The art field has had a complex history, with many art movements changing and emerging in new timelines. There are more than a hundred art movements out there that evolved over time, of which only a few have managed to dominate the common man’s narrative of art. The reason being historians have time and again chosen to see art history with linear lenses, overlooking the movements that emerged independently or belonged to nonconformist cultural and political institutions. For every painting of Cubism, Impressionism, and Surrealism, we know of like the back of our hand, there are many Vorticist, Rayonist, and Stridentist art movements which do not ring a bell with us, but definitely should.
Here is a list of some lesser-known art movements that had existed or still exist in the world.
Dating back to the 1940s the movement is dedicated to promoting the abstraction of geometric and irregular shapes. Unrestricted by the boundaries of a canvas, the objects in the paintings are not symbolic but have an emotional and ideative undercurrent to them. The Art style focuses on the non-figurative articulation of space, movement, and colors than the object representation.
2. THE INCOHERENTS
Started as an art form to entertain the public, The Incoherents featured artworks of people with unbridled imagination and a modicum of painterly skills. This light-hearted and humoristic art movement scrutinized the art and morals of their period through the medium of anticlerical satire, parodies of famous paintings, caricatures, and graphical puns.
This mid-twentieth-century art movement had a lot of visual characteristics in common with Abstract Expressionism. The artists of this movement adopted intuition and spontaneity in their brushstrokes as a form of self-expression, abandoning the widely used style of geometric abstraction. The absence of distinct material components is compensated by the dynamic and free-flowing brushstrokes that characterize the lyrical and abstract compositions.
This art movement of the 1520s gave a stylized twist to the art principles established during the Renaissance. The pursuit of self-expressionism over idealism resulted in a work that featured exaggerated forms, elaborate decorations, and bizarre lighting. The artists favored complexity and virtuosity in their works over the harmony and ideal proportions seen in Renaissance arts. The artificial setting in the paintings caused nervousness and unease in the observer.
This literary and art movement emerged in Paris in the 1930s as a response to the alienated position of Blacks in history. The movement aimed to defy the racial prejudices held against African art and underline the contributions it could make to the global art scene. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and surrealism, it critiqued imperialism and imperial art, to avert a new world avant-garde.
6. THE BENGAL SCHOOL OF ART
The art movement sought to establish a modern Indian art style as a reaction to the colonial influence on Indian art. The movement drew inspiration from art forms spread across the Asian continent. The mystical dream-like paintings made using indigenous materials and a limited color palette featured landscapes, historical themes, and portraits, as well as scenes from rural life.
Also known as Pop Surrealism, this underground visual art movement picked up inspiration from classic cartoons, street art, anime, psychedelic rock scenes, and underground comix. The sense of humor in the abstract imagery and dreamy cartoon characters had a hint of sarcasm. The art movement aimed to poke fun of the conventional art rules, by consciously not following them.
8. ASHCAN SCHOOL
The movement documented American culture at a time it was undergoing a transition. The paintings portrayed the ordinary aspects of New York city life. The artists opted to portray a realistic perspective of the seamy side of the metropolis than focussing on idealized beauty. The dark palette and gestural brushwork in the paintings sought to display journalism-like unfiltered and harsh realities of life.
9. GUTAI GROUP
The oeuvre of this post-war radical art movement of Japan included paintings, performances, sculptures, and installations. To create art as no one had done before, the movement provided artistic freedom to use a wide array of materials to work with, from paint to tar, mud, glue, and newspaper to water. Kazuo Shiraga, who was a predominant force of this movement, is exemplary of the vibrant spirit of the artists involved in Gutai. He would suspend himself over the canvas, painting with his feet while the audience watched him perform live.
10. QUITO SCHOOL
This Spanish art movement focused on Catholic religious paintings and sculptures. It featured a unique blend of European and indigenous elements. The use of distinct European flesh-color, glass, hair, false eyelashes and nails gave the sculptures an eerily realistic look. The artists opted to portray local scenes, flora, and fauna instead of the conventional European iconography.