Contemporary art

first act
The following table will allow to all the art world professionals and art lovers to make sense of the jargon in the artistic movements of contemporary art.
Abstract Expressionism, Pre-Funk, Raw Art, Spatialism, Paris School, Art Informel, Cobra, Assemblage, Junk Art, Gutaï, Funk, Multiple, Kinetic Art, Color Field Painting, Hard-Edge Painting, Neo-Dada, Actionnism, Happening, all these artistic movements are chronologically presented here, with a short explanation of what it is and also the artists that can't be ignored for each movement. This guide will be very useful for every contemporary artist. And also for the collectors, galleries, critics and general public.

Artistic movements from 1945 to today

Abstract Expressionism
Dripping All-Over
Action Painting

end of the 1950's

Willem De Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Tobey, David Smith

American painting, New-York School. Very big sizes. Technique of all-over. Varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content.

Pre-Funk San Francisco School


David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff

American painting, San Francisco. Reactionary movement against the abstract expressionism to New-York. Total refusal of abstraction, well visible stroke of brush, expressive use of color. Portrait very often.

Art Brut
Raw Art


Jean Dubuffet, Gaston Chaissac

Europe and United States. Artists "...unharmed of artistic culture": the Dubuffet's raw. It's not to consider as the art of madmen: what is madness?...



Lucio Fontana

Italy and Argentina. Takes account of new techniques made possible by scientific progress (e.g. television, neon lighting). Matter has to be transformed into energy and invade space in dynamic form.

Ecole de Paris
Paris School


Jean-Michel Atlan, Jean Bazaine, Camille Bryen, Olivier Debré, Jean Degottex, Jean Dubuffet, Jean Fautrier, Hans Hartung, Toshimitsu Imaï, André Lanskoy, Alfred Manessier, Georges Mathieu, Serge Poliakoff, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Pierre Soulages, Maria Viera Da Silva, Nicolas de Staël, Pierre Tal-Coat, Wols.

Term applied to the loose affiliation of artists working in Paris.

Art Informel Tachism
Matter Painting
Lyrical Abstraction


Jean-Michel Atlan, Pierre Soulages, Bram Van Velde, Nicolas de Staël
HansJean Dubuffet, Antoni Tàpies Hartung, Gérard Schneider
Georges Mathieu, Camille Bryen, Wols

Europe and USA. Brushwork is generally gestural or calligraphic. Refusal of figuration while not abolishing the references to the reality. Expressive use of the pictorial matter and heterogeneous materials.



Cornelis Corneille, Pierre Alechinsky, Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Constant

"Co" for Copenhagen, "br" for Bruxelles and "a" for Amsterdam. Fiery technique, colors with high contrasts. Figurative painting being inspired by primitive arts, popular arts and prehistoric arts. Inspired by Marxism, the artists reject Western culture and its aesthetics.


the 1950's

Joseph Beuys, Louise Nevelson

Especially in United States. Kind of collage in three dimensions with inclusion of real objects and materials. Is inspired by Cubism. Technique favouring the banal objects in every day.

Junk Art

especially since
the 1950's

César, John Chamberlain, Jean Tinguely

In Europe and United States. Sculpture which rescues the industrial wastes in order to insert them in 'assemblages': César's compressions, Tinguely's rusty automatons...



Jiro Yoshihara, Kazuo Shiraga, Sadamasa Motonaga

Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai: means Concrete Art Association. Japanese group of artists. They began experimenting in performance art. They practised also kinetic art.



Roy de Forest, Ken Price

Especially in California. Opposition to the formalism and to the intellectual ambitions of the Art from New-York. Use of found objects. Working with ceramics which is inserted in objects-paintings, trompe l'oeil still life... Provocative art, practising readily the heteregeneous accumulations.



Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguely

Artwork which is published to several copies. Limited edition. Questions the dogm of the uniqueness of the artwork.

Kinetic Art


Jean Tinguely, Jésus-Raphaël Soto, Alexander Calder, Pol Bury

Europe and also Latin America, United States and Israel. Works of art concerned with real and apparent movement: machines, mobiles and light objects in actual motion. Includes also works in virtual or apparent movement, which could be placed under the denomination of Op Art.

Color-Field Painting


Morris Louis, Sam Gilliam, Jack Bush, Gene Davis

United States and Canada. Abstract Expressionists. Spectacular use of the color. The painting makes full use of its bidimensional nature. Paintings presenting vast ranges of uniform painting in which is excluded every illusion of depth. Compositions which are spontaneously elaborated.

Hard-Edge Painting


Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly

United States. Abstract painting. Resistant to the body movements of the abstract expressionism. Paintings present a well-organized surface in a geometry which is absolutely geometrical. Assumes a precision totally impersonal. Limited palette, even monochrome.



Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns

United States. Affinities with Dada: handling of paradox and ambiguity, recovery of found objects, "sculptures" of daily objects. Figuration rooted in daily life. Conserves the gestural appearance, the big dimensions and the pictorial thickenings.

