The focus of this blog is on contemporary wall art, though it’s good to understand the related styles and past movements. Art styles and movements appear to be entwined, for example, realism was an artistic movement that began in the 1850’s, but is also a style of painting that attempts to represent subject matter truthfully, like a portrait.
To try and make things easier, it helps to understand the main art styles that exist. Knowing these styles is enough to help define a piece, but of what movement does the piece relate? This is not easy, if a cartoon strip is created with spray paint, is its origins in Graffiti, Street Art or Pop Art. Therefore I tend to break art down into two types, the type I like and the type I don’t like.
Here is a list of some of the core Art styles and the key movements which have adopted them, in the hope that they might help.
Realism is where the subject of the painting looks very much like it appears in real life, like a portrait. When you look at the painting from a distance everything looks real, but up close you can see the use of paint strokes.
Impressionism is about painting captured moments of everyday life. The characteristics of it are the use of light and movement, open composition, intense colors, visible brush stroke and the overall visual effects rather than focusing on small accurate details.
Expressionism is characterised by the artist not feeling compelled to use realistic colours or perspective to recreate the illusion of reality. The artist instead uses colours to fit the emotion felt by them or to create emotional impact.
Abstractism or abstract art doesn’t try to look like anything from the real world, it is an art style that is intentionally non-representational. The subject or point of the painting is the colors used, the textures in the artwork and the materials used to create it.
There are hundreds of art movements, so I’ve tried to highlight some of the key periods in time below: