All cultures throughout history have produced art The impulse to create to realize form and order out of mere matterto recognize order in the world or to generate it oneselfis universal and perpetualASPECTS OF ARTEvery work of art has two aspects it is a present experience as well as a record of the past and it is valued preserved and studied for both identities As present experience artworks afford people the pleasures the tensions the dramas and ultimately the satisfaction to the senses of pure formin the visual arts the relationships among colors lines and masses in space Art History and Its MethodsThe meaning of the word art derived from the Latin ars meaning skill has changed through history In medieval Europe proficiency in the liberal arts was the goal of an educated person only by the 19th century did the word come to denote painting drawing sculpture graphic arts and decorative arts A distinction then arose between artist and artisan the latter denoting a skilled manual worker the former connoting capacity for imaginative invention Although the arts may be taken today as comprising the musical and verbal as well as the visual art or fine arts is usually assumed to mean the visual artspainting sculpture architecture and by extension printmaking drawing decorative arts and photographyThe concept of a history of art is relatively recent In the mid-16th century Giorgio Vasari compiled information about Renaissance artists lives and works in Lives of the Artists Modern art history may be thought of as beginning in the mid-18th century with Johann Joachim Winckelmann who applied a conception of history as cyclical to what remained of the art of ancient Greece and Rome From the philosopher G W F Hegel onward much of the theoretical support of art history was supplied by German historians and philosophers Heinrich Wlfflin provided in the early 20th century a technique for understanding style by comparing two works of different periods and noting their differences this is still the most widely used heuristic interpretative approach todayArt history congealing as a distinct discipline in the humanities in the late 19th century is now largely nontheoretical Historians examine works and documents about the works in order to place them appropriately in the present set of recognized groupings Broadly the four most general categories for Western art are ancient medieval Renaissance and modern In the past the humanistic classical art of Greece served as a positive standard by which works were judged Today art historians are neutral with regard to different stylesnone is superior or inferior all are worthy of study The Visual MediaArt has been made for many reasons for religious devotion for commemoration of people and events for adornment of utilitarian objects for personal expression It has also been created on many scales huge cathedrals large public murals small private manuscripts and most familiar easel paintings Perhaps the broadest generalization is that the visual arts are spatial rather than temporal Music and literature must be experienced serially in time the visual arts must of necessity be experienced in spaceIn painting space is an illusionan indication of three dimensions in two This is rendered by conventions understood by the works audience and conventions vary in different periods and placesFor example space can be understood by the overlap of shapes the shape partly imposed on another is in front by the location of shapes in relation to one another the shape higher up is farther away by the lightening and graying of tones to simulate atmospheric effects in nature or by a complex mathematical system by which is determined the size diminution of objects as they increase in distance from the picture plane toward a theoretically infinite vanishing point on the horizon see perspectiveSculpture can represent three dimensions in three dimensions and except in the case of relief sculpture such as bas-relief which partakes of both actual and illusionary depth is best seen from a moving vantage point In this way the volumes that make up the work are continually rediscovered in new and interesting interactions with the surrounding voidsArchitecture is also three-dimensional but with an entirely different effect from that of sculpture Architecture encloses spaces and defines and orders them to the advantage of various human activities that take place within them As one moves around and through an architectural environment spaces appear and disappear generating reactions by virtue of their scale and structureTo some degree the physical materials used by artists influence the properties of the resulting work A fresco painting pigments applied to a wet plaster wall will have different visual properties from an oil painting on canvas see painting techniques and an oil painting will have different properties from a watercolor on paper A sculpture modeled in wax and then cast in bronze lost-wax process will differ in effect from one carved directly out of stone or wood see wood carving The multifarious materials at the disposal of the architect determine both the expressive tenor and structural limitations of a building In short great art is in harmony with its medium Experiencing the