When it comes to art, we all know what we love and what we hate. When roaming an art gallery, we also know the pieces that challenge us. These are the ones we often stare at the longest. We may not necessarily like them, but they capture our attention and get us thinking. They have value.
When we’re deciding on works of art to decorate our own homes, we have an opportunity to choose from the styles of art we love the most. However, that doesn’t mean we suddenly box ourselves in. It just means knowing more about how to best find the art you’re going to love the most.
If you know you love ‘abstract’ and dislike ‘impressionism’, it makes it easier to know where to look. If you don’t know the difference between ‘abstract’ and ‘impressionism’ then you may get a bit stuck.
Unless you’ve been an art scholar, it’s completely understandable to not know the ins and outs of various art styles, so – to help you along – we’ve put together nine styles that will always be popular.
Let’s begin with the trickiest! If you’re a literal person, abstract paintings are often hard to get your head around because they don’t depict anything real – not a person, not a place, not a thing. To achieve its effect, artists paint colours, shapes, forms and gestural marks such as a stroke of paint or even a seemingly random splash.
According to Tate, the word abstract strictly speaking means ‘to separate or withdraw something from something else’. They say ‘abstract art is art which is not representational, it could be based on a subject or may have no source at all in the external world’.
If you’ve ever had the fortune to visit MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York, you’ll know how captivating modern art can be. You need more than one day to fully appreciate all that is there.
Modern art, which covers works from the 1860s to the 1970s, strayed from traditional techniques and styles. As Modern art refers to a period in time rather than a type of art, it’s often tricky to define. However, The Art Story states modern art is characterised by ‘the artist’s intent to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to his or her unique perspective and is typified by a rejection of accepted or traditional styles and values’.
Modern artists shunned the rational world that came before it and instead had a spirit of experimentation. Our own online gallery of Modern art embraces strong colours, line and form – applying a fresh perspective to every aspect of existence.
Often considered the first modern movement in painting, Impressionism was actually developed as a formal art practice in Paris in the 1860s prior to spreading throughout Europe and the US. Impressionist art, in our own gallery online, celebrates the use of light and brushwork to convey the very essence of a subject. Essentially, it tells a story without relying on realistic depictions.
According to Art Movements, impressionist artists ‘incorporated new scientific research into the physics of colour to achieve a more exact representation of colour and tone’. It was more about the artist’s perception of the subject matter rather than the subject matter itself. The beauty of storytelling is in the subjective.
4. Pop Art
Pop art, even though it emerged in the mid 1950s, is so fun today that everyone of all age groups love it. It makes for a great addition to a teenager’s room, a woman’s retreat or a man cave. It really does speak a language that crosses generations.
Pop art often uses imagery of popular culture and mass media, such as news, advertising, movie stars and comic books. In its early days, it presented a challenge to the traditions of fine art. Today’s pop art draws inspiration from that era, providing fun and colour.
In browsing our Pop Art gallery, you’ll see this style of art is ideal for any contemporary, retro or minimalist decor.
One could talk or write about cubism all day, but in the end you’ll learn much more about this style of art by actually viewing it, so to garner a full appreciation be sure to check out our Cubism gallery.
If, when thinking of cubism, you think Pablo Picasso, you’re on the right track as both he and Georges Braque started the movement in the early 1900s. Despite appearing quite abstract in form, it is actually a style of realism.
Art History highlights that cubism has ‘three main ingredients – geometricity, simultaneity (multiple views) and passage’. Artists tackle the ‘fourth dimension’ which is why cubism pieces often feature the same subject from a variety of angles – it’s a quest for meaning or understanding, pointing out the world is not how it seems. That’s why cubism often features so much colour and so much life!
What came first, the word or the artistic movement? Either way, today the word ‘surreal’ is synonymous with ‘weird’ and that’s often a great way to describe this art form. In this case, weird is good.
Surrealism is a form of expression that ‘surpasses realism’. It takes real objects and places them in unreal situations. It’s free of consciousness and free of convention. It’s like living in a dream. We always have fun keeping our Surrealism gallery well stocked with the works that challenge and surprise our customers.
While ‘modern’ refers to a period in time, contemporary is all about now, so it’s a style that’s forever changing because it’s the style of the present. Contemporary art is essentially ‘the making of new art’, but can refer to what’s been made in the last 6 months to a year and, for some art curators, it may even stretch from two to ten years (Art Gallery NSW). If you want to simplify this, it essentially refers to art that’s been created in our lifetimes.
In our own online gallery, we love to feature Contemporary art that utilises the latest digital and rendering techniques. Much of it is abstract, but not all. These pieces look stunning in newly built or renovated homes. Featuring plenty of colour, they can bring an otherwise minimalist room alive.
Fantasy art has its origins in folk art created many centuries ago, as well as Christian mythological art and Greek and Roman art. Fantasy art itself was born out of the literary world and was mainly used to illustrate narratives.
Adults and children alike love fantasy art as it’s all about escaping into magical, mythical lands. Our Fantasy collection features magical wilderness, unicorns, faeries, dragons and plenty of forest and sea spirits.
Generally painted on public walls, graffiti is a consistently developing form of popular art, ranging from slogans and words to detailed and colourful wall paintings. When produced on properties without authorisation, it’s often considered vandalism (even by the most prolific artists!). When in a gallery setting or painted on canvas, it’s most definitely legal and it’s yours to enjoy!