An art movement is an artistic style or a tendency seen in the intentions of works that is followed by a group of artists during a specific period of time. Art movements were especially important in modern art, where each consecutive movement was considered as a new avant-garde. Movements have almost entirely disappeared in contemporary art, where individualism and diversity prevail.
Abstraction and abstract art
Abstract art was largely a result of artists’ increasing interest in the formal aspects of art (such as colour theory) and the creative process, placing emphasis on personal expression. Representational forms, such as figures or landscapes, are often exaggerated or simplified until they become virtually unrecognisable. Examples: Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson.
This movement originated in America in the 1940s, becoming popular in the 1950s. The key interests of the Abstract Expressionists were freedom of expression and exploring the subconscious. Many artists associated with this movement worked quickly and applied paint in unconventional ways such as pouring or splattering paint directly onto the surface, allowing chance and accident to play a significant role in the creation. Some also began experimenting with modern materials and industrial and domestic paints. Examples: Willem De Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko.
Conceptual art, as its name implies, is primarily concerned with conveying an idea or concept behind a work, rather than the creation of a traditional art object (such as a painting, print or sculpture). The term first came into use in the 1960s, but is usually associated with artists of the 1970s, and recently enjoyed an resurgence by being linked to the origins of the Young British Artists (YBAs) in the 1990’s. Still, artists have been making work which is now regarded as conceptual since the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps the first being Marcel Duchamp’s infamous urinal piece made in 1917. In many examples of conceptual art, the art object can be replaced by a description of it or by a set of instructions for its construction, and the actual physical involvement of the artist can often be quite minimal. It therefore often overlaps with other movements of the last century. Examples: Marcel Broodthaers, Jenny Holtzer, Sarah Lucas, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst.
This somewhat ambiguous term usually refers to work created after 1945. Some
define contemporary art as work made within the last 30 years (Christie’s auction
house made this distinction with their contemporary auctions, while Sotheby’s and Phillips maintain the more conventional 1945 date).
The term figurative is now used as the opposite of abstract or conceptual, and extends to anything that depicts a subject taken from life, be it a landscape, objects (a still life) or the human figure. Figuration is often used to describe naturalistic or lifelike elements in otherwise abstract or non-figurative work. Representation is used when the emphasis is on what the subject is rather than with an accurate lifelike depiction.
Installation art is often made for a particular event or space, being referred to as site-specific. Although some installations are able to be re-installed elsewhere or re-made at different venues, they are rarely permanent and may only exist as a documentation of its finished state. Much installation art is considered conceptual and is a popular art-form for alternative spaces rather than galleries. Examples: Christo, Tracey Emin, David Mach, Anthony Gormley.
Modernism and modern art
Modernism and the period referred to as the ‘modernist’ age relates to art and literature of the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. It includes artists such as Giacometti, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Brancusi, Klee, van Gogh and Cezanne, often called the ‘Father of Modernism,’ as well as all those who forged artistic movements such as Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism. Art at this time made a radical break with the past, deliberately departing from traditional materials and techniques. Whilst modernist ideas are still used widely in contemporary art and design, its dogmatism fell out of fashion in the post war period. It should not therefore be confused with contemporary art.
Pop Art largely explores popular mass culture and the products of consumerism
and capitalism. Its message is not always certain, and could be condemning or
celebrating its subject. Largely associated with American culture, it actually began in England in the late 1950s, helped substantially by the focus brought on Britain by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. By appropriating the materials and styles of advertising, billboards, screen-printing, commercial packaging and design, pop artists encouraged their audience to reassess the products of the everyday world, at the same time challenging the elitism of previous art movements. Examples: Peter Blake, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein.
Post-modernism is the recognition that we have gone as far as we can from traditional values in the name of innovation. Therefore nothing can be considered wholly original because everything refers to what has gone before it. This is now part of our everyday ‘Cultural Liberalism’ in which no creative output can categorically be said to be better or worse than any other. Value is given to something according to what it refers to, hence the current fashion for retro culture and for revivals of previous styles. Examples: David Salle, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gavin Turk.
