Art Movements, Periods & Schools
Periods & Schools of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture.

For more explanation, see: history of art. For dates, see: history of art timeline.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H-J - K-L - M - N - O - P-Q - R - S - T - U-V - W-Z


Abstract Art
Non-representational painting and sculpture. See also Abstract Art Movements.
Abstract Expressionism

Originally a diverse style of abstract art developed in the USA during the 1940s and 1950s, and particularly associated with Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock; abstract expressionist painting is sometimes known as the New York School. After 1952, sometimes known alternatively as 'action painting.'
Academic Art
The official style taught in the official academies of fine arts.
Action Painting
Term coined in 1952 by US critic Harold Rosenberg to describe the type of Abstract Expressionism, practiced by Jackson Pollock and others, in which the emphasis was on the action of applying paint, sometimes splashing or pouring it over a canvas on the floor.

Aesthetic Movement
Active in Britain during the 1870s and 1880s in both the fine and applied arts. Amounting to a reverence of pure beauty in art and design, its motto was 'art for art's sake'. In painting, its aesthetic philosophy was exemplified by Whistler, Albert Moore and in part by Leighton. In applied arts and crafts, the movement was spearheaded by William Morris.
American Impressionism
Followed the French tradition; leading figures included William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Theodore Robinson (1852-96), Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Childe Hassam (1859-1935), John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902), J Alden Weir (1852-1919) and Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925).
American Scene Painting
General category describing art movements in the United States (1925-45) which used specifically American imagery, captured in a realistic, often nostalgic setting. Closely related to Regionalism.
Analytical Cubism
Early phase of CUBISM, c.1907-12, in which natural forms were analyzed and reduced to their essential geometric parts.
Armory Show
Most famous exhibition of modern art, ever held in New York, 1913.
Art Deco
Interior and graphic design of the 1920s and 1930s, characterized as a combination of Art Nouveau with new geometric forms.
Art Informel
Term coined by French critic Michel Tapie, and used from the 1950s to describe the European equivalent to American abstract expressionism.
Art Nouveau
Decorative style of artistic design popular in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century poster art; it often employed stylized, curvilinear plant forms. It was known in Germany as Jugendstil.
Arte Povera
Term coined by Italian critic Germano Celani in 1967 to describe the work of artists such as Carl Andre, Richard Long etc. It stresses the use of ordinary materials such as sand, stones, twigs, etc., and the temporary, non-collectable nature of the work.
Arts and Crafts Movement
Championed by William Morris, it sought to reassert the value of good design and craftsmanship in the machine age. Paved the way for Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and Art Deco.
Ashcan School
Term used during the 1930s to describe the realist group of artists which evolved from the eight in New York c1908 and whose subject was usually the urban environment.
Australian Colonial Painting
First styles of art by Europeans in Australia.
Australian Impressionism
Works by Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin, Charles Conder. Also called the Heidelberg school.
Australian Modern Painting
20th-Century modern art embodied by Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan and others.


Barbizon School of Landscape painting
Group of French landscape painters of the mid 19th century, who painted landscape for its own sake, often in plein-air, directly from nature.
Style of architecture, painting, and sculpture originating principally in Italy, of the late 16th to the early 18th century; it exhibited an increased interest in dynamic movement and dramatic effects. Also: "baroque" is sometimes used in a pejorative sense to mean over-elaborate, florid. Also: The Baroque period refers to the 17th century, when the style was at its height.
Bauhaus Design School
Named after a combination of the German terms for building (bau) and house (haus), it was a school of architecture and modern art, founded in Weimar, Germany, in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, which became the focus of modern design. It moved to Dessau in 1925-6, to Berlin in 1932, and was closed in 1933. Its teaching method replaced the traditional pupil-teacher relationship with the idea of a community of artists working together.
Berlin Secession (Ger. Berliner Sezession)
Association led by the German Impressionist painter Max Liebermann which exhibited the work of the "Die Brucke" artists in 1908.
Biedermeier Style of Art
A Romantic-Realistic type of 'domestic' painting, interior design and architecture, popular in Germany, Austria and Denmark around 1810-60.
Biomorphic Abstraction
Style of rounded abstract forms, used by Henry Moore and others. Also referred to as Organic Abstraction.
Blaue Reiter (Ger. Der Blaue Reiter, "The Blue Rider")
Group of artists formed in Munich in 1911 by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. The group was of very varied outlook; other artists who joined it included Paul Klee, August Macke and Alexei von Jawlensky. See: German Expressionism.
Bolognese School of Painting
Founded in Bologna, Italy by Annibale Carracci, his brother Agostino, and cousin Ludovico (1555-1619).
Brucke (Ger. Die Brucke, "The Bridge")
Group of German Expressionist painters founded in Dresden in 1905, and including the artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. See: German Expressionism.
Architectural style of the 1950s associated with Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, in which no attempt is made to disguise the building materials used.
Byzantine Art
An umbrella term for fine arts developed within the Eastern Roman Empire, centred on Constantinople (Byzantium) from roughly 350 CE to 1450. See also: Christian Art, Byzantine Period.


