Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Brief History Of European Art 1400-2000

First came the old Dutch masters. These painted photorealistic portraits, mainly in browns. Then came the Italian masters like Raphael, Leonardo etc. These painted religious pictures also in fine detail mainly of religious and mythical subjects in blues and golds. Then came an exploration of extremes of dark and light and flesh, and pictures of people in houses or doing ordinary things. Then in Holland and France came pictures of peasant people in fields or in doorways. By now it is the late 19th century and photography had been invented so things were afoot. Impressionists appeared who painted ordinary subjects in very bright colours and often impasto. The English rebelled against the new stuff by painting pre-Raphael subjects in fine detail, and soon art deco, art nouveau, dada, surrealism and abstract impressionism appeared and when Mondrain painted squares and Pollock splattered painted as an art form had been explored. It happened somewhere in the 1950's.

So painting is dead and only sensationalism exists, an ever lasting genre. Of course this is not true. Writing as a creative force did not end when the dictionary was written and now there are few people who are old to remember before that uncelebrated cut-off point in the 50's. Now only the sensational, or otherwise popular count. Painting is far from dead but bouncing along like it has always done. Any genre goes and any combination is valid; what one paints is as valid as it was at any time in history EXCEPT in the 20th century when the style in which one painted was more important.

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