Art media and techniques
Oil paint is a slow drying paint that is created by mixing pigments with oil, linseed oil being the most traditional. Oil paints are usually opaque and never dry fully, but rather develop a hard film. Since the sixteenth century oil painting on canvas has been a standard medium for artists as it can be easily manipulated and has great flexibility, making it possible for an artist to achieve a layered or smooth, rich coloured canvas.
Watercolours are translucent water-based paints. The technique is based on the transparent or glaze system of pigmentation that utilises the colour of the paper for its highlights.
Gouache is an opaque watercolour, but is different from transparent watercolour in that it has a definite, appreciable film thickness and creates an actual paint layer. It has a brilliant light-reflecting quality and is most popularly used in a high chromatic key or in strong contrasting values.
This painting medium was developed in the middle of the twentieth century. Acrylic is a type of synthetic resin based on polymer colours and the paint is made by dispersing pigment in an acrylic emulsion. The artist can thin these colours with water, but when they dry the resin particles coalesce to form a tough, flexible, rubbery film that is impervious to water. This paint is popular because it dries quickly enabling an artist to work over a previously painted area almost immediately. Although acrylics lack the manipulative qualities of oils and watercolours, artists can produce a matt, semi-matt or glossy finish by mixing them with the appropriate mediums.
Lithography consists of drawing or painting with greasy crayons and inks on limestone that has been ground down to a flat, smooth block. After several subsequent manipulations, the stone is moistened with water wetting the sections not covered by the crayon and leaving the areas of the greasy drawing dry as grease repels water. Oil-based ink is then applied with a roller and is repelled by the wet parts of the stone. The print made by pressing paper against the inked drawing is an autographic replica, in reverse, of the original drawing on stone.
Monoprints and monotypes
These two terms are often incorrectly assumed to be the same, but there are important differences. A Monoprint has a single underlying image (such as an etched plate or screen) that is made unique through a process of hand colouring or surface alteration to the printed image. A series of monoprints may be similar but are not identical. Monotypes are unique images and do not have a repeatable matrix (etched plate or screen). Instead, a thin even film of ink is rolled on to a plate, which the artist then manipulates by drawing into it, or by rubbing sections off. The print image is taken directly from the plate.
Intaglio process prints
Intaglio prints can be created through a number of processes, the common element is that the printed area is recessed. These recessed areas are filled with a greasy printer’s ink and then the surface is carefully wiped clean so that the ink remains only in the incised design. Types of intaglio processes include; Etching, Drypoint, Aquatint, Mezzotint, and Collagraphs
The metal plate is coated with an acid-resisting wax or ‘ground’ that the artist draws into with a variety of tools, removing the ground from the areas that are to print black. The plate is immersed in an acid bath, which ‘bites out’ or etches the exposed areas. The etched plate is inked and the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink only in the etched depressions. Finally the plate is run through a press with dampened paper – the pressure forces the paper into the etched areas of the plate, transferring the ink onto the paper. Rembrandt van Rijn first popularised this technique.
Artists working in drypoint draw the image directly onto the plate using a steel tipped ‘pencil’ that produces an added richness due to the burr (or shaving of metal that is turned up at the furrow). As the burrs are delicate and crush easily under the weight of the press, usually less than 50 impressions can be made.
Aquatint is an etching technique, which allows large areas of varying tones to be printed, by means of a textured plate. The area to be etched is dusted with a powdered resin and then heated to melt it onto the surface. The plate is then placed in the acid bath to etch away the tiny areas not protected by the granulated resin.
This is perhaps the most labour intensive intaglio process and involves a plate being ‘rocked’ with a curved, notched blade until the surface is entirely and evenly pitted, creating a rough surface that prints black. Scraping the burr off or polishing the plate smooth creates half-tones and light. Colour mezzotints require a separate plate for each colour which will be printed separately on top of the previous colour in different print runs.