Camden Town Group
Group of English Post-Impressionist painters formed in 1911 around Walter Sickert, including Spencer Gore, Lucien Pissarro, and Augustus John, who applied some of the principles of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh to contemporary London subject matter.
The light/shadow painting technique associated with Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, involving chiaroscuro and tenebrism.
Carolingian Art
The revival of European arts (c.750-900) after the Dark Ages, under the Frankish King Charlemagne.
Catholic Counter Reformation Art
Describes the campaign of Catholic art (c.1560-1700), launched by the Vatican following the Council of Trent (1545-63).
Celtic Art
A style based on curvilinear forms, using spirals, knots and interlace patterns.
Chicago School of Architecture
Group of architects working in Chicago between 1871 and 1893, led by William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907). Other members included Louis Sullivan, Dankmar Adler, Daniel Burnham, John Wellborn Root, William Holabird, Martin Roche. See also: Second Chicago School of Architecture (c.1940-75) led by Mies van der Rohe.
Pseudo-Chinese style of decoration which flourished in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Christian Art
Visual arts associated with Christianity, from c.150 onwards.
15th-Century Italian art.
Classical Indian Painting
From Ajanta to late classical Buddhist art (up to 1150 CE).
Imitation of the art of classical Antiquity.
Classicism and Naturalism
Movements in 17th Century Italian Painting embodied by Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio.
Style of French painting - based on cloisonne enamel or stained glass shapes - developed at Pont-Aven by Emile Bernard and Louis Anquetin.
CoBrA Group
An association of Dutch, Danish and Belgium Expressionist artists 1948-51. An acronym of the words Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.
Cologne School
German medieval school of painting that reached a highpoint under Stefan Lochner around 1450.
Colonial Art (America)
Largely portraits, miniatures, neoclassical architecture, furniture-making and crafts (c.1670-1800).
Colour field painting
School of painting, usually on a large scale, in which solid areas of colour are taken right up to the edge of the canvas, suggesting that they extend to infinity.
Computer Art
General movement involving computer-generated imagery.
International Abstract art movement founded in post-revolutionary Russia by artists including Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandr Rodchenko, Antoine Pevsner and Naum Gabo, among others.
Contemporary Art Movements
Schools and styles from the 1960s onwards. See also Contemporary British Painting.
Artistic movement c.1907-1915 initiated by Picasso and Braque as a reaction against Impressionism. It aimed to analyze forms in geometric terms (Analytical Cubism) or reorganize them in various contexts (Synthetic Cubism); colour remained secondary to form.
Cynical Realism
Chinese contemporary painting movement which emerged in Beijing in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square. Artists involved included Yue Minjun, Fang Lijun and Zhang Xiaogang.


International "anti-art" movement originating in Zurich c.1916, involving Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Francis Picabia, among others; a forerunner of Surrealism; hence Dadaism, Dadaist.
Danube School
The name loosely refers to several early 16th-century German painters, such as Albrecht Altdorfer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Wolf Huber famous for atmospheric landscapes and rich colouristic effects.
A style of postmodernist design, championed by Frank O. Gehry (b.1929).
Degenerate Art
Avant-garde painting, sculpture and graphics, deemed "degenerate" by the Nazi Party. Also the name of an exhibition of modern art held in Munich in 1937.
Delft School
17th-century Dutch genre painting associated with Jan Vermeer and Pierer de Hooch.
De Stijl
Dutch art magazine founded in 1917 by Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Also: artists and architects associated with the journal who were influential in promoting functional Bauhaus design during the 1920s.
Analytical painting technique developed systematically by Georges Seurat (1859-91); instead of mixing colours on the palette, each colour is applied "pure" in individual brush-strokes, so that from a certain distance, the viewer's eye and brain perform the mixing "optically"; see also Italian Divisionism.
Donkey's Tail
Russian artists exhibition group (1911-12), set up by Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, to promote Russian-inspired avant-garde art.
Dutch Realist Painting
A memorable Netherlandish style of easel painting centred on towns like Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Utrecht, Dordrecht and Amsterdam. It was responsible for a huge number of masterpieces across all the painting genres, and featured virtuoso portraitists like Frans Hals (1580–1666) and Rembrandt (1606–1669), genre-painters like Jan Vermeer (1632–1675), landscape artists like Jacob van Ruisdael (1628–1682) and still life masters such as Frans Snyders (1579–1657), Jan Davidsz De Heem (1606-1684) and Willem Kalf (1622-1693), among many others.


