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Art History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
How to Define Art
There are many things that contribute to the definition of art. Learn more about the best way to answer this complex question.
What Should You Know About the Elements of Art?
Knowing the 7 Elements of Art (line, shape, form, space, texture, value and color) allows you to analyze, appreciate, write and talk about art, and even create it.
The 3 Most Important Functions of Art
Let's explore the four main functions of art including its contextual, personal, social and physical attributes.
What Is Form in Art?
Form is one of the seven elements of art. At its most basic, a form is a three-dimensional geometrical figure as opposed to a shape, which is two-dimensional, or flat.
What Is Abstract Art?
Abstract art can be a painting or sculpture (including assemblage) that does not depict a person, place or thing in the natural world. Even in an extremely distorted or exaggerated way
Explore the World of Pop Art!
Pop Art was a post WWII reaction to American consumerism. By bridging high and low culture they reflected America's own growing dependence and fascination with mass production and images of celebrities.
10 Things You Might Not Know About 'The Last...
Facts about Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'. One of the world's most famous religious paintings in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.
What Is Balance in Art?
Balance in art refers to the ways in which the elements (lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc.) of a piece are arranged. A basic principle of art, specifically of design.
What Dada Was and Why It Matters
Dadaism, or Dada Art, was not a movement, it's artists not artists and it's art not art. Why does this non-art movement still matter in the art world?
What Exactly Is Contemporary Art?
Great question. Contemporary Art just means art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetimes. In other words, contemporary to us. Learn more..
How to Define Contrast in the Art World
Contrast art refers to the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark colors, rough vs. smooth textures, large vs. small shapes, etc.) in a piece of art.
What You Should Know About the Visual Arts
What is the definition of Visual Art? The visual arts are those creations we can look at, such as a drawing or a painting, and more.
What Does Space Mean in Art?
An element of art, Space refers to distances or areas around, between or within components of a piece.
What Was Analytical Cubism?
Analytic Cubism was developed by Picasso and Braque to refer to real objects in terms of identifiable details that become, through repetitive use, signs that indicate the idea of the object, just like we find in cartoon characters.
How to Write an Art History Paper
Advice on how to write an art history paper, written by an art history professor, offering dos and don'ts that will help you complete the assignment on time. Appropriate for high school and college students.
What Is the Definition of Shape in Art?
Shapes in art are limited to two dimensions: length and width. Geometric shapes have the clear edges. Organic shapes have natural, less well-defined edges.
What Is Value in Art?
An element of art, Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. Value becomes critical in a work which has no colors other than black, white, and a gray scale.
What Does Medium Mean in Art?
In art, Medium refers to the substance the artist uses to create his or her artwork. For example, the medium Michelangelo used to create David was marble.
Art History 101: What is Cubism?
Cubism art rebelled against Renaissance one-point perspective and illusionism through an emphasis on geometricity, simultaneity, and passage. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque pioneered Cubism's ideas and style.
What Is Texture in Art?
The definition of texture as an element of art, refers to the way a three-dimensional work actually feels when touched, or the visual 'feel' of a two-dimensional piece
How Is Color Defined in Art?
When artists and art historians define color in art, they are referring to the element that is produced when light, striking an object, is reflected back to the eye.
How to Identify Synthetic Cubism
Synthetic Cubism was invented by Picasso and Braque as they simplified a specific repertory of forms derived from their Analytic Cubism period of 1909/10 to 1912. Synthetic Cubism also incorporated collage and papier colle in Picasso and Braque's work.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About...
Impressionism is about the temporary, the here and now, and not about the timeless, the forever. Its avant-garde technique features short, painterly brushstrokes of bright colors that blend when the eyes view the painting at a distance.
Romanticism - Art History 101 Basics
Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling. - Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)
The Easiest Way to Understand Representational...
What is Representational Art? The word 'representational', when used to describe art, means that the work depicts something easily recognized by most people.
Is Mary Magdalene in "The Last Supper"?
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What Is Artistic Unity?
