Realism, Impressionism and Abstracts, Oh My!

Science will get us out of this, but Art will get us through this.
—Mo Willems, American author.

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What kind of art do you like? There are many creative options, so in this issue, as well in future issues, we offer a brief overview of various art styles. As you read through these, you may find there are several that appeal to your visual senses. There is sometimes a grey area between two styles where neither is dominant. An abstract landscape can also be seen as being impressionist. There are not always distinct and defining lines.

Many things will inspire an artist to favor one form of creative expression over another, many artists have changed or expanded their styles over time, and many styles overlap. Art has changed throughout time. Mediums — what we use to create art — have expanded and technology has lent itself to providing even more options.

The use of the terms “modern” and “contemporary” are more terminology than styles, but it’s nice to know there is a difference. Most art experts consider “modern” art, mostly oil on canvas, to have been created from the 1880s through the 1960s. Styles from that era include impressionism, cubism, surrealism, art deco, pop art and abstract expressionism plus others. There were many concepts and techniques that were born in those years. “Contemporary” art, on the other hand, is created by artists still living and has expanded to include a large variety of surfaces, mediums, styles and subject matter. Creativity is now more focused more on concept and process. In a nutshell, modern art was created “then”, contemporary art is created “now”.

Briefly, here are some of the more predominate and popular kinds of art and we’ll begin with painting. In future issues, we’ll look at photography, sculpture, and glass work. Parklane artists offer a broad selection of contemporary styles and media guaranteed to please you.

Traditional Realism
Art created with the objective of portraying subject matter as accurately as possible to show how it appears in real life — sometimes referred to as “photo realism”. Subject matter can include landscapes, still life, figurative/portraits, as well as thematic subjects such as animals, flowers, groups/events, western, sports, ethnic culture, etc.

There is an historical perspective related to the impressionist style of painting that spreads itself our over many years if you begin with the work of England’s pre-impressionists such as Constable and Turner in the mid-1800s. Then in 1874, the art world was introduced to the French Impressionists whose new techniques featured paintings that were considered shockingly unacceptable by art experts of that time. Focused on the effects of light — many painted outdoors rather indoor studios — those artists were trying to capture a feeling or experience They were creating their “impressions” of life, rather than an actual depiction. Among the ranks of those now-famous painters are Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Degas to name but a few. As the creativity of concepts and techniques continued to expand, within a few years another group of painters emerged and are referred to as the neo-impressionist or post-impressionists including Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Seurat as well as many others. Also noteworthy is the impressionist work from Russia and other European painters as well as from artists all around the world. Impressionism is alive and well and continues on as a popular style today.

This may be an over simplification, but there are basically two styles that come to mind when you think of think of abstraction. The first is where an artist has an actual object as subject matter, then manipulates or changes that image with varying techniques so it is still recognizable, but far from being seen as realism. And there are obviously degrees of this style of “abstraction” of something that actually exists.

The other term used is non-objective or non-representational art where we see shapes, colors and textures used to create an image bearing no resemblance to anything real.The artist is focusing on using design, composition and techniques to create a visual image that may suggest an emotional impact (such as beauty, calmness, joy, sadness, energy, etc) or other objectives.

More later… stay tuned!

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