Early Renaissance
Style of 15th century Florentine art (c.1400-1490).
Ecole de Paris
(Paris School of Art)
Broad name for various modern art movements centred in Paris including Les Nabis, Fauvism, Cubism, Orphism, Futurism, and Surrealism.
A style of architecture, painting and decorative art linked with Edward VII of Britain, the son of Queen Victoria, which is associated with the last decade or so before the First World War. In France it was referred to as Belle Epoque. The great exemplar of the Edwardian style was John Singer Sargent.
Modified form of Neo-Plasticism propounded by Theo van Doesburg in the 1920s, which caused a rift with Piet Mondrian by introducing diagonals instead of a rigid horizontal and vertical format.
A style of art associated with the era of Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603). Portraiture was an important Elizabethan painting genre, eminent portrait artists being Nicholas Hilliard, Marcus Gheeraerts.
English Figurative Painting
Early masters of this school included, William Hogarth (1697-1764), Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), George Romney (1734-1802), Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97), George Stubbs (1724-1806), among others.
English Landscape Painting
A general movement pioneered by artists like Richard Wilson (1714-82), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), Thomas Malton (1748-1804), Paul Sandby (1725-1809), MA Rooker (1743-1804), Edward Dayes (1763-1804), Thomas Hearne (1744-1817), JR Cozens (1752-99), Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) and John Constable (1776-1837).
Euston Road Group
Group of artists working in a broadly naturalistic style in Euston Rd, London, for a brief period from 1937 to 1939, including William Coldstream, Victor Pasmore, and Lawrence Gowing.
Existential Art (1940s and 1950s)
John Paul Sartre's existentialist philosophy, with its themes of alienation and angst in the face of the human condition, can be seen in paintings by the American Abstract Expressionists, the Informel and "CoBrA" movements, the French Homme-Temoin (Man as a Witness) group, the British Kitchen Sink art group, and the American Beats - all of whom from time to time are designated Existential, as are many individual painters and sculptors: like the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and the surrealist/expressionist Francis Bacon.
The Expressionist Movement (1880s onwards) was a style that first emerged in the late 19th century in which the expression of emotion and feeling is emphasized rather than the representation of nature; hence expressionist painters, Expressionistic. For more details, see also History of Expressionist Painting (1880-1939).


Originally a derogatory term (Les Fauves) meaning "wild beasts", used of a group of painters who exhibited at the Salon d' Automne in Paris in 1905, including Matisse.
Feminist Art
Late 1960s early 1970s movement that sought to increase opportunities for women in the art world and to rewrite the historical canon giving more importance to women artists.
Flemish Painting School
Realistic style of oil on panel painting.
Name of an international art movement, established in 1962, which aimed to unite Europe's avant-garde. It had similarities with the anti-art philosophy of Dada.
Fontainebleau School

There were two Schools; the First, under Francis I c.1528-58 was fundamentally Mannerist, directly influenced by expatriate Italian masters. The Second, under Henry IV (1589-1610) was more mediocre. Occasionally confused with 19th century Barbizon school of landscape art, near Fontainebleau.
French Painting
The French school. Its Golden Age was the 19th century and the early 20th century.
Italian artistic movement founded in 1909 by Filippo Marinetti, which exalted the modern world of machinery, speed, and violence.


