Over the past century and a half, art has completely evolved. Artists have stepped away from the classical tradition to embrace new media and cultural changes. Art historians have also shifted their focus from the analysis of art’s formal beauty to the interpretation of its cultural meaning.
The biggest evolution we’ve seen in the world of art is from romanticism to postmodernism. But, why have these changes happened? Let’s dive into the history of romantic and postmodern art with examples.
What is romanticism?
Romanticism was a literary movement that began in the late 18th century and ended in the middle of the 19th century. Romanticism challenged the rational ideals so loved by artists of the Enlightenment. Romantic artists believed that emotions and senses were equally as important as order and reason for experiencing and understanding the world.
In visual arts, artists acknowledged the power of nature, highlighting its unpredictability and beauty. Nature’s ability to cause disaster was a prominent theme, and Romantics often glorified emotion and intuition over logic and intellect. The best example of this is Upper Fall of the Reichenbach: Rainbow by J. M. W. Turner in 1810.
What is postmodern art?
Postmodern art emerged in the mid-20th century to replace modernism which led the way to contemporary art. Like with any period in art history, it’s not easy to give a clear definition of postmodernism but there are some recurring attributes that characterise this style of art.
Postmodern art was said to be ground-breaking and progressive, as it rejected the idea of development in art. In order to reject these ideas, an important and defining characteristic within postmodernist art was the mixing of high and low culture through the use of industrial supplies and pop culture images. The best example of postmodern art is Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol in 1962.
What happened in between?
Between the romantic and postmodern eras, art shifted in many ways. Realism, Symbolism and Art Deco are just some of the many other eras we’ve encountered in the past century.
Realism art, which appeared in 1850’s France, created artworks that were as realistic as possible, with artists attempting to portray their subject matter in an honest and accurate light without ignoring the more unpleasant elements of life. A great example of this is Joueurs d’échecs (The Chess Players) by Honoré Daumier.
Symbolism art is what links early 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century modernism. Smybolistic artists preferred to focus on feelings, sentiments, concepts, and individuality rather than reality, often using their personal information to communicate their own philosophies. An example of this is Isolde by Aubrey Beardsley.
Art Deco first appeared in France just before the start of World War One, which incorporated both elements of architecture and design. As a visual arts style, it was characterised by vibrant colours and bold geometry, leading to countless, detailed artwork pieces. A great example of this is the Masked Ball poster by René Crevel.