ImpressionismImpressionism was the first modern art movement, initiated by Parisian artists who rejected the principles of fine art at the time. These artists, including Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, focused on capturing the impression of a scene in a single, fleeting moment. Instead of clarity and realism, they concentrated on the response of the senses, with vivid colour and light, and loose brushstrokes, often painting outdoors.
L'Etoile - "The Star"Edgar Degas, "L'Etoile" (The Star), 1878
Pastel on Paper, 60 x 44 cm ~ Degas preferred to paint indoor scenes eg theatres and cafes, and focused on artificial light
~ Painted many scenes of ballet dancers as he wanted to swiftly capture the movement of the human body
~ Makes the ballerina the focal point by placing her in spotlight and making her more defined than the blur of colour in the background
~ Lack of clarity emphasises movement
Post ImpressionismPost-Impressionism defines the works of artists after the Impressionists. While extending the principles and techniques of the Impressionists, they also rejected some aspects, such as painting from outside life. Post-Impressionists tended to look inside themselves and rely on their memory and imagination for inspiration and subjects, and were freer to distort forms or use unnatural colours and bold shapes. Each artist had a very distinct style, and so they were only loosely part of one movement.
'A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte''A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte', Georges Seurat, 1884-1886
Oil on Canvas
208 x 308 cm ~Painted using Seurat's unique technique, Pointillism, where tiny individual dots of colour were applied that when viewed from afar, blended into one colour. He believed the colours were brighter when painted using this technique.
~ This gives the painting a somewhat flat and stiff appearance
~ Uses bright colours to explore light, contrast and form.
~ Spent 2 years on this painting
Self Portrait'Self Portrait', Vincent van Gogh, 1889
Oil on Canvas
65 x 54 cm ~Painted in van Gogh's thick-stroked, swirled style with rich bright colours
~ Agitated background reflects his turbulent mental health at the time of painting. Completed shortly before his death.
~ Depicts his face as pale, emaciated and hard, with worried, intense eyes
~The bright red of his beard starkly contrasts the blue of the background creating an interesting composition
The Scream'The Scream', Edvard Munch, 1893
Oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard
91 x 73.5 cm
~ An early example of Expressionism, painted by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch
~ Inspired by an incident in which Munch was walking beside a fjord with his friends when, feeling tired and sick, he witnessed the sun setting and turning the sky blood red. He though he felt nature screaming
~ Painting is terrifying, with the gaunt screaming face of the central figure and the dark, threatening figures in the background
Irises in Monet's Garden"Irises in Monet's Garden", Claude Monet, 1900
Oil on Canvas
81 x 92 cm ~ This painting reflects the new and challenging features of Impressionism with its bold, bright colours, loose brushstrokes and lack of definition and fine detail
~ The artist has drawn on the world around him for this artwork: his beautiful, bright garden in Giverny, France.
~ Like most impressionistic artworks, it is painted outdoors and focuses on light and bright colours
~ Uses short, thick strokes of pure pigment
'Fishing Boats, Collioure''Fishing Boats, Collioure', Andre Derain, 1905
Oil on Canvas
81 x 100 cm
~ Heavily outlined forms. The painting is dominated by the multicoloured, overlapping sails
~ Hard to distinguish the landscape: Derain makes no attempt at reality with his choice of bright, unnatural colour and confusing sense of space
~ Painted from a high viewpoint, the two figures sitting on the hill at the bottom of the painting make the viewer follow their gaze into the busy bustle of the scene
~ Pointillism used
Woman With A Hat'Woman With a Hat', Henri Matisse, 1905
Oil on Canvas, 79 x 60 cm
~ Exhibited at the controversial 'Salon D'Automne' exhibition in 1905 which shocked and horrified audiences
~ Depicts Mattise's wife, Amelie, reflecting the outfits of the French bourgeoisie at the time.
~ Marked a change in style for Mattisse, from regulated brushstrokes to vivid colour and loose brushstrokes - this added to the work's sketch-like quality
~ The woman's form is secondary to the colours and emotions in the work
FauvismFauvism, created by artists named 'les Fauves' (the wild beasts), was a style featuring very strong, contrasting colours and heavy brushstrokes, with much less value for realism than earlier movements. The Fauves abandoned traditional 3-D space for a more two-dimensional world of 'colour panes'. Led by Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, Fauvism only lasted a few intense and colourful years.
