My fellow students’ isms (in brief) – Part Three


This was a post-World War II movement founded by Italian artist Lucio Fontana. It represented a move away from mere painting as an art form, it aimed to synthesize colour, sound, space, movement and time into a new type of art. The Spatialists thought that the whole environment of the work of art had an impact upon it. The process of making art, to them, was as important as the artwork itself. Lucio Fontana created a series of slashed canvasses, such as that below, and the idea was to blur the distinction between two- and three-dimensions and to show the art of the space and colour behind the canvas.

Lucio Fontana Spatial Concept ‘Waiting’


This was a late 19th-century art movement which aimed to show the world as it really was through art. It was the art of the real and not the pictorial. The Realists were criticised, however, for their ‘immoral’ subjects such as the lower echelons of society, and nude prostitutes. Famous Realists include Gustave Courbet, Millet, Degas and Manet. It was an anti-bourgeois movement. Those in power feared for its revolutionary influence. ‘The Floor Planers’ by Courbet was chosen as a key work, and happens to be one of my favourite paintings (I remember seeing it in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris).

Courbet ‘The Floor Planers’


Surrealism is a very well-known 20th-century art movement, which includes works aiming to inspire by featuring an element of surprise. Paintings contained unexpected juxtapositions of objects. Surrealism developed out of Dadaism and the most important center of the movement was Paris. From the 1920s onwards, the movement spread internationally. Salvador Dali and Man Ray are perhaps two of the most famous of the Surrealists.

Dali’s melting clocks – an iconic Surrealist painting


Post-Impressionism is the term coined by the British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 to describe the development of French art since the time of Manet. The Post-Impressionists rejected the limitations of Impressionism. They used unmixed primary colours in their art. One of the most famous Post-Impressionists was Paul Cézanne, another was Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night


Expressionism originated in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its aim was to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it substantially for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Key artists in this movement include Edvard Munch and Wassily Kandinsky.



This term is used by art scholars to describe the imitation or depiction of aspects of Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures in art and literature. It was a 19th-century phenomenon. The Victorians developed a fascination with the orient and all things ‘exotic’ or ‘erotic’ about the orient.

Holman Hunt ‘A Street Scene in Cairo; The Lantern-Maker’s Courtship’


Tutorial Notes

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