Art Through the Decades
A significant art movement occurs when an art style, idea, or topic develops and is widely accepted as represented by works of art. An art movement is, essentially, a trend or style in art, usually with a pre-defined common theme or objective, and, more often than not, with the advent of the movement defined within a few years during its heyday. The art world is dynamic by nature; changes occur continuously, both in regard to art styles and themes, which also define art movements.
In the past, art movements were thought to be relatively static, having no definite beginning or end. Several art movements have been considered, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, the Impressionists, and the Arts and Crafts Movement. These art movements had definite beginning points, although they often developed simultaneously, and some artists took on an overlapping style, sometimes merging two or more styles. Nevertheless, there was a common theme that artists began to explore and to relate to, which remained consistent throughout most of their artistic careers.
The Pre-Raphaelites, also known as the Arte Belluccini, were artists who used decorative art to create dramatic, figurative, and often animal paintings. Much of their work focused on the natural landscape and included creatures such as birds, frogs, turtles, lions, and eagles. Most of their subjects were nude, except for a few, and there was a strong emphasis on the subject being seen in the natural environment, rather than in a representation. Some of their subjects were complex animals, including snakes, cats, and dogs. Other artists used plants and natural landscapes, but again, the emphasis was on human subjects, which included people, and landscapes were carefully created to present a particular quality, look, or feeling in the piece.
The Dadaists were French artists who combined the visual arts with street performance. The main focus of their work was to use everyday objects to comment on social issues and political situations, as well as to create artistic statements through their paintings. The themes they used were commonplace items, but there was a uniqueness to their artwork that set it apart from other artists.
Cubists, also known as the Futurists, used decorative art to bring art to life and to show the connections between objects. Often, they combined favorite images into unique collages that displayed these images in a meaningful context. They placed everyday objects in unusual locations to make a statement and then used words, images, and fabric to support their ideas. This group of painters may be considered to be the first “artists” to use complex collages and ensembles. Others of their peers were influenced by their style, and by them, certain characteristics began to become associated with certain types of art.
Expressionism became an immediate success when Van Gogh exhibited his early work in Paris. He is responsible for having such a wide appeal because he was able to express his inner feelings in a very clear and powerful manner. Many critics and onlookers thought that this was art, and not merely vanity. He received numerous commissions, and people flocked to see his work, many of them motivated by his anti-intellectual stance. The birth of the art movement occurred when artists began to feel the influence of Vincenzo Palladino, who believed that art should be an expression of emotion.