Esthétique de  l'Instantané


Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank

Especially in United States . The simplest form of the photography. Banality of subjects, simplicity of style.


towards 1960

Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch

To Vienne. Preceding body art. Works under the sign of erotic violence. Thought to Freudian themes by means of ritualized performances. The importance is given to the artist as a participant in the process of production, as a witness to creation rather than as a creator.


of the 1960's

Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Al Hansen, Jim Dine

A kind of public intervention. Collage of done or seen actions to different places at the same time and to different moments. The manifestations of Happening melt painting, music, movies, dances, poetries, are often complete improvisations and attach a preponderant role to the public who became a real actor.

Second act
The following table will allow to all the art world professionals and art lovers to make sense of the jargon in the artistic movements of contemporary art. Appropriation, Fluxus, Shaped canvas, Nouveau Réalisme, Pop'Art, Video, Conceptual art, Body Art, Art and Technique, Hyperrealism, Minimal Art, Land-Art, New Realism, Postminimalism, Op'Art, Cybernetical Art, Narrative Art, Performance Art, Favouring aestheticism photography, all these artistic movements are chronologically presented here, with a short explanation of what it is and also the artists that can't be ignored for each movement. This guide will be very useful for every contemporary artist. And also for the collectors, galleries, critics and general public.



Artistes des courants:
Nouveau Réalisme, néo-Dada

France. Fundamental activity of Nouveau Réalisme. It goes hand in hand with the quotation.



Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, John Cage, George Brecht, Yoko Ono

International group of artists. It is closed to Performance Art, Happenings. Importance accorded to the hazard. The works often required the participation of a spectator in order to be completed.

Shaped canvas


Frank Stella, Richard Smith

United States and Europe. Canvas or painting which is cut up. Minimalist paintings. Painting become an autonomous object.

Nouveau Réalisme


Yves Klein, Arman, Christo, César,
Mimmo Rotella, François Dufrêne

France. Fundamental gesture of appropriation of the reality: "alive paintbrushes" of Yves Klein, compressions of César...


Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein

England and United States. Painting, sculpture and printmaking. Pop'ular Art. Use forms as advertising, science-fiction illustration and automobile styling.


since the

Ant Farm, T.R. Uthco, Paul Kos

United States, Canada, Occidental Europe, Australia. As a technical way, video is integrated into performances or installations.
Conceptual Art


Dennis Oppenheim, Les Levine
Joseph Kosuth

Europe, United States, Australia, Japan. Idea is more important than object, in a such a way that the concrete realization of the artwork is not necessary.
Body Art


Gilbert & George, Gina Pane, Chris Burden

United States, Europe and Australia. Takes the body as medium of the artistic expression. Action executed in public.

Art and Technique


Vassilakis Takis, Otto Piene

United States, Occidental Europe. Works of artists in close collaboration with scientists.



Malcolm Morley, Robert Bechtle, Chuck Close, John De Andrea, Richard Estes, Malcolm Morley

United States. Painting and sculpture. So detailed and precise that art itself looks real. Hyperrealist paintings look like photos and Hyperrealism sculptures look like real objects.
Minimalism or
Minimal Art


Richard Serra, Agnes Martin

United States. Style characterized by an impersonal austerity, plain geometric configurations and industrially processed materials. Form is content.

In situ


Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Richard Long, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Walter De Maria, Daniel Buren

United States, Netherlands, England. Works directly with nature. Sculptures on the same scale as landscape itself. Almost inaccessible, situated far from human settlements in deserts or abandoned areas. Public can see the works in the form of preparatory drawings, photographs or films.

New Realism


Alice Neel, Lucian Freud, Philip Pearlstein

United States, England. Very big sizes, simplification of colors, flattening out of the painting' space.

Process Art


Hans Haacke, Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson

United States , Occidental Europe. Use poor materials such felt or latex. Characterized by the perishable, short-lived, even organic aspect of the artworks.


end of
the 1960's

Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Richard Anuszkiewicz

Europe and United States. Abbreviation of 'optical art'. Optical illusions which produce a feeling of movement. These coercive suggestions of movement are created by lines and patterns in black and white.
Cybernetical Art

since the end
of the 1960's

Herbert Franke, Wen-ying Tsai

Europe and United States. Forms of art which use modern techniques as computer, lasers, holograms, fax, photocopy or transmissions with satellite.

Narrative Art
Mythologies personnelles
Nouvelle Figuration

since the end
of the 1960's

Valerio Adami, Hervé Télémaque, Bruce et Norman Yonemoto, Gilles Aillaud, Eduardo Arroyo, Leonardo Cremonini, Equipo Cronica, Henri Cueco, Erro, Peter Klasen, Jacques Monory, Bernard Rancillac, Antonio Recalcati, Gérard Tisserand

Europe and United States. Gives a visual representation of some kind of story, sometimes based on literary work, in all its forms: installations, paintings, videos... Two leanings: the Nouvelle Figuration which is politicized and the Mythologies Personnelles, more intimists.