Arts TodayToday the arts are more accessible than ever before Most metropolitan areas have at least one art museum and the dissemination of all the visual arts through photographic reproduction has brought the most remote works to a convenient coffee table Works known second hand through reproductions however are only ghosts of their real selves and one must then try to construct in ones imagination their true appearance and effectSince the artwork exists as a physical artifact with special properties it has become a rarity in short supply and high demand In a society that values things in terms of money the artwork takes on great importance as a precious object Every day brings news of astounding auction prices or astounding museum thefts and original works are often seen only behind plexiglass and in the company of guards Further art criticism and the history of art can often seem an exotic and arcane region of intellectual sophistication where lofty decisions about quality and importance are made and passed down to a wider audience This notion is misleading The accessibility of art means its cultural and intellectual accessibility as well Furthermore historians are becoming more and more interested in types of art previously ignored because they have been termed popular also so-called high art is now more and more present in almost everyones life A museum should exist to bring art experience to its public not to sequester precious objects The critics role is to expand in others their capacity for response to a work by making trenchant observation and analysis of it not by pronouncing judgments from on highHISTORY OF WESTERN ARTStonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England is the remaining monument of prehistoric humans now otherwise unknown Built c2000 the post-and-lintel circles of massive rock testify thateven at the earliest stages of a civilizationthe altering of the Earth itself the defining of space and the ordering of space in regular sets of relationships are the ways by which people can bring order to their lives and common focus to their society This monuments actual intent was functional rather than artistic like most prehistoric art The cave paintings of Chauvet Cave and Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain or fertility figures such as the Venus of Willendorf from Austria far older than Stonehenge have in common with it a significance and even necessity in the rituals and beliefs of their makers For more detailed consideration of prehistoric artand the art and architecture of non-Western cultures and nationssee individual articles by country by style by type by artist and by building or monument The Ancient WorldThe advanced social political religious and linguistic structures that constitute Western civilization appeared first in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt c3000 Egypt remained relatively stable as a state for the better part of 3000 years and was able to generate and maintain a distinctive artistic style in all media The monumental style of Egyptian art is most powerful in 4th-dynasty sculpture such as the seated pharaoh Khafre in the Egyptian Museum Cairo The figure seems contained as if still confined within the block from which it was carved The style and its formal properties make sense when seen in light of the beliefs to which the style is responsive The sculpture was in effect a new and immortal dwelling for the spirit of the dead pharaoh and as such was beyond the worldEgyptian architecture includes not only the great pyramids at Giza but also a number of temples featuring long low colonnades deployed on a central axis line as at the temple complexes at Karnak c1570-1085 and Luxor c1570-1200 The temples were built so that the interior captures ones architectural interest as one proceeds from chamber to chamber each more protected and secret than the one before Incorporated in these massive architectural monuments were many wall paintings and relief sculpturesMuch less stable than Egypt were the several civilizations of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys and hence their art is more various The extensive reliefs that adorned royal palaces like that of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud 9th century have a firmness and authority of execution and cogent use of conventional stylizationsparticularly in the musculature of the animals and men the profile eyes and the repeated contour lines of the horsesthat are the hallmarks of a mature style The imagery of the reliefsthe rulers prowess as a warriorreflects the concern with which these often warring states treated arms and power At the opposite pole from these monuments of public propaganda were tiny mementos of individual distinctioncylinder seals usually of semiprecious stone and about 25 cm 1 in long carved to leave an imprint of a god or mythological figure when rolled in soft clayContemporary with the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent were the Aegean civilizations of the Minoans on the island of Crete and the Mycenaeans on the Greek mainland Relatively little of their art is preserved but in the fragments of wall paintings and the bright lively style of Kamares-ware pottery one can