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Moving Movements, History of Modern Painting, Home

A chronological consideration how different painters worked
between the end of the 18th century and the second world war

With more then 1000 paintings in large resolution, as well as Paintings of the month
  • Preview and survey
  • The period of Modern art painting is very rich of styles and movements. We use an artificial division in our history of art: the artists painted in their personal style, all very different, if compared with each other at a particular period and even on the same location.

  • Modernisation in painting, end 18th century and start of the 19th century

    In the time of baroque and romanticism there where several successful academic painters who where often very modern in their sketches and studies. The first real innovators displaced the frontiers.

  • English and French revolutions in fine arts, 1840 - 1870
  • Around 1840 England and France had their first great renovators: in England Turner, Gothic revival and the first Pre-Raphaelites, in France the gloomy realists and the airy impressionists.

  • The years 1870 - 1880
  • In this time of war, colonialism and flourishing prostitution in France, impressionists and symbolists arose together with the realists, in England the Pre-Raphaelites maintained.

  • The years 1880: a kaleidoscope of styles

    While impressionism found its way to success and new impressionists came up in other countries, Neo-impressionism started in France using big strokes. Some of the symbolists where even more revolutionary, and the Breton nabi's painted in different styles.

  • The years 1890 - 1900: mainly symbolism and Art Nouveau

    Paintings with rough strokes or dots was expanding in France and also started in other countries. But symbolism remained the most popular style amongst the innovaters, annoying the Church and the State. Other painters worked more in the direction of the Art Nouveau and by that way increased the diversity.

  • First ten years of the 20th century: rising of fauvism, expressionism and cubism, but not the end of impressionism and symbolism

    The diversity still grows and the classification in movements becomes more and more difficult. Symbolists are painting with the strokes or dots of the Neo-Impressionists. Some of the artists start to paint faster, multicolored, and are called fauvists in France, expressionists in Germany. A naive painter manages to have his works hanged between the "great" ones on important expositions.

  • 1910 - 1920: despite the World War

    The moving image conquers the West and influences the paintings in France and Italy. Impressionists, Neo-Impressionists, symbolists, fauvists and expressionists were still active, new were the restrained cubism and abstract painting. But the First World War puts a damper on creativity and gives birth to the absurd Dadaism in Switzerland.

  • The years 1920 - 1930

    Surrealism arises and overwhelms the still actual abstract art and cubism. They make use of the media and choke the public with performances, happenings and special exhibitions. There are abstract surrealists (Miro, Sutherland, Witkiewics, Arp, Tanguy), as well as figurative (Dali, Magritte, Picasso) surrealists. Max Ernst belongs to both.

  • Painting after 1930

    Or how surrealism gives birth to several new styles. With a consideration of the future and a survey of the main movements of the years '50 and '60.

  • Japanese painting

    A brief survey of evolution in Japanese painting: no chronological evolution from realism to more expression, nor from figurative to more abstract. To conclude some examples of modern Chinese paintings.

  • Timelines

    Birth and decease of some important painters considered in this essay, put in a table to compare.

  • Painting of the Week
  • In the context of this History of Modern Painting, ca. 1800 until ca. 1950, weekly a special work is proposed, four works in a month.
    Mostly a less known work or a work of a less known artist

  • History of colour
  • History of artist' pigments, from prehistorical sites until today.

Copyright for the text of all pages of this History of Modern Painting: Johan Framhout. Text written in 1990-92 (except for history of colours); revisionned and put on the internet in 2005; translation in English 2012.