1. Emerged in the late 1940s when artists wanted to stop relying on figures and symbols as the means of expression in their art. As such, rather than merely illustrating or symbolizing, they used large swathes of color to depict the emotions latent in myths.

2. A monumental movement, as it was the first of its kind to completely do away with the “forms against backgrounds” recipe of most artwork up till then. The artists did this by making the figure the background. Additionally, when the viewer was close to a typical color piece, the color field seemed to expand beyond the canvas and around the viewer.

3. It was a sub-movement of Abstract Expressionism, alongside gestural abstraction painting.

Artist (Helen Frankenthaler):

1. Frankenthaler was raised alongside her two older sisters in a cultured family (her father was a New York State Supreme Court judge).  Her parents supported her artistic talent by sending her to to various progressive schools.

2. Frankenthaler introduced the technique of diluting paint and applying it on an unprepared canvas, which created a watercolor effect.

3. She was married to artist Robert Motherwell for 13 years.


Compared Artist:

Gregory Kaplowitz–photographer




1. Decorative arts movement that emerged in the late 19th century. Centered around architecture and decorative/graphic arts.

2. Aimed to modernize design by incorporating organic forms with more angular, geometric forms. Sought to bring decorative arts to the forefront (in response to the traditional liberal arts/historical styles).

3. During the increasing industrialization, decorative objects were still (poorly) made in the historical/traditional liberal arts style. The artists thus tried to revitalize the status of the decorative arts by improving workmanship and eliminating “frivolous design

Artist (Alphonse Mucha)

1. Learned how to draw before he could walk. His mom would tie a pencil around his neck so that he could draw while crawling!

2. When he wasn’t accepted into the Prague Academy of the Arts, he got a court job with the help of his father. However, he would often spend his time drawing caricatures of the defendants and others in the court.

3. Mucha’s claim to fame came when famous Parisian actress Sarah Berndhart demanded that a poster almost immediately be made for her new play. With the other artists on vacation, Mucha created a poster which was an immediate hit with the public.


Compared Artist:

Prada (Spring 2008 RTW Collection)



1. Originally emerged in the early 20th century as a literary movement in Paris inspired by the psychological and political theories of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, respectively. The writers, who practiced “automatism,” or the technique of writing freely from the subconscious, were originally reluctant to let visual artists associate themselves with the movement. They believed such artists couldn’t reach the level of spontaneity required to create the odd juxtapositions of themes and imagery which marked their own literary works.

2. Works were deeply symbolic, and often had dreamlike and mysterious imagery and odd juxtapositions.

3. In the mid-1920s, a group of artists including Max Ernst and Salvador Dali regularly met in cafes in Paris to discuss Surrealism and experiment with drawing (ex: collaborative drawing, automatic drawing). Meanwhile, a group of artists including René Magritte and André Souris were also meeting in Brussels. The two groups regularly communicated with each other, and a few Brussels members moved to Paris.

Artist (René Magritte):

1. Magritte was extremely prolific in the late 1920s, producing almost one piece of artwork everyday.

2. He moved back and forth between Brussels and Paris throughout his life, and had a rocky relationship with André Breton, the founder of the Surrealist movement.

3. Magritte’s paintings often had recurring themes, such as paintings within paintings, and he developed a distinctive style which he never strayed far from. He also made sculptures and reinterpreted famous paintings through a Surrealist lens.


René Magritte. The Menaced Assassin. Brussels, 1927

The Menaced Assassin (1927), oil on canvas, 150.4 x 195.2 cm

René Magritte. The False Mirror. Le Perreux-sur-Marne, 1928

The False Mirror (1928), oil on canvas, 54 x 80.9 cm

René Magritte. The Portrait. Brussels, 1935

The Portrait (1935), oil on canvas, 73.3 x 50.2 cm

Compared Artist (21st Century):

Beth Hoeckel is a full time, multidisciplinary artist based in Baltimore, MD. After receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked for two years in New York City and then four years in Los Angeles. She now primarily creates mixed media paintings and collages, which she sells on Etsy, Society 6, and her own website.


r e d (date unavailable), medium unavailable*, dimensions unavailable

 *However, I do know the pieces are all collages (at least the originals, not the prints)

COUNT SHEEP (date unavailable), medium unavailable*, dimensions unavailable




1. Cubists approached their subjects with a detached and analytical eye. Instead of trying to express their inner feelings (Expressionists/Fauvists) or depict outward impressions (Impressionists), they sought to depict their objects clearly and objectively by translating their 3-D elements onto a 2-D canvas.

2. They showed their subject from multiple perspectives by depicting all of its surfaces (ex: a cube would have 6 surfaces) and by otherwise breaking up, then reassembling the object into a more abstract form.

3. To create that “fragmented” look characteristic of their paintings, Cubists used simplified forms, such as cubes, spheres, cylinders and cones. They later even experimented with collaging.

Artist (Marcel Duchamp):

1. He was a painter, sculptor, writer and chess player. Eventually moved from painting (in the Cubist style) to more conceptual works, such as his “readymades” and kinetic pieces.

2. He challenged traditional art processes by making “anti”-art, and was often associated with Dadaism, but he rejected all art groups.

3. He thought art shouldn’t merely be aesthetically pleasing, but should be intellectually stimulating.


Marcel Duchamp. The Passage from Virgin to Bride. Munich, July-August 1912

The Passage from Virgin to Bride (1912), oil on canvas, 59.4 x 54 cm

Portrait of Chess Players

Portrait of Chess Players (1911), oil on canvas, 108 x 101 cm

The Chess Players - Marcel Duchamp

The Chess Players (1911), oil on canvas, 61 x 50 cm


Compared Artist (21st Century):

Ali Kay– Artist based in Chattanooga, TN who founded her own decorative painting company called Positive Space. She specializes in murals and has won numerous awards from the American Society of Interior Designers. I can’t find her birthday, but based on what I’ve read, she is around 31 years old.

Journey of the Crane, no medium available,  30 x 40 in


1. Instead of attempting to portray the typical viewer’s impression/reality of the object being painted, expressionists sought to portray their own subjective perceptions of the object (by projecting their own emotions, psychological states etc into their paintings)
2. Works typical of this movement often had distorted, clashing, loud, exaggerated and/or spontaneous elements.
3. Began in Germany and influenced by Fauvism, Cubism, African art, and German and Russian folk art.

Artist (Wassily Kandinsky):
1. Considered the first major artist to paint purely abstract works.
2. Wrote a book called On the Spiritual in Art (1912), in which he discussed abstract art theory. Among other things, he believed that synesthesia (i.e., association between different senses such as sight, sound etc) occurred naturally in art and ought to be harnessed effectively in order for the painting to have the maximum intended impact on the viewer. For example, he thought that certain basic shapes and colors brought out certain emotions among the viewers. He also associated certain musical notes with certain colors.
3. Was born and raised in Russia, but spoke German. His childhood also included a lot of fairy tales, which would later influence his works. He studied law and economics, successfully practicing the former until he started painting at the age of 30.


Composition V (1911), 190 x 275 cm


Composition VIII (1923), 140 x 201 cm


Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles -  Wassily Kandinsky

Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles (c. 1913), no dimensions available

Compared Artist (21st Century):

Sam Francis (1923-1994)– American painter and printmaker influenced by Abstract Impressionism. Specifically influenced by Buddhism, Asian culture and the subconscious/dreams/Jungian theory.

Upper Left Red (1961), 12.5″ x 15.5″






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