sense the ebullient freedom of design and organic motifs that animate Minoan art The ruins of their palaces such as those at Knossos and Mycenae give evidence of their highly developed culturesFor many artists and historians of the past Greek art was artistic perfection No other ancient style lingered on in the Western consciousness to reemerge so frequently or to condition aesthetic perception so pervasively After an era of geometric abstraction in pottery and of archaic freestanding sculpture korai or female and kouroi or male figures that partook of the same monumental abstraction as that of Egypt and Mesopotamia the golden age of Greek art emerged in the 5th century Of the painting all that remains are painted vases many of the highest quality As in the earlier cultures architectural monuments and the sculpture that adorned them are the principal surviving achievements The Parthenon 447-432 incorporates in its design and sculptural embellishments the epitome of the classical styleLocated high on the Acropolis in Athens this white marble temple dedicated to the goddess Athena is composed of Doric columns surrounding the interior room or cella and supporting the architrave and the east and west pediments which once held the principal sculptures All architectural components are brought into perfect balance to achieve the structures stately firmness and tranquil grace The sculptural works of Phidias and his school now called the Elgin Marbles and housed in Londons British Museum use images of the gods to show the idealized human body in motion and at restIn freestanding sculpture the stylized and monumental archaic style was replaced in the 5th century with one reflecting the natural rhythms of the body as it reacts to gravity The Hermes Holding the Infant Dionysus of Praxiteles 4th century Olympia Museum Greece is posed in contrapposto that is the weight of the body is supported on one leg so that the hips and shoulders slant in opposite directions as a result The proportions of such figures as this formed a canon that would remain in use hundreds of years laterRoman art had the same humanistic basis as Greek in fact most Greek sculptures are known to us through Roman copies The realistic portrait sculpture produced by the Romans is important since it superseded the Greek emphasis on the ideal and general to portray the specific and individual In architecture new conceptions and new structural possibilities were developed as shown in the huge domed Pantheon c118-128 in Rome now used as a Christian church The Advent of ChristianityDuring the first centuries of Christianity the classical world and its styles atrophied as the Western Roman Empire slipped into decline Early Christian art oriented toward intangible spirituality developed into the stylized abstraction characteristic of Byzantine art the product of the flourishing Byzantine Empire as the Eastern Roman Empire is known In the West Christian art proceeded through a series of styles splendidly chronicled in the applied artsthe ivories the textiles mosaics metalwork illuminated manuscripts and various liturgical implements of Merovingian Carolingian and Ottonian periods Christian architecture and the sculpture that adorned it gained prominence with Romanesque and Gothic eras Large churches such as Saint Sernin 11th century in Toulouse France synthesized elements from the earlier Carolingian and Ottonian periods Romanesque churches employed barrel vaults to support the roof with heavy masonry walls and buttresses In plan these 11th- and 12th-century structures resembled a cross because the long nave was intersected by transepts Pilgrims could move through the church down side aisles and through the ambulatory around the periphery of the apse where the altar and shrine were housedThe elaborate sculptural programs of the churches represented biblical figures and theological ideas Although most of the worshipers were probably illiterate they understood the sculptured scenes well enough The artistscraftsmen of the Middle Ages charged their relief sculptures with great emotional power executing them in a style that owes little or nothing to the classical tradition In the tympanum relief early 12th century over the west entrance to the Cathedral of Saint Lazare in Autun France the saved souls are shown approaching heaven on the left while on the right devils capture souls as they are torn from their graves at the Last Judgment a warning to the mortals who pass beneath it into the cathedralIn the later 12th and through the 13th centuries principally in France the cathedrals were built that still make the Gothic style a feature of the urban landscape The great height of the nave of Chartres Cathedral 1194-1220 draws the gaze in and up The arcade the triforium above it the clerestory windows and finally the vaulting proceed from one to the next with grace and structural logic just as the nave continues toward the altar with the regularly spaced intervals of the thick clustered piers Stained glass in the great windows diffuses a rich and gentle light throughout the nave Supported externally by flying buttresses the walls seem fragile and delicate in contrast to both classical and Romanesque styles and the use of the pointed arch