The Archer by Adriaan J. Van’t Hoff

The Archer. 1928. Adriaan J. Van’t Hoff. Dutch 1893-1939. oil/canvas

Style - Art Deco

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How to get the best grade on your art history essay

How to ensure that you get the best grade possible on your art history essay

We are not all born with the great essay writing gene. Nor can we all pump out essays like a big essay writing company in New York, Boston or Toronto. In fact some of us never quite get the hang of it. So what happens when your art history teacher shows up and expects a properly written, well thought out and executed art history essay? Well, we have to deliver, don't we? Our lack of a great essay writing gene should not doom us to forever fail our essays. There are somethings that are within our control and can help to compensate for our deficiencies. Here is a list of the things we can do to improve our grade.

Diagnose the problem

The first step to getting the correct help for the problem you are having is to find out what you particular issue is. Is it that you find it hard to get your thoughts together? Is the writing a problem? Do you find it hard to get your bibliography in check? Do you need advice and information? Figuring out which of these is your problem (or maybe several of these are the problem) is the best way to improve your essay. Diagnosing the problem is your first step to fixing your problem.

Make sure you are using the correct source materials

There are many sources that can provide you the help you need if you are having difficulty with your art history essay. The best way to use these sources is to ensure that they are accurate and correct. If you are finding it difficult to found the right references for your work a great person to go to is a librarian. They are trained professionals who are available to find any appropriate source for you. They can definitely send you in the right direction if you are looking for the right book(s), magazines, online source, out of print book, journal article, etc... Most people today seek help on the internet and use sites like Wikipedia to get more information. This is definitely a good place to start but make sure that you do not only rely on Wikipedia for information as some of that information may be incorrect or not properly vetted. Also, beware of other sources on the internet such as blogs and even some news sites as they will not have the most accurate information.

Get help when you need it

if you are having problems with your writing get help from a tutor or your school's student academic help centre. These sources can help you identify your issues with writing and help to resolve them. They may even be able to proofread your work to ensure that it is properly edited. In particular, a tutor can provide you with consistent studying time, techniques that will help you improve your writing abilities, steps that will help you do the preliminary work on your essay which will ultimately make it stronger and a person that will provide you with editing expertise to improve your work. A student academic help centre is available at most schools and can provide you with free help in writing your art history essay. Make sure to sign up early to ensure that you will get a spot and use your time with your academic helper wisely. Come prepared to talk about what you are having difficulty with or with an already prepared essay and your academic helper will be able to provide you with the help you need.

Ask your teacher

Your teacher is ultimately there to help you. If you are having difficulty understanding a topic or you are unsure about how to go about your essay go and ask you teacher. He/she will be able to put you on the correct path that will lead to a better grade. Also, teachers often provide students with the opportunity to hand in a prepared essay before the due date. Usually this date is 1 week before the due date so try to work with that in mind. Teachers will read through your essay and provide you with suggestions that will help you to improve your grade.

Nobody is perfect and no one is good at everything, but that does not mean you cannot take steps to try to improve the things that you are not the best at. Using the suggestions above you will be able to do what you can to make your art history essay the best it can be even if you are not an English major.

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Abstract Impressionism

Abstract Impressionism is an art movement originating in New York City in the 1940’s. This was the first American movement to gain worldwide recognition, and put New York at the center of the art world; an achievement formerly awarded to Paris. Robert Coates coined the term ‘abstract impressionism’ in 1946 in one of his critiques of the new artwork. The most important predecessor of abstract impressionism is Surrealism, which also emphasizes spontaneous and subconscious creation. The name of this period reflects the combination of unique self expression with emotional intensity, and contrasts the ideas or Futurism and Cubism.

Abstract Impressionism is a form of art where the artist expresses himself through the use of form and color, with no objective representations. The movement can be divided into two groups: the Action Painting expressed by artists like Pollock and De Kooning; and Color Field Painting practiced by Rothko and Noland. Famous artists of this movement include Pollock, Gorky, Riopelle, Rothko, de Kooning, Motherwell, and Kline; their works possess very different moods and subjects, yet share qualities such as sizable canvasses, flat compositions, and the fact that all areas of the piece are filled with movement and paint (instead of creating a focal point, or an area of the most interest).