A principle of art, Unity occurs when all of the elements of a piece combine to make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole.
7 Surprising Facts About the Sistine Chapel...
Discover the answers to some of the most common questions about Michelangelo's The Sistine Chapel ceiling, the most famous ceiling frescoes painting in the world.
What is Emphasis in Art?
Emphasis is a principle of art which occurs any time an element of a piece is given dominance by the artist. Frequently, emphasis is achieved by means of contrast.
How to Really Understand Surrealist Art
Surrealist artists feasted on the unconscious, the exploration of the dream as a valid form of reality, and a willingness to depict images of perverse sexuality, scatology, decay and violence.
How to Understand Performance Art
The term. Art History.
Get to Know Andy Warhol
A biographical profile of Andy Warhol (1928-1987), American painter, filmmaker and Pop icon.
French Impressionist Painters
Famous French artists and painters and who were the trend setters of the notable Impressionism Art Movement during the mid-to-late 19th century.
Was Leonardo a Vegetarian?
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What Art Was Like During the Paleolithic Age
Roughly 40,000 years ago marked the start of the Paleolithic Art period, which saw the the rise of Homo sapiens and their ability to create tools, weapons and ultimately, art.
What Makes Abstract Expressionism?
Abstract Expressionism or. Art History.
What’s the Difference Between the...
The Northern Renaissance took place across Europe, but outside of Italy, in countries including France, the Netherlands and Germany where most innovative art was created.
How Do You Define Modern Art?
Learn more about what the art world means by Modern Art, which includes works from the nineteenth century's Impressionists to the end of the 1960s.
What You Should Know About Op Art
Take a closer look at Op Art, a 1960s style of art that utilized illusion, contrast and a precise, mathematically-based composition to trick the eye.
Tone is a quality of color. Art History.
What Is Rhythm in Art?
Rhythm is a principle of art that's difficult to summarize in words. Assuming that you've picked up on a rhythm in music before, take what you heard with your ears and try to translate that to something you'd see with your eyes. Rhythm, in art, is a visual beat.
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The Story Behind “Christina’s...
Andrew Wyeth painted this in 1948. His father, N. C. Wyeth, had been killed at a railway crossing just three years earlier, and Andrew's work underwent a significant change after the loss. His palette became muted, his landscapes barren and his figures--if present--seemed plaintive. Christina's World epitomizes these traits.
Funk Art - Art History 101 Basics
Funk Art's heyday was in the mid- to late-1960s. Naturally, its beginnings were much earlier; the (very) late-1950s seem to be the point of origin. By the end of the 1970s, things were pretty much over as far as artistic movements go. To include all possibilities, we can say Funk Art was produced for no more than two decades -- and 15 years would be more realistic. It was fun while it lasted, but Funk did not have a long life.
What about the disembodied hand?
Last Supper , Peter's arm appears to be twisted. His right shoulder and elbow seem to be at odds with
What Is the Golden Ratio?
Golden Ratio is a term (with an astounding number of aliases) used to describe aesthetically pleasing proportioning within a piece.
What Was Renaissance Art Like in Venice?
During the Renaissance Venice gave birth to a distinct school of painting. There was just something about the light there that begged to be captured on canvas.
Learn About the Life of Michelangelo
Michelangelo's output was, quite simply, stunning, in quality, quantity and scale. His most famous statues include the 18-foot David (1501-1504) and the Pietà (1499).
The Basics of Post-Impressionism Art
Post Impressionist artists' work comes directly out of the Impressionism or was inspired by the Impressionist movement, but pushes one aspect of the Impressionism to an extreme.
What Is Nonobjective Art?
A work of art that does not represent or depict a person, place or thing in the natural world. Also called Abstract art or nonrepresentational art.
What Was the Renaissance, Really?
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Explore the High Renaissance in Italy
The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance were: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio). These are the very first artists that come to mind when ever the term. Page 2.
La Bella Principessa by Leonardo da Vinci
This little portrait made big news on October 13, 2009 when Leonardo experts confidently attributed it to the Florentine Master based on forensic evidence.