General term describing the styles of art associated with the reigns of King George I, II, II and IV in Britain (1714-1830), notably in architecture, silver, furniture, and silver. Its unifying attribute is a certain classical restraint and harmony.
German Art: 19th Century
Neoclassicism, Realism and Impressionism in Germany.
German Expressionism
General expressionist trend in Germany, exemplified by artist groups like Der Blaue Reiter (1909-14, Munich) led by Wassily Kandinsky (1844-1944) and Franz Marc (1880-1916); Die Brucke (1905-13, Dresden) founded by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938); and Die Neue Sachlichkeit (1920s, Mannheim and elsewhere) whose famous members included Otto Dix (1891-1969), George Grosz (1893-1959) and Max Beckmann (1884-1950).
German Medieval Art
Carolingian/Ottonian Sculpture, goldsmithery, book-painting and architecture.
German Renaissance Art
Refers to artistic development in Germany during the period (c.1430-1580), exemplified by Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald, Hans Holbein and Tilman Riemenschneider, among others.
Style of highly expressive painting associated with members of the New York School (Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning) and Art Informel (Georges Mathieu).
Glasgow School of Painting
Barbizon-influenced group of Post-Impressionists. Also included C.R.Mackintosh's group.
Gothic Art and Gothic Architecture
The last period of medieval art and architecture. Early Gothic usually refers to the period 1140-1200; High Gothic c.1200-50; late Gothic from 1250. "Gothic" was used in the Renaissance as a pejorative adjective for medieval architecture. During the 19th century, a Gothic Revival movement appeared, notably in British and American architecture: US practitioners included Richard Upjohn (1802-78) and James Renwick (1818-95).
Graffiti Art (1970s onwards)
Also referred to as "Writing", "Spraycan Art" and "Aerosol Art", Graffiti is a movement or style of art associated with hip-hop, a cultural movement which sprang up in various American cities, especially on New York subway trains, during the 1970s and 1980s. Later it spread to Europe and Japan and eventually crossed over from the street into the gallery. Its most famous exemplar was Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Gruppo Origine
Italian group founded in Rome by Alberto Burri, Ettore Colla, Giuseppe Capogrossi and Mario Ballocco, in response to the disagreeably decorative quality of abstract art at the time. In their initial manifesto they proclaimed a return to fundamentals, notably by renouncing three-dimensional forms, restricting colour to its simplest, and by evoking elemental images. Began and ended during 1951.
Gutai (concrete) (1954-72)
The Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai (Gutai Art Association), a Japanese avant-garde group, was founded in 1954 in Osaka by Yoshihara Jiro, Kanayma Akira, Murakami Saburo, Shiraga Kazuo, and Shimamoto Shozo. Held a number of public exhibitions in 1955 and 1956, with works prefiguring later Happenings and Performance and Conceptual art. According to art historian Yve-Alain Bois, the group's activities constituted one of the most important moments of post-war Japanese culture.


Hallstatt Celtic Culture
Early style of Celtic art (c.800-450 BCE) centred on Austria and the Upper Danube.
Hard Edge Painting
Term coined in 1959 to describe abstract (but not geometric) painting, using large, flat areas of colour with precise edges.
Harlem Renaissance
An African-American artistic movement centered in the Harlem borough of New York City, and originally known as the New Negro Movement, it had a profound influence throughout the United States. Influential members were William H. Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones and the sculptor and printmaker Sargent Claude Johnson, as well as Jacob Lawrence, Archibald Motley and Romare Bearden.
Heidelberg School
A 19th century group of Melbourne-based painters associated with Australian Impressionism.
High Renaissance
Style of fine art practised in Italy, France, Spain between 1490 and 1530. See also: Renaissance in Rome, under Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), Pope Julius II (1503-13), Pope Leo X (1513-21), and Pope Paul III (1534-45). Masterpieces of High Renaissance painting includes the fresco works in the Sistine Chapel and the decoration of the Raphael Rooms.
Hudson River School of landscape painting
Group of American landscape painters, working from 1825 to 1875. Includes Thomas Doughty, Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, J. F. Kensett, Henry Inman, Jasper Cropsey, and Frederick E. Church.
A cultural and philosophical movement of the Italian Renaissance, focusing on the capabilities of human beings as opposed to the abstract concepts and problems of science or theology.
19th-century French art movement, from 1874. Impressionist painters like Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley, were linked by their common interest in capturing immediate visual impressions, and an emphasis on light and colour; hence Impressionist; Impressionistic.
International Gothic
A style of painting, sculpture and decorative art that spread across western Europe during the period 1375-1450. Acted as a bridge between Gothic and Renaissance art. It was greatly stimulated by the growing cultural rivalry of the European royal courts. See also International Gothic illuminations.
International Style (Architecture)
Form of modern architecture, initiated by Walter Gropius, developed by Mies van der Rohe, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and others.
French genre painting of domestic, intimate interiors, such as the work of Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard; hence intimiste.
Irish Art History (from 3300 BCE)
A guide to the main movements of painting, sculpture and architecture on the island of Ireland.
Islamic Art
Refers to a general category of post-7th century visual art, created by artists in territory occupied by the cultures of Islam. It encompasses architecture, architectural decoration, pottery, faience mosaics, lustre-ware, relief sculpture, wood and ivory carving, drawing, painting, calligraphy, manuscript illumination, textile design, metalwork, goldsmithery, gemstone carving, and other art forms.
Jacobean Art
General artistic idiom associated with the culture of the reign of James I (reigned 1603-25) notably in theatre as well as painting. Leading exemplars include the eminent Elizabethan miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard and the Dutch born artists Paul Van Somer and Daniel Mytens the Elder.
Late-19th century European craze for Japanese arts and crafts - including fans, screens, lacquers, bronzes, silks, porcelains and Ukiyo-e prints.
The name for Art Nouveau-type styles in Germany, popularized by the Munich Secession.
Junk Art
A sub-genre of "found art", pioneered by Duchamp, Picasso, Schwitters and Rauschenberg, and characterized by the use of banal, everyday materials.