Action Art

The term ‘Action Art’ or ‘Action Painting’ was coined initially by Harold Rosenberg, one of the most vocal proponents of the Abstract Expressionist movement. He was know for his strong criticism of society, political issues and art – opposing the views of formalist critic Clement Greenberg. Action art represents unconventional techniques of applying paint to canvas including splashing, slashing, and dribbling. Action painters believed that the actual expressive act of painting held the power of the artwork, versus the finished product. Harold Rosenberg describes the action painting movement as being ‘not a picture but an event’. One of the leading artists of this art period was Jackson Pollock who used the drip and splatter technique on many of his canvasses. Many critics will agree that the attraction to Pollock’s art is energy and drama that it radiates. It is hard to tell how much of Jackson Pollock’s art is planned and how much is left to chance and flying paint. Another action painter, William Green, used a bicycle in the production of his art. He’d ride over the canvas on a bike, whereas other similar artists like those in the Gutai Group from Japan painted with their feet as they hung from ropes. Art critics have been divided about the actual worth and purpose of action art / action painting. Nevertheless action art is a noticeable subsection of Abstract Expressionism, and was an important precursor to later techniques like Spin Art and Disruptive Painting.

Jackson Pollock

Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, and studied at the Manual Arts High School (1928), and the Art Students League in New York (1930). Pollock’s instructor in New York, Thomas Hart Benton, was a continual support through Pollock’s career. Artists that influenced Pollock and were respected by him included Jose Clemente Orozco, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera. Surrealism, the precursor to abstract impressionism, also greatly influenced the artist. Pollock’s first solo show was held in 1943 at the Guggenheim, where he received a contract until 1947. This contract allowed the artist to devote all his time to painting, and we can see that his works moved away from figurative styles and more into abstract techniques, and abstract impressionism. Pollock is renowned for his splashing and dripping paint onto a canvas, which gave him the nickname ‘Jack the Dripper’. After completing his contract at the Guggenheim, he was supported by the CIA via the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Pollock died in a car accident in 1956.

Art Deco

Art Deco was introduced in the 1920’s and reigned through the 1930’s, encompassing both the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. It is an elegant style of decorative art and architecture reflective of Art Nouveau, yet with more modern sophistication. Art Deco features sleek straight lines and an element of boldness.The movement affected city styles, architecture, high fashion, jewelry, commercial printmaking, and interior design, and embraced lifestyles of hedonism, indulgence and mass consumption. The term Art Deco was not coined until the 1960’s by Bevis Hillier, a British historian and critic. Notable Art Deco buildings include the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, The Chrysler Building, and the Midland Grand Hotel.

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka is maybe on of the most famous painters of the Art Deco period. Lempicka was born in Poland and then proceeded to move to Russia where she lived until her husband was arrested by the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution. She helped to release him and then they fled to Paris. This is where she learned to paint, enrolling at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere and studying privately. Partially facilitated by her spare simple style, she was quite a prolific artist and was much sought after as a portrait artist. If you are interested in learning more about Tamara deLempicka I highly recommend checking out the 'Passion by Design' by her daughter, Kizette deLempicka-Foxhall. Works by Tamara de Lempicka include:

Young Girl With Gloves
Portrait of Doctor Boucard
Mother Superior
Portrait of Pierre de Montaut
Girl Sleeping
Portrait of Grand Duke Gabriel (ca. 1927) (87K) Private Collection
Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (ca. 1927) (62K) Private Collection
Portrait of Madame Boucard (1931) (80K) Collection Boucard, Paris
Adam and Eve (ca. 1932) (56K) Petit Palais, Geneva
Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti) (1925) (59K) Private Collection
Portrait of Madame M. (1933) (71K) Private Collection, Paris
Portrait d'Homme inacheve (Unfinished portrait of Tadeusz de Lempicki) (1928) (41K) Musee Georges Pompidou, Paris
Portrait of the Dutchess de la Salle (1925) (49K) Collection of Alain Blondel, Paris
Calla Lilies (1941) (81K) Private Collection, California
The Refugees (1937) (46K) Musee d'Art et d'Historie, Saint Denis
Romana de la Salle (1929) (77K)
Portrait of Ira P. (65K) Private Collection