The First Impressionist Exhibition - 1874
The first Impressionist exhibition, when the group was given this name, took place in 1874 and included 30 artists and 165 works of art. The idea for this independent exhibition was radical for this time in French art history and its opening day changed the course of art history forever.
How Mannerism Signaled the End for the Italian...
Mannerism refers to the art of the Late Italian Renaissance, before the Baroque period began, when artists used clashing colors and many bizarre themes in their work.
Fast Facts About the Great Pablo Picasso
Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, was a Spanish painter best known for (co-)inventing Cubism, inspired and invented nearly every art movement in the twentieth century.
62 Famous Artists Who Committed Suicide
An alphabetical listing of famous artists who committed suicide, including the tragic methods and reasons for their decisions.
The Entire History of Art in 5 Steps
The entirety of art history broken up chronologically into five chunks, beginning with Ancient Art (circa 30,000 B.C. to 400 A.D.) through the present.
Color Field Painting: Art History 101 Basics
Color Field Painting is a branch of Abstract Expressionism that concentrates on colorful shapes and expanses of color which emphasize the literal flatness of the canvas or paper.
What's a Line in Art?
A line is a basic element of art, referring to a continuous mark, made on a surface, by a moving point. A line is long relative to its width. It can define a space, create an outline or pattern, imply movement or texture and allude to mass or volume. Absolutely essential in creating art, the line.
Fauvism - Art History 101 Basics
Some art historians have questioned if Fauvism was indeed a movement, but there is no denying that the brief heyday of the Wild Beasts had a huge impact on Modern Art.
The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell
The first thing that stands out in The Problem We All Live With is its focal point: the girl. She is slightly to the left of center, but balanced by the large, red splotch on the wall right of center.
Appropriation / Appropriation Art
Appropriation art takes images from well-known contexts and puts these images into other contexts, usually paintings, sculpture, collages, combines or installations. Recontextualizing the image adds meaning and associations to the original image (or real thing) as well as completes the meaning of the Appropriation artist's own work.
15 Ideas for Art History Papers
A list of art history paper topics with links to writing samples published on About.com Art History.
Art History Definition: Collage
Collage is an art form that includes glued paper, objects and other foreign matter. Picasso and Braque invented the art form during the the Synthetic Period (1912 and on).
Was Leonardo da Vinci Gay?
Discussion on Leonardo da Vinci's sexual orientation.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Marcel Duchamp
A biographical profile of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French-born American painter, sculptor and conceptual artist.
Artists in 60 Seconds Index - Visual Artist...
In this large index, famous (and not-so-famous) names from the world of art are arranged alphabetically by last name. Also known as Artists in 60 Seconds, each profile contains pertinent facts about an individual name and links to further resources whenever applicable.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Shepard Fairey
Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970), an American contemporary street artist, first began to appear in the news for wheat pasting, sticker tagging, and the numerous accompanying arrests that now comprise his official criminal record.
Why Should I Study Art History?
Students may take Art History because it is required, or it seems like a good choice for AP credit in High School, or even because it is the only elective that fits into that semester's class schedule. When one of the latter three scenarios apply, questions invariably arise: how come I took this class? What's in it for me? Why should I study art history? Here are five compelling reasons.
How To Photograph Artwork and Paintings -...
Photographing artwork is not as easy as it sounds. Learn some quick tips on how to photograph artwork, paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
Art History Definition: Portrait and Portraiture
Portraits are recorded likenesses of humans or animals which are living or have lived. Portraiture is the category for this subject matter. Single images of the Virgin Mary are not portraits; they are devotional images.
Learn About Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci, often referred to by just his first name, was the epitome of the term
Art of the Mesolithic Age (ca 10,000-8,000 BC)
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What Is Proportion in Art?
Proportion is a principle of art that describes the size, location or amount of one element to another (or to the whole) in a work. It has a great deal to do with the overall hamrony of an individual piece.
