Realism Before impressionism, a movement known as realism was popular.
In realism, the artist is able to accurately paint a moment. Realism is technically considered the beginning of modern art. In the 1870s, an artist named Claude Oscar Monet created an art piece titled, Impression, Sunrise. This piece became very controversial in the art industry and unintentionally became the start of a new movement, known as impressionism. The story is that an art critic, named Louis Leroy went to the art exhibition and wrote a review where he says that “all the paintings were just impressions” (webexhibits.org). The word, impression stuck and became the title of the movement. After this event, more artists became influenced by Monet’s art piece and began to create art that used a more loose brushwork compared to realism.
Throughout the 19th century, impressionism became very popular. Even though impressionism was a new trend for artists in the 19th century, many artists didn’t agree with the movement. As a result, artists began to branch into two sub-movements, known as neo-impressionism and post-impressionism.
Post-impressionism completely develops independent styles of painting that rejects the objective naturalism that impressionism is based on. With neo-impressionism, artists used a pointillist technique that would give the art piece a systematic approach to form and color. Other artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas were important individuals in the shaping of the movement. Pierre-Auguste Renoir is considered the leading artist in the development of impressionism. Renoir was good friends with Monet and together they experimented with different brush strokes that became impressionism. Other artists, such as Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas were friends with Renoir and Monet. Because of Pissarro, artists came together and formed the first impressionist exhibition. In 1873, Pissarro gathered about 15 artists together and a year later the group hosted their “first exhibition” (biography.
com). The content and style that was in the paintings in the exhibition shocked many critics and helped set impressionism as an “artistic movement” that many would join (biography.com). Edgar Degas never saw himself as an impressionist, in fact he saw himself as a “realist”, but was highly influenced by Monet’s work (theartstory.org). Even though he didn’t see himself as an impressionist, he is considered one of the founding fathers of the impressionist movement. Because of Degas, well-known artists, such as a woman named Mary Cassatt was influenced by his work and became an important figure in the impressionist movement.
Towards the end of the 19th century, new artists began to rebel and create new art styles.SymbolismSymbolism became the next art style for the 20th century and the next stage in the progression towards abstract art. Symbolism is an artistic style and movement that used images symbolically as an indirect suggestion for portraying emotions and ideas. During the late 19th century, impressionism was being traded for symbolism.
Artists who opposed the “tradition of representational art” formed a group that wanted to bring out ideas by symbols and emphasis in colors, shapes, and lines (theartstory.org). In addition, symbolism can be seen as the beginning of modernism. This is because symbolism developed a new way to express a “psychological truth” and the idea of there being something hidden behind reality, which was a spiritual world (theartstory.
org). As a symbolist, artist can take things, for example dreams and visions, and turn them into something that looks real. In other words, symbolism gives expressible ideas a form. Symbolist works are often personal for the artist and is a way to express their own beliefs, sometimes regarding their idea to be able to reveal the truth. In addition, symbolism usually challenges the common historical path of modern art developed from impressionism to cubism. Symbolism actually followed some of the views of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, who were post-impressionists.
Both men made a “spiritual decline” to the modern world (theartstory.org). Mainstream symbolists had a larger concern for the inner life rather than the outside reality. Symbolism focuses more on imagination than reason. , In symbolism there is a subspecies called art nouveau. The subspecies is greatly connected to symbolism; however, art nouveau is more specifically a style that is based on organic forms. In addition, art nouveau can be applied to all forms of art, more specifically art nouveau can be applied to any object that was made artistically or refurbished for an artistic purpose.
Unlike symbolism, art nouveau quickly became, internationally a popular style. This is due to the fact that its main purpose was to create an aesthetic piece that could be applied to to all forms of art and therefore could flourish in the new machinery era. In addition, unlike many other art movements, symbolism is considered as more of a literature movement rather than an art movement, since symbolism was really seen within literature. Furthermore, the people who started the symbolist movement were writers.
