When it comes to art, we all know what we love and what we hate. When roaming an art gallery, we also know the pieces that challenge us. These are the ones we often stare at the longest. We may not necessarily like them, but they capture our attention and get us thinking. They have value.
When we’re deciding on works of art to decorate our own homes, we have an opportunity to choose from the styles of art we love the most. However, that doesn’t mean we suddenly box ourselves in. It just means knowing more about how to best find the art you’re going to love the most.
If you know you love ‘abstract’ and dislike ‘impressionism’, it makes it easier to know where to look. If you don’t know the difference between ‘abstract’ and ‘impressionism’ then you may get a bit stuck.
Unless you’ve been an art scholar, it’s completely understandable to not know the ins and outs of various art styles, so – to help you along – we’ve put together nine styles that will always be popular.
Let’s begin with the trickiest! If you’re a literal person, abstract paintings are often hard to get your head around because they don’t depict anything real – not a person, not a place, not a thing. To achieve its effect, artists paint colors, shapes, forms and gestural marks such as a stroke of paint or even a seemingly random splash.
According to Tate, the word abstract strictly speaking means ‘to separate or withdraw something from something else’. They say ‘abstract art is art which is not representational, it could be based on a subject or may have no source at all in the external world’.
CHALLENGING: Abstract art, like this ‘Elation’ print, gives a room passion and power.
If you’ve ever had the fortune to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, you’ll know how captivating modern art can be. You need more than one day to fully appreciate all that is there.
Modern art, which covers works from the 1860s to the 1970s, strayed from traditional techniques and styles. As Modern art refers to a period in time rather than a type of art, it’s often tricky to define. However, The Art Story states modern art is characterized by ‘the artist’s intent to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to his or her unique perspective and is typified by a rejection of accepted or traditional styles and values’.
CAPTIVATING: This moody modern art piece ‘Under An Umbrella’ is one of our best sellers.
Often considered the first modern movement in painting, Impressionism was actually developed as a formal art practice in Paris in the 1860s prior to spreading throughout Europe and the US. Impressionist art, celebrates the use of light and brushwork to convey the very essence of a subject. Essentially, it tells a story without relying on realistic depictions.
According to Art Movements, impressionist artists ‘incorporated new scientific research into the physics of color to achieve a more exact representation of color and tone’. It was more about the artist’s perception of the subject matter rather than the subject matter itself. The beauty of storytelling is in the subjective.
STORY TIME: This ‘After The Rain’ Impressionist print gives a room a sense of time and place.
Pop art, even though it emerged in the mid 1950s, is so fun today that everyone of all age groups loves it. It makes for a great addition to a teenager’s room, a woman’s retreat or a man cave. It really does speak a language that crosses generations.
Pop art often uses imagery of popular culture and mass media, such as news, advertising, movie stars and comic books. In its early days, it presented a challenge to the traditions of fine art. Today’s pop art draws inspiration from that era, providing fun and color.
LOTS OF LOVE: Pop art, like this ‘Should I Disco?’ print gives a room a sensational splash of color and a stylish sense of fun.
One could talk or write about cubism all day, but in the end you’ll learn much more about this style of art by actually viewing it. If, when thinking of cubism, you think Pablo Picasso, you’re on the right track as both he and Georges Braque started the movement in the early 1900s. Despite appearing quite abstract in form, it is actually a style of realism.
Art History highlights that cubism has ‘three main ingredients – geometricity, simultaneity (multiple views) and passage’. Artists tackle the ‘fourth dimension’ which is why cubism pieces often feature the same subject from a variety of angles – it’s a quest for meaning or understanding, pointing out the world is not how it seems. That’s why cubism often features so much color and so much life!
ANOTHER DIMENSION: This ‘Marble Woman’ art print is quintessential cubism.
What came first, the word or the artistic movement? Either way, today the word ‘surreal’ is synonymous with ‘weird’ and that’s often a great way to describe this art form. In this case, weird is good.
Surrealism is a form of expression that ‘surpasses realism’. It takes real objects and places them in unreal situations. It’s free of consciousness and free of convention. It’s like living in a dream. Surrealist art is often regarded as better than drugs, each and every time.
DREAMY: The strangest conversations often take place in office boardrooms, so why not help things along with this surrealist ‘Floating Businessmen’ print
While ‘modern’ refers to a period in time, contemporary is all about now, so it’s a style that’s forever changing because it’s the style of the present. Contemporary art is essentially ‘the making of new art’, but can refer to what’s been made in the last 6 months to a year and, for some art curators, it may even stretch from two to ten years. If you want to simplify this, it essentially refers to art that’s been created in our lifetimes.
Contemporary art can utilize the latest digital and rendering techniques. These pieces look stunning in newly built or renovated homes. Featuring plenty of color, they can bring an otherwise minimalist room alive.
VERY NOW: This ‘Blue Burst’ work of contemporary art will bring a minimalist room to life
Fantasy art has its origins in folk art created many centuries ago, as well as Christian mythological art and Greek and Roman art. Fantasy art itself was born out of the literary world and was mainly used to illustrate narratives.
Adults and children alike love fantasy art as it’s all about escaping into magical, mythical lands. Fantasy art will bring a sense of whimsy and romance to a master bedroom and add a work of wonder to a child’s bedroom.
MAGICAL: After a hard day at the office, escape to this ‘Mystic Pond Treehouse’
Generally painted on public walls, graffiti is a consistently developing form of popular art, ranging from slogans and words in detailed and colorful wall paintings. When produced on properties without authorization, it’s often considered vandalism (even by the most prolific artists!). When in a gallery setting or painted on canvas, it’s most definitely legal and it’s yours to enjoy!
CITY LIFE: This ‘Red Arrow’ graffiti piece will keep you heading in the right direction
Perhaps this article has meant you can now ‘talk art’ at a dinner party. Perhaps it simply serves as inspiration on your journey to finding the perfect piece of art for your home. Either way, it’s about keeping your mind open to new possibilities.