You Can Now Become A Pro at Recognizing Art Forms!

Have you wondered how art enthusiasts are able to take just one look at the canvas, sculpture, or a piece of art and spill beans about the artist and the art style?

Well, here’s an article that will have you doing the same thing in no time.

Read along and find the untold truth about how to distinguish between different arts.

The Basics

Art style refers to the way in which an artist illustrates their vision. Each piece can be identified by studying the characteristics of the artwork. These include color, form, composition, and method amongst others.

Every artist has a philosophy that drives their vision. If you can identify their ideology, then it would become fairly easy to put a finger on the style of art.

The Basics of Art Movements

When you find artworks that have similar features, there’s a high chance that they belong to the same art movement. Although, this may not be true. This is because art movements are differentiated according to the time or place in history that they were developed in.

There are artists who follow the Romanticism art movement to create their artwork today, take inspiration from the era and embrace the style. Since these are contemporary artists who produce artwork similar to that of the Romanticism era, they cannot be considered to be a part of the original movement.

Furthermore, each artist, although inspired by a different era, will have their own style of working and thought process. Every piece of art will carry a unique essence of the artist, their experiences, their knowledge, and their skillset, which will enable you to identify the artwork correctly.

Famous Art Movements

Every piece of art will leave a different impression in your mind, and every individual will experience the same art in a varied manner.

Owing to such factors, history has seen several art movements develop and followed; some receiving higher appreciation than others.

Here are some of the most iconic Art Movements in the history of our world and how to identify them.

  1. Minimalism

An art movement that began after WW2, in the United States, is known to contradict both Abstract Expressionism and Modernism. Initially, some artworks were monochromatic or used a restricted palette of colors. Other works can be identified with its clear transitions between colors. One of the most prominent features of minimalism is the use of simple geometric shapes that may or may not be repeated. You will be able to observe the complete absence of harsh brush strokes.

Take a look at this painting by Frank Stella, known as Hagamatana II. See how it is a clear cut painting, different colors clearly transitioning? Yes! This was his style of work!

Hagamatana II

Another artist of the minimalist art movement was Ellsworth Kelly. In this oil painting called Méditerranée, you can clearly see the characteristics of minimalism. 


In terms of design, minimalism works in a simple rule; the use of only necessary elements. Here, designers tend to work with void spaces, elegant lights, and connecting simple planes to form 3D shapes.

Any artwork or design where you sense the concept of “Less is More” can be identified as Minimalism. It is the simplicity of this art movement that made it popular amongst people.

Take a look at The Artment’s take on Minimalist designs:

  1. Surrealism

An art form that developed to uncover the hidden potential of the unconscious mind, after WW1 in Europe. The simplest way to explain the art form is to say that it ignores logic, and represents dreams as they are.

One of the easiest ways to recognize a surrealist artwork is to see if it has an element of surprise in it. The artworks have unexpected juxtapositions (create a comparison), and you may observe certain visual puns. A lot of surreal artworks exhibit disoriented figures and shapes, child-like designs, or portrayal of taboo subjects.

Take a look at this ink and wax paper artwork created by the founder of surrealism, Andre Brenton. Known around the world as The African Mask, this piece of art has evidently ignored logic, and presented according to the artist’s perspective. 

The African Mask

Another great example of the surrealist art movement is a painting by Max Ernst, known as the Fireside Angel. The painting creates a sense of chaos using the color scheme and not sugarcoating the reality of destruction in 1937.

Fireside Angel

Splashing paint onto a surface and being sponged would not have been considered an artwork before the Surrealism art movement.

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  1. Bohemianism

Typically, Bohemianism means to follow an unconventional lifestyle; wanderers, vagabonds, or adventurers. Eventually, the idea of a Bohemian lifestyle began to merge with the regular lives of people and thus small populations began to lead a simpler life.

Bohemian design

If you want to identify a Bohemian style decor correctly, you should be looking for the following things:

  •       A bunch of plants
  •       Low-lying furniture
  •       A mix of bright colors
  •       Use of various patterns
  •       Distressed materials and styles
  •       Use of layers such as cushions, rugs, throws
  •       Artistic décor

We can bet that you will be impressed with how well we have been able to capture the essence of the Bohemianism movement in our products!

  1. Art Deco

Art Deco is an art movement that developed in France after WW1, and represents modernism turned into fashion. The idea was to defy the rules that bound traditional elegance and come up with products that were sleek and boasted a sense of sophistication and luxury.

The identification of an art deco style design or artwork is simple. It includes features such as clean shapes, simple yet elegant style, geometrical patterns, use of expensive materials, etc.

Ever heard of Tamara de Lempicka? She is one of the most prominent artists of the art deco movement. Her work can be distinguished by the use of the angular style of painting and the use of bold colors. Can you see her reflection in this portrait of Mrs. Alan Bott?

Portrait of Mrs. Alan Bott

Let’s take a look at an art deco designer to understand the movement better. Erte was recognized for his stylized design and sophisticated look. His illustrations have been praised since the beginning, and made his way into Hollywood as well.


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At a closer look, you can also observe the use of bright colors along with the smooth and polished surface of the objects. Some of the most common colors you’ll find are shades of yellows, greens, red, and blue, all of which are bright and deep. These are used with a mix of chrome, black, and silver for a more elevated look.

  1. Modern Art

Modern art was developed with the essence to experiment, explore new perspectives, materials, and functions. The style of art that emerged in different locations varied from that of another, in spite of belonging to the same year. This was because of the art that prevailed in these regions previously.

Today, there are certain principles that can be used to identify modern art.

  •       A realistic depiction of an object
  •       Shapes are used in innovative and experimental ways
  •       There is a touch of abstraction to it
  •       Material plays a crucial role in modern art, observe the use of new materials
  •       Expressive use of colors

A modern artist from China, known for his cynical realism and smashing boundaries through his work, was one of the most talented artists of the modern art movement. In his oil on canvas painting known as Wave, you can easily identify the characteristics of modern art.


Günther Förg’s Untitled artwork, using acrylic and oil on canvas, is a great example of his style of work in the modern art movement. Experimenting with mimicry and using monochrome schemes in some works, he also worked with pared-down references to architecture. 

Günther Förg

Fun Fact: Most of us might have heard of an artist named Vincent van Gogh, but not know a lot about him or his art. Well, he is one of the most prestigious artists of the modern art movement.

So, there you have it.

With a little bit of practice and observation, you can learn to differentiate between the different art movements, their designs, and understand their characteristics. 

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