Art History Quiz: Know Your French Impressionists
Art History Quiz: Know Your French Impressionists. 8 Artists, 20 Questions.
What Is a Bas Relief?
A French term from the Italian basso-relievo (low relief), bas relief is a sculpture technique in which figures and/or other design elements are just barely more prominent than the (overall flat) background.
Before You Write an Essay on Impressionism
There are a few common misconceptions about Impressionism that you may want to avoid including. There are also a few truisms that you should include.
What Is a Pattern in Art?
A principle of art - and probably the universe itself - pattern means the repetition of an element (or elements) in a work. An artist achieves a pattern through the use of colors (children playing with Legos® know this instinctively), lines (think: Op Art) or shapes (as with mosaics, tessellations, etc.).
Artists Birthdays by Month - November
Artists' Birthdays by Month - November 1 Antonio Canova (1757) 2 Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699)
What Is the Sfumato Painting Technique?
Sfumato means that there are no harsh outlines (as in a coloring book) present; areas blend into one another through miniscule brushstrokes, which makes for a rather hazy, albeit more realistic, depiction of light and color.
Neolithic Art - Art History 101 Basics
After the rather ho-hum art of the Mesolithic era, art in the Neolithic (literally:
Which Style Guide Should I Use?
Rules of thumb to help you know which style guide applies to your art history paper citations and advice on how to format those image captions.
The Sistine Madonna by Raphael
She may be 500 years old, but the Sistine Madonna doesn't look a day over 18. How does she do it?
Elements of Art
The elements of art are those components that one combines with principles of design to construct art.
Freedom from Want, 1943
Art History. Page 9.
Art History Definition: Action Painting
Abstract artworks that emphasize the process of or gesture in the creative act through various techniques of application, including dripping, smearing and flinging paint.
Art History Definition: Academy, French
The French Academy was founded in 1648 during the reign of King Louis XIV as the Academie Royale de peinture et de sculpture. After the French Revolution it became the Academie de peinture et de sculpture and then it was merged with the Academie de musique and the Academie d'architecture to form the Academie des Beaux-Arts. The annual government-sponsored exhibition called the Salon was controlled by the Academie des Beaux-Arts.
The Proto-Renaissance - Art History 101 Basics
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What Was Leonardo's Name?
: What Was Leonardo's Name? : In The Da Vinci Code , Robert Langdon refers to Leonardo as "Da Vinci."
The Story of Bridget Riley
Learn more about Bridget Riley (b. 1931), an English painter and printmaker best known for her Op Art pieces.
What Is the Definition of “Salon”?
A salon, based on the French word living room, is a conversational gathering of intellectuals, artists and politicians. The French Salon was the official annual exhibition sponsored by the French government from 1667 to 1890; it continues under the private stewardship of the Societe des Artistes Francais.
Art History Definition: Abstraction
An artwork that does not represent or depict a being, place or thing; or a simplified, generalized depiction of a being, place or thing.
Artists in 60 Second: Grandma Moses
A biographical profile of Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses; 1860-1961), American Folk artist.
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Le Bassin au...
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Le Bassin au Nympheas, 1919. Oil on canvas 39 3/9 x 78 7/8 in. Private Collection of Paul G. Allen. Page 8.
Realism - Art History 101 Basics
Realism - Art History 101 Basics
Art History Definition: History Painting or...
History Painting or Sculpture is a category in the old Academic tradition that places this subject matter far above all other subject matter in artmaking. History Painting was considered more important than portraiture, landscapes, still life, and genre painting. This academic system of evaluation no longer holds sway in art schools or art exhibitions.
Neo-Impressionism and the Artists Behind the...
Artists such as Georges Seurat embraced Neo-Impressionism, an art style characterized by packing tiny points of color together to form another color.
papier collé
Papier collé is a kind of collage composed only of glued papers on a flat surface, usually a canvas or paper, sometimes in combination with depicted images.