throughout emphasizes the cathedrals verticality as do the various architectural adornmentsWhile at all times compatible with the architecture the sculpture at Chartres illustrates the variety of sculptural styles that developed in the Gothic era The west facade displays an orderly array of elongated jamb figures especially notable in the central Royal Portal The statues seem to be squeezed into a tight fit with the adjacent columns as if the figures were still columns Yet they are conceived as sculptures in the round rather than in relief and thus reintroduce large-scale sculpture virtually absent for a millennium The feverish energy of the Autun tympanum is replaced in the corresponding relief at Chartres with serene calm showing Christ giving blessing surrounded by the symmetrically disposed symbols of the four Gospels The portals of the south transept are later c1215 and show the relaxed naturalism of High Gothic sculpture The jamb figures have a greater suggestion of s pace around them than their columnar predecessors on the Royal Portal They are more mobile in space with axes that hint at a slight S-curve of the body instead of maintaining the strict verticality of the earlier figuresIn Italy the Gothic style was never as pervasive as it was in the nations to the north Manuscript illumination had been the chief outlet for painting in the north culminating in the Gothic International Style at the beginning of the 15th century but panel and fresco painting dominated in Italy The development of painting most clearly traces changes in Italian art just as developments in architecture and architectural sculpture do in France The RenaissanceAfter centuries under the dominance of the abstract Byzantine style Italian more specifically Sienese and Florentine painters began to create altarpieces in which the figures became less and less stately and psychologically distant The backgrounds were done in gold leaf the rest in tempera and the frames were elaborate gilded structures patterned on Gothic ornament Key stylistic features shifted in the time from the late 13th to the early 14th centuries the illusion of space was strengthened by the use of architectural backgrounds that imply and divide spatial areas The receding diagonals of the setting unite and extend the space in the painting Duccio di Buoninsegnas Maest 1308-11 Museo dellOpera del Duomo Siena a polyptych multipaneled altarpiece commissioned by the Cathedral of Siena and installed in 1311 shows a point in the transition from the earlier frontal hieratic style of Cimabue to the later spatial and volumetric style of Giotto di Bondonea change that implies a shift in the conception and portrayal of religious personages from embodiments of abstract spirits to sentient recognizable human beings Giotto initiated a great age of fresco painting with his cycles in the Arena Chapel in Padua and the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi both from the first third of the 14th century Since the Francis series is based in part on history Francis had lived just a century before the iconographic formulas of the past had to be abandoned in favor of new compositionsA century later the new tangibility of painted figures and settings was taken up by Masaccio and other Florentines as the Renaissance gathered momentum Filippo Brunelleschis Pazzi Chapel c1430-33 an elegant addition to the church of Santa Croce Holy Cross in Florence is of simple and sober design especially when weighed against the dramatic energy and awesome scale of the adjoining Gothic church The chapel is laid out in multiples of a basic square module The arches are round and the chapel domed intentionally recalling Roman architectureThe development of naturalism and individualism in the Renaissance is easily recognized in Florentine sculpture As early as 1401 Lorenzo Ghiberti adapted antique Roman figural naturalism in his bronze reliefs for the Florence Baptistery doors Large-scale bronze casting came back into practice with Donatellos equestrian Gattamelata 1445-50 in Padua The horse and rider although patterned on the 2d-century bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome is strongly individual The Renaissance esteem for strength of character and personal presence is quintessentially expressed in Andrea del Verrocchios Colleoni Monument 1483-88 in Venice The robust horse and rider exude the physical firmness that is at once seen as fortitude of willThe strong interests in anatomical correctness of structure and motion and in authority of execution reached their apogee in the work of Michelangelo in the next centuryin sculpture such as his David 1501-04 Accademia Florence in painting such as his ceiling of the Sistine Chapel 1508-12 Vatican Rome and in architecture such as the Farnese Palace 1546Italian painters shared the sculptors concern for figural naturalism As interest in the observable world increased it was accompanied by the perfection of a regular system of spatial structure or perspective a primary concern of painters throughout the 15th century Duccios compressed and approximate space becomes through Leon Battista Albertis mathematical research and the experiments of such painters as Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca