Contemporary Art in Focus Part 2: late 20th

Contemporary Art in Focus Part 2: late 20th




 In the previous article “Contemporary Art in Focus: late 20th” we presented the following art movements that took place in the late 20th- Abstract Expressionism, Conceptualism, Neo-dada, Pop Art, Hyper Realism and Fractal Art. Now we are happy to present to the reader the next six following contemporary art movements of late 20th - Minimalism, Nuagisme, Capitalist Realism, Environmental Art, Lowbrow Art and Neo-expressionism. 





Minimalism, or minimum art, is a widespread movement in art that took place in the 1960s. Artists-minimalists have abandoned compositional and coloristic complexity, layering of images, detail and subjectivism. The main characteristic of minimalism is the highest striving for simplicity. Rejecting the classic methods of creativity and traditional artistic materials, minimalists use industrial and natural materials of simple geometric shapes and neutral colors, compositional laconicism. The main features of this artistic movement are  the desire to erase the boundaries between painting and sculpture (in its most lapidary forms);geometric rigor and slenderness (an optional but typical condition);aspiration to abstraction.

Russian constructivism had a great influence on the artists who developed this movement. Also, art critics note the influence of Dadaism, formalism, geometric abstractionism and pop art.  


Most significant names in minimalist painting belong to American artists. An influential figure in this direction is Al Held, who is famous for his giant geometric paintings, in which reigns a bright, aggressive palette.The clear geometry is characteristic of many works by Frank Stella. Kenneth Noland shifted from abstract expressionism to more minimalist art. But Noland's canvases still have echoes of expression: his color circles are often framed by emotional splashes of paint. Ellsworth Kelly widely used bright, intense colors, preferring figures with sharp contours, sometimes forcing them to collide with each other. Kelly also experimented with monochrome: he had work done in black and white.



“Nuagisme" (literally "cloudy") is a movement of abstract painting that was initiated by a French critic, specifically the innovative art of Julien Alvard, in which young French and foreign painters took part from 1955 to 1973. The main contribution of cloud computing was to rediscover "transparency and depth" in 20th century painting, which was rejected by the frontality of geometric abstraction from the painting field.The term “Nuagisme” was invented by one of the critics on the occasion of an exhibition organized by representatives of the movement in the Breto Gallery in 1959. The exhibition was called “Yann”, and was so named after the hero of the book, Pierre Loti.
“Cloudy” artists explore the possibilities of imaginary natural effects, thus leading to an abstract landscape designed as a bridge between the outside nature and the inside landscape. Not reproducing the sky in the figurative sense, but revealing the clouds, volutes for their vital impulse, for their artistic inspiration. Also the cult of the material is being questioned by artists of the clouds, who express the fluidity that opens up in almost imperceptible spaces. The use of a certain technique, i.e. working with fabric on a still fresh background, contributes to achieving the desired effect of transparency.

Notable Nuagisme artists include Jean Messagier, Frédéric Benrath, René Duvillier, Pierre Graziani, René Laubiès.



Capitalist Realism

The term "capitalist realism" was introduced by Gerhard Richter,Conrad Heighton Leigh
and Sigmar Polke in the 1960s in order to define their art based on images of mass culture. These East German artists were ironically contrasting their own art with socialist realism. The world around them is seen as a "giant supermarket" of various ways and pictorial motifs, although the open exploitation of styles and subjects as cultural codes let us talk about postmodern practices in their work.
Besides the idealization of the society of consumption, later artists also created politically oriented work, such as on the Nazi past in Germany, on sexism, racism, the Vietnam War and other social excesses in everyday capitalism. In their works, graphics, paintings and installations were used as tools of expression. As a means of storyline search, they chose magazine illustrations, advertisements, family photos, consumer products and everyday objects such as vehicles, groceries from supermarkets and fabric patterns.

The most prominent artists were Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Wolf Vostell, and Konrad Lueg.



Environmental Art

Environmental artists seek to investigate our human relationship with the environment through embedding their artistic practice within it.Environmental artists strive to work in harmony with the environment, rather than destroy it. What this means is that they are profoundly conscious of the consequences that they as individuals have on nature, without sacrificing their health or well-being in order to create a work. Furthermore, ecological artists, working in collaboration with organic scenery, find their way into uncontrollable cycles of seasons, with their processes of blooming, erosion, casting and decay.
Ecological art, also known as ecoart, is an artistic practice or discipline proposing paradigms sustainable with the life forms and resources of our planet.It is composed of artists, scientists, philosophers and activists who are devoted to the practices of ecological art.Ecoart creates awareness, stimulates dialogue, changes human behavior towards other species, and encourages the long-term respect for the natural systems we coexist with. It manifests as socially engaged, activist, community-based restorative or interventionist
The following from this artistic movement: Herman de Vries, Andy Goldsworthy, Joseph Beuys, Robert Smithson.




Lowbrow Art or Pop-Surrealism

The images are highly polished, driven by cartoon characters and decorations, so one could describe low-profile art, also known as pop surrealism, but the truth is that this non-traditional art movement is far more than that.Lowbrow art does not care about being recognized by the art world as legitimate; if anything, Lowbrow artists wrote their own rules in an unapologetic way, rules that were clear enough to make this whole creative field stand on its own without a single problem. Because of its roots in the underground culture, Lowbrow / Pop Surrealism became a populist matter, inspired by such a vast variety of topics and aesthetics that it made itself easily relatable to a large number of artists and admirers. Pop Surrealism appears to have married the two stances in art that tackle very different topics. While Surrealism was based on dreams and the unconscious, Pop art depicted the mundane and the superficial. What this movement within a movement did was take the best from each and combine it into satirical works that delivered popular imagery immersed in fantasy and addressed political and social issues. With such relatable content depicted with some remarkable artistic skills, Pop Surrealism reached an audience that was not necessarily interested or educated in art and provided them with familiar topics that did not require a particular artistic interpretation.

Representatives of Lowbrow Art are Brad Parker, Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso  and others.




Neo-expressionism is a movement in contemporary art that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid 1980s. Neo-expressionism was born in Europe as a reaction to conceptual and minimalist art of the 1970s. Neo-Expressionists have returned to art figurativeness, vivid and emotional manner, bright, saturated colors.
The Neo-Expressionist artists depicted their subjects in an almost raw and brutish manner, newly resurrecting in their frequently large-scale works, the highly textural and expressive brushwork and intense colors that had been rejected by the immediately preceding art movements.
In the USA leading figures were Philip Guston and Julian Schnabel, and in Britain Christopher Le Brun and Paula Rego.In Germany the neo-expressionists became known as Neue Wilden (i.e. new Fauves). In Italy, neo-expressionist painting appeared under the banner of Transavanguardia (beyond the avant-garde). In France a group called Figuration Libre was formed in 1981 by Robert Combas, Remi Blanchard, Francois Boisrond and Herve de Rosa.



  • Website
  • Shop