Mona Lisa Coloring Page
A line drawing of Leonardo's Mona Lisa for your coloring page fun. You are free to save and print this image for personal, educational and non-commercial purposes.
Artists in 60 Seconds: J. M. W. Turner
A biographical profile of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), English Romantic painter.
The Scream by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch painted 'The Scream' in 1895 but also created 3 other colored versions, as well as a black and white lithographic stone.
Salon Cubism or Salon Cubists
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What to Know About Greek Art
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Victor Vasarely, Leader of the Op Art Movement
Learn more about Victor Vasarely (1908-1997), the Hungarian-born French painter and sculptor who created the Pop Art Movement.
vanitas painting
A vanitas painting was a particular type of still life immensely popular in the Netherlands (and Paris, to a lesser extent), beginning in the 17th century.
Leonardo da Vinci's Lost Masterpiece: The...
Leonardo da Vinci's Lost Masterpiece: The Battle of Anghiari. Had it been completed, it would have been by far the largest and greatest work that Leonardo ever made. All that remains today of this legendary work of art is a collection of small preparatory sketches and paintings that copied the incomplete mural. While the painting itself is generally thought to be lost, some believe that it may still lie concealed behind a counter wall in the Palazzo Vecchio.
Art History 101: High Renaissance to Early...
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The Double Life of Artist Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot was among the few women in the original French Impressionist circle. She was married to Eugene Manet and was the sister-in-law of Edouard Manet. Her daughter was Julie Manet, also an artist.
Outline of Art History - Modern Art - Visual...
Outline of Art History - Modern Art Visual Arts Movements - 1880-1970 After Impressionism proved it only
Florence's Importance to the Early Renaissance
Learn five key reasons Florence, Italy became center stage for Early Italian Renaissance art and the place where many artists launched their careers during in the 15th-century.
Outline of Art History - Ancient Art - Visual...
Outline of Art History - Ancient Art Visual Arts Movements - ca. 30,000 B.C.-ca. 400 A.D. Prehistory
Franz Kline Biography
Learn more about Franz Kline (1910-1962), a well-known American abstract expressionist painter.
Photomontage is a specific kind of collage made of primarily of photographs from newspapers, magazines and similar media.
Cloisonnism - Art History 101 Basics
Cloisonnism was a movement created by Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, and Louis Anquetin, along with other members of the School of Pont-Aven. Edouard Dujardin invented the name in 1888 in his review of the Salon des Independants. The work seems to emulate the medieval cloisonne metalwork that divides areas of pure color through strong partitions of metal wire. Cloisonnism shows partitions in the lines of black or other strong hues that emphasis contours and flatness. It is Post-Impressionist.
Artists' Quotes: Helen Frankenthaler
Quotes on art, artists, painting, taboo subjects, and more from the inventor of Color Field Painting, Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011).
Artists in 60 Seconds: Tezuka Osamu 手&#2...
The Japanese artist (1928-1989) created more than 700 manga series with about 170,000 pages of drawings, and 200,000 pages of anime storyboards and scripts.
What Is a Landscape Painting?
Landscape is an academic category that refers to works of art which feature views of nature, including seascapes, cityscapes and waterscapes.
Please explain that "V" and/or "M"
: Please explain that "V" and/or "M" : "As anyone can plainly see, the space between Jesus and John,
A painting technique, impasto is a thick application of paint (usually oil) that makes no attempt to look smooth.
Leonardo da Vinci's Unfinished Masterpiece
Of the numerous unfinished canvases begun by Leonardo, The Adoration of the Magi is surely one of the most ambitious, and remains impressive, even in its unfinished state.
What's the Difference Between an Era, a Period...
An era is usually long: the Baroque Era lasted 200 years. A movement describes a group of artists who banded together. A period is more slippery.
Robert Indiana Biography
Learn more about Robert Indiana, an American painter, sculptor and printmaker best known for his Love sculpture series.