the orderly and precise space of Peruginos Delivery of the Keys to St Peter 1482 a wall fresco in the Sistine ChapelToward the end of the 15th century the increasing availability of important papal commissions in Rome caused the Renaissance center of gravity to shift that city from northern Italy Raphael and Michelangelo along with Leonardo da Vinci were the outstanding figures of the High Renaissance More and more the personality of the artist his uniqueness and his artistic sensibility became important factors to those who commissioned works of art as well as to those who made them In the artists workshop bottega manned by assistants and apprentices the distinction between the masters hand and that of his underlings became more noteworthy Before this the creation of an artwork had been marked by relative anonymity and cooperation the work being conceived as the product of group skills rather than the product of individual judgmentThe linear quality of Renaissance painting the clarity by which every detail is perfected to the same degree and discloses itself to the viewer to the same extent was supplanted in the 16th century by a style featuring chiaroscurosoft mellow light deep shadows and greater awareness of the texture and handling of the paint itself Color took on new prominencesubtle oil glazes enrich the color and hence the mood earlier fresco and tempera works sometimes seem chalky harsh and arid by comparison Lighting once even and unobtrusive became more selective and emphatic The Venetian painter Titian combined intense hues with vivid action in his Bacchus and Ariadne 1522 National Gallery London Well illustrated in this canvas is the continuing Renaissance interest in anatomy while the pagan theme testifies to the new options that competed with Christian subjectsIn the essentially Gothic north of Europe the impact of the Renaissance is best seen in the work of Albrecht Drer the preeminent figure outside of Italy A tradition of superb craftsmanship and dazzling realism had been established a century before by the Flemish artist Jan van Eyck particularly in the resplendent polyptych Adoration of the Holy Lamb 1432 St Bavon Ghent and even before that with a succession of unsurpassed manuscript illuminators such as the Limbourg brothers of the Burgundian court working up to the second decade of the 15th century During that century the development and large-scale use of woodcuts and engravings also occurred these printing techniques increased the accessibility of art with their ease in distribution thanks to their modest cost small scale and innate reproducibility Drers engraving Knight Death and the Devil 1513 an allegory with starting imagery shows the high point of verisimilitude and tonal richness to which Drer elevated the graphic arts Even more than before genre landscape and still-life painting grew toward independence as categories and emerged fully individual in the 17th century The Baroque AgeIn the 17th century the baroque age the styles of the arts were at their most diverse Large-scale mural and ceiling paintings with dizzying trompe loeil eye-fooling illusionism glorified Roman Catholicism in Italy by contrast diminutive still lifes recorded the austere tenor of Protestantism in The Netherlands The Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens a diplomat as well as an artist filled acres of canvas with his vigorous splendidly colored scenes typified by the 21 huge paintings 1622-25 Louvre Paris allegorizing the life of Marie de Mdicis Nicolas Poussin pursued his own stately classical style that kept Renaissance values alive in Paris and Rome evidenced by his large Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite c1636 Philadelphia Museum of ArtSet against the grand and highly public baroque style are such subtle intimate and personally revealing works as Rembrandts tiny drawing of a child guided in his first steps 1660-62 British Museum London Sketches once regarded as the unimportant preparatory debris of larger finished works emerged in the 17th century as expressive and uninhibiting outlets for the artistThe personal element is present too in such royal commissions as Diego Velzquezs Las Meninas The Maids of Honor 1656 Prado Museum Madrid where the artist depicts himself at work in the Spanish kings household The king and queen seen reflected in the mirror on the back wall force an awareness in the viewer of the world beyond the painting as well as the world within itBaroque architecture retained antique forms but modified their syntax or architectural language developing new combinations that resulted in strikingly dramatic buildings often on a large scale impelled by Michelangelos and Andrea Palladios 16th-century redirection and elaboration of Renaissance classicism Saint Peters Basilica in Rome was so vast a project that several architects were responsible for its progress in the 16th and 17th centuries Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini finished the work in the mid-17th century by adding the gigantic colonnade embracing the vast piazza bringing order to the urban environment by sculpturing the space in front of the churchSculpture too took a turn toward the dramatic as the intense even theatrical The Ecstasy