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art 101 modern art movements timeline
art nouveau (c.1890-1905)
An international style of architecture, art, and design that was popular around the turn of the 20th Century (late 1800s through the early 1900s). It was known for its sinuous, or coiled and wavy, curves, rounded edges, and repeated floral, or plant-like, visual elements. It had a lot of influence on the decorative arts, artworks that have a practical function, such as jewelry, glass, wrought-iron work, and furniture. Antoní Gaudí, a Spanish architect, was well known for his use of the Art Nouveau style, and his buildings are filled with curving lines and soft edges.
Cubism began around 1907 and lasted until the 1920s. It was founded by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque; two artists who were influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne. Together Picasso and Braque developed a new, revolutionary form of painting that changed the way that many people thought about art. Cubism is a form of painting that depicts subjects from several different angles or viewpoints at the same time. It shows three-dimensional objects from different vantage points on a flat two-dimensional surface. The result is a very angular, sharp, fragmented or broken looking painting. Cubist paintings are partially abstract (there are parts of the painting that we can’t easily recognize and some that we can).
An influential German Art School that flourished between World War I and World War II (1919-1933). Every Bauhaus student studied art, architecture, and design with the aim of creating buildings that would be “machines to be lived in” that would promote better, more functional living environments for everyone. The Bauhaus architectural style was known for its flat, smooth surfaces, geometric shapes, open spaces, use of glass windows to let in lots of light, as well as the use of steel and concrete. These elements were also incorporated into other forms of art and design, like painting and furniture. The Bauhaus style influenced many artists, architects, and designers around the world. The Nazis closed the Bauhaus school in 1933.
art deco (1925-1939)
An international design style that began in Paris after World War I and was popular in Europe and the United States until the beginning of World War II (about 1925-1939). It was known for its use of vibrant colors and geometric shapes, lines, and patterns. It was considered to be very elegant at the time and had a great impact on the decorative arts, artworks that have a practical function, including architecture, interior design, fashion, and ceramics. Its influence could be seen on great buildings, such as the Chrysler Building in New York City, or on small household objects like teacups. It was very eclectic because it was influenced by many sources around the world, and was especially influenced by early 20th Century art movements such as Art Nouveau, Cubism, Bauhaus, and Futurism.
pop art (1955-1985)
An art movement that began in the mid to late 1950s and lasted into the 1980s. Pop Art was created in an effort to express artists’ ideas about popular (pop) culture, or popular things within society that are created for mass audiences (many people) like television, movies, magazines, newspapers, comic strips, and advertisements. It also made comments about consumerism, the process of buying material things. Pop artists were influenced by Dadaism and Marcel Duchamp’s use of found objects and “ready-mades.” Pop Art used many kinds of art media and often depicted popular everyday objects. For example, Andy Warhol, a very famous Pop artist, was well known for his paintings of celebrities and Campbell Soup cans.
performance art (1958-present day)
A type of art that began in the late 1950s and continues to this day. It was most common in the 1950s and 1960s and works were sometimes called “Happenings.” Performance Art is most often a theatrical performance (without a plot or story) that is presented to a live audience, who could be invited to participate in the event. It often includes music, sounds, and mixed media artworks. Performance art is often used to express an important political or social point. One of the most interesting things about Performance Art is that the artwork itself only exists for amount of time it takes to stage the performance and no longer. Sometimes photographs are kept to record the event.
An art movement that began in the 1960s and lasted through the 1970s. It was a type of abstract art in which art forms were reduced to the bare minimum: basic geometric shapes such as cubes and spheres and industrial materials such as steel, concrete, bricks, and neon. It was often three-dimensional and shapes were often repeated. Minimalism focused more more on the artist’s process and the materials in the work than the artist’s feelings or emotions.
