Art History Basics — what makes an Old Master?

And how Impressionists and Modernists were different from them

Old Masters

There were thousands of artists in the history of mankind who were teaching, influencing, and inspiring one another. And some of them simply copied others for various reasons.

Well, these were the times when artistic ability was measured not only by the innovation of techniques and ideas but also by actual skill in painting.

Simply put, we can easily recognise different objects and characters in the painting as everything would be depicted in a very naturalistic way with a twist of a particular style popular at the exact period in time.

This is a over-simplified cheat sheet of major trend-setters of Old Master art. Learn more about styles here.

Impressionists

Impressionists were the other major cohort of artists and artworks that is usually distinguished in the history of art and on the art market. These were the artists working in the middle of the 19th century in a totally new style for the eyes of their contemporaries.

On the opposite, their art was about impressions, giving just a glimpse of an idealised world around us.

This is a over-simplified cheat sheet of major trend-setters of [Post-] Impressionist art. Learn more about styles here.

Modern Artists

Modern painting in its various styles and forms shaped the history of art in the period from roughly 1875 to the beginning of World War II in 1945. Most of the artists influenced by these new movements were born before 1910.

It was no longer about naturalistic depiction and more about allusions. Not so much about facts and stories, but about emotions and inner experiences.

Artists of the modern epoch went far away from traditional oil painting on the canvas surface. They used myriads of media and supports, created collages, and implemented other ready-made things in their artworks.

This is a over-simplified cheat sheet of major trend-setters of Modern art. Learn more about styles here.

Looks like painting as an art practice went through all possible incarnations to then transform into completely different disciplines.

My name is Marina Viatkina and I am an art history writer and collecting advisor. You may read my other art-related articles, watch videos or reach out to discuss this blog and address your art enquiries here or on my website marinaviatkina.com.

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Marina Viatkina

Art | History Writer & Collecting Advisor → marinaviatkina.com | Founder of Smart Art — Art History Escape app → getsmartart.com