The Isms

If I’m going to learn about art, it’s time I figure a few things out. I can’t keep all the eras straight (yet! I’m getting there!), but I am getting a better handle on the isms. You know, impressionism, surrealism, etc. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory, but I made a little guide anyway, just for fun. I know, I know, I left some out- cut me some slack, I jotted these down on a scrap piece of paper while I was waiting in the carpool lane at school.

Impressionism: These pieces of art capture the general picture, but no intricate details. Mary Cassat, for example, was a beautiful impressionist. These paintings have a soft feel and incorporate lots of light and blending.

Surrealism: Painters that dabble in surrealism put together surprising, odd combinations. They may be based off dreams the artist had, or at least they seem to be. Think Salvador Dali or Joel Rea.

Pointillism: Just as you’d expect, pointillism works are made up of tiny dots. Sadly, I missed National Dot day on September 15thbut good news! Only ten more months until the next National Dot Day! I’ll for sure (maybe) feature a piece of pointillism on that day. Until then, enjoy Georges Seurat’s amazing pointillism work.

Naturalism and Realism: This one is tricky because as a newbie, it seems like the same thing as Naturalism, but Google assures me that is not the case. Both depict a scene as… seen! Accurately, or as the artist views it. They are both sort of the opposite of surrealism. In Naturalism pictures might also emphasize the environment of the people featured. Realism deals with the here and now in time. It often focus on the middle-class, whereas Naturalism often features poorer subjects and in a more violent way. Edouard Manet is a famous Realist and Gustave Courbet is a notable Naturalist. Is that helpful? Because I think I’m more confused. Let’s move on.

Classicism: This is clearer! You will recognize Classicism because these works often portray ancient Greek and Roman arts.

Cubism: Another easy one- if you are seeing lots of cubes in a painting, you are looking at Cubism! These pieces of art are very popular for hanging in cubicles. Just kidding. Pablo Picasso is the quintessential Cubist.

Romanticism: I hope we have established that I am not going in chronological order? Or alphabetic? Romanticism was all the rage for a while and then pushed out by the Naturalism/Realism movement. But in its heyday Romanticism ruled. It was all about the artists’ emotions and imagination. Francisco Goya and Thomas Cole practiced Romanticism.

That’s all the “isms” I could think of off-hand! I have my favorites, but I’m actually so thankful for each of them. Varietyism is the spice of life!

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