Kitchen Sink art
Term originally used as the title of an article by David Sylvester in the journal Encounter referring to the work of the realist artists known as the Beaux Arts Quartet, John Bratby, Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith.
Kinetic Art
Works which incorporate movement or the appearance of movement (eg. mobiles).
Knave of Diamonds
Russian artists' exhibition society (1910-17) that promoted avant-garde art from Russia and Europe.
La Tene Celtic Culture
Style of Celtic Metalwork art and abstract design work.
Les Vingt
See entry under V.
Term applied to American landscape painters of the Hudson River School from about 1830-70, as many of their paintings were dominated by intense, dramatic light effects. A form of Luminism underlies Whistler's 'Nocturnes'.
Lyrical Abstraction
Term coined by the French painter George Mathieu in 1947 to describe a more decorative, painterly style of Art Informel.


Magic Realism
Term invented by German photographer, art historian and art critic Franz Roh to describe late 19th early 20th realist paintings with fantasy or dream-like subjects.
Artistic style originating in Italy c.1520-90 that tends to employ distortion of figures, and emphasize an emotional content. See also: Mannerist Painting.
Realist/Impressionist art group active in Florence c.1855-70.
Medici Family (Florence Renaissance)
Arguably the most influential Italian family of art patrons. Had a huge impact on the development of painting and sculpture in 15th century Florence.
Medieval Art - in practice Medieval Christian Art
"Medieval" is an imprecise term describing the period of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West (c.450 CE) to the onset of the Renaissance (c.1400). Medieval art was mostly architectural or decorative - sculpture, mosaic illuminated gospel texts, tapestry. Decorative art exemplified by works from the Carolingian court of King Charlemagne.
Medieval Sculpture
The term "Medieval sculpture" essentially describes the era 400-1000. It was followed by Romanesque sculpture.
Metaphysical Painting (It. Pittura Metafisica)
Movement of c.1915-18 associated with the painter Giorgio de Chirico; partly a reaction against Futurism.
Mexican Murals/Muralism
Term applied to the resurgence of large-size public mural painting in Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s, as practised by the left-wing artists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
A non-representational style of painting, sculpture and architecture in the late 1960s, which was severely restricted in its use of visual elements and limited itself to simple geometric shapes or masses.
Modern Art Movements
Fine art styles from roughly 1850 to 1960s.
Mosan Art
Art of the 12th and 13th centuries in the valley of the River Meuse in France; it produced the first great school of enamel painters using the Champleve technique.
Moscow School of Painting (c.1500-1700)
Stroganov Workshop, Simon Ushakov and murals at Yaroslavl and Kostroma.
Mughal Painting (16th-19th Century)
School of Islamic painting developed on the Indian subcontinent.
Munich Secession
Withdrawal in 1892 of German artists in Munich from the traditional institutions; it remained relatively conservative, and was followed by the Vienna Secession (1897) and the Berlin Secession (1908).