of St Teresa 1645-52 Cornaro Chapel Santa Maria della Vittoria Rome well illustrates In this complex work Bernini combines the force of the sculpture with that of the architecture around it even controlling the light which comes from above as if to make into real light the gilded wood rays Bernini added Combined with the illusionistic painting above the whole ensemble exemplifies the baroque desire to maximize illusionistic effects and to integrate the artsThe rococo style the joyous child of the baroque had different tones and emphases in different countries especially in Germany and Austria but was initially and most prominently French In painting the bombastic heaviness of court styles was softened and lightened in the painterly tradition of Rubens Pastel pinks blues and greens were used to depict such images of pleasure as Antoine Watteaus Embarkation for the Island of Cythera 1717 Louvre Paris and Jean Honor Fragonards series The Progress of Love 1771-73 Frick Collection New York In England the 18th century was a rich one for a land where the verbal arts had long predominated over the visual William Hogarth invented a new genre with his moralizing paintings organized in series and commenting on contemporary values such as in the eight paintings depicting The Rakes Progress 1735 Soane Museum London Sir Joshua Reynolds the first president of the Royal Academy founded in 1768 developed academic painting drawing on its French incarnation and on Sir Anthony van Dycks style both from the previous century Thomas Gainsborough produced elegant portraits frequently with a rococo flavor to the handling His Robert Andrews and Wife 1748-50 The National Gallery London combines portraiture with Dutch-inspired landscape painting showing the gentleman farmer and his wife comfortably at homeRococo architecture radiates from Paris where its curvilinear decoration was most fully developed by such artists as Jules Hardouin Mansart Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand In southern Germany it was sumptuously expressed in the palaces and churches of Franois Cuvillis and Balthasar Neumann Rococo decorationlight in color exuberant in mood effortless in structurewas usually divorced from architectural function The Modern WorldBy the end of the 18th century there were crosscurrents of different fundamental orientations to the possibilities provided by previous generations Antonio Canovas sculpture Pauline Borghese as Venus 1808 Borghese Gallery Rome epitomizes the tranquil repose of the neoclassical outlook The marble seems to give up its own material nature as stone and assume that of the opulent flesh it represents Outside Italy neoclassicism gathered even greater strength as in Jacques Louis Davids large neoclassical paintings such as his Oath of the Horatii 1784 Louvre Paris in the 1780s and 90sarchaeologically exact in detail ancient Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748 but contemporary in its implicit political message in revolutionary FranceThe romantic impulse emerged with those artists usually thought of as intense and often solitary personalities It appeared at much the same time with William Blake and Henry Fuseli in England Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge in Germany and Eugne Delacroix and Thodore Gricault in France Thus the term romanticism as a name for a style really describes a shared sensibility in the context of different national traditions whereas the term baroque encompasses many divergent attitudes in one historical styleThe Spaniard Francisco de Goyas Third of May 1808 c1814 Prado Museum Madrid embodies key features of the romantic outlookthe paint application reveals the personal energetic brushstroke of the artist contrasting masses of light and dark give a spotlit effect to maximize the drama the action of the scene is at its frantic peak the subjectthe systematic murder of civiliansstirs our sympathy at the same time that it excites our morbid curiosityThe United States had produced artists such as John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West who gravitated toward the capitals of Europe but early in the 19th century an indigenous group of landscapists named the Hudson River school emerged under the leadership of Thomas Cole Frederick Edwin Churchs Niagara Falls 1857 Corcoran Gallery Washington DC typical of this school shows the sublime magnitude and power of nature in an untamed primeval landThe profusion and diversity of styles in the 19th century is reflected in its architecture The austerity of neoclassicism followed on the heels of rococo indulgence and spread rapidly from France to England and then to the United States exemplified by buildings such as Thomas Jeffersons Monticello in Charlottesville Va Revivalism caused a recapitulation of recent older and exotic styles including the Gothic Revival as seen in Sir Charles Barrys and Augustus Pugins Houses of Parliament in London begun 1836 which found wide favor for the first time since it was eclipsed by the RenaissanceThe 19th century was characterized by stylistic upheavals for another reasonthe Industrial Revolution and modern technology had begun to change the way structures could be built and hence changed how they looked Sir Joseph Paxtons