From Pre-Raphaelites to Bauhaus. How 11 art movements got their names
The Pre-Raphaelites were the first European avant-garde artists who protested against еру wigs and powder of the classical portraiture school; they praised naturalness, romantics, and Shakespearean beauty.
Despite name-dropping the Renaissance master Raphael, the British artists who formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood wanted nothing to do with him. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt sought to emulate the aesthetics that were popular before Raphael rose to fame in the 15th- and 16th-centuries. Having rejected the academic clichés, the three painters found inspiration in the medieval period and the Early Renaissance — eras the Academy had deemed "primitive".
The group grew to seven members, painting whimsical works filled with naturalism, symbolism, and light. The Brotherhood split in 1853 once Millais joined the Royal Academy and became its president shortly before his death in 1896. Though the Brotherhood no longer existed, the term "Pre-Raphaelites" remained in use around Britain for the following two decades, in reference to a larger group of artists, such as Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, who were in turn inspired by the original trio’s ideas.
On the left: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine (1874). Tate Britain, London
No doubt, you know about Impressionism a lot: you could mention the names of the famous artists and find with ease the exhibition at museums with gleaming water surface and the same image painted in different time of the day and of course you know the scandalous history of the First Impressionist Exhibition and could distinguish Monet and Manet. So, it is high time to switch to the next level: some additional details you would like to know about Impressionism. Read more
(1874)On April 15, 1874, a group of artists who called themselves the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc. did what none of their peers in the Parisian art world had done before: they organized their own exhibition with an admission fee of one franc. Held in a studio on the Boulevard des Capucines, the show featured 165 works by 30 artists, including Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), a pulsating, highly saturated picture rendered in quick, visible brushstrokes.
The Blue Rider (1903)The artist group in Germany known as The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) was named after a painting created in 1903 by one of its co-founders, the Russian émigré Wassily Kandinsky. But the group would not emerge until the following decade, by which time Kandinsky had developed his synesthetic technique of rendering musical sounds visually, resulting in colourful swirling abstractions like 1911's Komposition 4. That same year, Der Blaue Reiter was formed, with Franz Marc joining his Russian colleague.
Fauvism is considered the first avant-garde art movement of the 20th century. It got its name in 1905, and it lived for only a couple of years, then each of the artists who called themselves the Fauves went deep into own creative search. The brightest representatives of the Fauvism are Henri Matisse, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. Read more
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more
Cubism (fr. cubisme) is a recognizable art movement that originated at the beginning of the 20th century, and many of its techniques are still in demand. Its distinctive features are the direct use of geometric shapes, a narrow circle of subjects (portraits, still lifes or buildings), deformation, angularity, complete lack of realism. In Cubism, shape is more important than colour. Read more
The "Godfather" of this movement, just like of Fauvism, was the same Louis Vauxcelles. In November 1908, the critic came to the exhibition, held at the Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler Gallery — which is now considered the first-ever display of Cubist art — where Georges Braque's work Trees at L’Estaque was displayed. It, in turn, was influenced by Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The critic was unimpressed with Braque’s reduction of a lovely French landscape to simple shapes and wrote the following year of the artist’s "cubic weirdness." According to some sources, Vauxcelles may have taken the word from Matisse, who allegedly used it early on to criticize Picasso.
On the left: Georges Braque, Trees at L’Estaque (1908). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Orphism (1912)The term "Orphism" was coined by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire in 1912, when he described Robert Delaunay's Windows series at Paris’s Salon de la Section d’Or as "orphique." Apollinaire was referencing the ancient myth of Orpheus, the Greek prophet known for his divine musical talents. In doing so, Apollinaire had connected the works of Delaunay and his wife, Sonia Delaunay, with those of painters like František Kupka, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp. These artists' paintings all possessed a rhythmic cadence and featured lush colour palettes. Picabia stopped working in the Orphist mode by 1915, and Duchamp abandoned canvases entirely after 1918.
Orphism had a lot in common with Der Blaue Reiter: both groups promoted abstraction, emphasized a rich use of colour, and were inspired by music. However, Orphism was more of an ad hoc movement — it probably wouldn’t have existed, if not for the connections made by Apollinaire. It’s better understood as a loosely connected group of artists who shared similar ideas at the same time and who represented a key point on the road to wholly abstract art. Today, the term is primarily associated with Kupka and Delaunay, who continued working in the Orphist style long after its heyday.
On the left: Fernand Léger, Contraste de Formes (1913). A private collection.
Dada (1916)"Dada" translates to "yes, yes" in Russian — and complete nonsense in other languages. For English speakers, it sounds like little more than a baby’s first words. And unlike most other movements discussed here, whose names tend to have clear origins, the story behind the term "Dada" is rather ambiguous — though perhaps that’s the point. Dada embraced nonsense, irreverence, and the absurd; its members engaged in making "anti-art" as a reaction to World War I, and against the bourgeois society that caused it.
De Stijl (1917)
This Amsterdam-based movement is known for its use of primary colour palettes and straight-lined shapes. De Stijl (translated as The Style) adapted its moniker from a journal launched by one of the movement’s leaders, painter and theoretician Theo van Doesburg. He and another founder, Piet Mondrian, spread their ideas on harmony and clarity in art throughout interwar Holland via De Stijl magazine.
At first, Mondrian used the term "Neo-Plasticism." Its supporters hoped their hyper-rational style would lead to a harmonious, functional, aesthetically pleasing world, and one characterized by greater moral clarity. So, De Stijl's simple meaning made it even more apropos for the movement.
On the left: Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Grey (1921). The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag