Major Visual Art Movements in Western History (Part II)

Art movements throughout history tell us so much about the styles and periods that reflect the time during which each art piece was created. Learning about which art movements have made their mark on the art world provides us with an intimate glance into history because there is a physical proof that survived that particular era.

Surrealism aimed to channel the unconscious in order to unlock the power of the imagination. Heavily influenced by psychoanalysis, Surrealists believe that artists bypass reason and rationality by accessing their unconscious. Consequently, techniques such as automatism or automatic writing allowed artists to welcome chance when they are working on projects. Some of the more popular surrealists are Ernst, Dali, and Miro.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism is generally characterized by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity. Its development is credited to American painters in the 1950s like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Since it was mostly based in New York City, it became widely known as the New York School. The movement fostered an interest in myth and archetypal symbols and the process of painting as a struggle between self-expression and the chaos of the subconscious.

Pop Art

Pop art began with New York artists like Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and Oldenburg. These artists created paintings or sculptures of mass culture items and celebrities. The movement endeavored to blur the distinction between high art and low culture. The artists believe that culture does not have a hierarchy and that art can be inspired by any source. Pop artists celebrated the ordinary and the commonplace and sought to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art.

Lowbrow

Lowbrow, or pop surrealism, is an underground art movement which began in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Lowbrow art is not made with the intention to be recognized by the art world as legitimate. Instead, artists wrote their own rules completely unapologetic. It is characterized by highly polished imagery that is inspired by cartoon characters and scenes. Some major figures include Williams and Rayden.