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Timeline of 20th century painting and art schools

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Three art movements that set the 20th Century on its course: Fauvism, Expressionism & the Cubists

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Fauvism (1905-1910 - Matisse, Derain, Rouault, Rousseau) -- A movement formally heralded in 1905, two years after Gauguin's death, at the Salon d'Automne in Paris; name derived from fauves (French for "wild beasts"). Heavily influenced by liberal use of color and the unchecked expression of emotion via color. Also influenced by Gauguin's primitivism and by the cloisonné motif found in the sculpture and stained glass windows of Northern French (Bretagne) churches. (The stained glass influence can be seen in both the colors and the strong black outlines often found in the work of this school.) Very small and brief school -- but very influential, with a strong attraction to the primitive and the wild (Rousseau, who was both a precursor to, and a later exponent of, Fauvism). Fauvism proves to be very influential to both Cubism and later Abstract Expressionism.

Expressionism (1905-1940s - Munch, Klimt, Kandinsky, Dix, Beckmann) -- Concerned with, and struck by, what was becoming man's modern urban industrial condition, Expressionism manifested a visual outpouring of emotion. Precursors delivered honest reflections of human pain and suffering (Van Gogh; Munch), leading to a more general desire to represent visually that which is intangible (Kandinsky). Movement reflected the awkward and contrived appearance of this state of affairs -- by displayed a breakdown of harmonious design (Kirchner). Inversely, it also reflected a strong desire to retreat into a world of more sublime beauty in opposition to the waste and destruction of World War I and of modern life (Klimt). Later artists, most notably Max Beckmann, continued to explore the outward expression of inner being through the 1940s, up to and overlapping the rise of Abstract Expressionism.

Cubism (1907-1940s - Picasso, Braque, Gris, Léger) -- Immensely influential, this movement gained notoriety by presenting three-dimensional form in a strictly two-dimensional manner -- accentuating the flat canvas rather than trying to compensate for it. Strongly influenced by primitive African and Oceanic, as well as Cézanne's work in abstract geometry. This enabled these artists to explore alternative ways of representing not just figures, but the entire geometry and object relationship of the world around them.

Fantasy (late 1800s-1940s - Rousseau, Chirico, Chagall) -- Not all experts define the Fantasists as a true movement, since many of its artists can also be defined by other movements. What they share in common is a fascination with dreams, enchantment, and the supernatural (which explains why some are classified as Surrealists). For instance, Marc Chagall has much in common with the Expressionists (as characterized by Kirchner), but his happy, pastoral flights of fantasy (such as two lovers riding a chicken) express a fantastical optimism rarely seen in Expressionism. Henri Rousseau is also hard to classify -- definitely fantastic in his outlook, but since he died in 1910, he was well ahead of his time, laying much groundwork for the Surrealists who followed.

Realism (1908-1930s - Henri, Hopper, O'Keeffe) -- A relatively lesser movement, founded in 1908 by the so-called Ash Can school of painting, to pursue a new course of realism. Led by Robert Henri, this was one of the first wholly American movements -- and while it developed coincidentally with the Fantasists and Futurists, it held little in common with them. Very focused on the rapidly changing face of American society, it sought to portray the isolation felt by many of the country's incoming immigrants. Gallery 291, run by Alfred Stieglitz (Georgia O'Keeffe's husband) was hugely influential. In time, Edward Hopper continued to develop his own, while O'Keeffe migrated more toward Surrealism.

Futurism (1909-1918 - Boccioni, Cara, Severini) -- The first major, if short-lived, modernist movement to follow Fauvism, Expressionism, and Cubism. Futurism was as much a political and cultural call-to-arms as it was a school of painting -- and was first announced in a manifesto by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The name Futurism reflected his emphasis on discarding what he conceived to be the static and irrelevant art of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and society. As with the Expressionists, this movement was very concerned with the modern condition, and saw a reduction of forms to their constituent elements. Heavily influenced by machines, warfare, etc., the movement was largely abandoned at the end of World War I, as most of its early proponents drifted into Cubism.

Suprematism (1913-1919 - Malevich) -- A very interesting and forward-looking movement of mostly Russian artists, who intensely explored abstract art. Virtually stripped of the more commercial aspects of "Western" art, the Suprematists investigated the full spectrum of abstract art in under 10 years, culminating in Kasemir Malevich's black-on-black canvas, an ultimate expression of abstraction and the very nature of painting. (It would take Western artists some 40 years to reach the same conclusions -- as exemplified by the Abstract Expressionists and Robert Rauschenberg's black-on-black canvases of the late 1950s.)

