio
Judite and Holofernes – Caravaggio

Among the Italian Baroque painters: Caravaggio and Andrea Pozzo.

Among the most representative painters from other European countries are: Velázquez (Spanish), Rubens (Spanish), Rembrandt (Dutch).

<nbsp;4.3.2 Sculpture

Curved lines, drapery and the use of gold predominate. The gestures and faces of the characters reveal violent emotions and achieve a drama unknown in the Renaissance.

4.3.3 ARCHITECTURE

Baroque architecture was sponsored by the Catholic Church which, by investing in rich and sumptuous works, tried to rescue the faithful lost to Protestantism.

Baroque Architecture
Baroque Architecture

.

It is the architecture of the Counter-Reformation. Its profane works include the Palace of Versailles, with its incredible Hall of Mirrors.

4.4 Rococo

Rococo is the artistic style that emerged in France as an offshoot of Baroque, more light and intimate than Baroque and initially used in interior decoration. In France, rococo is also called the Louis XV and Louis XVI style.

General characteristics: Abundant use of curved shapes and a profusion of decorative elements, such as shells, bows and flowers;

4.4.1 ARCHITECTURE

During the Enlightenment, between 1700 and 1780, rococo was the main current of post-baroque art and architecture.

Rococo Architecture
Rococo Architecture

In the early years of the 18th century, the artistic centre of Europe moved from Rome to Paris.

Main characteristics:

  • Bright colours were replaced by pastel shades, diffused light flooded the interiors through numerous windows and the abrupt relief of surfaces gave way to smooth textures.
  • The structure of the buildings gained lightness and the interior space was unified, with greater grace and intimacy.

4.4.2 Sculpture

In sculpture and painting, there is no clear dividing line between Baroque and Rococo

4.4.3 PAINTING

“Rubens and Isabella Brandt, the Honeysuckle Bower,” oil on panel, 1609-10 – Peter Paul Rubens

At the end of Louis XIV’s reign, when France’s political and cultural dominance over the rest of Europe was asserted, the first rococo paintings appeared under the influence of Peter Paul Rubens’ technique.

5. CONTEMPORARY ART

5.1 NEOCLASSIC

In the last two decades of the 18th century and the first three decades of the 19th century, a new aesthetic trend prevailed. This was Academicism or Neoclassicism, with a new and strengthened bourgeoisie, especially with Napoleon’s Empire.

Main characteristics:

  • return to the past, by imitating ancient Greco-Latin models;
  • academicism in themes and techniques, i.e. subjection to the models and rules taught in the schools or academies of fine arts;
  • art understood as imitation of nature, in a true cult of Aristotle’s theory.
5.1.1 ARCHITECTURE
Neoclassical Architecture
Neoclassical Architecture

Neoclassical architecture followed the model of Greco-Roman temples or the buildings of the Italian Renaissance.

5.1.2 PAINTING
work by Raphael Sanzio
work by Raphael Sanzio

The painting of this period was mainly inspired by classical Greek sculpture and Italian Renaissance painting, especially Raphael, an undeniable master of the balance of composition.

5.2 ROMANTIC

The 19th century was shaken by strong social, political and cultural changes caused by the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century.

Likewise, artistic activity became complex.

Romantic artists sought to free themselves from academic conventions in favour of the free expression of the artist’s personality.

General characteristics: the valorisation of feelings and imagination, nationalism, the appreciation of nature as the principles of artistic creation, and the feelings of the present.

 5.2.1 ARCHITECTURE

Main architectural feature: The Gothic, considered to be a genuinely European style, is revalorised.

British Parliament and Palace of Westminster in London
British Parliament and Palace of Westminster in London

Featured Work: English Parliament Building

5.2.2 PAINTING

Themes of the painting: Real facts from the national and contemporary history of the artists’ lives, and nature revealing a dynamism equivalent to human emotions.

Francisco Goya, Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan , 1639
Francisco Goya, Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan , 1639

Main artists: Goya, Turner, Delacroix 

5.3 REALIST

Between 1850 and 1900 a new aesthetic trend called Realism emerged in the European arts, especially in French painting, which developed alongside the growing industrialisation of societies.

European man became convinced that he needed to be realistic, even in his artistic creations, putting aside subjective and emotive visions of reality.

The general characteristics are: scientificism, the valorisation of the object, the sober and meticulous, the expression of reality and descriptive aspects.

Work by Gustave Courbet
Work by Gustave Courbet – Realism
5.3.1 ARCHITECTURE

The architects and engineers are trying to respond adequately to the new urban needs.

Cities no longer require rich palaces and temples. They need factories, stations, railways, warehouses, shops, libraries, schools, hospitals and housing for both workers and the new bourgeoisie.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

In 1889, Gustavo Eiffel erected the Eiffel Tower in Paris, today the logo of the “City of Light”.

5.3.2 Sculpture
"The Thinker" by Auguste Rodin
“The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin sought to recreate beings as they are. It is the fixation of the significant moment of a human gesture.

Notable works: Balzac, The Burghers of Calais, The Kiss and The Thinker.

5.3.3 PAINTING

Characteristics of painting:

  • Reality with the same objectivity as a scientist studying a natural phenomenon.
  • It is not up to the artist to “improve” nature artistically, because beauty lies in reality as it is.
  • Revelation of the most characteristic and expressive aspects of reality
obra de jean françois millet
Work by Jean François Millet

Main painters: Courbet, Jean-François Millet.

