Contemporary Art Movements
History of Postmodernist Styles, Schools, Artist-Groups: 1960s-present.

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Self-Portrait (1997) by Photorealist
postmodernist artist Chuck Close.
See: 20th Century Painters.

Contemporary Art Movements

Here is a list of the main schools and styles of Contemporary Art which came to the fore from the mid-1960s to the present. They are also referred to as "Postmodernist art." All dates are approximate. For earlier styles during the so-called "Modernist" period, see Modern Art Movements.

For details of the top 50 exhibition venues for postmodernist artworks, please see: Best Galleries of Contemporary Art.

Conceptualism (1960s onwards)
Performance (Early 1960s onwards)
Art Photography (1960s onwards)
Installation (1960s onwards)
Video Art (1960s onwards)


The Physical Impossibility of Death
in the Mind of Someone Living (1991).
By Damien Hirst. One of the most
famous postmodernist artists.

Minimalism (1960s onwards)
Photo-Realism, Super-Realism, Hyper-Realism (1960s, 1970s)
Environmental Earthworks (Land Art) (mid-1960s)
Supports-Surfaces (c.1966-72)
Contemporary Realism
Post-Minimalism (1971 onwards)
New Subjectivity (1970s)
London School (1970s)
Graffiti Art (1970s onwards)
Transavanguardia (Trans-avant-garde) (1979 onwards)
Neo-Expressionist Art (1980 onwards)
Britart: Young British Artists (1980s)
Neo-Pop (late 1980s onwards)
Stuckism (1999 onwards)
New Leipzig School (c.2000 onwards)


Marilyn (1967) Screenprint.
By Andy Warhol.

GLOSSARY OF ART STYLES
For a list of art periods, styles,
see: Art Movements Glossary.

CONTEMPORARY IRISH ARTISTS
See: Contemporary Irish Artists.

MUSEUMS OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Samuel R Guggenheim Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art MOMA
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin
Guggenheim Bilbao
Guggenheim Venice
Tate Gallery
Pinakothek

EVOLUTION OF FINE ART
For details about the development
of Western painting and sculpture
see: History of Art Timeline.

Conceptualism (1960s onwards)

An avant-garde art movement founded on the principle that art is a 'concept' rather than a material object. (For an example of a conceptualist movement, see Fluxus.) That is to say, the 'idea' that a work represents is considered its essential component, and the 'finished product', if it exists at all, is regarded essentially as a form of documentation rather than as an artefact. The origins of Conceptualism go back to Dada and the early 20th century avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp, but it wasn't until the 1960s that it became a recognizable movement and acquired a name. Conceptual Art has the ability to deliver ideas quite powerfully, hence it has served as a popular vehicle for socio-political comment. In addition, by downplaying the need for any painterly or sculptural skills - indeed, for any craftsmanship at all - it retains a subversive edge by challenging the entire tradition of a work of art as a unique and valuable object. Some experts point to the fact that the modern era demands more than the passive experience of "viewing" a work of art, and that Conceptualism provides a more interactive experience. Whether this added entertainment value helps an "idea" to qualify as a work of art, is rather doubtful.

 

An illustration of this issue is the large collection of shoes in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, which belonged to Nazi concentration camp victims. It has been suggested that this has the characteristics of a Conceptual artwork, because walking past the huge pile of shoes helps us to comprehend the terrifying reality of the gas chambers. Indeed it does, but frankly it doesn't turn the shoes into a work of art, or indeed any type of artistic statement. It is a political or historical statement. Thus the difficulty for Conceptualism is to show how it qualifies as art, as opposed to entertainment, theatre, or political commentary.

Important exponents of Conceptualism include Sol LeWitt, Joseph Beuys, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Eva Hesse, Jenny Holzer, Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Kruger, Jean Tinguely and Lawrence Weiner. Other artists associated with the movement include Mel Bochner, Hanne Darboven, Agnes Denes, Jan Dibbets, Hans Haacke, On Kawara and Les Levine.

