Art Movements Research

The setting for our performances, will be at an art gallery and it will be as though the audience are in a gallery and listening to the audio guide, which will introduce each piece. The pieces will all be categorised into different art movements, so the first thing I researched, was what an art movement is, as it is important information that I need to know, in order to understand this commission. Seeing as I have not studied art previously, this topic was completely new to me, so in order to go into further depth with my research, I needed to first understand the basics. From my research I have found that an art movement is a tendency or style of art, which has a common philosophy or goal. This is then followed by a group of artists during a specific period of time, who agree on general principles. In other words, it is a group of people with a common ideology who try together to achieve certain goals through their style of art.

The art work that we have to inspire our performances, will fall into one of eleven well known art movements. These are:

  • Renaissance
  • Romanticism
  • Pre-Rapheaelite
  • Impressionism
  • Post- Impressionism
  • Cubism
  • Symbolism
  • Surrealism
  • Art Deco
  • Pop Art
  • Contemporary

I then looked into each one in more detail with what their common ideologies are, the period of time they took place in, and at well-known artists whose are falls into these movements. This will help me to understand how our pieces can tie in with these movements. I can then try to find links or experiment with the style of the pieces, so that they link to their art movement.


Key Dates: 1300-

The term ‘Renaissance’ means rebirth and it describes the revival of interest in the artistic achievements of the classical world. I found that the movement began in Italy in the 14th century and Renaissance work aimed to move away from the Middle Ages and to turn its attention and focus to the individual man in society. Society was becoming more sophisticated at this time, with there being a feeling that people are part of the same community, an economic growth and political stability. Education was also prominent and libraries and institutions allowed more research to be carried out, regarding the culture of the world.  This lead therefore, to an increase of individual expression and more experience of the world and knowledge of it. This then became two of the main themes of Renaissance art. Some examples of representative artists in this art movement are:

  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Sandro Botticelli
  • Raphael
  • Titian
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Hironymous Bosch

leo da vleonardo da vi These are two famous paintings done by Leonardo Da Vinci, the first is called ‘The Last Supper’ and the second is ‘The Mona Lisa’. ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ was a typical Renaissance man and placed his belief of culture and of human values at the time in his art. They were often focused on religion or human nature. This is likely going to be the nature and themes found within the pieces that will be in the Renaissance section of our show. It will also be something we want to come across for the Renaissance inspired pieces.


sandro bsandro These are ‘Primavera’ and ‘The birth of Venus’  which are two well-known paintings by ‘Sandro Botticelli’, who was considered one of the most esteemed artists in Italy.  He was known for producing mythological art such as ‘The birth of Venus’. This is therefore something we can expect to potentially be an element in the pieces of theatre chosen for the Renaissance art section of our performances. Sandro Botticelli may even be one of the artists used as inspiration. If we include mythology in some way, it will create a clearer link that the pieces relate to the art movement.

rahpheraph These two paintings are by Raphael, a vital figure in this movement. They are ‘The School Of Athens’ and ‘The Sistine Madonna’.  Even the lexis in the name shows the increase of interest in education at the time with the word ‘School’. ‘Raphael’s’ paintings were all about embodying the classical idea and notion of perfection. This has the potential to be a link we can use in our Renaissance pieces and it might be interesting to experiment with playing characters as overly idealistic, which could add humour for a modern day audience.

titititian These paintings are ‘The Assumption Of The Virgin’ and ‘Venus of Urbino’ by the Renaissance artist ‘Titian’. He also had the key Renaissance art themes of mythology and religion in his work.  This may mean that the people who get a Renaissance inspired pieces, may have to research into religion as it is likely there will be religious characters or plot with a key link to religion.

mic aMichael‘Michelangelo Buonarroti’ was another vital figure in this art movement and is potentially one of the artists which may be chosen for our final major project. Some of his art work included ‘The Sistine Chapel Ceiling’ and ‘The Creation Of Adam’. Again his work is another example of how the Renaissance art movement was hugely influenced by religion and existence. From researching the vital artists in the Renaissance period, it is clear to me that they are all fascinated by how the world came to be and it will be interesting to see whether this is a feature of the pieces in our commission.

Many of these artists came from Italy, some of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance did spread to other parts of Europe, for example to Germany with the artist ‘Albrecht Dürer’. We can therefore predict that the likelihood of some of the artwork chosen as inspiration for our pieces, may be done by Italian artists and that culture is something we may need to look into further, to better understand our inspiration.


