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Movements in Modern ArtArtists in Modern ArtTimelines of Modern ArtIdeas & Critics in Modern Art Current Events and Exhibitions related to Modern Art


ART THEORY and ART CRITICS
INTRODUCTION:

Art theory may sound like a complex, modern invention, but ideas about art are as old as art itself. The very first artists held some elementary ideas about imagery when they began making marks on the surfaces of caves - otherwise they wouldn't have made them. Perhaps those ideas weren't as sophisticated as those which have informed modern artists, but many of the most advanced artists today still hold theories about art which are little more than a series of unspoken, instinctively held assumptions. The writings of the critics and historians that are explored in this section sometimes interrogate those assumptions, but often they simply elaborate upon them and bring them to a wider audience.

This section offers several routes to an understanding of Abstract Expressionist theory. There is an overview of the movements' key ideas, showing what it derived from artists that came before it, what it absorbed from the beliefs of its own time, and how its ideas have since fared. There is also a timeline setting out the major contributions to art and ideas in the America of the 1940s and 1950s. And there is a full biographical directory of the major critics and historians who interpreted and contextualised the movement, then and since.

GUIDE TO ART THEORY:
You have several options on how to learn about Modern Art Theory on this website. Information on art theory from 1930 to 1970 can be accessed via one of these routes:


Overview

Read the Overview to Modern Art Theory and follow the main themes of art theory.

Timeline

View the interactive timeline of significant events in Abstract Expressionist art theory.

Critics and Theorists

Read about the individual critics and historians that shaped the theory behind art.




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HIGHLIGHTS TO THEORY SECTION:
Critics Comparison:
Clement Greenberg vs. Harold Rosenberg
    
Terms and Concepts:

Definition of Modern Art

Comparison:
Abstract vs. Figurative Art

In Modern Art:
Formalism
Existentialism
Medium Purity
Flatness
Art for Art's Sake

Other Concepts and Definitions:
The Academy of Art and The Salon