ART: All the ISMs


“To each age it’s art, to art it’s freedom” was inscribed over the door of the first gallery to showcase European Avant Garde to the public.  It is so ironic that each artistic revolution was created by breaking away from the established traditions, because people are so afraid to do that.  To forge your own style is to fight the bias and parochialism that aim to preserve the status quo, with its historical, religious and moral “truths”. This pattern became really apparent at the beginning of each chapter in the recent book I received to review, with transitions like “radically redefine”, “highly experimental” or “undermine orthodoxy”.  And these are the notions that began movements like the Bauhaus, with its denial of class divisions, and Post-Modernism, the denial that ideas can claim fundamental truths.  It’s amazing to follow our changing patterns of human interest and how our perception expanded with multiple perspectives breaking out during Post-Impressionism, wavering between the moment (Impressionism) and timelessness (Neo-Impressionism), embracing our emotions (symbolism) and absurdity (Dadaism).  ISMs…Understanding Modern Art by Sam Phillips is the kind of collection I wish I had had in Art History class, with its cute icons and well-condensed lists of key works and terms that define each of the artistic eras from the late 19th Century until today.


Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986

USA - Shepard Fairey mural in Hollywood, California.

Shepard Fairey, District La Brea Mural, Hollywood, 2011


Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907