Key Dates: 1800-1880

The art movement of Romanticism, is a style of art popular in the early 19th century. Romantic artists produced exotic, emotional works that portrayed an idealistic world, with themes of memory and nostalgia for the past. Romanticism was a reaction against classical western decorative arts and it is a style which is individualistic, beautiful, and emotional. Some examples of artists within this movement include:

  • George Stubbs
  • William Blake
  • John Martin
  • Francisco Goya
  • Sir Thomas Lawrence
  • John Constable
  • Eugene Delacroix
  • Sir Edwin landseer
  • Caspar David Friedrich
  • JMW Turner


WilliamBlake‘William Blake’ is one of the most well known artists in the Romanticism art movement. He painted ‘Pity’, which conforms to the emotive art with strong feelings that it so typical in this movement. He also painted ‘The Ancient Day’s’ which you can see above. ‘The Ancient Day’s’, conforms to one of the common themes in Romanticism, with a reminiscence of the past. It is detailed and elegant and shows idealism, looking back with positivity. It may be interesting to have a dance for some of the Romanticism pieces, as elegance is something found in both creative forms, especially with ballet.

John Constable was another Romantic artist in which I wanted to research further. I had looked at him briefly in middle school as I remember he was from Suffolk, so I wanted to see how his work fitted into the art movement.


Key Dates: 1848-1920


I found that the Pre- Raphaelite movement was originally founded in 1848 by ‘Holman Hunt’ and ‘John Everett Millais’. The group aimed to rediscover the painting styles of artists working earlier than the time of ‘Raphael’, which is how the movement got its name. Some believed that their name implied that they thought that they were superior artists to ‘Raphael’. The group specialised in detailed studies of medieval scenes that were strong on elaborate symbolism and noble themes. I’m presuming that because of this, it is likely that physical theatre could be used for pieces that fall into the movement, as it is a good style to include symbolism. Pre-Raphaelitism was highly successful during the Victorian era and continued into the early 20th century. Some pieces that I think could therefore work in this movement, could be a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays or perhaps a poem. This is because they are classical form of performance and they often have strong themes of religion, hierarchy and nobility. This conforms to the ideologies in Pre- Raphaelite art. Some well known artists in this movement include:

  • Ford Maddox Brown
  • Sir John Everett Millais
  • William Holman Hunt
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • William Morris
  • Edward Burne Jones
  • John William Waterhouse


William hWilliam holem‘William Holman Hunt’ painted pieces such as ‘The Awakening Conscience’ and ‘The Light of the World’. You can see the royal figure with a crown which could easily be linked to one of the Shakespeare histories and would match the classical style well.


Key Dates: 1867-1886

The Impressionism movement consisted of 19th century French painters, who mixed colours to give the impression of reflected light. The Impressionists tried to capture an immediate visual interpretation of their subjects, by using color rather than lines. Their art celebrated a break from tradition in European painting. The Impressionists incorporated new scientific research into the physics of colour, to achieve a more exact representation of colour and tone. They painted with small touches of pure colour rather than broader strokes, and painting outside, to catch a particular fleeting impression of colour and light. Impressionist art is a style in which the artist captures the image of an object as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it. As the art is bright and vibrant this could be a good inspiration for an upbeat musical theatre song number, which is similar to this. Well known artist in the Impressionism movement include:

  • Edouard Manet
  • Eugene Boudin
  • Frederic Bazille
  • Alfred Sisley
  • Edgar Degas
  • Pierre Auguste Renoir
  • Mary Cassatt
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Claude Monet
  • Walter Richard Sickert
  • Berthe Morisot


Manet 2manet ‘Edouard Manet’ painted ‘Olympia’ and ‘The Railway’. His art work influenced the development of impressionism. He painted everyday objects.

‘Edgar Degas’ was another impressionist artist. He enjoyed painting ballet dancers which you can see in his art work ‘Ballet Rehearsal’ and ‘Dance class’. This is something that the ballet dancers might use for inspiration. It would be a very clear and obvious link, that the audience would be able to recognise easily.

Pointilism was also a style which was developed from Impressionism and involved the use of many small dots of colour to give a painting a greater sense of vibrancy when seen from a distance. The equal size dots never quite merge in the viewer’s perception resulting in a shimmering effect.


Key Dates: 1880-1920

The Post-Impressionism followed the Impressionists. The movement originated in Paris and was popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Post-impressionist painters rebelled against the reality of impressionism and created emotional, personal works. Most Post-Impressionist artists began as Impressionists; each of them abandoned the style, however, to form their own highly personal art. The work of these painters formed a basis for several contemporary trends and for early 20th-century modern art. Post-Impressionism led away from a naturalistic approach of creating art. The representative artists in this movement are:

  • Paul Cezann
  • Georges Seurat
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Henri De Toulouse Lautrec
  • Paul Signac
  • Auguste Rodin

VINCENTvinvent v‘Vincent Van Gogh’ painted ‘Irises’ and ‘The Starry Night’. He is an extremely well known artist, so there is a high likelihood of his work being inspiration for a piece. Something I thought could work very well, is a performing of the song ‘Starry Night’, as it is about the art and so is very relevant to the theme.


