Archive for the ‘Style Explained’ Category

The Pop Art Movement

Monday, November 23rd, 2009


Pop Art, born slightly after the Abstract Expressionist movement, is seen by many as both a reaction and an expansion on the ideas which that movement was presenting.  The idea of Pop Art is one which seeks to challenge traditional approaches to art. The definition of Pop Art maintains that when an artist uses an image or theme that is a mass-produced quantity, their work is still valid and should be classified as Fine Art because they are removing any of the original meaning from the context and are making a unique statement with the materials which they use.  The entire idea behind Pop Art does not relate so much to the art itself as to the attitudes of the artists about the pieces.

Pop Art has roots with Pop Music as well, with the movement toward expressing popular ideas and beliefs instead of the more traditional elitist views toward beauty in art and life.  Both elements make heavy use of irony while making their points.  It is usually seen as a way of responding to the personal symbolism that Abstract Expressionism brought, making art more accessible to the public with impersonal works filled with irony and parody to make a point.

Though it began in America during the late 1950s, Pop Art took its strongest hold during the 60s, when artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol had found a place in the art world.  Due to the absorbing of modern art into the increasingly sophisticated advertising world, the American public didn’t have a far leap to make into Pop Art.  The struggle with the artists came in the form of finding deeper meaning in the popular images of the day, an exercise which the public took very well to.  The strength with which the artists imbued their work was forceful, however.  The bold and striking images which came from the Pop Art movement are ones which can still find resonance today.

Surrealism Art

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Max Ernst - L’Ange du foyer ou Le Triomphe du surréalismeSurrealism is a cultural movement in the early 1920s that brought together artists, thinkers and researchers in hunt of sense of expression of the unconscious. Surrealism was a thrilling revolutionary movement. The artists in the surrealistic movement were greatly influenced by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who taught us that the psyche can be understood through reason. Surrealism was born after the publication of the “Le Manifeste du Surrealisme” by the French poet Andre Breton (1924). Breton suggested that rational thought oppressed creativity and thus was contrary to artistic expression.

Surrealist artists wanted their work to be a link between their minds and thoughts and the real forms of the material world. To them, object stood as a symbol for their inner reality and they used symbols and objects to represent their mind. Through their artworks and paintings, artists displayed their subconscious mind to the conscious mind. This way, these paintings and what they meant could be understood through analysis. Just as painters during the Renaissance took great care to show how people and bodies were like and they portrayed very well human proportions, surrealist artists tried to show what the mind and thoughts looked like.

There were two different ways how artists chose to show the mind. Some artists expressed them with abstract paintings (automatism) while others expressed them in symbolic tradition (realistic expression).

Art in Romanticism

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Francisco de Goya - The Third of May: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid

Romanticism is the movement in art and literature that occurred in Europe and America during the mid/end 18th until the 19th century. It was a movement that revolted against the rationalism of Neoclassicism, which gave great importance to feelings. Its most important part was that it broke from the Neoclassical tradition and from a set of stereotyped rules. Romanticism is a way to feel and express nature, life and human nature. The style was expressed differently in each country.

Romanticism art is not signaled out in just one style, technique or attitude but rather characterized by being imaginative, emotional and a dream-like quality about the romantic artist’s paintings. Painters during Romanticism did not paint according to what they were requested but rather by their own feelings, looking to express their ideas and feelings on canvas.

The most important characteristics of Romanticism came as opposition to Neoclassicism. Specifically, subjectivism replaced objectivism. Feelings, passion, imagination, creativity, originality and imperfection prevailed over the importance of order, rules, rationality and perfection from Neoclassicism.

In Romanticism landscapes had a great importance since they evoked a spiritual state. Religious paintings recovered its importance from Baroque and Romantic painters were also very attracted by Nationalist settings.

There are many great Romantic artists but the most prominent ones of the Romantic era were the French Eugene Delacroix, the English William Turner, and the Spanish Francisco Goya.

Impressionist Art

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Impression Soleil Levant - Claude Monet, 1873Impressionism was an art movement that began in the 19th century and had its roots in Paris. It began as a collective movement when artists began to show their art publicly during the mid 1800’s. The name came from the title of an Impressionistic painting done by Claude Monet called Impression Sunrise or (Impression Soleil levant).

The impressionist painters were the outcasts of the time. In the beginning the movement did not go over well and was strongly criticized by traditionalists. Most of their paintings were rejected by the Academie for a very long time.

Impressionist painting is known for its strong brushstrokes, different lighting techniques, and ordinary subjects. The movement focused on the unusual side of the ordinary by painting ordinary scenes from different angles.

These painters took painting to the next level, by taking their painting to the scenes instead of bringing the scenes into the studio. These impressionists painted their still lifes and their portraits in natural outdoor settings. Before this time even landscapes had been painted indoors. The style emphasizes life and the effect of life and does not go into the details of the painting, which was quite a contrast from the preferred neoclassical, and classical painting of the time.

Art in Neoclassicism

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

The Death of Socrates, 1787 - Jacques Louis DavidThe Neoclassical art movement started around the mid 1700’s and was known for its Greek and Roman influence, but it was more than just a revival of the antiquities, it also represented the political events, and seriousness of the time. It was the period following the Rococo, and neoclassical artists sought to change the frivolous lightness of the previous period. Neoclassicism embodied a desire to return to the perceived “purity” of the arts of Rome. In general, Neoclassicism had austere linear designs and depicted classical themes and subject matters in archaeological settings, with people clothed in Classical costumes. Many of the neoclassical painters integrated Greek and Roman elements into the portraits and paintings of their time, adding fabled beings, and mythological figures became quite common for this artistic period.

Neoclassicism evolved as a reaction of society against the Baroque and Rococo periods, and was perceived as a way of returning to knowledge and a purity of form. It was a time where perfect control, great capability and great artistic knowledge were greatly rewarded. It was not a time for lifeless reproductions, frivolous work or self expression. These characteristics in any of the arts were not sought in this period.

The architecture of the time integrated classical motifs, clean basic lines and much of the Greek and Roman empire architectural elements.

The most noted painter of the period was Jacques Louis David and Joseph Marie Vien.

What is Rococo?

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Jean-Honoré Fragonard - Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney, The ArchersRococo comes from the word “rocaille”, which in french means “Rock” or shell. This movement was named for its use of curves and lights similar to those represented in shells. The Rococo movement began in the 17th century in France and continued through the 18th century evolving from the Baroque era. This was a time full of optimism in French society and French politics, and the painting of the time reflected this. The style reflects the joy and optimism of the times. Rococo affected many areas within the arts including painting, architecture, sculpture and interior design. Rococo was the chosen artistic style by the rising middle class.

As all art movements reflected the times and the political social atmosphere, so did Rococo. It was the end of a more stagnate and strict period of time and an era full of optimism for the future. The arts began to pursue themes of interest and of amusement.

Among the most famous Rococo painters were Jean Antoine Watteau, Francois Boucher & Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The style was meant to appeal to the emotions and themes were related to mythology, romance, fantasy and everyday life. This movement was extremely off the wall, and modern for the times. After all, previous art work had dealt solely with religious and historical subjects and ideas. Rococo was light, entertaining and ornamental - totally against all previous traditional art work.

The elements that stand out in this movement are gracefulness, femininity, light and furtive colors, all extreme changes from the previous periods.


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