Arts and crafts: The Victorian style of heavily ornamented interiors displaying many pieces of furniture, collections of small ornamental objects, and surfaces covered with fringed cloths prevailed in middle-class homes in England and America during the latter half of the 19th century. In both countries, techniques of mass production promoted the use of reproductions in many different styles. William Morris, the British poet, artist and architect rejected this opulence in favor of simplicity, good craftsmanship, and good design. The Arts & Crafts Movement was born.
To the proponents of Arts & Crafts, the Industrial Revolution separated humans from their own creativity and individualism; the worker was a cog in the wheel of progress, living in an environment of shoddy machine-made goods, based more on ostentation than function. These proponents sought to reestablish the ties between beautiful work and the worker, returning to an honesty in design not to be found in mass-produced items. Architecture, furniture, and the decorative arts became the focus of the movement.
William Morris – work – google images
John Henry Dearle – work – google images – info
Art nouveau: This describes a decorative style popular from the last decade of the 19th century to the beginning of the First World War. It was characterised by an elaborate ornamental style based on asymmetrical lines, frequently depicting flowers, leaves or tendrils, or in the flowing hair of a female. It can be seen most effectively in the decorative arts, for example interior design, glasswork and jewellery. However, it was also seen in posters and illustration as well as certain paintings and sculptures of the period.
The movement took its name from La Maison de l’Art Nouveau in Paris, a shop keen to promote modern ideas in art. It was influenced by the Symbolists most obviously in their shared preference for exotic detail, as well as by Celtic and Japanese art. Art Nouveau flourished in Britain with its progressive Arts and Crafts movement, but was highly successful all around the world.
The leading exponents included the illustrators Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Crane in England; the architects Henry van de Velde and Victor Horta in Belgium; the jewellery designer René Lalique in France; the painter Gustav Klimt in Austria; the architect Antonio Gaudí in Spain; and the glassware designer Louis C. Tiffany and the architect Louis Sullivan in the United States. Its most common themes were symbolic and frequently erotic and the movement, despite not lasting beyond 1914 was important in terms of the development of abstract art.
Arthur Heygate – google images
Antoni Gaudi – work – google images
Art deco: An art movement involving a mix of modern decorative art styles, largely of the 1920s and 1930s, whose main characteristics were derived from various avant-garde painting styles of the early twentieth century. Art deco works exhibit aspects of Cubism, Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism– with abstraction, distortion, and simplification, particularly geometric shapes and highly intense colors–celebrating the rise of commerce, technology, and speed.
The growing impact of the machine can be seen in repeating and overlapping images from 1925; and in the 1930s, in streamlined forms derived from the principles of aerodynamics.
The name came from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes, held in Paris, which celebrated living in the modern world.
It was popularly considered to be an elegant style of cool sophistication in architecture and applied arts which range from luxurious objects made from exotic material to mass produced, streamlined items available to a growing middle class.
Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron) – work – google images
Pierre-Felix Fix-Masseau – work – google images
Bauhaus: A school of art, design and architecture founded in Germany in 1919. Bauhaus style is characterized by its severely economic, geometric design and by its respect for materials.
The Bauhaus school was created when Walter Gropius was appointed head of two art schools in Weimar and united them in one. He coined the term Bauhaus as an inversion of ‘Hausbau’ – house construction.
Teaching at the school concentrated on functional craftsmanship and students were encouraged to design with mass-produced goods in mind. Enormously controversial and unpopular with right wingers in Weimar, the school moved in 1925 to Dessau.
The Bauhaus moved again to Berlin in 1932 and was closed by the Nazis in 1933. The school had some illustrious names among it’s teachers, including Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Marcel Breuer. Its influence in design of architecture, furniture, typography and weaving has lasted to this day – the look of the modern environment is almost unthinkable without it.
josef albers – work – google images
Wassily Kandinsky – work – work 2 – google images
Paul Klee – work – google images
Anni Albers – work – google images
Cubism: The Cubist art movement began in Paris around 1907. Led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the Cubists broke from centuries of tradition in their painting by rejecting the single viewpoint. Instead they used an analytical system in which three-dimensional subjects were fragmented and redefined from several different points of view simultaneously.
The movement was conceived as ‘a new way of representing the world’, and assimilated outside influences, such as African art, as well as new theories on the nature of reality, such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Cubism is often divided into two phases – the Analytic phase (1907-12), and the Synthetic phase (1913 through the 1920s). The initial phase attempted to show objects as the mind, not the eye, perceives them.
The Synthetic phase featured works that were composed of fewer and simpler forms, in brighter colours. Other major exponents of Cubism included Robert Delaunay, Francis Picabia, Jean Metzinger, Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Léger.
Pablo Picasso – work – google images
Sonia Delaunay – work – google images
Fernand Léger – work – google images
Georges Braque – work – google images
Futurism: An Italian avant-garde art movement that took speed, technology and modernity as its inspiration, Futurism portrayed the dynamic character of 20th century life, glorified war and the machine age, and favoured the growth of Fascism.
The movement was at its strongest from 1909, when Filippo Marinetti’s first manifesto of Futurism appeared, until the end of World War One. Futurism was unique in that it was a self-invented art movement.