Performance (Early 1960s onwards)

Emerging in America and Europe in the early 1960s, Performance was an experimental art form inspired by Conceptual art, as well as Dada, Futurism, the Bauhaus and the Black Mountain College. Dada artists combined poetry and the visual arts; while Weimar's Bauhaus Design School and North Carolina's Black Mountain College integrated theatre studies with visual arts. Performance Art is generally supposed to be characterized by: its "live" nature; the fact that the artist communicates directly with the audience; its impact - that is, it may be amusing or shocking but it must be memorable. A good example is the series of self-destructive machines created by the Swiss kinetic artist and sculptor Jean Tinguely. Even so, the exact difference between innovative theatre and Performance "art" is hard to fathom. Moreover its insistence on being labelled "art" - traditionally a bourgeois event - sits awkwardly alongside its anti-establishment ethic.

 

Performance now includes events and "happenings" by visual artists, poets, musicians, film makers, video artists and so on. The late-1960s and 1970s also witnessed the appearance of "Body Art", a type of Performance in which the artist's own flesh becomes the canvas and subsequently "performs" in a suitably shocking, newsworthy manner. During the 1980s, Performance Art has increasingly relied on technology (video and computers) to deliver its "artistic" message. Top contemporary artists associated with this genre include Yves Klein (1928-62), Gilbert & George (b.1943, 1942), and of course the extraordinary and influential Joseph Beuys (1921-86), who created the innovative performance How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965).

Art Photography

According to historians including Douglas Crimp, fine art photography only became established as an independent artform during the 1960s and 70s. This coincided with the surge in fashion photography as well as photojournalism. For details of camera artists, see: Greatest Art Photographers (1880-onwards) and for a short review of the issues, see: Is Photography Art?

Installation (1960s onwards)

A new art form which came to attention in the USA during the 1960s, although the idea dates back to the Surrealist exhibitions created by Marcel Duchamp and others, when works of art were arranged to form a complex and compelling environment. The Russian painter and designer El Lissitzky was another pioneer whose 1923 "Proun Room" at the Berlin Railway Station was an early type of Installation, as were the room-filled Merzbilder constructions of Kurt Schwitters. Other more recent examples include Lucio Fontana's 1950s "Spatial Environments", and Yves Klein's 1958 show Le Vide (The Void), which was an empty gallery room. Also, in the 1960s the Groupe Recherche d'Art Visuel created early installations in the form of kinetic light environments. Installation art typically occupies an entire space, such as a room or larger area, and is created from a number of different variety of components. The American sculptor Ed Kienholz used cars and institutional furniture in the 1960s, to present an installation commenting on death and social issues. His fellow sculptor George Segal, used lifesize plaster figures portrayed in everyday settings (like waiting for a subway train) to comment on the mundane. Other recent installation artists have included a number of Arte Povera artists like Mario Merz (1925-2003), Michelangelo Pistoletto (b.1933), Jannis Kounellis (b.1936), Gilberto Zorio (b.1944), as well as Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Rebecca Horn, Christian Boltanski, Richard Wilson and Tracey Emin. See also the LED installation art - a form of kinetic art - by Tatsuo Miyajima (b.1957).

Minimalism (1960s onwards)

Emerging in America in the second half of the 60s, Minimal Art is a refined form of abstract art which succeeded Post Painterly Abstraction (a type of late Abstract Expressionism) to become an influential style around the world in sculpture, painting and architecture. In the area of fine art, Minimalism is characterized by extreme simplicity of form and a deliberate lack of expressive content. Objects are presented in their elemental, geometric form, wholly devoid of emotion. Minimalist works (of sculpture and painting) are often composed of bare uniform elements making up some type of a grid or pattern. Regularity is almost essential to minimize any glint of expressionism.

Minimalism was the final stage in the logical development of Abstract Expressionism, whose style went from gestural (action-painting) to plane-work (colour field painting) to sharply defined geometrical planes and patterns (hard edge painting) to Minimal Art. Along the way it gradually jettisoned all feeling and emotion, until it arrived at an austere and impersonal form of so-called artistic purity or truth. All that remains is the intellectual idea of the piece: there's no emotion. This is why Minimalism is close to Conceptualism - both are concerned with the basic idea or concept of the work created. For details, see: Minimalism and Minimal Art.