Venus pudica
: ( noun ) - "Venus pudica" is a term used to describe a classic figural pose in Western art. In this,
: ( noun ) - Watercolor has several meanings. First, it means a pigment that, when mixed with water as
The Bloch-Bauer Klimts
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Artists in 60 Seconds: Yves Tanguy
A biographical profile of Yves Tanguy (1900-1955), French-born American Surrealist painter.
What Is Artistic License?
If you wish to be polite, artistic license means taking liberties with reality. Conversely, you may be the blunt sort and thus able to call it cheating. Either way, artistic license is usually harmless and entertaining.
Art History 101 - The High Northern Renaissance
The first half of the 16th century saw the North enjoying its own High Renaissance. The primary reason this came about can be summed up in two words: Albrecht Dürer.
Art History Definition: The Fourth Dimension
The Fourth Dimension refers to time among the other dimensions: length, width and depth, or it refers to the mental processes, such as perceiving and feeling.
Art History Glossary - Definitions for Art...
An alphabetized index of Art and Art History definitions for words and terms.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
A biographical profile of Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Venetian painter in the Italian High Renaissance.
Artists in 60 Seconds: René Magritte
A biographical profile of René Magritte (1898-1967), the Belgian Surrealist painter.
Post-Minimalism - Art History 101 Basics
Post-Minimalism is a catchall word that collects a large number of artists who rebelled against Minimalism. Their styles vary, but their work still emphasizes form, color, texture and context. Often, the content incorporates aspects of the natural world.
Minimalism or Minimal Art - Art History 101...
Minimalism or Minimal Art is a form of abstraction that pares its forms down to the simplest and most elemental shapes. Often the surfaces are monochromatic. Barbara Rose in her landmark article
The Vitruvian Man - Leonardo Da Vinci - About.com
Leonardo Da Vinci squared the circle. The secret solution in the Vitruvian Man decoded.
Quick Overview of High Renaissance Painter...
Biography of High Renaissance painter Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) (1483-1520). Description of famous works and influences like Leonardo and Michelangelo.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Norman Rockwell
A biographical profile of Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), American painter and illustrator.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Willem de Kooning
A biographical profile of Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Dutch-born American Abstract Expressionist painter.
Outline of Art History - Contemporary Art -...
Outline of Art History - Contemporary Art Visual Arts Movements - 1970s-Present 1970 Post-Modernism - 1970s-mid
Art History Definition: Passage
The blending of overlapping planes into one another.
Triple Self-Portrait, 1960
Art History. Page 18.
Artists Birthdays by Month - December
Artists' Birthdays by Month - December: giovanni lorenzo bernini edward redfield lucian freud friedensreich hundertwasser georges seurat
The Lowbrow Movement - Art History 101 Basics
An artistic movement slowly gaining momentum that pokes fun at convention, and doesn't necessarily care if The Art World recognizes it.
Leonardo da Vinci's 'Study of Hands'
This beautiful sketch of three hands is in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle exemplifies Leonardo da Vinci's intense attention to, even fascination with, anatomical correctness and the effects of light and shadow.
The Eighth Impressionist Exhibition - 1886
The eighth Impressionist exhibition in 1886 reunited Degas, Cassatt, Forain, and Zandomeneghi, who defected in 1882, with core Impressionist artists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Marie Braquemond. New-comers Georges Seurat and Paul Signac brought their new Pointillist style. Seurat's Grande Jatte made its debut. Paul Gauguin brought in his friends Emile Schuffenecker and Odilon Redon.
Artists in 60 Seconds: Frida Kahlo
A biographical profile of Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón (1907-1954), Mexican painter.
Gustave Courbet Biography
Learn more about Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), a French founder of the Realism movement in art.
The Eight "Impressionist" Exhibitions, 1874-1886
The Impressionists exhibited their work independently of the French Salon from 1874 to 1886. They organized eight exhibitions in seven different locations. They exhibited in their first venue, the photographer Nadar's studio at 35 Boulevard des Capucines, twice. This decision to exhibit outside of the official French Academy was revolutionary and groundbreaking. There first exhibition marked the turning point for art marketing in the modern era.

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