Derived from the word ‘collage,’ Collagraphs are created by building up an image on a surface (cardboard, metal, or plastic) with glue and other materials thereby creating recessed areas where the ink is retained.
This is the oldest printing technique and refers to the cutting away of part of the surface of a block of material so that the image area to be printed stands out in relief. Woodcuts or woodblock prints are made by cutting into the surface of a smooth piece of hardwood with a knife, and V and U gouges are used to create more delicate lines. When printed, the area that has been cut away remains white and the raised surface is visible. A separate block is required for each colour. Printmakers rarely use more than three or four colours for aesthetic purposes. The linocut, a twentieth century adaptation of woodcuts, uses linoleum in place of wood and while it is easier to work with, it will not take very delicate or subtle cutting.
Serigraphy is a twentieth century multicolour printmaking technique developed in America. The stencil process involves placing designs on a silk or nylon mesh screen that is attached to a wooden or metal frame about two inches deep, with the screen fabric at the bottom. Various film-forming materials, as well as hand-cut film stencils and photo-sensitive emulsions, are used as resists. Colour is poured into the frame, which is placed in contact with the surface to be printed on. The colour is scraped over the stencil with a squeegee and deposited on the paper through the meshes of the uncoated areas of fabric.
Otherwise known as Chromogenic Colour and Colour Coupler Print, C-Type is the generic name for modern colour print. Colour sensitive layers of emulsion on the paper respond to the colour information in the negative when light is shone through it. After the initial development, chemical compounds called dye couplers are added to form a layer of hues that produce the full colour image.
The lamdda, or lightjet, is a C-type printed from a digital image file (captured digitally or scanned from a print or film). The image is projected onto light sensitive paper using sophisticated laser technology.
An edition is a predetermined number of prints at a specific size from a single image. An edition print should be of exhibition quality and will be individually numbered (e.g 5/10), signed and dated, either on the print itself or on an accompanying certificate. Often an ‘Artist Proof’ will exist separate to the edition and is usually the first or last to be printed. Editioning is more common among contemporary photographers and gives the collector an assurance of authenticity.
Gelatin silver print
Known as the most common form of black and white printing. Photosensitive particles called silver halides are suspended in a thin layer of gelatin on paper. When the paper is exposed and processed, the particles react and change according to the concentration and brilliance of light.
Inkjet or giclée print
Inkjet prints, also known as giclée prints, are produced from a digital image file by a computer drive printer that sprays minute droplets of ink onto paper. The term ‘inkjet’ covers everything from cheap throwaway prints to exquisite works printed on fine paper. The development of stable, archival inks and dedicated papers is ensuring the popularity of these prints.
Carving is a reductive or subtractive technique in which the artist removes the material through cutting or abrading a block of material to create a piece. Wood is very pliable and is therefore easy to carve, although it is subject to humidity and extreme temperatures as it breathes more than stone, and must be dried and cured prior to carving to prevent subsequent splitting or warping. Marble, the stone used most often since ancient Greece, is very hard and difficult to carve; alabaster, which has a similar aesthetic property to marble, is soft and easy to carve; limestone, granite and sandstone are also popular media.
Modeling is the process in which a three-dimensional form is shaped from clay or wax. Clay works are then fired in a kiln to make the clay permanent and durable.
A fluid substance such as plastic, clay or molten metal is poured into a cast, a mould, which is made from a clay or wax model. Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) is often used in casting, but concrete and resin can also be cast.
The term refers to work such as welded metal constructions in which pre-formed elements are joined and was evident in the revolutionary art movements during the first quarter of the twentieth century in France, Russia and Germany.
Ordinary lead pencils are made of graphite mixed with variable amounts of clay according to the degree of hardness required, with the softest varieties containing little or no clay. The paper texture must be coarse so that it ‘files’ down the pencil. Charcoal, due to its crumbly nature, can be used either for wispy strokes or shading, and is good for creating strong dark lines -the drawback with charcoal is that it smudges and tends to break easily. Chalk is usually used for shading.