ExpressionismOriginating in Germany, Expressionism aimed to evoke profound emotion and focussed on meaning and emotional experiences rather than reality. It distorted perspectives and subjects in order to express moods and ideas. Expressionist artists criticised the 'lack of emotion' in Impressionist artworks, instead turning to the subconscious and exploring the dark nature, motivations and fear embedded in human nature. They expressed this through symbols, striking colours and often crude execution.
CubismCubism abandoned fundamental traditions, most importantly the concept of a single viewpoint. Artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque abstracted their subjects by fragmenting then recreating them with numerous different perspectives at the same time, all on a single plane. This gave the artwork no coherent sense of depth and form, and a sense of indefinite space. Often Cubists rejected colour as well, painting the entire work in different shades of a single subdued colour such as grey.
FuturismFuturism was a largely Italian movement that disregarded all traditions of art and embraced the beauty of speed and technology. Futurists loved cars, machines, speed, noise, pollution, violence, cities and the modern world. Their works were highly emotive, featuring irregular, energetic lines that expressed frantic movement.
Still Life with a Bottle of Rum'Still Life With a Bottle of Rum', Pablo Picasso, 1911
Oil on Canvas
61.3 x 50.5 cm
~ Completed in Ceret, a small town in the French Pyrenees loved by artists
~ Painted at the high analytical phase of Cubism, it is almost impossible to see the original subjects in this work
~ The neck and opening of a bottle seem to be in upper centre of painting, with thin black lines to the left suggesting sheet music
~ The letters LETR refer to 'Le Torero', a bullfighting magazine of which Picasso was a fan.
The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli'The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli', Carlo Carrà, 1911
Oil on canvas
198.7 × 259 cm
~ Painted during the artist's Futurism phase
~ Depicts the funeral of Italian anarchist Angelo Galli. The Italian State feared the funeral would become a political demonstration and denied the mourners access to the cemetry. When the anarchists resisted, the police responded with violence and a fight broke out.
~ Frenzied, bloody colours emphasize chaos and violence
~ Clashing bodies and horses express movement
The Fate of The Animals'The Fate Of The Animals', Franz Marc, 1913
Oil on Canvas, 195 x 266 cm
~ Marc was a German Expressionist artsist, and a pioneer of abstraction
~ He was fascinated by animals and colour, with different colours symbolising different emotions and ideas
~ The painting is an apocalyptic scene of distressed animals caught in jagged prisms and lines, inspired by the war and a foretelling of the horror to come
~ Strong primary colours clash in the work to depict the terrifying destruction of nature
Violin And Playing Cards'Violin and Playing Cards,' 1913, Juan Gris
Oil on canvas, 100 x 65.4 cm
~ Juan Gris was a Spanish artist who adopted and extended Picasso's and Braque's style of Cubism
~ His works included more colour and less abstraction
~ Unique style of wide, textured, angular planes that overlapped like collage
~ In this work, the violin has been split into different views and laid down flat on top of itself - blue, green and purple shadows extend from underneath the wooden front view of the violin
Unique Forms of Continuity In Space'Unique Forms of Continuity In Space', Umberto Boccioni, 1913
~ This futurist sculpture depicts an armless, faceless figure striding.
~ Boccioni aimed to express the fluidity of motion, speed, and dynamism in this artwork
~ The sculpure is reminiscent of the blurring effect of a photograph taken of a moving subject
~ Though Boccioni hated traditional sculpture, his piece is not dissimilar as it is cast in bronze, it is mounted on a pedestal and it is life-sized.
Bicycle Wheel'Bicycle Wheel', Marcel Duchamp, 1913
Bicycle wheel and stool ~ This sculpture was part of the artist's series of 'readymades', art made from commonplace objects put together in a way that no longer fulfilled their original purpose.
~ They aimed to test the limits of the definition of art and cause audiences, critics and the art world to question the fundamental principles of art
~ The artist claimed he did not make the work with a purpose; he liked to watch it spinning in his studio.
SuprematismSuprematism was an early abstract movement founded by Kasimir Malevich. The artists wanted to paint in a style completely devoid of any realism, believing that pure feeling should be the supreme focus in an artwork. Suprematists also searched for the point to which a painting can go before ceasing to be art, creating artworks from extremely simple geometric shapes and limited colours. They focussed on circles, squares and crosses, and the texture of paint on canvas.
