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Index by Period

Modern Art
(1880 - 1945)

Around the turn of the twentieth century the art world exploded like a bomb, with young artists openly rebelling against the accepted forms of art - even the Impressionists had now become "establishment". Mirroring their revolutionary spirit elsewhere in Europe, these artists were hungry to explore any and every avenue open to them in terms of what they could paint and how they could apply their paint. Artists formed themselves into groups, each of which was intent on a particular form of expression. In an attempt to intellectualise their art, many of these groups published manifestos explaing the motives behind their work.

Just four or five years into the new century, many young artists casting around for stimulus starting looking beyond Europe and Asia, and into Africa and the arts of the Pacific. African art became a great stimulus with its simplistic forms, innovative patterns, and brilliant juxtaposition of colour.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


6 April 2002

Fauves (1905 - 1908)
A style of painting introduced in Paris in the early twentieth century, characterised by areas of bright, contrasting colour and simplified shapes.

Social Realism (1925 - 1945)
A type of realism (1925 - 1945) which is more overtly political in content, critical of society, marked by its realistic depiction of economic hardships, emotional strains, and degrading situations. The art work is a form of social protest. Ben Shahn, Jacob Lawrence, and Jack Levine are the best-known American Social Realists.

Regionalism (1930 - 1939)
Regionalists are artists who paint images of their culture or country. Many of these were painted as murals in public areas. Popular artists of this genre are Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera.

Ashcan School (1908 - 13)
A group of American painters and illustrators of the early 20th century, often known as The Eight. They were Robert Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur Davies, and Ernest Lawson. Their work depicted such subjects as the streets and inhabitants of big cities with a vigorous sense of realism.

Golden Age of Illustration (1890 - 1945)
The last decades of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented flowering of (American especially) illustrative art, promulgated by Howard Pyle and carried on by his students, who included N. C. Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, Frank Schoonover, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Edwin Austin Abbey, and Maxfield Parrish.

Symbolism (1880 - 1890s)
An art movement (1880 - 1890s) which rejected the purely visual realism of the Impressionists, and the rationality of the Industrial Age, in order to depict the symbols of ideas. The artists used imagery and symbolism from mythology, religion, and dream psychology (as developed by Jung and Freud for example) in order to create art that was psychologically suggestive and often disturbing in content and message. The leading Symbolists included Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.

Art Nouveau (1880 - 1910)
A style which evolved during the 1890s which used asymmetrical decorative elements derived from objects found in nature.

Post-Impressionism (1880 - 1920)
A general term applied to various personal styles of painting by French artists (or artists living in France) that developed from about 1885 to 1900 in reaction to what these artists saw as the somewhat formless and aloof quality of Impressionist painting. Post-Impressionist painters were concerned with the significance of form, symbols, expressiveness, and psychological intensity. They can be broadly separated into two groups, expressionists, such as Gauguin and Van Gogh, and formalists, such as CÚzanne and Seurat.

Expressionism (1890 - 1920s)
This is a style of art in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion is overridden by the intensity of an artist's emotional response to the subject. Expressionism is not from a particular period, but started at the end of the nineteenth century with such artists as Vincent Van Gogh, and later with the Fauves, such as Henri Matisse. Most often the term is used as part of a movement's name such as the German Expressionist or the Abstract Expressionists.

Cubism (1905 - 1939)
A revolutionary art movement developed in Paris by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The most influential style of the twentieth century, beginning in 1907 and ending around 1914, cubism is based on the simultaneous presentation of multiple views, disintegration, and the geometric reconstruction of objects in flattened, ambiguous pictorial so space; figure and ground merge into one interwoven surface of shifting planes. Colour is limited to neutrals.

Futurism (1909 - 1914)
A group movement that originated in Italy in 1909. One of several movements to grow out of Cubism. Futurists added implied motion to the shifting planes and multiple observation points of the Cubists; they celebrated natural as well as mechanical motion and speed. Their glorification of danger, war, and the machine age was in keeping with the martial spirit developing in Italy at the time.

Dada (1916 - 1922)
Dada is not an art style, but an antimilitaristic and antiaesthetic attitude.
The movement (in both art and literature) came out of the period just after World War I, starting in Zurich. It was a reaction to the destruction of which man was now capable through technology as well as a rejection of accepted canons of morality and taste. The spirit of Dada can be seen in the works of Duchamp, Man Ray, Hoch, Miro, and Picasso. The works of these artists were not met with enthusiasm at the time, but now are considered some of the most important works of twentieth century art.

Bauhaus (1920 - 1940s)
German art school, founded by Walter Gropius, in existence from 1919 to 1933, best known for its influence on design, leadership in art education, and a radically innovative philosophy of applying design principles to machine technology and mass production. Artists include Klee, Kandinsky, and Feininger.

Harlem Renaissance (1920 - 1940s)
Harlem Renaissance refers to an era of written and artistic creativity among African-Americans that occurred after World War I and lasted until the middle of the 1930s Depression. Numerous people of colour from the South and the Caribbean moved to Harlem in New York City, and the community developed to become the economic, political, and cultural centre of black America.

Surrealism (1924 - 1930s)
A movement in literature and the visual arts that developed in the mid 1920s and remained strong until the mid 1940s, growing out of Dada and automatism. Based upon revealing the unconscious mind in dream images, the irrational, and the fantastic, Surrealism took two directions: representational and abstract. Dali's and Magritte's paintings, with their uses of impossible combinations of objects depicted in realistic detail, typify representational Surrealism. Mir¨'s paintings, with their use of abstract and fantastic shapes and vaguely defined creatures, are typical of abstract Surrealism.

Les Nabis (1891 - 1899)
Parisian group of artists active during the 1890s. Paul SÚrusier and Maurice Denis were the principal theorists of the group. Influenced by Gauguin , the Nabis developed a style characterised by flat areas of boldly juxtaposed but muted colours and heavily outlined surface patterns. They were unified by the decorative character of their work and their dislike of Impressionism . They mainly painted religious motifs in a consistently Symbolist, decorative formal idiom

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