Movements come about when a group comes together to advocate their common philosophy and work towards a common goal. Art, as a mode of expression, went through several changes as the social fabric kept taking turns in the course of history. Each of these movements had an unclear and shaky start as any other attempt towards change. Few succeeded while others did not. Regardless, most of them came to an end alike. Factors that forced the dying out of any movement in art could be as varying from crushing of expression to the rising out of restricted expression. These varied factors are the matter at hand today. 

Each movement was unique in its course and death, yet studying the greatest of art movements the time has seen, we can conclude a few of the most common elements that can be observed to have the general gravest impact. These ruling elements in the downfall are listed as follows.

Fall of Art Movement - Sheet1

Loss of Patronage

High renaissance as a movement was already losing its ground with the deaths of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael. But when the armies of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome in 1527, the movement lost its viability completely. The brutal war left Rome in financial ruin, and the state could not provide patronage to the artists anymore. Due to the loss of lives and bloodshed, public morale fell. It became unrealistic to preach the high ideals and noble virtues of the High Renaissance to the common public that was trying to get their lives back on the course.

Disintegration into another art form

Often an artistic movement acts as a turning point in the chain of events, a catalyst that brings about change. The anti-establishment theories of Dadaism propelled a range of art movements like Surrealism and eventually the pop art, conceptual art. Postmodernism can also trace back its lineage to Dadaism, although the movement itself died as the rebellious artists found other avenues to express themselves better.

Commercially unyielding

Impressionism as an art movement was new, exciting, and garnered attention but could not give its artists financial stability and security. The European audience was not ready to spend money on this new art form. Thus many artists resorted to traditional artforms to earn their living.

The movement reduced largely in its scope but not in impact, as the American audience was much more favourable to Impressionism. Those who kept practising it became millionaires.

Change in art form

As conceptual art came into the spotlight, Pop art faded away. The focus shifted to art installations and performances, and painting as a medium receded. Though the artists maintained their presence in the art circles, the movement could not find new practitioners to take it forward. Pop art renewed years later as Neo-Pop as a revival of tangible art forms.

Introduction of newer means

Romanticism, as a movement, laid the foundation of how the modern world is perceived. Though, it saw an end at different points of time in various countries. It eventually fell out of favour with the advent of industrialization and photography. These advancements in technology paved the way for Realism that was favoured over the dying romantic forms.

No more room for development

For anything to thrive, there should be room to grow- something found missing in Abstract expressionism. The portrayal of ‘chaos and control’, one of the most prominent achievements of the movement, can only be done in so many ways. The slightest deviation from Newman or Rathoko’s evolved artforms would be unjust to the movement’s splendour. Within such artistic restrictions, movements often die. Abstract expressionism met its fate with artists channelling their energies in other directions of expression.


Expressionism, be it in literature or art, is intensely personal, inaccessible in its mode of representation, and vague in longing for a better world. These factors contributed to the loss of its popularity as much as they did in making this a threat to the rising powers in Germany. As unpopular as it was becoming for various reasons, it was the advent of Nazi power that eventually killed the movement. It strived to maintain some momentum through the war but any such efforts were trivial and it died out, giving birth to New Objectivism and such. 

There are many factors that work parallely in leading a movement towards its demise. But the underlying factor is the strife for change. Art represents the state of society. It starts to stagnate when it is restricted by overarching and restricting values and principles. As the world changes, art must also move forward. In its quest to advocate for one cause, movements are often stretched to a point where they lose sight of balance or reason. That is when shifts occur and new forms of expressions come forward, as they should.


Pragya Shukla, a young architect, is currently practicing in city of Lucknow. Her interests include reading, hanging out with dogs and cruising the city for a good cup of tea. She aspires to write extensively on socio-cultural aspects of architecture and have a practice based on reasearch and social advocacy.

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