I started off the challenge with a trip to the library. I could have looked online, and I will, but I was hoping that I would be able to find a book that had the basics of all the art movements for me to go off of and then I could research them all further via the interwebs.
The thing I’ve realized lately, is that the problem I’m having with learning about art theory and art history is I don’t know what I don’t know. Consequently, I don’t know the right questions to ask to learn more. So if I can start from the ground up, find a book that has all (or most) of the names of the movements and styles and a little bit about them, then I’ll at least have a foundation to ask questions from.
All that to say, I went to the library and came home with three books (for now). The Everyday Work of Art, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and isms. The first two, are more for general outlook and art life – the last one, isms, is a small book encompassing short details of all (or most) of the art movements with examples and names and what makes them, them.
Separated into eras and color coded, it’s easy to keep track of where you are and where the movements fall in chronological order. This afternoon I read a little bit of all three books and took notes. I read the entire Renaissance part of isms and realized there were even more styles than I realized.
What I Learned
Art during the Renaissance was influenced by spirituality. Be it christianity, or the intentional absence of religion. Perspective and depth and symmetry or the lack of were prominent. Classical subjects and thought and styles were revisited and the synonymous relationship with religion and art was challenged. In this era we saw details and portraits of things happening in the heavens – grandeur and an emphasis on all things real(looking), but also Plato’s theory of forms – art shaped by imagination rather than imitation – idealism. What I found most interesting was how the use of perspective/depth developed and grew, and how idealist and manneristic styles came about alongside, and perhaps as a reaction to the focus on making everything appear as the naked eye views it or as we’d imagine the celestial world, with pomp and circumstance and holiness.