Like impressionism, symbolism first started in France and then spread throughout different countries. In the years that lead up to World War I, there was an increase the lack of satisfaction that symbolism was getting. Many saw that symbolism was acquiring an abundance of over-refinement and obscurities. Basically as the years continued on, critics and the people were getting tired of the same art style. As a result, many artists were trying to move in a different direction that was considered “raw and primitive” in the hopes of bringing a new era to the world regardless of being on the brink of a massive war (theartstory.com).Cubism Around 1907 and 1908, a revolutionary new approach in art was created by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. This new approach began known as the style, cubism.
Braque and Picasso brought different perspectives of subjects that were usually “objects or figures” together in one picture (tate.org). As a result of this, paintings would usually appear as fragmented and in early stages, they would appear abstracted. During the 20th century, cubism became very influential internationally. Cubism began around 1907 with one of Picasso’s most famous art pieces, titled Demoiselles D’Avignon. The story is that the name, cubism came from a critic named Louis Vauxcelles who commented on George Braque’s art piece in France in 1908. With the creation of cubism, it soon opened doors to many new possibilities for the exploration of visual reality in art.
In addition, cubism became the true starting point for the different types of abstract styles, for instance constructivism and neo-plasticism. Artists who used cubism tried to show different viewpoints from different angles at the same time within the space of an art piece, which people could interpret a three dimensional form. They also emphasized a two-dimensional flatness of the canvas rather than creating an illusion of depth that man other artists had done before.
Cubism was actually partly influenced by an artist named Paul Cézanne. In his paintings it can be seen that he paints from “slightly different points of view” (tate.org). Unlike Cézanne, Picasso was actually influenced by tribal masks from Africa because they presented a very vivid idea of what a human image was. There are actually two types of cubism. These two types are analytical cubism and synthetic cubism. Analytical cubism is the beginning phase of cubism that started in 1908 and continued till 1912. Analytical cubism artworks are made up of more interweaving lines and planes in tones of blacks and greys.
Synthetic cubism is the later phase of cubism and it started around 1912 and continued till 1914. Synthetic cubism is also characterized by bright colors and simpler shapes compared to analytical cubism. In addition, a synthetic cubist will usually create a collage of real elements, for examples newspapers. The use of real objects directly in art was the beginning of some of the most important ideas in modern art.
Cubism “shook the foundations of artmaking” by changing the traditional art of the Renaissance and the “course of art history” by a resounding that continued into the postmodern era (theartstory.org). ExpressionismExpressionism simultaneously emerged in multiple cities within Germany. This was a result of a widespread problem about humanity’s increasingly opposing relationship with the world and had mixed or lost feelings of spirituality and authenticity. Basically, this was part of a rebellion against any academic art and impressionism. The expressionist movement was mainly influenced by symbolism in the late 19th century.
Artists, like Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and James Ensor became exceptional particular expressionist influencers. They encouraged “distortion of form and a development of strong colors to convey a variety of anxieties and problems” (theartstory.org). The expressionist movement lasted from about 1905 to 1920 and during that time it would spread throughout Europe. This would later influence abstract expressionist artists and neo-expressionist artists in the 1980s. The creation of expressionism formed new standards regarding the way the art was created and how it could be judged.
The art piece was now meant to come from the imagination of the artist and their feelings rather than from a depiction of the outside visual world and the analysis of a composition. During the turn of the century, within Europe shifts in artistic styles and vision activated as a response to some major changes within the atmosphere of society. New technology and a massive increase in urbanization efforts affected the different individual worldviews. As a result, artists reflected the life changing impact of these developments by moving away from a realistic representation of what they viewed. Artist then moved toward an emotional and psychological contribution of how the world affected them.