Self Portrait As A Soldier'Self-portrait as a Soldier', Ernst Ludwig Kirschner, 1915
Oil on canvas
69.2 × 61 cm
~ In 1914, Kirschner enlisted for the army in Germany but in 1915 suffered a physical and mental breakdown from his experiences
~ This self portrait expresses his suffering. His mutilated right arm symbolises dead creativity, and the hollow eyes his loss of identity. His face is sickly, pale, deathlike and gaunt.
~ The blood red background contrasts starkly with the navy uniform, creating a shocking painting.
Black Square'Black Square', Kazimir Malevich,1915
Oil on canvas
106 x 106 cm
~ 'Black Square', unlike other works in this period, has no visual texture and is perfectly symmetrical, the quintessence of Malevich's idea of geometric abstraction
~ This painting is one of over 30 'objective' paintings created by Malevich over a period of 18 months. They were shown in one exhibition in Petrograd, Russia in 1915.
~ The Black Square, considered the perfect example of Suprematism, became the symbol of the movement
DadaThe Dada movement described itself as 'anti-art'. It attacked art conventions, the meaning of art, and what defined art. Aiming to shock the audience, Dada artworks were illogical, irrational and nonsensical. Even the name 'Dada' reflects its ideals, either drawn from the first words of a baby or the French word for rocking horse. Dada questioned the sanity and logic of an audience who could willingly subject innocent people to the horrors of WWI.
The Three Graces'The Three Graces', Theo van Doesburg, 1917
Oil on canvas, 33.5 x 33.5 inches
~In this painting, vertical and horizontal rectangles in primary colours hang on a black background. They form a simple image with no distance between foreground and background.
~ This creates a balanced and unified work of art true to the concepts of De Stijl.
~The artwork is an example of geometric abstraction influenced by the architectural forms of the Bauhaus movement.
De Stijl (Neo Plasticism)De Stijl (Dutch for 'the style) or Neo Plasticism (meaning 'new art') was a movement encompassing architecture, furniture and artworks. It encouraged total abstraction with very simple rectangular shapes coloured only with primary colours, black and white. There were no organic lines in De Stijl, only structured and ordered straight or diagonal lines. Leading artists of the genre include Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg.
Beat the Whites With the Red Wedge'Beat the Whites With the Red Wedge', El Lissitzky, 1920
~ This artwork, turned into a propaganda poster for the Soviets, is an example of Suprematism with simple shapes and basic colours
~ Unlike Malevich, Lissitzky used text on his works and more complex composition
~ The red wedge in this work represents the Communists attacking the anti communist White army (the circle).
~ The contrast of the black, white and red creates a huge impact on the audience and strong political message.
Indestructible Object (Or Object To Be Destroyed)'Indestructible Object (Or Object To Be Destroyed)', Man Ray, 1923
Metronome and photograph
~ This consists of a metronome with an eye cut out of a photo stuck to the pendulum.
~ The second version used the eye of his ex-lover. This piece was destroyed by a group of students following the instructions that came with the work.
~ It was later remade in multiples using the money ManRay received from the insurance, thus the new name 'Indestructible Object'.
SurrealismSurrealism was heavily influenced by Dada, inspired by the nonsensical and illogical images. However, Surrealists were also fascinated by the irrational and fantastical nature of dreams, which seem incredibly real while one is experiencing them. Surrealism reflects this, with artworks portrayed in a very naturalistic and realistic style while depicting completely unnatural subjects and scenes. Famous surrealists include Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Max Ernst.
The Persistence of Memory'The Persistence of Memory', Salvador Dali, 1931
Oil on canvas
24 × 33 cm
~ This Surrealist painting features clocks apparently melting in a barren landscape while a figure sleeps on the floor.
~ It is extremely famous and widely used in popular culture.
~ The warped clocks represent the passing of time during the sleep state. The ants devouring the clock in the bottom left corner symbolise death.
~ The half-faded figure in the centre is a monstrous self portrait of Dali, a common motif.
Broadway Boogie Woogie'Broadway Boogie Woogie', 1943, Piet Mondrian
Oil on canvas, 127 x 127 cm
~ Compared to Mondrian's earlier work, this canvas is divided into a much larger amount of squares.
~ It is inspired by a map of Manhattan's busy streets, as well as the Boogie Woogie music Mondrian loved to listen to.
~ The yellow was apparently inspired by New York's yellow cabs.