Art Nouveau

The Art Nouveau movement occurred in the late 19th century from about 1894 to 1914, and was represented in Europe as well as in the United States. In each country “Art Nouveau” had a different meaning and identity, and artists were often piqued against each other in defining the art period. In summary, Art Nouveau is the avant-garde movement of the period in reaction to historical and academic perspectives. Art Nouveau artists wished to blur the lines between famous and minor artists, and unifying all arts, and unifying art with everyday human life – in essence, the art of the period became part of the architecture, placards, and jewelry in an attempt to combine life and art. Art Nouveau is characterized by its elegant decorative style, detailed patterns, curving lines, and art innovation. Leading artists include Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, and the glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was born in 1862 to an Autrian jeweler, and studied at the School of Plastic Art in Vienna in his teenage years. From the age of 18 he took commissions for small decorative works. In 1897 he became the first President of the Vienna Sezession, but after he discovered the Byzantine mosaics of Vienna, he withdrew from the Sezession and became the President of the Austrian National Union of Artists in 1912. In 1917 he was granted an honorary professorship at the esteemed Viennese Academy. The early works by Klimt cause an uproar because of his scandalous subjects such as naked girls and skeletons and sexual expression. Ornamentation permeates the Klimt’s paintings, and it’s as if the bodies of his subjects are competing or struggling with the decorative background. Klimt was one of the main contributors to Art Nouveau, and his decadent style, his themes of sex and death, and his liberal expression foreshadowed the advent of modern art.

Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha was a Czech painter, poster artist and designer born in 1860, and contributed greatly to the Art Nouveau movement. He was able to study at the Munich Academy because of a wealthy patron friend in 1887. He began illustrating for several newspapers and magazines after his education and in 1894, he won renown for his first poster for Sarah Bernhardt. Many of works after this celebrated his Slav history, which reflected a very unique style of drawing – elegant, supple, and sophisticated. Mucha is well known for his intertwined and curved forms, depictions of wild plant life, and his expressions of women in paintings.

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in 1848 to a jewelry company owner, and is most renowned for his Art Nouveau style stained glass. He also designed pieces of furniture, jewelry, and wonderful paintings. Louis first studied under the painter George Inness and at the age of 24 he pursued an interest in glassmaking. In 1885 he founded his own glassmaking company, and invented a process of making opalescent glass, as well as a new technique for making hand blown vases and bowls. Louis’ company made a range of interior decorations including glass picture windows, lamps, and the full interior of his own house, Laurelton Hall in Oyster Bay. Louis C. Tiffany died in 1933 and is remembered for his innovation and contribution to the Art Nouveau Movement in the United States.

Arts and Crafts

The Arts and Crafts Movement became popular in the 1870’s and was first introduced to America through the Gothic Revival as well as through particular works of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. William Morris, who lectured on decorative arts, and Ruskin, an art and architecture critic were two notable characters that laid the foundation for the arts and crafts period. The company of William Morris, Morris & Co, started selling wallpaper, fabric, and carpet in the 1870’s. William was an artist, architect, and poet and he valued simplicity, good craftsmanship, and good design over the extravagance of the Victorian style. Morris felt that the Industrial Revolution had isolated people from their own creativity, and thus wanted to return to a style and creativity which could not be found in the newly popular mass produced items. The British movement happening at the same time focused on a detailed gothic style where walls were covered in wallpaper or white washed with themes from medieval times. Textiles and ceramics were realistic and colorful. Because the intricate craftsmanship cost more than factory goods, the average citizen could not afford these items, and thus the work of the Arts and Crafts Movement were limited to the richer upper classes. The arts and crafts movement contributed to American architecture and the development of the Queen Anne Revival. American Arts and Crafts artisans were initially inspired by English work, but later drew inspiration from the American Colonial period and the Old Colony Style. Oscar Wilde was a fan of the arts and crafts movement and actually went on a tour lecturing about the movements ideas.