Important Minimalist sculptors include Carl Andre, Don Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Richard Serra and Tony Smith. Minimalist painters include Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Martin, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella.

Photo-Realism, Super-Realism, Hyper-Realism (1960s, 1970s)

All these terms denote a style of painting which appeared in the late 1960s, in which subjects (people or urban scenes) are painted in a highly detailed manner which resembles photographs. Most practitioners work directly from photographs or digital computer imagery, and the subject matter is quite banal and of no special interest. Instead the real focus is on the precision and detail achieved by the artist, and its impact on the viewer. Photographic realism was largely inspired by Pop-Art - banal subject-matter was common to both, and certain artists (eg. Malcolm Morley and Mel Ramos) used both styles. however Photo-Realism lacks Pop-Art's whimsical or ironic humour, and can even be faintly disturbing. What's more, paradoxically, its microscopic, indiscriminate detail can actually create a slightly "unreal" effect. Leading members of the Super-Realist movement include Richard Estes - who specializes in street scenes containing complex glass-reflections - and Chuck Close, who excels at monumental pictures of expressionless faces. Other Hyper-Realist painters include Robert Bechtle, Audrey Flack, Ralph Goings and John Doherty. Prominent sculptors include Duane Hanson (1925-96), John de Andrea (b.1941), Ron Mueck and Robert Gober.

Environmental Earthworks (Land Art) (mid-1960s)

A form of contemporary art which emerged in the 1960s, largely in the United States, which uses or interacts with the landscape to create artistic shapes or "events." Referred to by a variety of names, Environmental or Land Art typically re-fashions natural forms or enhances them with man-made materials. Pioneers of this artform include Robert Smithson, Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy, as well as the interventionists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Note that Land Art is quite different from man-made monuments such as Stonehenge. The latter was errected for its ceremonial or religious significance and is not considered to be a work of art. Even the celebrated monumental Buddhist Sculptures of Asia and the Presidential portraits of Mount Rushmore, while clearly works of art, do not qualify as Land Art since they do not celebrate the land but the images made from it.

 

Supports-Surfaces (c.1966-72)

The term refers to a group of young Left-Wing French abstract artists who exhibited together from about 1966 to 1972. (The name was chosen rather belatedly for their show at ARC, Animation, Recherche, Controntation, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris). They included Andre-Pierre Aarnal, Vincent Bioules, Louis Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Noel Dolla, Toni Grand, Bernard Pages, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, Andre Valensi, and Claude Viallat. The group aimed to divest art of its symbolic and romantic qualities - to liberate art from the tyranny of taste, the banality of Expressionism, the sentimentality of late Surrealism and the purity of Art Concrete, as they put it, and so they deconstructed the act of painting to its essential properties - the canvas and stretchers (frames). Noted for their touring outdoor exhibitions, the group employed a variety of unusual materials in their works, such as stones, waxed fabric, carboard and rope, and the works themselves were often folded, crushed, burned or dyed and exhibited on the floor or hung without a frame. They issued numerous explanatory treatises and posters in an attempt to explain their actions, and published a regular journal "Peinture/Cahiers Theoretiques." In general their works can be interpreted as Conceptual Art.

Contemporary Realism

A term used in its narrow sense to denote an American style of painting which emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the works of a variety of artists, such as Philip Pearlstein, Neil Wellilver and William Bailey. It is characterized by figurative works executed in a raw objective style, without the distortions of Cubist or Expressionist interpretation. Contemporary Realists deliberately rejected abstract art, choosing instead to depict down-to-earth subjects in a straightforward naturalistic manner.

In its wider sense, the term Contemporary Realism encompasses all post-1970 painters and sculptors who focus on representational art, where the object is to portray the "real" rather than the ideal. Thus genre paintings or figurative works whose subjects are depicted (eg) in a romantic or nostalgic light are excluded from this genre. There is no general school of Contemporary Realism as such, and many artists - including abstractionists - have experimented with this more traditional approach. Perhaps the most interesting exponent of Contemporary Realism is the figurative master Lucian Freud, whose powerful studies of the human body manage to convey both grittiness and love.

