Meaning of artistic currents

What are Artistic Currents:

Artistic currents are a set of aesthetic trends visible in the works of art of a certain period that share formal, technical and philosophical characteristics, that is, they correspond to a convention.

Also called "art movements," art currents include paintings, sculpture, and the performing arts, but the term is also applicable to music, philosophy, and literature.

Artistic currents occur within periods of art history, so they do not constitute a period in themselves. For example, there is no cubist period in the general history of art; but there is a current or cubist movement parallel to other movements of the same historical generation, such as futurism or abstraction.

Indeed, the term "artistic current" can be equated with "artistic movement". It represents the monitoring of a certain aesthetic, philosophical and cultural program by a group of artists.

The expression "artistic currents" is frequently used to refer to the different tendencies of the art of the contemporary age, since in this period the concepts were widely developed in isms diverse among themselves that fluctuated in parallel. These movements arose from manifestos that declared intentions and purposes and indicated the paths of new artists.

Old age

Acropolis of Athens, Greece. Classical art.

The artistic currents that emerge in this period correspond to all those that appear after the invention of writing until the fall of the Roman Empire.

They are classified by their historical period, that is, by association with the civilizations in which they were created, such as Egypt, India, Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

Middle Ages

Mosaics from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Byzantine art.

From the Middle Ages, which began with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, artistic currents began to have proper names that determine similar characteristics in styles, techniques and themes.

The most important artistic currents of the Middle Ages are Byzantine art, Islamic art, Romance art and Gothic art. Depending on the focus and the region, the Middle Ages ended between the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Modern age

Sandro Botticelli: The birth of Venus. XV century. Renaissance.

Modernity as a historical period is between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The end of the Middle Ages is considered as the emergence of the Renaissance (14th to 16th centuries), and is characterized by rescuing the aesthetic values ​​of Ancient Rome and classical art in general. At the end of this period the trend of Mannerism appeared.

Rubens: The descent of Christ. 1614. Baroque.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Baroque art developed, encompassing both the plastic arts and music and literature. It is a great time for Spain, where the famous Golden Age takes place, a time of the splendor of literature in the Spanish language.

In France, the Baroque was succeeded by the Rococo style, an art typical of the French court. Although before it was studied as a deep baroque, today it is studied as a movement in itself differentiated from the baroque.

Contemporary age

It is difficult to place the Contemporary Age today. Some consider that this begins in the second half of the 19th century. However, the classification that marks the beginning of the Contemporary Age in the second half of the 18th century is gaining more and more force, when the end of the wars of religion, the rise of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution of 1789 and the industrial revolution, which configures the essential features of our current civilization.

Jacques-Louis David: The death of Socrates. 1787. Neoclassicism.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, Neoclassicism develops, rescuing classical art again. This current emphasizes reason as ethics and content of art. It is also known as the century of lights or Illuminism at the end of the 18th century.

Caspar David Friedrich: The walker above the sea of ​​clouds. 1818. Romanticism.

At the end of the 18th century, as a rejection of the influences of the Enlightenment period printed on the traditional art of neoclassicism and in the historical context of the French Revolution, the artistic current of Romanticism emerged, which emphasizes subjectivity and artistic freedom over rationality and classical aesthetic norms. One of the most representative paintings of this period is the painting Freedom guiding the people by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863).

XIX century

The artistic currents of the 19th century that follow are movements that reject idealization, be it moral (neoclassicism) or sentimental (romanticism). The first artistic trend that breaks with this is Realism. Realism seeks to portray the real life of society, and denounces inequality. Its greatest exponent is the Frenchman Gustave Courbet (1819-1877).

Following the influences of Realism, Naturalism arises, whose purpose is to represent reality as it is presented, without passing judgment. Naturalism reached its highest expression in literature.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Impressionism emerged in France, whose greatest representative is Claude Monet (1840-1926). Impressionism sought to capture the effects of light on objects. The fragmented brushstroke that characterizes the works of this current allude to how the parts make up a whole.

Towards the end of the 19th century, some artistic currents appear under the influence of the Second Industrial Revolution. This is the case of Modernism, also known as Art nouveau, which seeks to embellish the face of the industrialized era by incorporating art and beauty into everyday objects. One of the best known painters is Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).

Continuing with decorative art, it emerged after the First World War, the Art deco current as a way of inviting to think about progress and embrace the future. It is characterized by using industrial materials and clean lines. Representative of this current is Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980).

Twentieth century

Most of the artistic currents that emerge from the twentieth century, include various movements called avant-garde or avant-garde.

In this aspect, the Avant-garde encompasses various artistic currents or movements that appear at different times of the century.

Some predate the First World War. For instance:

Kandinsky: Yellow Red Blue. 1925. Lyrical abstraction.

  • Fauvism: maximum exponent Henri Matisse (1869-1954). It seeks to represent reality with long brushstrokes of strong colors but gives the public the expressive qualities of humanity.
  • Expressionism: one of the most important works is the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch (1863-1944). It expresses dark feelings that arise due to industrialization.
  • Cubism: the most representative artist is Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). It breaks with traditional perspectives by using geometric figures as a way of representing fragmented reality.
  • Futurism: stands out for its emphasis on movement and curved or elliptical shapes. Its founder was Filippo Marinetti who supports fascism in Italy.
  • Abstractionism They are the different deliberately abstract currents that appeared after 1910. Among them, lyrical abstraction, Suprematism, Constructivism and Neoplasticism.
  • Dadaism: constitutes the first movement of conceptual art. Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) exhibits the famous urinal on the contrary titled Fontaine that would become the symbol of this trend.

Others from the interwar period. Among them:

Salvador Dali: The dream. 1935. Surrealism.

  • Surrealism. Driven from the surrealist manifesto of André Bretón, published in 1924. It is an avant-garde of the interwar period.
  • Art deco. It is a broad artistic movement that spanned architecture, fine arts, graphic design, and applied arts.

After the Second World War, the artists dispersed and the cultural-artistic center expanded from Paris to New York. Then new movements emerge, such as:

Walter de Maria: 2000 sculptures. 1992. Minimalism.

  • Pop Art (Pop Art): its most famous representative is Andy Warhol (1928-1987). Pop art constitutes the limbo between modern and postmodern art, extracting products from popular culture highlighting their banal or kitsch attributes.
  • Minimalism: the axiom of this trend is "less is more" coined by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). Influenced by oriental art, it seeks to economize resources and reduce art to its most essential state.


The artistic currents of the XXI century are framed within the postmodern currents that begin at the end of the XX century (decade of the 60) until today.

Postmodern or postmodern art begins in the 1980s introduces the use of previous artistic currents to create new compositions.

The artistic currents of the 21st century are characterized by the absence of strong currents as happened in the era of the avant-garde currents but rather a recycling of the old to a new aesthetic with an emphasis on technology.

The artistic currents of the 21st century are framed within the information age. They revolve around science and technology and the social consciousness of globalization.

More than current, they are called trends and have yet to be defined. Some trends that can be mentioned are: ephemeral art, 8-bit movement, Bioart, interactive art, among many more.

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