The Baroque movement originated in Italy in the late1500’s (spanning through to the 1700’s) and was later accepted by France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. This art period was a reaction against the formulaic Mannerist style which was the dominant form during the late Renaissance. Baroque style is more realistic and emotional than the complex Mannerist style. The movement was greatly encouraged by the Catholic Church because it marked a return to tradition and spirituality. Famous artist who greatly contributed to the Baroque period include Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and Vermeer.


Caravaggio, or Michelangelo Merisi, was born in Milan in 1571 to a ducal architect. Early in his life he studied under Simone Peterzano and Titian until 1588. He secured his first commission for Cardinal’s Casino dell’Aurora in Rome, and painted Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. From that point on he was in high demand for public commissions but because of his violent temper he was constantly in trouble with the law. Finally in 1606 he had to flee in 1606 because of his involvement in a murder, and during his wanderings through Naples, he paints exclusively religious themes emphasizing sadness, suffering and death. Caravaggio is later pardoned by the Pope for his past crimes, but on arriving at Porto Escole by ship he is arrested and later released. Unfortunately Caravaggio gets struck down by a fever and dies without even reaching Rome again. Caravaggio’s tumultuous career was short but offered a huge contribution to the Baroque movement in that he was one of the first to paint people as ordinary looking, and express intense emotional realities.


Rembrandt was born in 1606 in Leiden Netherlands and is considered a master of Western Art, completing more than 600 paintings and about 200 etchings and drawings throughout his lifetime. He’s explored many subjects such as nudes, landscapes, portraits, daily life scenes, birds and animals, mythological figures, biblical subjects and self portrats. At the age of 14 Rembrandt attended the University of Leiden until he dropped out to pursue his love of art. By the age of 22 he was already teaching students, and meeting wealthy patrons who commissioned portraits from him. Tragically, of Rembrandt’s children, only one of four survived infancy and his wife died in 1642. Rembrandt declared bankruptcy after living an extravagant lifestyle, and he was forced to auction off his mansion, and treasured art collection. After this point he began to focus on painting for personal enjoyment rather than for money, and these are considered his best because of the depth, richness, and spirituality that was missing from earlier works. In Rembrandt’s later years he married his housekeeper who died in 1663, followed by his only surviving son in 1668. Rembrandt himself passed away in 1669 but left a legacy of art that helped shape the Baroque movement.


Bernini was born in 1598 and was the dominant figure of the Italian Baroque, specializing in sculpture and architecture. After being trained by his father, an accomplished sculptor, Bernini found work in Rome. Bernini completed early statues such as David, and Apollo and Daphne for Scipione Cardinal Borghese – one of the most important patrons of the period. In 1629 Bernini designed the ornate baldachin, the monument, and the marble decorations for St. Peter’s. Throughout the 1640’s Bernini designed the Cornaro Chapel, and the Santa Maria della Vittoria. He continued to design churches and established a new mode of art where he linked sculpture with architecture. Bernini passed away in 1680.


The Bauhaus movement is a school of art, architecture and design characterized by geometric design, respect for practical material, and its severely economic sensibilities. The Bauhaus movement was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in Germany and ended in the 1930’s. Gropius coined the term Bauhaus as an inversion of the word meaning ‘house construction’ or ‘Hausbau’. Gropius taught at a school which focused on functional craftsmanship, and his students were guided to focus on designs that could be mass produced. The Bauhaus school had some famous teachers which included Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Marcel Breuer. The Bauhaus movement continues to influence us today, where any modern environment often incorporates elements of the period. The ideas of the Bauhaus creators have influenced architecture, furniture, typography, and weaving. Famous artists of the Bauhaus movement include Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Franz Marc, Georg Muche, and Oskar Schlemmer.

