Art Movements

The history of Western art can be traced back to the classic ages of Greece and Rome. Some critics, such as E. H. Grombrich have written, 'There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.' All art is a product of the time and place where these artists lived and worked.

It is also important to remember than some art is difficult to put into one category, just as it can be difficult to place some artists with only one "type" of art. Other artists always worked independently and can never be comfortably placed with one particular art movement.

So how can you begin to make some sense of this work and the people that produced it? In the Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms, Simon Wilson in his introduction says, 'Human beings are natural labellers - it is how we make sense of our world. It is no different in the art world.

This study guide should only be seen as a guide to some of the movements (or labels) that have been applied to the arts.

Library Resources
Collection Items
Reference Resources
AV Resources

Library Resources

Dewey Number

Many of the art movements or isms ... and the individual artists you are researching will be found by using the indexes of the books found in these areas.

Historical treatment of people and countries involved in the arts - 709
Historical treatment of people and countries involved with painting - 759
Keyword Searching

One useful way to learn about artists, or art of a particular period or movement, is look to enter the term or artist into a simple keyword search.

19th Century - which includes:

20th century - which includes:


Abstract expressionism
Social realism
Late 20th century - which includes:

Post modernism:

Post modernism
Colour-field painting
Lyrical Abstraction

Collection Items

The Library has extensive material on contemporary art... both books and audio-visual resources. The following titles are a few of the highlights:

Reference Resources

These are some of the most useful reference books ... many others can be found on the reference shelves.

Online Encyclopaedia

Don't forget to log in to the Library's Britannica Online. Many of the images in this database may be used for your research and you will not have to worry about infringing copyright if you use them in your assignments. Britannica Online also constructs the Harvard citation for each image you use, which must be included in your reference list.

Online Reference

Art cyclopeida - there are 2,600 art sites indexed within Art cyclopedia. Here, you can search for images of works by over 8,700 artists. There are numerous ways to browse the site - by artist name, by art movement, or by title.

Design and Art Australia Online (DAAO)- A dictionary of Australian artists online.

Google Art Project Google has partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives to host the world’s cultural treasures online.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released a vast archive of 400,000 ( that you can download and use for non-commercial purposes.) For more information you can read conditions of use. Other images can be found from their extensive collections.

AV Resources

Web Resources 

Podcasts & Videos

Ensure you read any copyright or online access requirements if you intend to use to any material and/or images found on these sites.

Artbabble. ArtBabble is a website that showcases high quality art-related video content from more than 50 cultural institutions from around the world. Created in 2009, the website was conceived, designed, programmed, and launched by a cross-departmental collection of individuals at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Guggenheim Video channel

MoMA Multimedia.

Tate Channel Tune in to Tate Channel to watch our latest videos, from interviews with artists to experimental artist commissions.

Please make sure you read and understand the conditions of use in regard to any images you may find on these sites.

General Art

The Google Art Project. This is an online platform that allows you to view high-resolution or gigabpixel images of artworks from anywhere in the world. The images can show brushwork details that are not visible to the human eye.

MoMA Learning - Browse by themes. Some links appear in movements listed below.

Themes or Movements

19th Century:

Romanticism from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Includes a thematic essay and examples of work from this period.

Orientalism in Nineteenth-Century Art - From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pre-Raphaelitism from the National Gallery of Art. This is includes a series of audio/visual presentations that accompanied an exhibition at the NGA, London.

Realism (or Naturalism) - Nineteenth-Century French Realism - From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Impressionism - A Guide to Impressionism from the National Gallery, London.

Neo-Impressionism - Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists from the National Gallery of Victoria

Post-Impressionism - from The Metropolitian Museum of Art. Includes a thematic essay and examples of work from this period.

Secessionism - TATE.

Symbolism - The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

20th Century:

Modernism - MoMA: What is Modern Art?

Fauvism - MoMA: Fauvism. Meet the "wild beasts" of the early twentieth century art world

Primitivism - From the Guggenheim

Expressionism - From the Tate

Cubism - From 'The Art Story'

Futurism - From the Tate

Dadism - From MoMA Learning: World War I and Dada

Neo-Pop Art - From The Art History Archive

Pop Art - From MoMa Learning

Surrealism - Australian surrealism from the NGV. Surrealism from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Social realism - From MoMA

Post Modernism - Late 20th Century:

Abstract expressionism - From MoMA Learning - Also from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Colour-field painting - From 'The Art Story'

Conceptual art - From MoMA Learning

Lyrical Abstraction - From Art Insight

Minimalism - From 'The Art Story'

Massurrealist Art - From The Museum for Massurrealist Art

Neo-Conceptualism - From The Guggenheim

Neo-Expressionism - From The Guggenheim

Post-modernism - From the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Stuckism - From StuckISM International

Superflat - What is superflat art? From Art Radar

Referencing advice: The TASC and your teachers at St Patrick's College expect you to present your work with citations and a reference list in the Harvard (author/date) format. Go to the Library's Referencing Guidelines for extended help in this area. The Library staff are always happy to help you with any queries you may have in regard to referencing requirements for any research you are undertaking.

If you are lucky enough to visit the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart there are additional guidelines you will be required to use when referencing material from their O-device. Please ask at the Library or your teacher for help.

Faculty resources: All material purchased by teachers in the visual arts is also available for student use if it is not required by teachers. Many of these resources are inter-shelved with the Library material and may be found by using the Library catalogue.

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