Overview of Art Styles: from Caravaggio to Dada

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Caravaggio’s style is characterized by significant key components: realism, co-extensive space, and “chiaroscuro.” Caravaggio’s most developed paintings focused mainly on religious scenes when he had previously made still-lifes and self-portraits. Caravaggio’s style of realism revolves around his very keen sense of detail. He included many details on his subjects that depicted them as very lifelike and realistic, including things like dirty fingernails or subtle facial features. Caravaggio’s incorporation of “chiaroscuro” was very characteristic of his art. His paintings were very dark in color with an experimental approach towards lighting, mostly having very dark and dramatic scenes. In regards to his use of co-extensive space, Caravaggio managed to make it feel as though the painting’s scene extended into the viewer’s world as well as in the painting. One last but very interesting characteristic of Caravaggio’s work was his lack of drawing before he painted. Many artists and painters performed a rough sketch beforehand, but Caravaggio did not; he did this sketch in paint and finished on top of it.

Neoclassicism is the revival of classic art subjects or techniques. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Jacques-Louis David are both great examples of Neoclassicism artists. Ingres was very much interested in realism and the human form, which was evident in his paintings of nude bodies, primarily women. While these weren’t always the most perfectly anatomically accurate examples, one of his works, “La Source,” was a very impressive and accurate expression of the human form. In his paintings of historical events, Ingres was criticized for having “flat” dimensions in his expressions of the characters.

This characteristic of “flatness” comes from his undeveloped use of lighting and lack of the use of conventional modeling. Ingres did have accuracy in his portrait painting and conveyed a great amount of detail and ability to express the subtle emotions of his subjects. Jacques-Louis David also was a painter of classical themes. He became the painter for Napoleon Bonaparte and painted many historical scenes from both his own present times, as well as far back as the ancient times, such as his painting, “The Death of Socrates.” David’s most evident style characteristics were his paintings’ lack of distractions of “pictorial flourishes.” He is known for his paintings’ moral ideas and messages. David’s own Neoclassicist style was emulated by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, who is his most famous pupil.

Courbet, being a realist in his artistic style, depicted objects as they truly were, although that was oftentimes considered “plain and blemished.” Courbet was very politically invested, and a lot of this was depicted through his art. He chose to paint simple country scenes with minor, humble subjects. Courbet’s realism emerges in his ability to portray subjects with great detail and exactly as they were, blemished and all, including their imperfections. He chose not to “glorify” the peasant subjects in his paintings but instead just presented them as they truly existed. These characteristics greatly aligned with the realistic understanding of the world and art; no frills, only things how they really are.

Impressionist art style is very distinct. Impressionists attempt to capture their subjects as if they had only “just caught a glimpse of it.” Typically, they are characterized by bright, bold, and vibrant colors rather than great detail. Most commonly, they are of outdoor scenes and everyday objects and scenes. Some notable Impressionists are Manet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Monet. This movement was characterized by a change in the styles of painting. Rather than broader strokes, small applications of color were applied with paint. A great distinguishing factor of Impressionist art was the lightening of the colors and alteration in painting technique. Due to this changing technique and diminishing realism and detail in the art, Impressionists could capture what looked like the passing time or just a glimpse of a moment.

Cubism was a more recent art style in which artists shifted away from the characteristics of realism. Cubists used sharp figures in their art and “abandoned perspective”. These artists meshed the background with the main focus of the art and conveyed objects from multiple perspectives and angles. The Cubist art movement strayed from traditional realism and three-dimensional perspectives; they often appeared two-dimensional and flat to the viewers. Some very influential and important Cubist artists include Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
Dada was both a literary and artistic movement that included many art forms, from photography, poetry, paintings, and sculptures. The main purpose of Dada art was to raise questions about the artist, the art, and society. Dadaists wanted to “challenge artistic norms.” With this in mind, Dadaist artists often composed works of art with everyday objects with a few manipulations to challenge the viewer and the definition of what constitutes art and its influence and interpretation in society. Very influential and important Dadaists include Francis Picabia, Hugo Ball, and Hans Arp.

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Overview of Art Styles: From Caravaggio to Dada. (2023, Mar 24). Retrieved April 16, 2024 , from
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