Les Nabis (French)
Group of French artists working from c.1892 to 1899, influenced by Gauguin in their use of colour and lightly exotic decorative effects. They included Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Edouard Vuillard, Felix Vallotton and Paul Serusier.
Group of German painters, led by Friedrich Overbeck, working in Rome in the early 19th century; inspired by Northern art of the 15th and early 16th centuries.
Neoclassical Art
The late 18th-century European style, lasting from c.1770 to 1830, which reacted against the worst excesses of the Baroque and Rococo, reviving the Antique. It implies a return to classical sources which imposed restraint and simplicity on painting and architecture.
Term often used to describe works by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns in New York in the late 1950s because of their use of collage, assemblage and found materials, and their apparent anti-art agenda.
1980s revival of figurative painting. Known as Neue Wilden in Germany, Figuration Libre in France, Transavantguardia in Italy, Bad Painting in America.
The development of Impressionism through Georges Seurat's scientific analysis and treatment of colour; see Divisionism; Pointillism.
A rigid Dutch style of Abstraction, based on rectangles, horizontal and vertical lines founded by Piet Mondrian in the early 1920s.
Broad term for several 20th-century European art movements that draw on mystical, dreamlike subjects; expressive, emotional forms; and Surrealism.
Netherlandish Renaissance Art
Refers to artistic development in Flanders and Holland in the period (c.1430-1580), exemplified by Jan Van Eyck, Roger Van Der Weyden, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) (Die Neue Sachlichkeit)
German modern realist movement of the 1920s founded by Otto Dix and George Grosz, who vividly depicted the corruption and hedonism in Germany during the 1920s. See: German Expressionism.
Newlyn School
Led by Stanhope Alexander Forbes and Frank Bramley, the artists who settled in the West Cornish town of Newlyn from the early 1880s pursued the Impressionist derived pleinairism doctrine of working directly from nature.
New York School
The core of Abstract Expressionism in New York in the 1940s and early 1950s including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko.
Northern Renaissance
Western art from Northern Europe (eg. Flanders, Holland, Germany, Britain) of the period c 1420-1600.
Norwich School
Important English school of landscape painting, dating from 1803, led by John Crome and John Sell Cotman.
Nouveau Realisme (New Realism)
Term coined in 1960 by the French critic Pierre Restany for art derived partly from Dada and Surrealism, which reacted against more abstract work, especially by using industrial and everyday objects to make junk art or sculpture.
Novgorod School of Icon Painting
Work by Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev, Dionysius and others (c.1100-1500).


Op art
Abbreviation of Optical art; 1960s movement in painting in which the illusion of movement was created by the juxtaposition of contrasting geometrical shapes, tones, lines, and colours. Bridget Riley was a leading member.
Orientalist Painting
Orientalism was a style of painting involving exotic subject matter - Levantine townscapes, genre scenes and the like - which coincided with the beginning of the great age of steamship travel, and exemplified by the French painter Jean–Leon Gerome, as well as John Frederick Lewis, David Roberts, William Muller and David Wilkie. Later practitioners included the Pre-Raphaelites, Holman Hunt and Thomas Seddon.
Orphism (also Orphic Cubism, Simultanism)
Term coined c.1912 by Guillaume Apollinaire for the branch of Cubism associated with Robert Delaunay, emphasizing colour and the analysis of light and its connexion with nature; also known as Orphism.
Ottonian Art
The continuation of King Charlemagne's cultural revival under Otto I, II, and III, and their successors (c.900-1050).