Post-Minimalism (1971 onwards)

A buzzword first used by the American art critic Robert Pincus-Witten when he described works by Eva Hesse as "Post-Minimalism" in Artforum in 1971. Hesse together with other artists were reacting against the rigid and impersonal formalism of Minimal art by focusing on the physical and creative processes involved. This new style, known as "Process Art", was highy transient and utilized unstable materials which condensed, evaporated or deteriorated without the artist having any control. It became a trend as a result of two shows in 1969: "When Attitudes Become Form" at the Berne Kunsthalle and "Procedures/ Materials" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Prominent Post-Minimalist artists, as well as Hesse, included the American sculptor Richard Serra and the German-born Conceptual artist Hans Haake.

In a broader sense, however, Post-Minimalism (like Post-Impressionism) encompasses a number of differing styles or types of painting, sculpture and other contemporary artforms which succeeded Minimalism in the late-1960s and 1970s, and which use it as an aesthetic or conceptual reference point from which to develop. In very simple terms, as Minimalist artists began to take a more conceptual approach to their art and focused on conveying a single truth, they gradually crossed over into Post-Minimalism. Indeed many Conceptual artists are often spoken of as Post-Minimalists. If this sounds too complicated, don't worry: we are now in serious theoretical territory, involving epistemological and ontological issues which require a Masters Degree to comprehend. Suffice it to say that Post-Minimalism (not unlike Post-Modernism) shifts the focus of art from form to image. How something is done and communicated becomes as important as what is created.

New Subjectivity (1970s)

"Nouvelle Subjectivité" was the title given by the French curator and art historian Jean Clair, to an international exhibition in 1976 at the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. The show featured works by American, British and European modern artists who rejected the dominant abstraction and conceptualism in modern art in favour of a return to depicting the reality of things, albeit in a modern manner. In their paintings, they were concerned with careful observation of the real world.

 

Exponents of New Subjectivity employed every format of canvas from monumental to small-scale, and worked in acrylics, oils, and watercolours, as well as coloured pencils and pastels. In their return to figuration and their representation of nature, they depicted views of gardens, fields, swimming pools, portraits and still lifes. Typically, they were skilled draughtsmen and academically trained painters, and constructed their paintings according to the traditional Renaissance rules of linear and arial perspective. Prominent artists associated with New Subjectivity included the English artist David Hockney, the American artist (active in England) R B Kitaj, the Swiss artist Samuel Buri, and the French artists Olivier O Olivier, Christian Zeimert, Michel Parre and Sam Szafran.

London School

A term used by the American painter RB Kitaj in the catalogue of an exhibition he staged, in 1976 at the Hayward Gallery, London, when Minimalism and Conceptualism were high fashion. The show, entitled "Human Clay", focused exclusively on figurative works of drawing and painting, and in the brochure RB Kitaj coined the phrase "School of London" to refer to the individual artists whose works were being shown. Since then, the term London School has been used to refer to the group of creative practitioners associated with the city at that time, who continued to practise forms of figurative work in the face of the avant-garde establishment. The principal artists involved in this London School, included Michael Andrews, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney (though actually living in America), Howard Hodgkin, Frank Auerbach, and Leon Kossoff. As Minimal and Conceptual art began to fade in the late 1970s, a new generation of figurative painters and sculptors began to appear, who took a renewed interest in the work of the school. (For a brief guide to modern painters in Britain, see: Contemporary British Painting.)

