Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork (particularly paintings and sculptures) that is clearly derived from real object sources and so is, by definition, representational. The term is often in contrast to abstract art:
Since the arrival of abstract art the term figurative has been used to refer to any form of modern art that retains strong references to the real world.
Painting and sculpture can therefore be divided into the categories of figurative, representational and abstract, although, strictly speaking, abstract art is derived (or abstracted) from a figurative or other natural source. However, "abstract" is sometimes used as a synonym for non-representational art and non-objective art, i.e. art which has no derivation from figures or objects.
Figurative art is not synonymous with figure painting (art that represents the human figure), although human and animal figures are frequent subjects.
The formal elements, those aesthetic effects created by design, upon which figurative art is dependent, include line, shape, color, light and dark, mass, volume, texture, and perspective,although these elements of design could also play a role in creating other types of imagery—for instance abstract, or non-representational or non-objective two-dimensional artwork. The difference is that in figurative art these elements are deployed to create an impression or illusion of form and space, and, usually, to create emphasis in the narrative portrayed.
|Sleeping Venus |
(a.k.a. Dresden Venus)
First known reclining nude in Western Art. Introduced the female nude as subject.
|Dimensions||108.5×175 cm (42.7×69 in)|
Figurative art is itself based upon a tacit understanding of abstracted shapes: the figure sculpture of Greek antiquity was not naturalistic, for its forms were idealized and geometric.Ernst Gombrich referred to the strictures of this schematic imagery, the adherence to that which was already known, rather than that which is seen, as the "Egyptian method", an allusion to the memory-based clarity of imagery in Egyptian art. Eventually idealization gave way to observation, and a figurative art which balanced ideal geometry with greater realism was seen in Classical sculpture by 480 B.C. The Greeks referred to the reliance on visual observation as mimesis. Until the time of the Impressionists, figurative art was characterized by attempts to reconcile these opposing principles.
From the early Renaissance, Mannerism and the Baroque through 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century painting Figurative art has steadily broadened its parameters. An important landmark in the evolution of figurative art is the first known reclining nude in Western painting in Sleeping Venus (1510) by Giorgione.It introduced the female nude as subject and started a long line of famous paintings.
Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), a French painter in the classical style whose work predominantly features clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color, served as an alternative to the more narrative Baroque style of the 17th century. He was a major inspiration for such classically oriented artists as Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Paul Cézanne. The rise of the Neoclassical art of Jacques-Louis David ultimately engendered the realistic reactions of Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet leading to the multi-faceted figurative art of the 20th century.
In November, 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the oldest known figurative art painting, over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old, of an unknown animal, in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on the Indonesian island of Borneo.
The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted, tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of creativity, that continues into the 21st century. Until the early 20th century it relied primarily on representational, religious and classical motifs, after which time more purely abstract and conceptual approaches gained favor.
Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or moulded or cast.
Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced in Paris or near Paris (Puteaux) during the 1910s and throughout the 1920s.
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of pop art.
Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the styles and philosophies of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. A tendency away from the narrative, which was characteristic for the traditional arts, toward abstraction is characteristic of much modern art. More recent artistic production is often called contemporary art or postmodern art.
Cave paintings are a type of parietal art, found on the wall or ceilings of caves. The term usually implies prehistoric origin, but cave paintings can also be of recent production: In the Gabarnmung cave of northern Australia, the oldest paintings certainly predate 28,000 years ago, while the most recent ones were made less than a century ago.
Abstract art uses visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which individual artists drew their theoretical arguments were diverse, and reflected the social and intellectual preoccupations in all areas of Western culture at that time.
A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.
Academic art, or academicism or academism, is a style of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced under the influence of European academies of art. Specifically, academic art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, which was practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, and the art that followed these two movements in the attempt to synthesize both of their styles, and which is best reflected by the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Thomas Couture, and Hans Makart. In this context it is often called "academism," "academicism," "art pompier" (pejoratively), and "eclecticism," and sometimes linked with "historicism" and "syncretism."
Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high-resolution photograph. Hyperrealism is considered an advancement of Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting paintings or sculptures. The term is primarily applied to an independent art movement and art style in the United States and Europe that has developed since the early 1970s. Carole Feuerman is the forerunner in the hyperrealism movement along with Duane Hanson and John De Andrea.