An art movement that began in France in the early 1860s and lasted through the turn of the 20th Century. Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, were interested in capturing the effects of natural light in their works through the use of brilliant colors. Impressionists often painted outdoors or en plein air. Their goal was to capture an “impression” of a moment in time. Though it was a realistic style, and showed recognizable subjects, it did not pay close attention to visual details. Instead, it focused more on capturing a quick “snapshot” or “slice” of everyday life. Impressionists depicted everyday scenes in a manner that was fluid and sketchy and seemed unfinished to many people at the time. Impressionism was considered the first avant-garde art movement, an art movement that was new, innovative, and ahead of its time. Post-Impressionism was a later stage of this major modern art movement.
An art movement that began in Paris around 1905, started by artists Henri Matisse and André Derain. Fauvism used vibrant, unnatural colors applied in solid patches using bold, slashing brushstrokes. These vivid paintings were meant to seem joyful, pleasant, and soothing. The term Fauvism comes from the group’s nickname “Fauves,” the French word for “Wild Beasts.” It was considered to be the first modern art movement of the 20th Century and influenced many artists around the world.
An art movement that began in Switzerland around 1916 as a protest against World War I. The Dada movement used many art forms and different media to create shocking, nontraditional artworks. Dada artworks were meant to emphasize the meaninglessness that many people felt in response to horrors of the war. Dada art was deliberately created to seem absurd, like nonsense. The movement was influenced by the imagination and the idea that often things happen just by chance. Dada was famous for its use of found objects, or as the artist Marcel Duchamp called them, “ready-mades.” It often included installations of art, public gatherings, and demonstrations. The word “dada” is known as a sound made by babies and it also means “hobbyhorse” in French, “yes-yes” in Russian, and “there-there” in German. Some say it was chosen as the title of the movement at random out of a dictionary, so that it would have no meaning. The Dada movement proved to be very influential and had a great impact on Surrealism and Pop Art.
An art movement that began in Paris in the 1920s and continued into the 1950s. It was inspired by Dadaism and the new theories on the mind developed by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Surrealists often depicted dream-like images and images inspired by fantasy. Surrealists created their artwork automatically, with very little planning and special techniques. Their goal was to capture images spontaneously, as they came to them: freely, naturally, and directly from their imaginations. Surrealist art was often mysterious because it showed an artist’s unexplained inner world of dreams, fantasies, fears, emotions, and desires.
abstract expressionism (1945-1960)
An American painting movement that began after World War II in New York City in the mid-1940s and continued through the 1950s. Abstract Expressionists believed that the process of art making should be a deeply personal, spontaneous, and psychological experience. Working in this way, artists created large abstract paintings that sought to express emotion and evoke spiritual responses from viewers through the use of color, shape, and gesture. There were two major kinds of Abstract Expressionism: Action Painting, championed by artist Jackson Pollock, a physically active form of painting that used wild brushstrokes, drips, and paint splatters to create paintings full of visual movement; and Color Field Paintings, championed by artist Mark Rothko, a vibrant form of painting that arranged large blocks of color in a way that was meant to create an emotional and spiritual experience for viewers. In fact, people have been known to cry in front of Rothko’s paintings because the visual effect was so powerful.
op art (1958-1969)
Op Art, short for Optical Art, was a geometric, abstract art movement that began in the late 1950s and continued through the 1960s. Op Art used geometric shapes, lines, patterns, and colors to impact vision, create optical illusions, and convey a sense of movement.
conceptual art (1960-1979)
Beginning in the 1960s, Conceptual Art emphasized the concept, or idea behind the work of art, which exists in our imaginations. In Conceptual Art, it is this idea, which we cannot see, that is the most important element of the work, more so than the visual elements that we can see. Conceptual artists used all kinds of materials, including photographs and found objects, to create their works. Sometimes it did not use tangible materials at all, but rather relied on words, sounds, and empty space to convey their thoughts and ideas.
YBAs or Britart (1990 - present day)
An art movement that began in Great Britain in the 1990s. Initially called Young British Artists or YBAs, their work is now often called Britart (short for British Art). The YBAs are a group of British conceptual and installation artists who are known for their shocking, surprising, and controversial artworks. A well-known YBA artist is Damien Hirst.