Timeline of Art

The Thread:

The thread which joins all the isms in the twentieth century
are its slow evolution from one period to another. As artists
from one concepts were exploring a certain idea that led to
another either just for the sake of the curiosity or by sheer
boredom. Therefore my paper deals with the evolution of
different isms in this century.
From 1904-7, for a very brief period, a few Paris painters
evolved a style of painting that earned the name Les Fauves (wild
beasts). Henri Matisse, Andre Derain and Maurice Vlaminck were
the major contributors to this style of painting which gained
popularity due to its apparent freedom of expression with the use
of pure colors and exaggeration of drawing. Among all of the
twentieth century art movements, this was the most transient and
least definable. The three major painters\' work was highly
individual and shared only for brief periods. The momentary
excitement that held these painters aloft and allowed them the
maximum of freedom, deserted them as their work developed and
matured. The hangover from this movement led to new means of
expression. It was never a movement with aims that could be
realized such as successive movements as Cubism was, but was a
erratic process of experiments with possibilities suggested by
the post-impressionist painters.


Cubism, which began very shortly after Fauvism, is
exemplified by Pablo Picasso. In this movement the flattened
space including background and foreground are related in a new
and more abrupt manner. The first effect is of a camera in
motion, a kaleidoscopic impression of the solid portions of the
figure. This certain feature can be contrasted to the
impressionist movements\' works. Added to this kaleidoscopic
quality is another new element. Picasso and his Cubist
colleagues disintegrated the form into a series of simultaneously
viewed but different aspects of the same subject. A cubist
painter, to achieve a greater understanding, walked about the
subject, observing it from significant various angles and
recording them as his impressions of form. But this procedure
led to actual destruction of form and its reduction to a series
of decorative elements. Negro art and sculpture had a profound
effect and it was quite extensively used by Picasso. Negro
sculpture approved his subject in a more conceptual way than a
naturalistic depiction, mostly by a western view. This resulted
in forms that were more abstract and stylized and in a sense more
symbolic. Picasso held the view that it was art that held the
key to the young twentieth century painters to liberate
themselves and was more representational and anti-naturalistic.
The rational, geometric breakdown of the human head and body
provided Picasso re-appraisal of his subjects. This style gave
birth to the next phase of development, known as synthetic
Cubism. Georges Barque was major contributor to this style, in
which he joined bits of real wallpaper, playing cards, tobacco
package labels and other materials. These were selected not to
form impact but for decorative and compositional-making. In this
form, the Cubists were more concerned with textural and
decorative values. Cubism was an art of experiment which
stripped bare the mechanics of pictorial creation and destroyed
the artificial barriers between abstraction and representation.
It still remains the pivotal movement in the art of the first
half of this century.

Abstract Expressionism:

Since the World War II the paintings\' movement had gathered
considerable momentum. The political realities of the time- from
1943 to early 1950s- the War, the Holocaust in Europe, the
apparent threat of the world destruction by atomic bomb, the
conservative reaction of McCarthyism in United States and even
intensified hurly burly of city life-resulted in a movement
called Abstract Expressionism. Abstract Expressionism combined
two tendencies already evident in the twentieth century; the
drive to create totally abstract works and express emotion
through the use of brilliant colors. The leading figure of this
new painting style was Jackson Pollock, who produced his large
works by dribbling strands of paint on the canvas, involving his
whole body in the activity and creating sensations of sparkling
energy and movement. The term "Action Painting" was coined to
describe how Pollock worked. Pollock felt, he could become
emotionally involved with his work and through it communicate his
emotions to the viewer. A more violent and intense form of
Action Painting was devised by Willem de Kooning from whose
seeming destruction of form gradually emerged a bodily image.
During the fifties, older and younger artists alike were
affected by the trend towards discarding all standards of form.
Mark Rothko developed a uniquely personal, reserved, almost
mystical mode of painting in which colors interacted as they
appeared to shift in space. In this geometrical abstraction, a
clarity of design appeared, together with the use of