Graffiti Art (1970s onwards)

Also known as "Writing", "Spraycan Art" and "Aerosol Art", Graffiti is a style of painting associated with hip-hop, a cultural movement which sprang up in various American cities, especially on New York subway trains, during the 1970s and 1980s. B-boys, the first generation of hip-hop voiced the frustrations of urban minorities in their attempt to create their own form of art, a non-commercial one that did not seek to please the general public. They employed stencils, marker pens, and aerosol spray cans, and wrote with industrial spray paint and acrylic on all types of support: stone, plaster, metal, wood, and plastic. Their "canvases" were subway trains, walls in urban areas and industrial wastelands, subways, roofs and billboards. During the 1970s, Graffiti Art spread to Europe and Japan and eventually crossed over from the street into the gallery. (See biography of Banksy, Britain's most famous graffiti stencil artist.) The heart of the movement however, was New York City.

In New York an early pioneer, known by his tag TAKI 183, was a youth from Washington Heights. The first women graffiti artists were Barbara 62 and Eva 62. From 1971, artists began adopting signature calligraphic styles to distinguish their work, and also began breaking into subway train depots in order to apply their tag on the sides of trains - a process called "bombing" - with maximum effect. The train thus became their "gallery" as it showed their work off across the city. The size and scale of tags also increased leading in 1972 to the production of so-called "masterpieces" or "pieces" by a graffiti sprayer known as Super Kool 223. A further development involved the inclusion of designs like polka dots, checkers and crosshatches, and soon "Top-to-bottoms" - works spanning the entire height of a subway car - began to appear, as well as scenery and cartoon characters. Gradually the mainstream art world started to take notice. The United Graffiti Artists (UGA), a group founded in 1972 by Hugo Martinez, expanded its membership to include many of the leading graffiti artists, with a view to showing works in official venues, like the Razor Gallery. By the mid-1970s most of the creative standards in graffiti writing had already been established, and the genre began to stagnate. Also the NYC Metro Transit Authority began a twofold campaign to secure depots and erase graffiti on a continuing basis. As a result, taggers forsook the subway and took to the streets, where their static art neccessarily received far less exposure. During the late 1980s and 1990s, more graffiti artists began showing their works in galleries and renting art studios, a practice which started a few years earlier with taggers like Jean-Michel Basquiat - now one of the world's top contemporary artists - who dropped his signature SAMO (Same Old Shit), in favour of mainstream opportunities. Many works of graffiti art can be seen at the B5 Gallery, New York. Graffiti may arguably be seen as a form of Outsider art.

Transavanguardia (Trans-avant-garde) (1979 onwards)

The Italian art critic Achille Bonito Oliva used the term "Transavanguardia" (beyond the avant-garde) in Flash Art magazine in October 1979, when referring to international Neo-Expressionism. But since then it has been used only to describe the work of Italian artists working in the style during the 1980s and 1990s. They include Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, and Mimmo Paladino. Transavantgarde artists employed a free, figurative style of painting, with nostalgic references to the Renaissance and its iconography. They painted large-scale works in oil, including realistic and imaginary portraits, religious and allegorical history paintings, and were inspired also by the Symbolists as well as the colourism of the Fauvists. Chia incorporated Italian Mannerism, Cubism, Futurism and Fauvism in his narrative religious works; Paladino composed large mythological pictures with both geometric and figurative motifs; Cucchi produced romantic Surrealism-inspired scenes of giants and mountains, and incorporated the use of extra items, made from metal or clay, in his painted works; Clemente was noted for his self-portraiture and intimate figurative works. Their inclusion in major shows at the Kuntshalle in Basel and the Venice Biennale in 1980, and the London Royal Academy in 1981, led to solo exhibitions in both Europe and America as well as a rapid rise in the significance of the school.

Neo-Expressionism (1980 onwards)

One of several styles of Postmodernism, Neo-Expressionism was a broad painting movement that appeared around 1980, in response to the stagnation of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, whose intellectualism and self-style "purity" had dominated the 1970s but was now beginning to get on many artists' nerves. Neo-Expressionists embraced the so-called 'dead' practice of fine art painting and championed everything that the Modernists had tried to discredit: figuration, emotion, symbolism, and narrative. They use sensuous colours, and incorporate themes associated with numerous historical styles and movements, such as the Renaissance, Mannerism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop-Art. Not surprisingly, in Germany, Neo-Expressionism was strongly influenced by earlier German Expressionist groups like Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brucke. See also Expressionist Painters.

