Art and the many styles of painting serve to illustrate our belief systems, politics and every other imaginable socio-economical influence at the time of production. For this reason, people are and always will be baffled, amazed and in awe of art.
Each new genre leads on from or reacts to the previous, thereby forging a new path which is additionally subject to the influences of the era. The classification of art into styles of painting and genres implies that each occurred in succession, but more often than not they occurred in parallel.
Spanning about hundred years, from 1870 to 1970, modernism marks the beginning of the industrial revolution and the gradual incline towards globalisation. Under this umbrella term we find styles of painting such as; impressionism, post-impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, geometric abstraction, abstract expressionism, pop art and op art to name only a few. The most recognised and well known movements are dissected below.
Impressionism: Impressionist painters were inspired by natural and changing light. They painted quickly in order to capture the landscapes and outdoor scenes before the light changed. The result can be seen in short choppy brushstrokes and less attention to detail and composition. Monet has been recognised as the champion of the impressionist movement, with a prolific career painting cathedrals and water lilies.
Post-impressionism: Among the most well recognised and revered artists is Vincent van Gogh who, while influenced by the style of impressionism sought to pin point his own style. With post-impressionists, the paintings where a vessel through which they could portray their own intellect and emotion. The brush work became rougher and more repetitive, while colours grew brighter.
Expressionism: This movement harnessed the emotional distortion and exaggeration conceived by post-impressionists. Depicting a less objective reality, expressionism reveals disjointed space using vivid and jarring colours and exaggeration of form. Rather than depicting an objective reality, the artists largely interpreted their emotional reaction to the world around them.
Surrealism: Surrealist artists brought to light an entirely new set of imagery. Popularised by images of melting pocket watches and elephants on stilts, Salvador Dali’s hallucinatory dreamscapes were largely influenced by the works of Sigmund Freud. The psychoanalyst delved into the inner workings of the subconscious mind, thus drawing to attention to dreams and the irrationality was accompanied by them.
Abstract expressionism: Jackson Pollock’s splashes and layers of colour were his own way of dealing with his post-traumatic stress disorder after the Second World War. This American movement saw a group of artists incorporate massive canvasses, visible brushstrokes and incredible texture to depict their deepest emotions. Drawing from abstract painting by depicting no concrete objects and drawing from the emotional force within expressionism, the movement was amongst the most the most successful commercially and in the art world.
These are only some of styles in painting that marked the century under consideration. I hope that this short overview will help you appreciate art more!