Dadaism (1915-1922 - Duchamp, Ernst) -- The first modern movement of "anti-art," Dadaism was a collective rebellion that declared that art was irrelevant, even dead, and ultimately a waste of time. Utilized mixed media to express a burst of angst, directly generated by the death and destruction unleashed during World War I. Offered the first real investigation of the power of collage, and celebrated coincidence and the artists' pre-eminent role in the creation of art. Here is where the idea of "whatever an artist says is art is art" started. Dadaism also sowed the seeds of performance art.

Surrealism (1924-1945 - Dali, Magritte, Kahlo, Miro, Klee) -- As with Futurism, the Surrealist movement started with a manifesto, this time published by French poet and critic André Breton. It followed on the heels of the Dadaists, but generally strove for positive expression rather than negation, and was distinguished by bizarre juxtapositions of subject matter. Heavily influenced by Freud's ideas of the subconscious, with explorations of spontaneous expressions (such as stream of consciousness). Also fixated on "primitive" (i.e., non-Western) art and the art of the insane. World War II saw a big influx of Surrealists into Mexico and New York. This infused New York with a more international style, and can be seen as the first artistic movement to put the city on the map. Frida Kahlo, while technically a Surrealist, came upon Surrealism in her own way, uninfluenced by European surrealism.

Abstract Expressionism (1946-1970s - Pollock, de Kooning, Bacon, Rothko, Motherwell) -- The most significant art movement to emerge after World War II. Very influenced by the ideas of Carl Jung, especially his "collective unconscious." A convergence of many styles, not always completely abstract, not always expressionistic, some artists tried to explore art with universal appeal (Rothko). In the process, it looked to primitive art (especially the Native Indians of the American Northwest) for motifs that were not yet "tainted" by commercialism. As the Dadaists and Suprematists had explored decades earlier, Abstract Expressionism completely embraced the fact that painting is nothing more than pigment on canvas (a cause championed by Clement Greenberg, a hugely influential art critic in the '40s and '50s). This was looked at as the end of art history, meaning a final denial of perspective and falseness, and the embrace of the reality of the media. Interestingly, during the Cold War, the CIA, Time Magazine, and other institutions heralded the Abstract Expressionists as living examples of American exuberance and freedom.

Pop Art (1957-1980s - Lichtenstein, Hockney, Johns, Warhol, Rauschenberg) -- An embrace of "now," of the culture which surrounds us everyday. The real collective unconscious of popular culture is celebrated powerfully in Pop Art. An art truly for the masses, since it uses the same commercial techniques used to communicate to the masses on a large scale -- including cartoon stylings, photocopies, collage, etc. As how rock 'n' roll took snipes at the world of "square" classical music, Pop Art became a denial of the academic ivory tower that had become art history, as contemporaneously realized by Abstract Expressionism.

Photorealism (1960s-1970s - Estes, Flack, Close) -- Obsessed (by definition) with detail and technique, photorealism embraced the canvas as an even more faithful alternative to the camera -- reintegrating the mastery of the artist into the art of painting. Instead of mass-production techniques such as photography, however, the painter was communicating with the public using an almost trompe l'oeil technique. Photorealism is a logical extension of Pop Art -- merging traditional painting techniques and a Pop sensibility (defined by photography and the mass media) to create a highly polished and hyper-realistic product.

Minimalism (1960s-present - Judd, Stella, Rockburne) -- An extension of the tenets of Abstract Expressionism, and championed by the sculptor Donald Judd. With minimalism, there was the recognition that a painting was nothing more than a colored box sitting on the wall. Minimalism also investigated the idea that art was also about the creation and definition of space.

Neoexpressionism (1970s-1980s - Haring, Wojnarowicz, Basquiat, Schnabel) -- A further investigation into Pop Art. Brought art outside of the gallery and onto the streets -- and through its use of graffiti and comic book stylings, also brought art from the streets into the gallery. As with the early Expressionists, a strong emphasis on inner emotions as expressed through art.

Late & Post-Modernism (1980s-present - Loren Maciver, Vicky Perry) -- Post-modernism is almost like anti-modernism; that is, it's less concerned with creating something unique, and more concerned with constructing something new from the old. Through oils, pastiche, and other media, the focus is on the tensions between things -- for example, the modern and the classic, by using older motifs in new forms -- and thus creating a new language.


G. Favre - Source Parot (Lithograph)

Source Parot (Lithograph)
G. Favre
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