The movement embraced new painting in Germany by artists like Georg Baselitz (b.1938), Jorg Immendorf, Anselm Kiefer, AR Penk, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, as well as works by the "Ugly Realists" such as Markus Lupertz. It also covered the Neue Wilden (New Wild Ones, a reference to the 1900s style of Fauvism or "wild beasts") whose members included Rainer Fetting. Following international shows like "A New Spirit in Painting" (London Royal Academy, 1981) and "Zeitgeist" (Berlin, 1982), the term Neo-Expressionism began to be applied to other groups, like Figuration Libre in France, Transavanguardia in Italy, the "New Image Painters" and the so-called "Bad Painters." In America, the style, while popular, has not produced the same calibre of work, with the exception of artists like Philip Guston (1913-80), Julian Schnabel, David Salle and others. In Britain, the style is exemplified by the Rubenesque nudes of Jenny Saville, that challenge notions of conventionality in the size and shape of the human body. The rise of the movement led to the rehabilitation of several artists working in a similar vein. These included Americans Louise Bourgeois, Leon Golub, and Cy Twombly; and the British artist Lucian Freud, all of whose works have been labelled Neo-Expressionist. The label has also been applied to sculpture and architecture. Works by sculptors like the American Charles Simonds, the British Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread, the Czech Magdalena Jetelova, the German Isa Genzken and Pole Magdalena Abakanowitz, all contain Expressionist features, while buildings such as the Sydney Opera House and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao have been adjudged Expressionist.

Important examples of Neo-Expressionist works can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Tate Modern in London.

 

Britart: Young British Artists (1980s)

The Young British Artists (YBAs) first appeared on the scene in the 1980s, and were officially recognized in 1997 in the "Sensation" exhibition. Owing much to early 20th century styles like Dada and Surrealism, their work is often called "Britart." The group comprised a number of painters, sculptors, conceptual and installation artists working in the United Kingdom, many of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London, its members gained considerable media coverage for their shocking artworks and dominated British art during the 1990s. Leading members are Damien Hirst (noted for The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a dead Tiger shark pickled in formaldehyde, and lately for his diamond studded skull For the Love of God), and Tracey Emin (noted for My Bed, a dishevelled double bed featuring some highly personal detritus).

Arguably, many YBAs would never have succeeded but for the patronage and promotion of their works by millionaire contemporary art collector Charles Saatchi. He first met Damien Hirst at the Goldsmiths College 1988 student exhibition "Freeze", which showcased 16 YBAs. Saatchi purchased many of the works. Two years later Hirst curated two more influential YBA shows, "Modern Medicine" and "Gambler". Saatchi attended both exhibitions and bought more works. By 1992, Saatchi was not only Hirst's principal patron, he was also the biggest sponsor for the other Young British Artists - a second group of whom had appeared, via shows like "New Contemporaries," "New British Summertime," and "Minky Manky", and included artists such as Tracey Emin. Meantime, the economic recession in Britain worsened, triggering the collapse of the contemporary art market in London. In response, Saatchi hosted a series of exhibitions at his Saatchi Gallery, promoting the name "Young British Art" from which the movement retrospectively acquired its identity. The first one presented the work of Sarah Lucas, Mark Wallinger, Rachel Whiteread and of course Damien Hirst, whose dead shark rapidly became the iconic symbol of Britart around the world.

In 1997, Young British Artists went mainstream when the London Royal Academy, in conjunction with Saatchi, hosted "Sensation", a definitive exhibition of YBA art, amid no little controversy. It then travelled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. In 1999, Tracey Emin's work "My Bed" was nominated for the Turner Prize, while in 2000, YBA exhibits were included in the new Tate Modern, all of which confirmed the established reputation of the group.

