Looking back through Western history, it’s incredible to see how many types of art have made an impact on society. By tracing a timeline through different art movements, we’re able to not only see how modern and contemporary art has developed, but also how art is a reflection of its time.
For instance, did you know that Impressionism was once considered an underground, controversial movement or that Abstract Expressionism signaled a shift in the art world from Paris to New York? Like building blocks, from Realism to Lowbrow, these different types of art are interconnected. As the creative pendulum swings, artistic styles are often reactions against or homages to their predecessors. And by looking back at some of the most important art movements in history, we have a clearer understanding of how famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol have revolutionized the art world.
Realism is a genre of art that started in France after the French Revolution of 1848. A clear rejection of Romanticism, the dominant style that had come before it, Realist painters focused on scenes of contemporary people and daily life. What may seem normal now was revolutionary after centuries of painters depicting exotic scenes from mythology and the Bible, or creating portraits of the nobility and clergy.
French artists like Gustave Courbet and Honoré Daumier, as well as international artists like James Abbott McNeill Whistler, focused on all social classes in their artwork, giving voice to poorer members of society for the first time and depicting social issues stemming from the Industrial Revolution. Photography was also an influence on this type of art, pushing painters to produce realistic representations in competition with this new technology. Read more