~Expressing the restless motion of the city, it was worked and reworked until an equilibrium of form, colour and texture was achieved.
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism encompasses a diverse range of artists and their own unique styles. Its focus was on complete abstraction, colour and 'action painting', with artists creating huge-scale, sweeping works. Artists like Jackson Pollock used new, energetic techniques such as drip painting to express their inner emotions. Spontanaeity and broad movement were characteristic of the style, as were deep fields of colour intended to interact with and envelop the audience.
Blue poles [Number 11, 1952]Blue poles [Number 11, 1952], Jackson Pollock, 1952
Enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas
212.1 x 488.9 cm
~ 'Blue Poles' is arguably Pollock's most famous painting.
~ This painting illustrates Pollock's drip technique, where the canvas is laid on the floor and the artist drips and splashes paint in layers on the surface.
~ The artist abandoned traditional tools, using sticks and pouring paint directly from the can.
~ He used the poles to introduce 'figure and ground' into his art.
No. 61 Rust and BlueNo. 61 Rust and Blue, 1953, Mark Rothko
Oil on canvas
115 x 92 cm
~ Rothko painted his seemingly floating rectangles in fast-drying layers of colour
~ To Rothko, colour was merely a means of expressing human emotions in a pure form
~ Rothko focussed on tragedy, doom and extreme happiness
~ As time went on, his colour scheme and therefore the painting's emotions grew increasingly dark. 'Rust and Blue' is one of his later works.
Pop ArtPop Art challenged the traditional conventions of art, attempting to eliminate the difference between fine art and 'lowly' popular culture. Artists like Andy Warhol combined the two, using images and inspiration from pop culture in their artworks. Pop art didn't reflect the emotions of the artist but more commented objectively on the pop culture of the world around them. Pop artists used collage, paint and mixed media as well as new technology of the time such as screen printing.
Movement in Squares'Movement in Squares', 1961, Bridget Riley
Tempera on hardboard, 122 x 122 cm ~ Intended to produce a feeling of movement in the audience
~ Her works explore audience participation and the relationship between the mind and body
~ The artwork portrays the tension between a technological future which could be beneficial or harmful, and loss of individuality in such a world.
~ Proceeding artworks were painted by assistants but from her own designs.
Campbell's Soup Cans'Campbell's Soup Cans', 1962, Andy Warhol
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
51 x 41 cm for 32 canvases
~ Each can represented a different variety of Campbell's soup.
~ In the first exhibition, the canvases were placed next to each other in a straight line, simulating products on shelves.
~ The work was intended to be without personality or individual expression.
~ He stated that the reason he painted soup cans was because he 'liked soup'.
~ He transformed banal objects into art.
Vicki'Vicki', 1964, Roy Lichtenstein
396 x 400 cm
Enamel on steel
~ Inspired by industrial New York street and subway signs, the artist created 'Vicki' in enamel and steel.
~ Lichtenstein's imagery is taken directly from romance and war comic books. It is melodramatic and highlights America's 1950's gender stereotypes.
~ Lichtenstein uses a unique technique painting the colour with dots, to emulate the printing style used by actual comic books.
Op ArtOp Art, short for Optical Art, consist of patterns that form an optical illusion. The first colour piece of Op Art was created in 1966 by famous Op artist Bridget Riley; before that, artworks were black and white. Reflecting modern advances in technologies like aerospace, computing and television, Op Art explored the science of perception and how the human eye and brain responded.
Vega-Nor'Vega-Nor', Victor Vasarely, 1969
Acrylic on canvas
200 x 200 cm ~ This painting is one of the 'Vega' series, where we see Vasarely's structured approach to form and colour.
~ The series uses spherical distortions to a multicoloured grid to produce an optical illusion.
~ This painting creates a sensation of something trying to break out or sink back depending on the audience's perspective.
~ The artwork reflects Vasarely's interest in science over art, which gives a sense of objectivity.
Sunrise By the Ocean, by Vladimir Kush (a modern surrealist)Sunrise By The Ocean, Vladimir Kush, 2005
Oil on canvas, 21 x 25 inches
~The painting depicts a newborn sun trying to find its own form having just hatched from an egg, a concept common to many mythologies.
~ Surrealist aspects include the construction and scaffolding supporting the broken halves of the egg. The humans here could either be constructing or deconstructing the egg.
~ By the water's edge, bits of driftwood begin to morph into humans, in a dreamlike, surreal manner.