A Few of my Favorite Isms

Art history is jam-packed with movements, schools, and isms. While the list continues to grow, here are some of my old faves. More to come.


ABOVE: Giacomo Balla, Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, 1912, oil on canvas, 35.8 x 43.3 inches, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo

Ism: Futurism

Country of Origin: Italy

Timeline: An early 20th century movement founded in 1909.

Key Artists: Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, Joseph Stella, Umberto Boccioni

Philosophy: A celebration of technology and urban modernity, Futurism rejected the old for the new, and focused on movement, speed, and violence.

ABOVE: Charles Demuth, Buildings Abstraction, Lancaster, 1931, oil on board, 27.4 x 23.6 inches, Detroit Institute for the Arts, Detroit

Ism: Precisionism

Country of Origin: USA

Timeline: Emerged after WWI and rose to prominence in the 20’s and 30’s.

Key Artists: Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis

Philosophy: A wholly American movement with a focus on modernization and industrialization; precisionist works are often geometrical, and sharply defined.

ABOVE: George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909, oil on canvas, 36.2 x 48.3 inches, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

Ism: Social Realism

Country of Origin: International

Timeline: Influenced by European artists of the late 1800’s, it emerged in the early 1900’s, and continued through the first half of the 20th Century.

Key Artists: Diego Rivera, Edward Hopper, George Bellows, Otto Dix

Philosophy: Comprised of many different styles, Social Realism explored the living conditions of the working poor, while criticizing the social structures that maintained it.