The idea of Futurism came first, followed by a fanfare of publicity; it was only afterwards that artists could find a means to express it. Marinetti’s manifesto, printed on the front page of Le Figaro, was bombastic and inflammatory in tone – “set fire to the library shelves… flood the museums” – suggesting that he was more interested in shocking the public than exploring Futurism’s themes.
Painters in the movement did have a serious intent beyond Marinetti’s bombast, however. Their aim was to portray sensations as a “synthesis of what one remembers and of what one sees”, and to capture what they called the ‘force lines’ of objects.
The futurists’ representation of forms in motion influenced many painters, including Marcel Duchamp and Robert Delaunay, and such movements as Cubism and Russian Constructivism.
Gino Severini – work – google images
Giacomo Balla – work – google images
Umberto Boccioni – work – google images
Surrealism: A literary and art movement, dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. Surrealism inherited its anti-rationalist sensibility from Dada, but was lighter in spirit than that movement. Like Dada, it was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality, the most obvious influence being Freud’s model of the subconscious.
Founded in Paris in 1924 by André Breton with his Manifesto of Surrealism, the movement’s principal aim was ‘to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality’. Its roots can be traced back to French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Lautreamont, the latter providing the famous line that summed up the Surrealists’ love of the incongruous; “Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table.”
The major artists of the movement were Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró. Surrealism’s impact on popular culture can still be felt today, most visibly in advertising.
Pablo Picasso – work – google images
Joan Miró – work – google images
Constructivism: Constructivism was an invention of the Russian avant-garde that found adherents across the continent. Germany was the site of the most Constructivist activity outside of the Soviet Union (especially as home to Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus, a progressive art and design school sympathetic to the movement) but Constructivist ideas were also carried to other art centers, like Paris, London, and eventually the United States.
The international character of the movement was proven by the various origins of its artists. Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, and El Lissitzky brought Constructivism from the Soviet Union to the West. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy came to Germany from Hungary, Theo van Doesburg from the Netherlands. Ben Nicholson was the most prominent English Constructivist. Josef Albers and Hans Richter encountered the movement in their native Germany but were also instrumental in its international dissemination.
Constructivist art is marked by a commitment to total abstraction and a wholehearted acceptance of modernity. Often very geometric, it is usually experimental, rarely emotional. Objective forms which were thought to have universal meaning were preferred over the subjective or the individual. The art is often very reductive as well, paring the artwork down to its basic elements. New media were often used. Again, the context is crucial: the Constructivists sought an art of order, which would reject the past (the old order which had culminated in World War I) and lead to a world of more understanding, unity, and peace. This utopian undercurrent is often missing from more recent abstract art that might be otherwise tied to Constructivism.
El Lissitzky – work – work – work – google images
Lyubov Popova – work – work – google images
Alexander Rodchenko – work – google images – fonts
Pop art: This movement was marked by a fascination with popular culture reflecting the affluence in post-war society. It was most prominent in American art but soon spread to Britain. In celebrating everyday objects such as soup cans, washing powder, comic strips and soda pop bottles, the movement turned the commonplace into icons.
Pop Art is a direct descendant of Dadaism in the way it mocks the established art world by appropriating images from the street, the supermarket, the mass media, and presents it as art in itself.
Artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg took familiar objects such as flags and beer bottles as subjects for their paintings, while British artist Richard Hamilton used magazine imagery. The latter’s definition of Pop Art – “popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business” – stressed its everyday, commonplace values.
It was Andy Warhol, however, who really brought Pop Art to the public eye. His screen prints of Coke bottles, Campbell’s soup tins and film stars are part of the iconography of the 20th century. Pop Art owed much to dada in the way it mocked the established art world. By embracing commercial techniques, and creating slick, machine-produced art, the Pop artists were setting themselves apart from the painterly, inward-looking tendencies of the Abstract Expressionist movement that immediately preceded them. The leading artists in Pop were Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Roy Hamilton, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg.
Eduardo Paolozzi – work – google images
Andy Warhol – work – google images
Roy Lichtenstein – work – google images
Minimalism: Minimal Art emerged as a movement in the 1950s and continued through the Sixties and Seventies. It is a term used to describe paintings and sculpture that thrive on simplicity in both content and form, and seek to remove any sign of personal expressivity. The aim of Minimalism is to allow the viewer to experience the work more intensely without the distractions of composition, theme and so on.
There are examples of the Minimalist theory being exercised as early as the 18th century when Goethe constructed an Altar of Good Fortune made simply of a stone sphere and cube. But the 20th century sees the movement come into its own. From the 1920s artists such as Malevich and Duchamp produced works in the Minimalist vein but the movement is known chiefly by its American exponents such as Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Ellsworth Kelly and Donald Judd who reacted against Abstract Expressionism in their stark canvases, sculptures and installations.
Minimal Art is related to a number of other movements such as Conceptual Art in the way the finished work exists merely to convey a theory, Pop Art in their shared fascination with the impersonal and Land Art in the construction of simple shapes. Minimal Art proved highly successful and has been enormously influential on the development of art in the 20th century.
Sol Lewitt – work – google images
Frank Stella – work – work – google images
Donald Judd – work – google images
Dan Flavin – work – google images