The roots of Expressionism can be traced to certain Post-Impressionist artists like Edvard Munch in Norway, as well as Gustav Klimt in the Vienna Secession, and finally emerged in Germany in 1905. In the late nineteenth-century, a Norwegian post-impressionist painter named Edvard Munch came up as an important part of inspiration for the expressionists. He created vibrant and emotionally charged works that opened up new possibilities for artists working in expressionism. In particular, Munch’s canvases expressed the anxiety of the individual within the newly modernized European society. His famous painting The Scream, made in 1893 portrayed the conflict between spirituality and modernity as a central theme of his work.
By 1905 Munch’s work was well known within Germany and he was spending much of his time there as well, putting him in direct contact with the Expressionists. Within Germany, a group of young artists known as “Die Brücke” looked to convey emotions through some very “provocative” pictures in modern art (theartstory.org). In the early stages of expressionism, this group would depict scenes of city dwellers, prostitutes, and dancers in the city’s streets and at times, nightclubs. This presented the “decadent underbelly” of Germany’s society (theartstory.org). While certain artists rejected Expressionism, others would continue to expand upon its innovations as a style. For example, during the 1920s, Kandinsky transitioned to completely non-objective paintings and watercolors that emphasized the balance of colors and archetypal forms, rather than figurative representation.
However, Expressionism would have its most direct impact in Germany and would continue to shape its art for decades afterwards. After World War I, Expressionism began to lose momentum and break apart. Abstract ExpressionismAbstract expressionism mainly took place in the United States, more specifically New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Due to being figuratively marked by the experience from the Great Depression, artists left abstract expressionism for a while and turned to a variety of different styles that were influenced by Regionalist and Social Realism movements that occurred during that time.
During the 1930s artists living in New York, were the recipients of a growing wealthy sophisticated network of galleries and museums that hosted a series of some major exhibitions of modern art. Museums The Museum of Modern Art is one of the few museums that hosted and supported art exhibits such as “Cubism and Abstract Art, Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism.” In addition, museums showed majors exhibitions that portrayed the development of art that was created by other artists such as, Pablo Picasso (theartstory.org). Many European modernists began to come to New York during the 1930s and 1940s as a way to escape the sudden political disruption and war. Some artists, such as the painter and teacher Hans Hofmann, would prove directly influential in the art world. Hofmann had spent the early years of the century in Paris where he had met the famous Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque, who had acquired exceptionally large reputations in artists’ circles in New York.
Hoffman was able to impart many of their ideas to his students through his sophisticated understanding of Cubism, and love of Matisse Fauvism, which was underappreciated by many in New York. All this activity meant that New York’s artists were extraordinarily knowledgeable about trends in modern European art. It left many with feelings of inferiority, yet these were slowly overcome in the 1940s.
Personal encounters with many displaced Europeans, such as André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Arshile Gorky, Max Ernst, Piet Mondrian, and André Masson, helped to dispel some of the mythic status these artists had acquired. As Europe suffered from totalitarian governments throughout the 1930s, and later became placed in difficult times of war, many Americans felt encouraged to go beyond the European influence and develop a type of language designed to have an impressive or persuasive effect on the viewers through the use of painting that was viewed as appropriate to their own country. In addition, they wanted to take the wheel of advanced culture at a time when some of its oldest citadels were under threat. It was no mishap the that critic Clement Greenberg, during one of his first important responses to this new movement, described it as an “American-Type Painting” (theartstory.org). The abstract expressionist movement of 1950s New York would make a huge, groundbreaking impact on the art world as a whole. Plus, the movement would spring outward onto influencing a second generation of abstract expressionist artists with slightly different ideas and concerns. By the late 1950s, abstract expressionism had entirely lost its place at the center of critical debate and a new generation of artists were nearing a point of absolute success that would could for many years.
SurrealismSurrealism was the original influence on the themes and concepts of the abstract expressionists. Although the American painters were uncomfortable with the undisguised Freudian symbolism of the European movement, they were still inspired by its interests in the senseless form that was shown. They were also inspired by its strain of primitivism and deep concentration with mythologies. Surrealism began in the late 1910s and early 1920s. It was a very popular international political movement during this time. Many artists such as, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo emerged during this time period and became very influential in the movements to come.
