The rococo was aimed towards the French court and nobles. The main message was not a religious one, but aimed the upper classes and focused on their lives, houses and celebrations. In France this style gave way to the austere neoclassic style at the end of the xviii century and disappeared with the French revolution in 1978, suddenly and completely.
Neoclassicism appeared as a return to the classical ideology in art. It was designed to serve political interests as a form of propaganda, to portray the greatness of the government by copying the great style of the masters of the past. It was also a change in ideology as the royalty fell with the French revolution, as well as the aristocracy, two major clients that artists would no longer deal with. Color achieved a secondary importance and drawing became the main expressive key for paintings. Contrasting with the Baroque style, which accentuated light and shadow effects to the extreme, Neoclassical images are rather flat and have little volume. The most important element was line and contour.
Romanticism was also used as political propaganda for napoleon. In this period art becomes social and with a sort of commercial side. Its heroic subjects and approach serve the French revolution and new political ideas to promote in people's minds ideas for freedom and protest against the aristocracy rules. Gericault "Raft of the Medusa" is a good example of romantic art. It shows a crowd of characters in despaired attitude, bravely confronting the tempest, in hopeful manner, facing bravely ahead, and advancing, with optimism and resolution. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres represent both Neoclassic and romantic, as we can see in works like "The Valpincon bather," where the nude shown is drawn in clear lines and present little light effects, the dark contrasting background accentuating the flat atmosphere created. However he leans towards exotic subjects, with distant places and mysterious characters, which was typical of Romantic style, as we can see in works like "The Turkish bath" and "Odalisque with a slave," as well as heroic topics like "Napoleon in his imperial throne."
The transition from representing things as they are known, with an intellectual awareness of their nature, to representing them as they are perceived by the senses, influenced by the environment and the subjective perception, brought the new movement of the xix century. Before the Impressionism was born many artists like Rembrandt, Velazquez, Hals, Watteau, Goya and others were preoccupied with studying the effects of light over things. In the second half of the xix century, the discoveries of physics over light awakened in the painters a higher interest about this phenomenon and its applications in painting. What we see are not actual objects, but colored spots that cover them in the light and atmosphere, and that was what they intended to paint.
The arrival of photography influenced the vision over painting and created new movements in the world of art. Now that the artists were relieved of their pressure of representing perfect reality, since the camera could take that task instead, they were free to explore the world of sensations, impression and subjective ideas. The apparition of the first monochrome photos brought an enthusiasm for colors and perception. They also brought new subjects: the capturing of the moment, the frozen figure in movement. Some impressionistic artists were inspired by the photographic images to create pictures representing the crowded streets of Paris, in compositions with many moving characters, such as Claude Monet's "Boulevard des Capoucines."
The post-impressionism appeared near 1880, as a rupture from the impressionistic movement. The first one was based on painting the appearance of things, the second reconstructs the form. This tendency was initiated by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin, that followed the esthetical visions of their own and opened new roads towards the 20th century art. Cezanne influenced the appearance of Cubism, Van Gogh the Expressionism and Gauguin the Fauvism.
The Post-impressionism was characterized by an interest for constructing the shape and form, the drawing of the object and expressivity of objects and human figures. The reconciling of the volumetric effect, opposing the impressionistic excessive light that diffused the figures. The conception of the image based on geometrical objects. The use of highly contrasting colors to define lines and planes. Brush strokes twisted, heavy and continuous, were used to express inner anguish. Interest rose towards the exotic subjects, as we can see in the work of Gauguin and his representations from Tahiti.
Cubism was an artistic movement that happened between 1907 and 1914. Its main creators were Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. It treats forms of nature through geometrical figures representing all of its parts in one single plane. It is the first form of art to break with the classical notions as it denies the first most important rule of modern painting: perspective. The representation of objects had no compromise with the real appearance of things. The term cubism was created by the critic Louis Vauxcelles that interpreted the use of cubes and geometrical forms in the art of Picasso and Braque. Its main preoccupations were stores, still nature and portraits. There are two tendencies of cubism. One was analytical, where painting was almost monochrome. Colors were not the most important detail but the use of geometrization and different planes. Those pieces look almost abstract because of the many different planes all mixed together, so the image resulting is almost impossible to decipher. The second period was the synthetic cubism, which was the first step towards the collage.
Duchamp's conception that art is anything that is declared art was an open door to all kind of new tendencies during the 20th century. He invented the term "ready-made" to introduce into the world of art objects of the everyday life that were not created by the artist, but merely given a new meaning. This theory that art can be anything turned over the conception of beauty, and the artists lost interest in techniques and academic work. He opened the door for a new exaggerated freedom in art that perhaps was not for the better as it started a chaos of short lived movements that became void of feeling and expression. Art transformed into a secret between creator and work, where the public was somewhat ignored from the game, as the meaning of the pieces was harder to understand.
At the beginning of the century there was a period of conflict, resulting in two major wars that devastated the western society. Since many European artists and intellectuals ran away from the devastated countries and moved to America, the capital of the arts moved from Paris to New York, where the open minded people, that refused traditional works and craved for novelties, were ready to receive any kind of innovative fresh ideas about esthetic conception and this gave freedom for the vanguard to flourish. New movements became more and more leaned towards abstractionism, towards stylized figures, reflecting the inner conflicts of the artists, in a world where society became more selfish and humans more lost and alone in the world. Ideologies were replaced by experimentations with all sort of different techniques.
The dada movement, the ready-made, the symbolist art were all attempts to achieve acceptance in a world were art was losing the interest of people, that was no longer preoccupied with beauty and expression, as their lives were full on industrial discoveries, fast political changes and chaos. Futuristic art was inspired by the cinema, with its moving pictures, and attempted to recreate the motion effect by overlapping different images on a single frame, also creating a robotic effect that reflected the machine age. The minimalist style, especially in the world of sculpture, represented by artists such as Constantin Brancusi, tried to ignore the external features and express only the essence of the figure, leaving the material as untouched as possible. The idea was to move the value of art from the carved qualities, to the material itself. Something similar was happening in painting as Modrian promoted his Neo-Plasticist ideas, with strictly abstract images, but using only geometrical shapes arranged in symmetrical order.
Andre Breton decided that the historical situation of the post war called for a new form of art that would research the deepest nature of human soul. Breton was familiar with Freud's theories and the psychoanalysis. The surrealism intends to project the world of dreams and subconscious phenomena. This hidden side of human nature was considered perfect for artistic creation to discover the depths of human spirit. Surrealism affected not only the world of painting, but also the cinema, photography, theater and poetry. The result was a world, apparently absurd, illogical, where subconscious phenomena took over ration.
Modernism developed between the end of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The first references occurred in England, in the work of John…