Twentieth-century art—and what it became as modern art—began with modernism in the late nineteenth century. Nineteenth-century movements of Post-Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Symbolism led to the first twentieth-century art movements of Fauvism in France and Die Brücke in Germany. Fauvism in Paris introduced heightened non-representational colour into figurative painting. Die Brücke strove for emotional Expressionism. Another German group was Der Blaue Reiter, led by Kandinsky in Munich, who associated the blue rider image with a spiritual non-figurative mystical art of the future. Kandinsky, Kupka, R. Delaunay and Picabia were pioneers of abstract art. Cubism, generated by Picasso, Braque, Metzinger, Gleizes and others rejected the plastic norms of the Renaissance by introducing multiple perspectives into a two-dimensional image. Futurism incorporated the depiction of movement and machine age imagery. Dadaism, with its most notable exponents, Marcel Duchamp, who rejected conventional art styles altogether by exhibiting found objects, notably a urinal, and too Francis Picabia, with his Portraits Mécaniques.
The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity until the present time. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.
Classical Realism is an artistic movement in the late-20th and early 21st century in which drawing and painting place a high value upon skill and beauty, combining elements of 19th-century neoclassicism and realism.
The nude, as a form of visual art that focuses on the unclothed human figure, is an enduring tradition in Western art. It was a preoccupation of Ancient Greek art, and after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position with the Renaissance. Unclothed figures often also play a part in other types of art, such as history painting, including allegorical and religious art, portraiture, or the decorative arts.
Cubist sculpture developed in parallel with Cubist painting, beginning in Paris around 1909 with its proto-Cubist phase, and evolving through the early 1920s. Just as Cubist painting, Cubist sculpture is rooted in Paul Cézanne's reduction of painted objects into component planes and geometric solids; cubes, spheres, cylinders, and cones. Presenting fragments and facets of objects that could be visually interpreted in different ways had the effect of 'revealing the structure' of the object. Cubist sculpture essentially is the dynamic rendering of three-dimensional objects in the language of non-Euclidean geometry by shifting viewpoints of volume or mass in terms of spherical, flat and hyperbolic surfaces.
Frank Stout was an American figurative artist associated with post-abstract expressionist realism. He is best known for his psychologically penetrating, witty and deeply compassionate portraits of individuals and large groups, and soulful landscapes executed with a painterly technique. He is also known for flowing figure sculpture in a variety of media, and his pastel drawings.
Joseph Csaky was a Hungarian avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist, best known for his early participation in the Cubist movement as a sculptor. Csaky was one of the first sculptors in Paris to apply the principles of pictorial Cubism to his art. A pioneer of modern sculpture, Csaky is among the most important sculptors of the early 20th century. He was an active member of the Section d'Or group between 1911 and 1914, and closely associated with Crystal Cubism, Purism, De Stijl, Abstract art, and Art Deco throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Proto-Cubism is an intermediary transition phase in the history of art chronologically extending from 1906 to 1910. Evidence suggests that the production of proto-Cubist paintings resulted from a wide-ranging series of experiments, circumstances, influences and conditions, rather than from one isolated static event, trajectory, artist or discourse. With its roots stemming from at least the late 19th century this period can be characterized by a move towards the radical geometrization of form and a reduction or limitation of the color palette. It is essentially the first experimental and exploratory phase of an art movement that would become altogether more extreme, known from the spring of 1911 as Cubism.
Groupe de femmes, also called Groupe de trois femmes, or Groupe de trois personnages, is an early Cubist sculpture created circa 1911 by the Hungarian avant-garde, sculptor, and graphic artist Joseph Csaky (1888–1971). This sculpture formerly known from a black and white photograph had been erroneously entitled Deux Femmes , as the image captured on an angle showed only two figures. An additional photograph found in the Csaky family archives shows a frontal view of the work, revealing three figures rather than two. Csaky's sculpture was exhibited at the 1912 Salon d'Automne, and the 1913 Salon des Indépendants, Paris. A photograph taken of Salle XI in sitiu at the 1912 Salon d'Automne and published in L'Illustration, 12 October 1912, p. 47, shows Groupe de femmes exhibited alongside the works of Jean Metzinger, František Kupka, Francis Picabia, Amedeo Modigliani and Henri Le Fauconnier.