online guide for art history students and art lovers

Pointillism
Pointillism

In art, pointillism is the practice of using seperate dots or strokes of color, instead of blending the paint. The concept behind Pointillism, devised by French artist Georges Seurat in the 19th century, is that color could be separated into its components on the canvas, and would merge when viewed at a distance. In a simplified example, a painter would arrange yellow and blue dots, which would then appear green from a distance. You can see an example of pointillism in the detail of Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886.

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Wassily Kandinsky Biography
Wassily Kandinsky Biography

Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia in 1866. Music was a large part of his family life, and the influence of music is apparent in his art. He was also influenced by colorful Russian folk art. Kandinsky studied law in Moscow, and taught at the University of Moscow.

In 1896, Kandinsky, aged 30, left Moscow and moved to Munich, where he enrolled in art school; after his move to Germany, he started to work in a spontaneous, avant-garde, expressionist painting style.

His art education was influenced by exposure to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works; he was particularly interested in their treatment of color. Music also played a large part of his artistic expression.

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Kandinsky Quotes
Kandinsky Quotes

I was returning, immersed in thought, from my sketching, when on opening the studio door, I was suddenly confronted by a picture of indescribable and incandescent loveliness. Bewildered, I stopped, staring at it. The painting lacked all subject, depicted no identifiable object and was entirely composed of bright colour-patches. Finally I approached closer and only then saw it for what it really was—my own painting, standing on its side on the easel.... One thing became clear to me: that objectiveness, the depiction of objects, needed no place in my paintings, and was indeed harmful to them.

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Kandinsky Facts
Kandinsky Facts

Russian-born German expressionist painter, 1866-1944.

Born in Russia 1866.

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Henri Matisse for Kids
Henri Matisse for Kids

The works of Henri Matisse are often used for children's art education. Although Matisse was a significant modernist artist, with complex, cerebral art theory behind his work, his work is colorful and approachable; this is a great way to introduce kids (and adults) to modern art.

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Henri Matisse Facts
Henri Matisse Facts

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is a significant French artist whose work spans several modernist movements. As Robert Hughes puts it, "Matisse was born in 1869, the year the Cutty Sark was launched. The year he died, 1954, the first hydrogen bomb exploded at Bikini Atoll. Not only did he live on, literally, from one world into another; he lived through some of the most traumatic political events in recorded history, the worst wars, the greatest slaughters, the most demented rivalries of ideology, without, it seems, turning a hair." Although he is labelled as a Fauvist and an Expressionist, Matisse, like Picasso and Cezanne, is an artist whose work is often difficult to categorize.

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Modernism Characterictics
Modernism Characterictics

Modern art is often used, roughly, to refer to 20th century art up to the 1970s. However, as discussed in Modernism Definition, modernism encompasses several art movements whose primary role was to challenge conventional notions of art and the artist. Postmodern art also challenges convention, but largely the conventions describes by modernism.

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Modernism Definition
Modernism Definition

Modern, Modernism: In art, the terms modern and modernism are used in a variety of ways. Sometimes the term "modern art" is used, very roughly, to encompass 20th century art up to the 1970s. Sometimes, modern art is considered to begin with Picasso (specifically with his Les Demoiselles d'Avignon); in this sense "modern" is associated with "avant-garde". In still another usage, modernism begins in the 19th century around the end of Realism and the beginning of modernist subsets like Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism. Some textbooks will include Realism under modernism, some will not.

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Postmodernism Characteristics
Postmodernism Characteristics

As discussed in Postmodernism Definition, it is challenging to the art student to define postmodern art. What is more useful when writing or talking about modern and postmodern art, is to identify the qualities of each. There are some characteristics that set postmodern art apart from modern art; if you start with a characteristic, and examine its implications and context in relation to the definition of postmodernism, things start to fall into place more easily.

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Postmodernism Definition
Postmodernism Definition

Postmodernism encompasses a philosophical, political, and aesthetic shift away from modernism in the 1970s and 1980s. The term postmodernism is used in almost all disciplines, but here we are discussing the definition of postmodernism in the areas of art, design, and architecture.

Postmodernism is one of the most challenging concepts to the art student. While some artworks may seem easy to categorize as "postmodern" by their mix of imagery and their date of creation, others evade categorization. Postmodernism rejects the firm definitions of Modernism; this evasion from definition can easily exasperate the student when asked on an exam to "define postmodernism".

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