Performance Art

since the end
of the 1960's

Laurie Anderson, Robert Wilson

Europe, United States, Australia. Characterized by an action before a public in which intervene sound art, dance, poetry, theatre or video.

Favouring aestheticism

since the end
of the 1960's

Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Bruce Weber

United States and Occidental Europe. Diversion of the aesthetic of fashion photography. Often exalts body of woman, but also subjects as household refuse. Has contributed to masking the boundary between art and advertising.

Third act

The following table will allow to all the art world professionals and art lovers to make sense of the jargon in the artistic movements of contemporary art. Equipo Cronica, Arte Povera, Supports/Surfaces, Bad Painting, Mono-Ha, Installation; Aesthetic of Communication, Handled Photography, Neo-Expressionism, Meubles d'Artistes, New Image Painting, Pattern Painting, Post-modernism, Figuration libre, Graffiti, Neo-Geo, Trans-avant-garde, Simulationism, Neo-Kitsch, Ideorealism, all these artistic movements are chronologically presented here, with a short explanation of what it is and also the artists that can't be ignored for each movement. This guide will be very useful for every contemporary artist. And also for the collectors, galleries, critics and general public.

Equipo Cronica


Manolo Valdès, Rafael Solbes, Juan Antonio Toledo

Spain. Characterized by using strongly narrative figurative images that were formally indebted to Pop Art and that had a pronounced social and political content directed primarily against Franco's regime.

Arte Povera or
Art Pauvre


Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto

Italy. Means impoverished art. Group of Italian artists who attempted to break down the 'dichotomy between art and life', mainly through the creation of happenings and sculptures made from everyday materials.



Claude Viallat, Simon Hantaï

France. Shows the reality of canvas without stretcher or frame, by impression, folding, plugging or damping.

Bad Painting


Neil Jenney, Joan Brown, Malcom Morley, Robert Longo, David Salla

United States. Against the 'politically correct' of Minimalism and Conceptualism, against the idea of a predicted death of the painting. Figurative painting, gladly baroque. Generous thickenings, overabundances of color, colored mismatches. No respect of the classical rules, decentred compositions...


Nobuo Sekine, Shingo Honda, Kishio Suga

Japan. Means 'object school'. Natural objects: trees, stones and earth. Manmade objects such as beams, girders, concrete, paper and glass. The importance is given to the relationship between object and object or between objects and the spaces they occupy.



Daniel Buren, Michelangelo Pistoletto

United States and Europe. Artworks which are designed and fitted to a specific interior. Active performing of the spectator.

Aesthetic of

the 1970's

Fred Forest, Guerrilla Girls

Europe and United States. Critical search about the media and about the techniques of manipulating the opinion. Works under the form of newspapers, speeches in the dailies or in the television programmes, advertising posters...


since the second half
of the 1970's

Arnulf Rainer, Lucas Samaras, Ellen Brooks

Europe and United States. Technique of the show and manipulation sometimes on the printing itself.



Georg Baselitz, Julian Schnabel, Gérard Garouste, Karl Horst Hödicke, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck

Europe, Australia, United States. Figurative, expressionist and colorful painting. Return to the traditional forms of the easel painting and to the modelled or direct cutting sculpture.

Meubles d'artistes

the 1970's

Scott Burton, Isamu Noguchi, Memphis

Especially in United States. Painters, sculptors and architects are creating pieces of furniture generally designed as unique objects sold in galleries: separation between art and craft industry. Piece of furniture as a medium for the artistic expression.

New Image Painting


Philip Guston, Jonathan Borofsky, Jennifer Bartlett, Robert Moskowitz

United States. Return to the figurative painting characterized by simple compositions and a technique almost infantile.

Pattern Painting


Miriam Schapiro, Valerie Jaudon, Robert Zakanitch, Robert Kushner

United States. Group of artists who refuse to take into consideration the only Occidental art and who are inspired by craft industry and culture from the whole world. They continue the work of a visual and purely decorative research.

Artistes des mouvements suivants:
Figuration libre, Simulationnisme, Pittura Colta, nouveaux Fauves, Art Académique

Return of the figuration. Erasing of the old distinctions between learned art and popular culture.

Figuration libre

since the

Keith Haring, Robert Combas, Lee Quinones, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Speedy Graphito, Keith Haring, Kenny Sharf, Rhonda Zwillinger

France and New-York. Figurative painting which is spontaneous, primitive, colorful, inspired by strip cartoons and Rock.


Jeff Koons, Meyer Vaisman

New-York. Abbreviation of 'Neo- Geometric'. Use of domestic objects as sculptural material.



Enzo Cucchi, Remo Salvadori

Italy. Figurative painting and scuplture. Borrowing of pictures to art history, popular culture and primitive cultures.



Sherrie Levine, David Salle

United States and Europe. Resorting to the isolated, fixed or in movement picture which is presented out of context and boiling down to its only quality of abstract sign. Appropriation of the object which is redrawn, repainted or rephotographed.



Kenny Scharf, Rhonda Zwillinger

New-York. Loud artworks which gaily mix styles and exalt with jubilation the bad taste under all its forms.