Palladian style
English architectural style, from c.1715, in imitation of the style of Andrea Palladio; a reaction against the Baroque in favor of the Classical.
Pergamene School
The Pergamene style of sculpture - named after Pergamon in Asia Minor - was marked by a high degree of expressiveness as well as a pronounced naturalism, both of which helped to create a vivid sense of reality in the spectator.
Anti-establishment American society of camera artists set up by Alfred Stieglitz and others in 1902. Included some of the greatest photographers in the United States.
Also called Superrealism and Hyperrealism, it describes a style of ultra-realistic painting directly from photographs, pioneered by Chuck Close, Richard Estes and others.
Photographic movement which pursued a style of photography in which the camera artist manipulates a regular photo in order to create an "artistic" image.
The Neo-Impressionist technique pioneered by Georges Seurat, using dots of pure colour instead of mixing paint on the palette; hence pointille, pointillist, see Divisionism.
Pont-Aven School
Famous artist colony: the group of painters, generally Symbolists, who worked at Pont-Aven, France, during the late 19th century, including the Nabis and Gauguin. Irish artists who were members included Roderic O'Conor and Nathaniel Hill.
Pop art
Style derived from the popular culture of the 1960s, including commercial illustration, comic strips, and advertising images. British and American equivalent of New Realism.
Post-Classical Indian Painting
Illuminated manuscripts, illustrations and other forms of painting in India from the 14th to the 16th century.
Term coined by the art theorist Roger Fry for the style of art of Post-Impressionist painters like Cezanne, van Gogh and Gauguin. See also: Post-Impressionist Painting (1880-1895) for trends and styles.
Postmodernist art
This phase starts with late Pop art and includes Conceptual art, Neo-Expressionism, Feminist art, and the Young British Artists of the 1990s. Postmodernism rejects the distinction between high culture and mass or popular culture, tends to efface the boundary between art and everyday life; and that refuses to recognise any single style or definition of what art should be.
Post-Painterly Abstraction
Term coined by the American critic Clement Greenberg for a group of Abstract artists working in the 1960s. It includes a number of specific styles and movements, such as Colour-Field Painting and Minimal Art.
Precisionism (1920s-1930s)
Precisionism (also called Cubist Realism), and somewhat similar to Art Deco, is a style of art whereby an object is depicted in a realistic manner, but with a focus on its geometric form. An important element in American Modernism, it was strongly influenced by the development of Cubism in Europe, as well as the rapid industrialization in North America. Leading exponents include Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler as well as the urban paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Pre-Columbian Art
Refers to the culture of mesoamerica and South America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
English association of artists, c.1848-54, including Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and Millais. The Pre-Raphaelites had no clear, unifying doctrine but shared an interest in art prior to 1495, start of the High Renaissance.
Style of Western painting/sculpture characterized by motifs and imagery derived from African, Oceanic, Aboriginal or other tribal arts.
Protestant Reformation Art
Small-scale 17th-century style of painting, typically of genre-scenes, still lifes and portraits.
The style of fine art, derived from Greek and Byzantine traditions, practised by the Florentine Cenni Di Pepo (Cimabue) (c.1240-c.1302), the Sienese painter Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-1319), the incomparable Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) and others, during the period (c.1250-1400).
Fifteenth century art in Italy. Coincides with the start of the Italian Renaissance.


Rajput Painting
Princely style of Indian art popular in India 16th-19th Century.
Development of Abstract art by the Russian artists Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Goncharova, c.1913, which was an offshoot of Cubist and in some respects the forerunner of Futurism.
Style of painting dating from the 19th century, exemplified by Courbet, that makes a deliberate choice of everyday subject matter (Realisme). See also: Realist Painting (19th Century).
A style of furniture and decorative art associated with the era of Prince George, the future George IV, who became Prince Regent in 1811 and later reigned from 1820 to 1830. Its characteristics include classical themes, combined with Egyptian, Chinese and French Rococo elements. The style is exemplified by the architecture of Nash, the painting of Thomas Lawrence, and the caricatures of Gillray, and Rowlandson.
American art movement (fl.1930s) active in the midwest, championed by Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood.
Renaissance Art
Period of Italian art from c.1400 to 1530 characterized by increased emphasis on realism, the mastery of linear perspective and the rediscovery of classical art.
Elegant, decorative style of c.1730-80. During the 19th century the term acquired pejorative connotations, meaning trivial or over-ornate.
Romanesque Art
Exemplified by a style of architecture that lasted from 1000 to 1150 in France and to the 13th century in the rest of Europe; characterized by massive vaults and rounded arches. The term is also applied to the fine and decorative arts of the period, notably Romanesque Sculpture (c.1000-1200).
Romanesque Revival
Neo-medieval style of monumental architecture which became popular in America and elsewhere during the nineteenth century. Leading exponents included Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86), responsible for the celebrated Marshall Field Wholesale Store (1885-87), Chicago.
Late 18th- and early 19th-century antithesis to classicism; the imagination of the artist and the choice of literary themes predominated. Leading Romantic painters included William Blake, Eugene Delacroix and JMW Turner.