5.4 Impressionism

Impressionism was an artistic movement that profoundly revolutionised painting and began the great trends of 20th century art.

Main characteristics:

  • The painting should record the tones that objects acquire when reflecting sunlight at a given moment
  • The figures should not have sharp outlines, because the line is an abstraction of the human being to represent images.
  • Shadows should be bright and colourful, as is the visual impression they make on us, and not dark or black, as painters used to represent them in the past.
  • Colours and tones should not be obtained by mixing paints on the painter’s palette. It is the viewer who, while admiring the painting, combines the various colours, obtaining the final result. Mixing therefore ceases to be technical and becomes optical.

The first time the public came into contact with the work of the Impressionists was at a group exhibition held in Paris in April 1874. But the public and critics reacted very badly to the new movement, as they were still faithful to the academic principles of painting.

work of Pierre Auguste Renoir
work of Pierre Auguste Renoir

Main artists: Monet, Renoir, Seurat

5.5 EXPRESSIONISM

Expressionism is the art of instinct, it is a dramatic, subjective painting, “expressing” human feelings. Emotional values predominate over intellectual ones.

Main characteristics:

  • research in the psychological domain;
  • brilliant, vibrant colours, fused or separated;
  • preference for the pathetic, tragic and sombre

    Van Gogh's work
    Van Gogh’s work

Main artists: Gauguin, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Van Gogh

5.6 CUBISM

  Historically, Cubism originated in the work of Cézanne, but the Cubists went further than Cézanne. They began to represent objects with all their parts on the same plane.

Cubism does not represent, but suggests the structure of bodies or objects.

Main characteristics:

  • geometrisation of shapes and volumes
  • renunciation of perspective
  • the chiaroscuro loses its function
  • also tactile sensations in the viewer.
Work by Pablo Picasso
Work by Pablo Picasso

Main artists: Picasso, Braque

5.7. ABSTRACTIONISM

 When the meaning of a painting depends essentially on colour and form, when the painter breaks the last ties that bind his work to visible reality, it becomes abstract.

Work by Paul Klee
Work by Paul Klee

 Main Artists: KANDINSKY, PAUL KLEE

5.8 FAUVISM

 In 1905, in Paris, at the Autumn Salon, some artists were called fauves (meaning beasts) because of the intensity with which they used pure colours.

The principles of this artistic movement were:

  • Creating in art has no relationship with the intellect or with
  • Creating is following the impulses of instinct, the primary sensations.
Work by Henri Matisse
Work by Henri Matisse

Featured artist: HENRI MATISSE

5.9 CONTRUTIVISM

This is a geometric abstraction that seeks vibrating perspectival movement through colours and lines. It synthesises the abstract and scientific theories of modern art. It is a painting in two dimensions.

Work by Mondrian
Work by Mondrian

Featured artist: Mondrian

5.10. SURREALISM

 In the first two decades of the twentieth century, FREUD’s psychoanalytical studies and political uncertainties created a favourable climate for the development of an art that criticised European culture and the fragile human condition in the face of an increasingly complex world.

Surrealism was par excellence the modern artistic current of the representation of the irrational and the subconscious.

Through automatism, i.e. any form of expression in which the mind did not exercise any kind of control, the Surrealists tried to plot, either through abstract or figurative symbolic forms, the images of the deepest reality of the human being: the subconscious.

work by Salvador Dali
work by Salvador Dali

Main artists : Salvador Dali , Joan Miró

5.11. DADAISM

 Formed in 1916 in Zurich by young French and German men who, had they remained in their respective countries, would have been called up for military service, Dada was a movement of negation.

Its proposal was that art should be freed from rationalist restraints and just be the result of psychic automatism, selecting and combining elements by chance.

The end of Dada as a group activity came around 1921;

5.12. OP ART

  The expression “op-art” comes from English (optical art) and means “optical art”.

It seems excessively cerebral and systematic, closer to the sciences than to the humanities. On the other hand, its possibilities seem to be as limited as those of science and technology.

5.13. POP ART

Movement, mainly American and British, to designate the products of popular culture in Western civilisation, especially those from the United States.

They represented the most ostensive components of popular culture. Pop. Art brought about the transformation of what was considered vulgar into refined, and brought art closer to the masses, demystifying art for the few, since it used their own objects.

5.14. INSTALLATION

These are enlargements of rooms that are transformed into rooms the size of a living room. The spectator participates in the work, not just appreciates it.

5.15. INTERFERENCE

Some artists interfere in the landscape, placing curtains, parasols, parcels in public places…

5.16. COBRA

Art movement created in Holland, acronym for Copenhagen-Brussels-Amsterdam. This painting is gestural, free, violent in its choice of colours and textures.

5.17. FUTURISM

For the futurists, objects are not exhausted by their apparent contours and their aspects interpenetrate continuously at the same time, or several times in a single space. “The splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A career car is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.”

Futurism is the realisation of this research in two-dimensional space. This style seeks to express real movement, recording the speed described by figures moving through space.

The futurist artist is not interested in painting a car, but in capturing in plastic form the speed described by it in space.

5.18. NAIF ART

It’s the art of spontaneity, of authentic creativity, of artistic endeavour without schooling or guidance, so it’s instinctive Art naïf (naive art) is in a range close to that of children’s art, the art of the mentally ill and primitive art, without, however, being confused with them.

5.19. METAPHYSICAL PAINTING

 The painting must create an impression of mystery. It is inspired by Metaphysics, a science that studies everything that manifests itself in a supernatural way.

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