Surrealism began as a literary movement formed by a poet named André Breton from 1924 and through World War II. Artists working in surrealism sought to overthrow the oppressive and biased rules of what is considered modern society by destroying the “backbone of rational thought” (MoMALearning). Surrealism shared much of the anti-rationalism of Dada, the movement which it grew out of. The original Surrealists used art as a pardon from violent political situations and to address the unease they felt about the world’s uncertainties. By employing fantasy and dream imagery, artists generated creative works in a variety of media that exposed their inner minds in eccentric, symbolic ways, uncovering anxieties and treating them analytically through a visual form. There were two styles or methods that distinguished Surrealist painting.
Artists such as Salvador Dalí, Yves Tanguy, and Rene Magritte painted in a hyper-realistic style in which objects were depicted in crisp detail and with the illusion of three-dimensionality, emphasizing their dream-like quality. The color in these works was often either saturated (which is what Dalí did) or monochromatic (which is what Tanguy did), both choices conveying a dream state. Several Surrealists also relied heavily on automatism or automatic writing as a way to tap into the sleeping mind. Other artists such as, Joan Miró and Max Ernst used various techniques to create unlikely and many times bizarre imagery including collages, doodlings, frottages, decalcomanias, and grattages. Artists such as Hans Arp also created collages as stand-alone works. Photography, because of the ease with which it allowed artists to produce uncanny imagery, occupied a central role in Surrealism. Artists such as Man Ray and Maurice Tabard used the medium to explore automatic writing, using techniques such as double exposure, combination printing, montage, and solarization, the latter of which eschewed the camera altogether.
Other photographers used rotation or distortion to render bizarre images. In addition, surrealism was the first artistic movement to experiment with cinema in part because it offered more opportunity than theatre to create the bizarre or the unreal. Abstract ArtAbstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but, instead use shapes, colors, forms, vigorous applications of paint, and expressive brushwork marks to achieve its effect. The term can be applied to art that is based an object, figure or landscape, where forms have been simplified or schematised.
It is also applied to art that uses forms, such as geometric shapes or gestural marks, which have no source at all in an external visual reality. Some artists of this ‘pure’ abstraction have preferred terms such as concrete art or non-objective art, but in practice the word abstract is used across the board and the distinction between the two is not always obvious. Abstract art is often seen as carrying a moral dimension, in that it can be seen to stand for virtues such as order, purity, simplicity and spirituality. By its very nature, abstraction encourages free association, which means that an artist can assign their own meaning to the artwork. It won’t tell people what it’s about, the audience get to experience and interpret the artwork for themselves and understand it in their own way.
Because of this, it takes a heightened sensitivity to both create and appreciate abstract artwork. Just like music is patterns of sound, abstract art is a harmony of patterns and rhythms of color, form and/or line. Abstract art was started by a Russian man named Wassily Kandinsky. Even though his art pieces were never bought, many artist soon became influenced by his art pieces, hence starting a stream of artists trying abstract art. Abstract art artists, such as William Scott, Gerhard Richter, and Lynne Mapp Drexler became celebrated for their styles of abstract art.
William Scott is a Scottish born abstract artist that gained fame nationally and internationally. Through abstract art, Scott created themes of landscapes, still-free, and female nudes. Another artist named, Gerhard Richter entered the artistic world during the time that modern art and world politics clashed. Richter showed that even during the “death of painting” his painting could still powerfully question. In addition, abstract art has created a central canal of modern art. Because of abstract art, artists intent looked beyond abstraction for a new step in the evolution of different art styles.In conclusion, impressionism paved a way for many artists to rebel against traditional art that was from the Renaissance.
When artists rebelled against the traditional art, a slow progression of change began to occur. Basically impressionism was a catalyst for new movements to form and change the way of art by changing their styles. This progression moved artists to the style, abstract art.