Art movements A -F

By | January 3, 2014

Art movements A- F

Art movements is a style or genre in art with a specific philosophy and followed by a group of artists during a specific period of time. Art movements were important in the modernism period. Each movement was often considered as a new avant-garde and against the period before. The names of many art movements use the -ism suffix and they are often referred to as “isms”.

Abstract Art – Nonfigurative

Abstract art is art that does not illustrate objects in the natural world but use colour and form in a non-representational way or art which has been distilled from the real world.
Abstract art is not really abstract and more precise terms are non-figurative art, non-objective art or non-representational art.

Abstract = existing only in the mind = abstract words like truth and justice.
Non-figurative art = not representing or imitating external reality or objects of nature.
Non-objective art = art that is not representational, containing no recognizable figures or objects.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism was an American post World War II art movement. It was the first American movement to achieve worldwide influence. The term “Abstract expressionism” was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates.

Jackson Pollock’s dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of Max Ernst. Another important early manifestation of what came to be abstract expressionism is the work of Mark Tobey.

In practice, the term abstract expressionism is applied to a number of artists working in New York. Pollock’s energetic action paintings are different both technically and aesthetically to the figurative paintings of Willem de Kooning and to the blocks of colour in Mark Rothko’s work, yet all three are classified as abstract expressionists.

Artists: Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Robert Motherwell, Cy Twombley.

Art Brut – Raw Art – Outsider Art

The term Outsider Art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for Art Brut (= Raw Ar or Rough Art). French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane asylum inmates. Dubuffet’s term is specific and the English term “Outsider Art” is more broadly to include even certain self-taught or Naïve artists.

Outsider Artists have little or no contact with the institutions of the mainstream art world. Much Outsider Art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

Artists: Nek Chand, Ferdinand Cheval, Henry Darger, Madge Gill, Adolf Wölfli, Abbé Fouré, Jean Dubuffet, Stephen Wiltshire.

Portrait of Picasso, Juan Gris 1912

Portrait of Picasso, Juan Gris 1912


Cubism was a 20th century art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture. It developed as a highly significant art movement between about 1907 and 1914 in France. In cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form. Instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context.

Artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Georges Braques.

Selfportrait, Egon Schiele (1890–1918)

Selfportrait, Egon Schiele (1890–1918)

Expressionism, ca 1905 -ca 1920

Expressionism is a subjective art form in witch the artist distort reality for an emotional effect. Expressionism is exhibited in many art forms; painting, literature, theatre, film, architecture and music.

Artists: Edward Munch, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Otto Dix, Max Beckman, Max Pechstein, Käthe Kollwitz, Wassily Kandinsky, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschska, Marc Chagall.


Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1920. The movement involved visual arts, painting, literature, poetry, performances, art theory, theatre and graphic design. Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations and publication of art/literary journals. The movement influenced later art movements, and groups including Surrealism, Pop Art and Fluxus.

Artists: John Heartfield, Jean Crotti, Hans Arp, Hugo Ball, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Kurt Schwitters, Sophie Täuber, André Breton, Max Jacob.

Harmony in red, Henri Matisse, 1908

Harmony in red, Henri Matisse, 1908


Les Fauves, French for “The Wild Beasts”, were a loose group of artists in the early 20th century. They emphasized painterly qualities and the imaginative use of colour over the representational values retained by Impressionism. Gustave Moreau, professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, was the movement’s inspirational teacher and he inspired his students to think outside of the lines of formality and to follow their visions.

Artists: Henry Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raol Dufy, Georges Rouault, Kees van Dongen.

Fluxus, 1960s (1970s)

Fluxus (from a Latin word meaning “to flow”) is an international network / art movement of artists and composers blending different artistic media and disciplines. They have been active in visual art, music, literature, urban planning, architecture and design.

Fluxus is part Dada, part Bauhaus and part Zen, and believe that all media and all disciplines are fair game for combination and fusion. Fluxus is described as “intermedia”, a term invented by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in a famous 1966 essay. The origins of Fluxus lie in many of the concepts explored by composer John Cage in his experimental music of the 1950s and his notions of chance in art, which he explored through works such 4′ 33″. Fluxus encouraged a do it yourself aesthetic, and valued simplicity over complexity. Like Dada before it, Fluxus included a strong current of anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility, disparaging the conventional market-driven art world in favor of an artist-centered creative practice.

Artists: George Maciunas, Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, John Cage, Henry Flynt, Ken Friedman, Bengt af Klintberg , Alison Knowles, Takehisa Kosugi, Philip Krumm, Shigeko Kubota, George Landow, Gustav Metzger, Larry Miller, Charlotte Moorman, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Terry Riley, Dieter Roth, Carolee Schneemann, Litsa Spathi, Daniel Spoerri, Yasunao Tone, Cecil Touchon, Yoshi Wada, Emmett Williams, La Monte Young.


Futurism was a 20th century art movement and was a mostly an Italian and Russian art movement. Many Italian Futurists supported the rise of fascism in Italy.  Marinetti founded the Partito Politico Futurista (Futurist Political Party) in early 1918, which a year later was absorbed into Benito Mussolini’s Fasci di combattimento, making Marinetti one of the first supporters and members of the National Fascist Party.

Artists: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Primo Conti, Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk, Velimir Khlebnikov.