Walter Gropius

Walter Gropius was born in 1883 in Berlin to a German architect. He studied at the Technical Univerisities in Munich and Berlin and joined the company of Peter Behrens in 1910, later joining the practice of Adolph Meyer. After serving in the war Gropius joining several radical artist groups, finally becoming the Director of the Bauhaus. Gropius left the Bauhaus and resumed private practice as WWII approached, and later moved to the United States to become a professor at Harvard University. From 1938 to 1941 he worked on a group of houses with Marcel Breure and in 1945 he created "The Architect's Collaborative", which was a design team that encompassed his value of teamwork. Gropius was well known for his innovative designs that used modern materials and construction methods. He believed in industrialized and efficient buildings, he accepted standardization and mass production, and he supported the belief that team work was essential. In essence Gropius created buildings on precise math calculations and science. Gropius also introduced to the times a screen wall system that was made up of a structural steel frame, which allowed external glass walls to cover a surface uninterrupted. Gropius was an important teacher and theorist in his time and he died in Boston in 1969.

Body Art

Body art is extremely popular all over the world and includes anything that consists of the human body. Some of the most popular types of body art are tattoos, and piercings but other types of body art involve air brushing, scarring, branding, scalpelling, shaping with corsets and lace and body painting. In addition, body art encompasses nose rings, dydos, bangles, rings, makeup, studs, nose pins, and lip plates.There are more extreme types of body art involving mutilation, or pushing the physical limits of the body. Marina Abramovic is a body artist and her exhibit involved her dancing until she collapsed from tiring out. Dennis Oppenheim is another example of a body artist where he suntanned until he burned while holding a book to his chest – thus he had an outline of the book on his chest. On a less extreme level body art is a form of decorating the body, and emphasizing or showing off a certain feature.

Byzantine Art

The Byzantine art movement was active from the 5th century AD to 1453 during the time when the Byzantine Empire was dominant. The period was centered around the Orthodox church and featured painted icons, and decorative churches with mosaics and frescoes. With the fall of Constantinople (the center of the movement) to the Turks in 1453, the Byzantine style also ended. This occurred during the European Renaissance era but the influence of Byzantine art remained strong in Russia, and other areas where the Orthodox church was influential.

The Byzantine style grew out of traditional designs such as pictures of saints and Bible stories and repetitive decoration. There does not seem to be any basis on natural forms as the human figures are unnaturally long, the emotions are formal and still, and the facial expressions are conventional, rigid and almost lifeless. The most prominent figures of the period are Christ, the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the saints, Bishops and angels. The political structure of the period revolved around the emperor who was believed to be divinely appointed by God. Art played a large role in visualizing his powers with images of gods, goddesses, cherubs, and personifications of virtues.

Andrei Rublev

Andrei Rublev is a legendary Byzantine style painter born in the 1360’s in Russia. Even in the fifteenth century Rublev’s icons were considered extremely valuable, and were much coveted. Rublev’s works were so popular that the Church Council in Moscow directed that the correct representation for the Trinity was to be painted from models as painted by Greek painters and by Andrei Rublev. Very few of Rublev’s great works have survived, but the ones that have include The Lives of Russian Saints, individual icons, the festival tier of the Annunciation Cathedral in Moscow’s Kremlin, frescoes in the Cathedral of the Assumption, and The Old Testament from the Holy Trinity Cathedral.


Cimabue or Cenni di Pepe was a painter that concluded the Byzantine era. He was submitted to the rules of the Byzantine style but took it to the greatest heights of expression, paving the way for artists such as Giotto and new trends in Italian painting. Cimague was first mentioned for his work on Roman mosaics in 1272, and then again in 1278 when he began his work on the Franciscan basilica at Assisi, which he worked on with Sienese painter Duccio di Buoninsegna, and Giotto from Florence. Cimabue most likely created the Crucifix in Arezzo, and the Crucifix in Santa Croece. Cimabue’s earliest works tend to be rigid and lifeless, whereas later in life, his works portray new sensitivity to body movement and emotional expression.