Key Dates: 1908-1914

Cubism is an artistic movement that featured surfaces of geometrical planes. Its a style of art that stressed basic abstract geometric forms and often presented the subject from many angles at the same time. The Cubist art movement began in Paris around 1907. It was led by ‘Pablo Picasso’ and ‘Georges Braque’. The art broke from centuries of tradition in their paintings, by rejecting the single viewpoint. Instead they used an analytical system in which three-dimensional subjects were fragmented and redefined from several different points of view simultaneously. It was seen as ‘a new way of representing the world’. Artists known for being part of the Cubism art movement included:

  • Geroges Braque
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Fernand Leger
  • Piet Mondrian
  • Sir Jacob Epstein
  • Juan Gris

Pablo pPablo ‘Pablo Picasso’ was one of the most well known Cubist artists. He painted ‘Three Musicians’ and ‘The Weeping Woman’. The ‘Three Musicians’ could be the inspiration for a group of three musical theatre students as it is a form of performance we could use in our shows. ‘The Weeping Woman’ could lead to a mad or sad piece, which would be fun for any of the three disciplines.


Key Dates: 1885-1910

Symbolism is an artistic movement that came about in the late 19th century. It tried to express abstract or mystical ideas through the symbolic use of imagery. It began as a reaction to the literal representation of subjects preferring to create more suggestive and evocative works. It had key links to literature with poets such as ‘Baudelaire’, who believed that ideas and emotions could be conveyed not only through the meaning of words but also in their sound and rhythm.

  • Edvard Munch
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
  • Odilon Redon

eddie boy ‘Edvard Munch’ did a lot of abstract horror paintings. The one above is ‘The Scream’. This lead on to me thinking that a dance piece or an acting piece that is in the horror genre, may be a possible link that could be made to this art movement and therefore a potential piece for our commission.


Key Dates: 1920-1930

Surrealism is an art movement I was more familiar with, before going into further research on it. However something that I found was that it was a 20th century movement of artists, who used juxtapositions to represent unconscious thoughts and dreams. Surrealist artists came from all over the world. The movement was popular in the 1920s and I found that it drew on images from artists imaginations and dreams. This givest the impression that the art movement was dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. It explores reality and the realms beyond it. The major artists of the movement included:

  • Marcel Duchamp
  • Georgia O’Keefee
  • Max Ernst
  • Sir Henry Moore
  • Rene Magritte
  • Joan Miro
  • Salvador Dali
  • Man Ray
  • Dorothea Tanning
  • MC Escher

dali One of ‘Salvador Dali’s’ most famous works, was ‘The Persistance Of Memory’. There are lots of songs in musical theatre about time, such as ‘Seasons Of Love’ from ‘Rent’, which I think would work well with the piece. However it doesn’t have such a clear link to the movement as a whole. Something I think might work, is a mad and crazed piece, as the whole movement is abstract and bizzaar and I think that the pieces that relate to it, need to show this also.

Art Deco

Key Dates: 1920-1930

From researching Art Deco I learnt that it is a style of design that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.  The art had forms of geometric shapes and designs, that were adapted to mass production. They are a compleate mix of modern decorative art styles and their main characteristics were derived from various avant-garde painting styles of the early twentieth century. Art deco has aspects of distortion, and simplification and the geometric shapes were often highly colourful which celebrated the rise of new technology.

  • Erte

Pop Art

Key Dates: 1950-1960

When researching Pop art, most of my sources lead me to believe that it is an art movement that emerged in England and the United States after 1950. It was something where pop artists used materials and iteams from the everyday world of popular culture, such as comic strips, canned goods, and science fiction to create art and to become and icon. Representative artists in this movement include:

  • Richard Hamilton
  • Roy Lichtenstein
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Andy Warhol
  • David Hockney
  • Jeff Koons
  • Claes Oldenburg
  • Tom Wesselmann

‘Andy Warhol’ was an artist I knew a little bit about before this commission. However, I didn’t know that it was ‘Andy Warhol’, who really brought Pop Art to the public eye. His screen prints of coke bottles, soup tins and film stars are part of the iconography of the 20th century. These individual items, may be the inspiration for an acting piece, as it would be an interesting concept to explore, of having a piece that was about one of these everyday items.


Contemporary art is possibly the hardest movement to explain as it includes a large range of mediums and focus’ on today’s society. The artists are living in the twenty-first century and therefore their art reflects this. It provides an opportunity to reflect on society now and the issues relevant to us and the world that we live in. This takes into account the views of our culture and is very different to other movements as the technology we have now, is at its most advanced. It is almost hard to call it an art movement, as a movement is a group of shared ideologies, where as contemporary art purposefully has no uniform or ideologies, as it aims to be more diverse and unique. Something that I like about us having it as a movement in the show, is that it will likely mean that there will be some contemporary acting pieces involved, which will allow us to explore some new plays that we may not be familiar with. I always enjoy, watching, reading and exploring new writing and this movement will create a perfect link to do so.

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