Crystal Palace 1851 destroyed 1936 utilized the tensile strength of iron to free the walls from the function of support and thus allowed enormous areas of glass see cast-iron architecture In the modern world regularity uniformity order and a frequent respect for the structural properties of materials has created economical functional buildings This is true of Walter Gropiuss Bauhaus buildings at Dessau 1925-26 as well as of Ludwig Mies van der Rohes Lake Shore Drive apartments 1948-51 in Chicago which achieve a reposeful monumentality and feature a predominantly glass curtain wall with understated vertical shaftsAcademic sculpture reiterating classical works by rote was shaken up in the late 19th century by the powerful presence of Auguste Rodin who invested bronze sculpture in particular with new energy and new freedom in handling Balzac 1892-97 Museum of Modern Art New York is a virtual column of upward force a singular mass with facial features deeply cut and intensely expressive With the 20th century direct carving of stone regained its popularity and modeling in clay for bronze casting declined The new aesthetic brought with it geometric abstraction and resulted in sculpture with the grace and refinement of Constantin Brancusis yellow marble Bird in Space 1919 Philadelphia Museum of Art in which the subject is pared down to its formal essence The third way of making sculptureassembling different materials and constructing itwas explored by Aleksandr Archipenko Naum Gabo and many others who brought new materials into the sculptors vocabularyglass plastic sheet metal and the like The metal constructions of David Smith followed in that modernist traditionThe late 19th century was also characterized by the rise of the avant-garde in the arts and by the birth of the isms that named the principal trends Claude Monets Water Lilies 1899 Muse dOrsay Paris shows his and the other impressionists concern with lightthe way it can change from hour to hour or day to day the idea that material things are known to us only by light in its infinite permutations and hence may seem no more substantial than the atmosphere around them The artists who matured after the first wave of impressionism altered its rationale Georges Seurat attempted to measure scientifically the effects of light Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh explored the mysteries of the self and Paul Czanne created a painted structure echoing the structure of the visible world All four are now considered leaders of postimpressionismIn the first decade of the 20th century abstraction oriented toward problems of composition or pictorial structure was the preeminent artistic movement originating as had most of the important developments of the previous century in Paris Cubism had by far the greatest impact Pablo Picassos Demoiselles dAvignon 1906-07 Museum of Modern Art New York creates a new logic of structure for the figuresone that does not depend on their relative appearance from any one point The rebuilding of the figures also allows new boldness in composition now that color and shape are freed from functioning purely for description Also evident is Picassos interest in African art in particular carved masks and wood sculptures reflected in the grotesque faces of the womenComposition with Red Blue and Yellow 1930 Collection of Mr and Mrs Armand P Batos New York by Piet Mondrian one of the founders of the neoplastic de Stijl group and also working in Paris gives up representation entirely for an abstract art dependent on pure relationships of forms and primary colors In Fauvism and expressionism artists sought to utilize the medium for subjective expression and evidence of personal involvement while Mondrian and other artists created works that eschewed such features for those of reflective tranquillity and formal precision In a sense the painting of the 20th century may be understood as progressive self-examination and reduction in quest of the deepest innate character of the medium Alternatively it may be seen as a response to the new industrial fast-paced insecure world or as the revelation of intuitions that are no longer suppressed by convention as in surrealism in which the inner world becomes the real worldAmerican artists began their own experiments in what came to be called modern art a few years after such work appeared in Europe sparked by New Yorks famous Armory Show of 1913 This culminated with the emergence of New York as the artistic world capital supplanting Paris with the development of abstract expressionism after World War II Willem de Kooning Franz Kline Robert Motherwell Jackson Pollock Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still were among the pioneers of this dynamic movementToday the distinction between media is being blurred sculpture seems an outmoded term for assembled pieces and painting no longer applies if only a document is left the artwork having become an act rather than an artifact With such vanguard movements as conceptual art and certainly earthworks the work transcends gallery walls These and additional recent trends including performance art and video art not only further blur the distinction between media but also extend the traditional definitions of art