The Lorenzetti Brothers

The Lorenzetti brothers were two 14th century Italian painters of the Byzantine period, born in Siena. They attended the Sienese school built around the Byzantine style tradition – it was run by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Simone Martini. The Lorenzetti brothers were the first Sienese artists to manifest the style of Tuscon sculptor Giovanni Pisano in that they experimented with 3-dimensional images and spatial arrangements; this foreshadowed the advent of the Renaissance. Pietro was more traditional than his brother and focused on refinement, harmony and dramatic emotion. His works include the altarpiece portraying Madonna and Child with Saints, frescoes in the lower Church in Assisi, and the masterpiece the Birth of the Virgin. Ambrogio was more realistic and inventive than his brother and is best known for his fresco cycles Good Government and Bad Government, as well as his painting Presentation in the Temple.


Classicism is the art movement founded on aesthetic attitudes based on the art, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. The movement emphasizes form, proportion, restrained emotion and simplicity. The principles of classicism were derived from the practices and guidelines of the ancients, and the term has come to mean adherence to specific academic canons. The first major revival of classicism was during the Renaissance resulting from a fresh interest in Roman and Greek culture. Again in the 18th century the interest in classicism was sparked by the discovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii; this period is defined as neoclassicism and is considered to be phase one of the romantic movement.

Phidias of Athens

Phidias of Athens was a Classical Greek sculptor who lived from 493 to 430 BC, and is one of the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece. He was son to Charmides and is well known for his 40 foot tall statue of Athena in the Parthenon, and his statue of Zeus at Olympia. The Athena, with "chryselephantine" workmanship, featured plates of ivory on a wood core, with stone flesh and solid gold drapery and ornaments. Phidias' Athena was destroyed in antiquity and was the chief treasure of Athens. We know of its existence because several copies were made and preserved, and it is also represented on gems and coins. The Zeus was constructed of ivory and gold and is counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Phidias was sent to prison after being charged with impiety and it is thought that he died there.

Color Field Art

Color field paintings are defined by solid areas of color that cover the whole canvas. Artists that embraced this style were Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970), Jules Olitski (1922 -), and Kenneth Noland (1924 -). Color field art is a subtype of Abstract Expressionism where artists became interested in the effects that large expanses of color had on the atmosphere and mood of the work. Color field paintings are generally large, and convey a sense of infinity, and being immersed in an environment of color. Examples of color field painting include:

Alma Thomas, Orion, 1973, oil on canvas
Barnett Newman (American, 1905-1970), Day One, 1951-52, oil on canvas
Morris Louis (American, 1912-1962), VAV, 1960, acrylic on unprimed canvas
Jules Olitski (American, 1922-), Instant Loveland, 1968, acrylic on canvas
Kenneth Noland (American, 1924-), Gift, 1961-2, acrylic on canvas


Constructivism was a movement that was active from 1915 to the 1940’s. It was a movement created by the Russian avant-garde, but quickly spread to the rest of the continent. Constructivist art is committed to complete abstraction with a devotion to modernity, where themes are often geometric, experimental and rarely emotional. Objective forms carrying universal meaning were far more suitable to the movement than subjective or individualistic forms. Constructivist themes are also quite minimal, where the artwork is broken down to its most basic elements. New media was often used in the creation of works, which helped to create a style of art that was orderly. An art of order was desirable at the time because it was just after WWI that the movement arose, which suggested a need for understanding, unity and peace. Famous artists of the Constructivist movement include Vladimir Tatlin, Kasimir Malevich, Alexandra Exter, Robert Adams, and El Lissitzky.

El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky, or Lazar Lissitzky was born in 1890 and died in 1941 and worked as an architect, a painter, a typographer and a designer. He grew up in the same hometown as Marc Chagall, Vitebsk, and studied architecture at the Polytechnic school in Darmstadt from 1909 to 1914. El Lissitzky worked as an architect in Moscow after he completed his studies, and also began to illustrate children's books in 1917 in a style greatly influenced by Chagall. El Lissitzky became a professor at the art school in Vitebsk in 1919 and worked alongside Malevich. While teaching he began a series of abstract paintings which he called Prouns because they combined both painting and architecture. In addition Lissitzky designed books, and innovative typography techniques. El Lissitzky's works, which are mostly gouaches, currently run for values between $15,000 and $150,000.