Pastels are normally sold in three grades: soft, medium and hard. The soft is universally used, the other two mainly for special effects. The soft texture of pastels allows them to be easily manipulated. One of the charms of the finished drawing is its texture, as manipulations of the crayons produce a varied effect: thin or thick, smooth or rough, level or impasto.
Ink has been used for many centuries in the Far East, and used to be sold in sticks that were rubbed with water in shallow mortars. Modern ink is sold in liquid form, either soluble or waterproof; the former is more suited to fine lines and delicate manipulations and effects, and coloured ink can be applied to wet paper to produce magnificent spreading effects.
Collage became recognised as a serious art form in the early twentieth century. The term is derived from a nineteenth century craft called ‘papiers collés’ in which a variety of found objects including fabric, newspapers and cardboard are adhered to a flat surface to create a work of art. Decoupage refers to the pasting of cutouts all-over a surface rather than the use of cutouts as individual shapes or patterns in a design.
One-off modern art creations, which are entirely or substantially made in glass, these often tend to be specifically commissioned pieces or works for the public domain.
These are smaller and mostly multiple edition glass creations also sometimes known as ‘Studio Glass’, and can cover a range of decorative glass techniques.
Originally used as a form of advertisement, political campaigns, and love declarations in the streets of Pompeii in A.D. 79, it grew in popularity after the 1960’s in Philadelphia and New York. Graffiti quickly spread to Europe in the 1980’s through the Hip Hop culture. Towards the end of the 20th century, this form of creation aimed at self-expression and creativity. It became a type of public art, a way of communicating to the surrounding society. Today, it has become a mainstream form of art ranging from inscriptions to figure drawings, expanding in calligraphic styles and visual effects.
Lacquer is made from a natural substance obtained from the sap of a Lacquer tree. The sap is used as a clear or coloured varnish in pottery and painting which produces a hard durable finish when dry; this type of finish is referred too as ‘Lacquer’. Used in many East Asian Cultures, lacquer has slightly different methods of application and varying results. For example lacquer yielding trees in Vietnam are slightly different, and though the finish is similar the sap produces a slightly softer finish than the Chinese or Japanese lacquer. Therefore you will often find the thousand year old Chinese technique of lacquer has been mainly used for decoration and preservation, while lacquer paintings are the preserve of Vietnamese artists. Popular in Vietnam, many artists using lacquer painting utilise a range of multiple layers of lacquer, colors, eggshells, gold and silver leaves, to express texture, light and colours within their paintings.
The term ‘Digital Art’ encompasses three different categories:
Digitally produced reproduction of an artwork already existing in another form, for example a painting (work such as this is not accepted at Affordable Art Fair, as it is not considered to be an original work of art).
Work produced to be viewed via digital means, which cannot be easily ‘owned’, such as web-art (work such as this tends not to be for sale at Affordable Art Fair but is instead freely accessible to experience, but not to own, via the internet).
Work produced digitally, or using a computer as a tool in the process, which results in a work existing outside of the computer – perhaps in the form of a lambda or giclée print, so that this digitally produced print can be considered to be an ‘original’. Work in this category may also exist in the form of a video, or more recently, a DVD. Such videos and DVDs will often be sold in limited editions, as with prints. (Works such as this are sold at The Affordable Art Fair, subject to it being produced under the same strictly limited editions as conventional prints. In other words, when a print’s edition has been fully run, the artist must not produce any further prints in the series).
Framing an artwork can change its overall appearance dramatically. It may be worth therefore, spending some time to consider how to frame a new print or photograph and if you need help, then look no further than The Frame Society located next to the Education Corner!
The Frame Society is partnering with Affordable Art Fair to provide an excellent quality service and interpret the needs for each piece of art. They will be able to assist you by providing a full spectrum of framing solutions from stretching of canvases to acid free conservation framing. Affordable Art Fair visitors will receive a discounted rate.
For more information visit: www.theframesociety.com