Scottish Colourists
Consisted of four painters, Samuel Peploe (1871-1935), Francis Cadell (1883-1937), John Fergusson (1874-1961), and Leslie Hunter (1877-1931), who were strongly influenced by Matisse and the Fauves.
Section d'Or
A Parisian group of Cubist artists who exhibited at Galerie La Boetie. It was an offshoot of the wider Puteaux Group - itself a spin-off from La Societe Normande de Peinture Moderne.
Sienese School of Painting
A conservative style centred on Siena, the arch-rival of Florence. Leading Representatives of the school include: Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319), Simone Martini (1285-1344), the Lorenzetti brothers, Sassetta (1394-1450), Matteo di Giovanni (1430-1495) and Domenico Beccafumi (1485-1551).
Social Realism
Figurative style of art with a social message. Traditionally refers to American school, embodied by Ben Shahn and supported by the Federal Arts Project during the Depression era.
Socialist Realism
A type of modern realism, glorifying Communist society and its works, imposed in Russia by Stalin from the late 1920s. Poster based, it was employed as mass propaganda.
Spanish Painting
The Spanish school (c.1500-1970).
The Italian movement (Movimento Spaziale, or spacialism), founded in 1947 by the Argentine-born Italian artist Lucio Fontana, involved a pioneering style of Installation art. Other leading members included Giovanni Dova and Roberto Crippa.
St Ives School
Term referring to the abstract group of artists based in Cornwall, led by Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, and for a short period Naum Gabo. Active, 1940s, 50s and 60s.
Russian pure Abstract art movement of 1913-15, led by Kasimir Malevich, that used geometric elements.
Movement in art and literature between the two World Wars that tried to fuse actuality with dream and unconscious experience, using automatism among other techniques; hence Surreal, Surrealist.
Symbolism Art Movement
Appeared c.1885 in France, originating in poetry; a reaction against both Realism and Impressionism, it aimed at the fusion of the real and spiritual worlds, the visual expression of the mystical.
A style of painting invented by two American painters, Morgan Russell and Stanton MacDonald-Wright, which combined the colour of Orphism and the structure of Cubism.
Synthetic Cubism
The second phase of Cubism, after 1912, using Collage
Style of expressionist painting, similar to cloisonnism, developed by Paul Gauguin at Pont-Aven.


Term coined in 1952 by the French critic Michel Tapie, for the technique of painting in irregular dabs (taches or spots) and in an apparently haphazard manner.
17th century painting technique, used by artists to dramatically illuminate their paintings.
Tonalism (1880-1910)
An American style of landscape art in which views are portrayed in soft light and shadows, as if seen through a misty veil. It was brought to America by American painters influenced by Barbizon School landscapes, and thereafter inspired a number of followers of American Impressionism during the first decades of the 20th century. Leading members included George Inness, and James McNeill Whistler.
13th-Century Italian art, including works by Giotto (Florence) and Duccio di Buoninsegna (Siena). For more, please see: Pre-Renaissance Painting (c.1300-1400).


Utrecht School
Group of painters in Utrecht including Terbrugghen and Honthorst, 1610-20, who had visited Rome and were influenced by the realism and lighting of Caravaggio.
Venetian Painting
Colorito-based style developed by Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and Titian, in opposition to the disegno-based Florentine School.
Vienna Secession
Radical movement led by Gustav Klimt in an attempt to improve Austrian art, c.1897. It had strong links with Jugendstil and Art Nouveau.
Les Vingt
Belgian avant-garde artists exhibition society, set up in Brussels by Octave Maus. Members included James Ensor, Victor Horta, Fernand Khnopff, and others.
Short-lived English avant-garde movement, the most prominent member of which was Wyndham Lewis. Its name derives from a magazine published by the group in 1914: Blast! A Review of the Great English Vortex.


Worpswede Group
An artist colony founded in 1889 by the painters Fritz Mackensen, Otto Modersohn and Hans am Ende in the countryside of Lower Saxony, Germany. Initially painting in the plein air tradition, the group later veered towards Expressionism. Other members included Paula Modersohn-Becker, Carl Vinnen, Fritz Overbeck, and Heinrich Vogeler.
Young British Artists - YBAs, Britart
This UK group, consisting of numerous painters, sculptors, conceptual and installation artists, many of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London, gained huge media coverage for its shocking artworks. Led by Damien Hirst, the group went mainstream in 1997 when the London Royal Academy, in conjunction with Charles Saatchi (their patron), hosted "Sensation", a definitive exhibition of YBA art, amid no little controversy.

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• For a general explanation of visual arts terminology, see: Art Glossary.
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• For architectural terms, see: Architecture Glossary.
• For engraving, etching, lithography and woodcut, see: Printmaking Glossary.
• For art colours, pigments and lakes, see: Colour in Art Glossary.

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