History affects us in multiple ways. Whether it be genes we have acquired, environments that influence our decisions, or grounds that dictate our behaviors, it’s important to know where things originated to understand why certain things work while others don’t. Art history is a great example. Here are some of the famous art movements that rocked the boat during times when certain artistic rules were established and have continued to influence us even in today’s digital era.
Before we dive into post-Impressionism, it’s best to have a little understanding of Impressionism and why it was an important art movement. According to The Artistic Ape, written by Desmond Morris, Impressionism began with Edouard Manet, when instead of using intricate brushstrokes on a canvas, he used loose ones instead. The result was a composition that was more spontaneous and informal. Following his works, other artists did the same creating pieces that were harshly critiqued as unfinished and careless. This new habit of brushstrokes then went on further into post-Impressionism when artists, Paul Gauguin and Georges Seurat began mastering Pointillism. Opposite the two artists was Vincent Van Gogh, who instead of using the pointed strokes of brush, instead used long strokes that were more powerful in message. We see this art movement being prevalent even today.
Stemming from the observations and theories of Paul Cezanne about the natural geometric forms that organic forms originate from, Pablo Picasso and George Braque got together and created what is now the art movement called Cubism. Works of this time included representations that were abstract and used geometric shapes to create a composition. A great example is Braque’s Still Live with Violin, 1911 and Picasso’s Ma Jolie, 1911-1912.
An art movement with a strong philosophy that attacked anything backed by an authority or orthodoxy. The Dada sought to create art that would send the message according during the times of World War I. According to Artistic Ape, “the Dada is a harlequinade made of nothingness…”. Through this movement, they proved that “anything can be made extraordinary if it is taken out of its ordinary setting.” Some notable artists during this era includes Hugo Ball—writer of the Cabaret Voltaire and the first Dada Manifesto, Man Ray who first developed the “rayograph” and Marcel Duchamp best known for his work “Fountain” featuring a urinal.
Surrealists were also against the establishment that allowed for World War I and wanted to rebel through breaking the rules. Some of its leaders were Max Ernst, Man Ray, and Hans Arp. Under the direction of art dealer, Andre Breton, this movement made its way into the public following a specific set of rules to organize the chaos of the Dada movement. Because Breton was moved by studies of Sigmund Freud, the subconscious came into play and had art breaking rules and looking at form in different ways. Art started to be more abstract, with hidden meanings, messages, and took into the world of dreams. Scenes with irrational juxtapositions, optical illusions, automatism all played a part. One artist from the surrealist movement whose works had lasting influence on today is Salvador Dali. He is best known for his pieces such as “The Persistence of Memory” which features strange abstractions and fabric-like clocks. This along with his other pieces can be seen at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL.
Post-World War II, commercialism and advertising became big due to consumerism. It was a play on everyday ordinary ads and products being turned into fine art. Artists that made this movement big in the US were Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. According to Warhol, “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and good business is the best art.” We see this through his work of the Campbell’s soup and the Marilyn Monroe images. Check out the Guggenheim pop-art exhibition to see these artists’ work and more.
These are just a few art movements that have had long lasting influence on the art of today. Through these movements, we can see that artists have had waves of following academic rules to pushing for the breaking of them. With these broken rules, new ones were made. Imagery was brought to the next level. Without such artists and movements that influenced these eras, we could not have pieces to return to, philosophies to reconsider when we ourselves find that we are stuck on a blank canvas.
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Article by Marianne Catangay, Graphic Design & Web Development Instructor at F.I.R.S.T. Institute