The 20th century saw art develop at a furious pace. In centuries past, artistic movements would take decades to build and spread throughout the world. But with the development of commercial travel, technological advancements and mass media, artistic ideas could grow faster than ever before.
Movements developed quickly all over the world as a result, each with a loosely defined code of rules to distinguish it. As each movement has its own characteristics, we’ve created this guide to help you find out which most suits your personality. Take the test below to find out which movement fits you best.
The Double Secret (20th Century) by René Magritte (1898-1967)Original Source: Paris, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'art moderne - Centre de création industrielle
You don’t play by the rules...
A group of young artists in Zurich reacted to the horrors of the First World War by producing work that rejected traditional artistic values. The group favored working in collaboration, preferring found object construction rather than traditional painting and sculpture.
Self-Portrait (1970) by Man RayOscar Niemeyer Museum
The name ‘Dada’ was apparently chosen at random by sticking a knife into a dictionary, something which exemplifies how the movement would operate. Famous works include Duchamp’s Fountain, a 1917 work that featured an upside down urinal. The Dadaists refused to play by the rules and pushed the very boundaries of what constituted art.
(Untitled) (1931) by Man RayOscar Niemeyer Museum
You see the world in a different way...
A movement that incorporated art and literature, emerging between the two World Wars, emphasizing positive expression. Much of the work deliberately defied reason as a reaction against the so-called ‘rationalism’ many felt had led Europe into such a destructive conflict.
We inhabit the corrosive littoral of habit (1940) by James GleesonNational Gallery of Victoria
The movement was codified by André Breton in his 1924 work The Surrealist Manifesto. It claimed the movement aimed to reunite conscious and unconscious thought, creating a world where dreams would combine with reality. The movement was inspired by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud. Key exponents included Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.
La présence d'esprit (The Presence of Mind) (1960) by René François Ghislain MagritteMuseum Folkwang
You like to keep things simple...
Originating in New York in the 1960s and chiefly concerned with visual art and music, the emphasis was on extreme simplicity. It represented the culmination of the reductionist tendencies that had been happening since the start of the century.
Wall Drawing (1996 - 1996) by Sol LewittCAMUSAC Cassino Museum of Contemporary Art
The idea was to strip back every artwork to its bare minimum, so that it should not refer to anything other than itself. No hidden meanings or subtexts, just simple form, designed to provoke a reaction in the listener or viewer.
Ngapgya sumchu sonyi (2005/2005) by Paola PiviAssociazione Amici della Fondazione Hospice Seràgnoli Onlus
You’re ruled by your conscience...
Art is occasionally guilty of overlooking real life and only focusing on beauty and form. The Social Realism school of the early 20th century, sometimes known as the Ashcan painters, turned the gaze toward the everyday and unglamorous realities of life.
McSorley's Bar (1912) by John SloanDetroit Institute of Arts
Painters such as John Sloan, Robert Henri and George Bellows depicted images of America ravaged by the Great Depression, displaying a political conscience that other movements had chosen to ignore. The movement was also important in Mexico, with muralists such as Diego Rivera and Jose Orozco.
Cabbage Seller (1936) by Diego RiveraMuseo Dolores Olmedo
You like to see things as they really are...
Reacting to the proliferation of photography, this movement began in the US in the 60s and 70s. The aim was to reproduce images as realistically as possible, evolving from the Pop Art movement of the 50s and 60s.
Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967)The Art Institute of Chicago
The movement was also a reaction against the prevailing trends in art toward the expressive and abstract. Leading figures included Edward Hopper, who tried to capture everyday scenes and images as realistically as possible, and, later, portrait artists like Chuck Close.
Alex/Reduction Block (1993) by Chuck CloseParrish Art Museum
The Bus (1929) by Frida KahloMuseo Dolores Olmedo