Some prominent YBAs include: James Rielly (portraits), Keith Coventry (abstract painter), Simon Callery (urban views), Martin Maloney (Expressionist painter), Gary Hume (Minimalist), Richard Patterson (super-abstract), Fiona Rae (abstract, Pop-art), Marcus Harvey (Expressionist figurative works), Ian Davenport (geometric abstraction), Glenn Brown (sculptor and De Kooning style Expressionist painting), Jenny Saville (Expressionist-style female bodies). See also Turner Prize Winners (1984-2009).

 

Neo-Pop Art (late 1980s onwards)

The terms "Neo-Pop" or "Post-Pop" denote the revival of American interest in the themes and methods of the 1950s and 1960s Pop-Art movement. (See our short guide to Andy Warhol's Pop Art of the sixties.) In particular, it refers to the work of artists like Ashley Bickerton, Jeff Koons, Alan McCollum, and Haim Steinbach. Using recognizable objects, images of celebrities (eg. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears) as well as icons and symbols from popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s, this updated form of Pop-Art also drew inspiration from Dada (in their use of readymades and found objects), as well as modern Conceptual Art. Classic examples of Neo-Pop art are "Rat-King" (1993) a sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, and Jeff Koons 1988 sculpture "Michael Jackson and Bubbles". Like its parent style, Neo-Pop poked fun at celebrity stars, and openly questioned some of society's most precious assumptions. Koons himself achieved considerable notoriety for his elevation of kitsch into high art. His "Balloon Dog" (1994-2000) is a shiny red steel sculpture (10 feet high) whose detailed monumental form contrasts absurdly with the trivial nature of its subject. Other famous Neo-Pop artists included Americans Jenny Holzer, Cady Noland and Daniel Edwards; Young British Artists Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Gavin Turk, as well as Michael Craig-Martin, Julian Opie and Lisa Milroy; Russians Vitali Komar and Alexander Melamid; and Belgian artist Leo Coper.

For a list of the top 30 postmodernist art exhibitions, biennials and fairs, please see: Best Contemporary Art Festivals.

Stuckism (1999 onwards)

A controversial British art group, co-founded in 1999 by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish along with eleven other artists. The name stems from an insult to Childish delivered by Brit artist Tracey Emin, who advised him that his art was 'Stuck'. Rejecting the sterile nature of Conceptual art, as well as "Brit Art", Performance and Installation, which they claim is essentially devoid of artistic value, Stuckist artists favour a return to more painterly qualities as exemplified by figurative painting and other forms of representational art. The group held numerous exhibitions in Britain during the early 2000s, including "The First Art Show of the New Millennium" (Jan 1st 2000), and "The Resignation of Sir Nicholas Serota" (March 2000), along with several annual shows entitled "The Real Turner Prize Show", as well as a number of other events. The group also in Paris, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, New Jersey, New Haven USA and Melbourne Australia. Stuckism was also featured in two recent books: "Styles, Schools and Movements: an Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art," by Amy Dempsey; and "The Tastemakers: UK Art Now," by Rosie Millard. A Stuckist gallery was also opened in central London. Members of the Stuckist group included, among others, Charles Thomson, Billy Childish, Bill Lewis, Philip Absolon, Sanchia Lewis, Sheila Clark, Ella Guru, and Joe Machine.

New Leipzig School (c.2000 onwards)

Coming to public attention in the first years of the new Millenium, the New Leipzig School (in German, "Neue Leipziger Schule"), also called "Young German Artists" (YGAs), is a loose movement of painters and sculptors who received their training at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (Academy of Visual Arts) in Leipzig, East Germany, where it was largely isolated from modern art trends in the West. Teaching methods were uniformly traditional, focusing on the fundamentals of traditional fine art, with heavy emphasis on draftsmanship, figure drawing, life drawing, the use of grids, colour theory, and the laws of perspective. After re-unification in 1989, the school began to teach students from all across Germany and its graduates looked for opportunities to sell their works in the West. The first successful artist to emerge was Neo Rauch who was offered a solo show at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York in 2000. His success has now opened the gates for other equally talented Leipzig artists, whose works are being showcased in Europe and the United States. Their style is typically figurative with a strong emphasis on narrative, and is characterized by muted colours.

 

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