Cubism was sparked in 1907 by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and is one of the most potent art movements of the 20th century. The cubists were inspired by painters like Georges Seurat, Fauves, and Paul Cezanne as well as by African sculpture as you can see in many of Picasso’s works. Cubist artists believed in breaking up a subject matter, analyzing it, and then re assembling it in abstract form.

Instead of depicting an object from one angle, cubist artists were able to paint an object from multiple angles at the same time in order to represent an object in the most complete way possible. Braque and Picasso took this idea to heart after hearing the advice of Paul Cezanne in 1904: nature should be treated “in terms of the cylinder, the sphere, and the cone”. There were three main stages to the development of the cubist movement: Facet Cubism, Analytic Cubism, and Synthetic Cubism. The first controversial exhibition that gave cubism it’s initial fame was put on by Braque and Raoul Dufy in 1908, both artists having fauvist beginnings. They created a series of landscapes with limited variety of colors and simplified forms.

Art critic Louis Vauxcelles described Braque as an artists that “scorns form and reduces everything, sites, figures and houses, to geometric schemas and cubes”. Over the next couple years Braque and Picasso created works broken into planes and edges defying perspective and depth. Many cubist works have bland colors and uniform small brushstrokes which work to create vibrations of light.

Braque and Picasso conveyed elements of illusion, unconventional continuity and density. Even though the first world war stopped Picasso and Braque from working together on the Cubist movement, the cubist core continued to be active until the 1920’s. Cubism artists like Matisse, Laurens, Lipchitz, and Fernand Leger were all influenced by the works of Braque, Picasso, and Cezanne before them.

Pablo Picasso

Picasso was a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Malaga, Spain as the first child to Jose Ruiz y Blasco and Maria Picasso y Lopez. He is known as one of the founders of cubism along with Georges Braque. In his lifetime Picasso created about 13000 paintings or designs, 34000 book illustrations, 300 sculptures, and 100000 art prints. Picasso’s father was a painter that specialized in natural bird images and was a famous professor of art in the School of Crafts. Picasso’s father tutored him in art, teaching him drawing and oil painting. Picasso went to school for carpentry throughout his childhood, but did not finish his college courses at the Academy of Arts in Madrid. In many of Picasso’s earliest works he uses images of harlequins, which are humorous characters sporting checkered clothing. The harlequin eventually became a symbol for Picasso. In the 1930’s the painter picked up a new symbol, the minotaur to replace the harlequin motif, most likely because of his interaction with the surrealists who often used the minotaur as a symbol. You’ll find an example of this in Picasso’s Guernica painting.

Picasso’s work can be divided into 5 different periods:

1. The Blue Period – ranged from 1901 to 1904 and consisted of low intensity blue paintings that were the result of the suicide of Carlos Casagemas, a close friend to Picasso. The Blue Period features acrobats, harlequins, paupers, various artists, and women of the night.

2. The Rose Period – ranged from 1905 to 1907 and was characterized by more upbeat colors including oranges and pinks. Picasso was in Paris at the time and had befriended Fernande Olivier, a model for artists.

3. The African influenced Period – ranged from 1908 to 1909 and was influenced by African artifacts.

4. Analytic Cubism – ranged from 1909 to 1912 and featured the unique cubist style which he developed with Braque using browns and grays. The motive was to pick objects apart and analyze them in terms of shapes and components that make them up. Picasso and Braque’s paintings resemble each other’s at this time.

5. Synthetic Cubism – ranged from 1912 to 1919 in which Picasso used pieces of cut paper to create artwork. He’d paste the fragments of newsprint, magazines, and wallpaper into collages, which were the first to be presented as fine art.