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Art, art history, and art movements. These are concepts that encompass a world of feelings and stories of people. Art is rich and varied, just like life itself. However, there is also a common basis for all these different artistic expressions. Art is a means of communication between the artist and the viewer of his or her work. It exists because a person has the ability to convey their imagination to another. This makes us unique in the animal kingdom.
In this website, I talk about art to show how artists work and in what context they do this, with the goal of making the art world transparent. There are limits to this, though. If you describe in detail what an artist wants to convey with his or her artwork, you are silencing him or her. They communicate with you through the artwork. It’s better not to interject as a narrator. Appreciating an artwork remains a personal matter. However, the story of an artwork can enhance the pleasure you experience from it. Hence my attempt to translate both old and new art into simple words in this book, making art understandable and insightful for everyone. However, I mainly hope that you enjoy expanding your knowledge about the history of art, the many interesting art movements, the beautiful images of the artworks shown, and the feelings that the artworks evoke in you.

Information about Art History

The artistic expressions in a specific period are also a reflection of the society at that time. Art movements flowed with the rhythm of the prevailing social realities or opposed them. There were also artists who worked entirely authentically from their own imaginative world, without considering societal or art historical developments. Yet, every person is shaped by the environment in which he or she lives and the society in which he or she grow up, and this applies to artists as well. That’s why I have placed the art movements in their social perspective. This influenced my choices of which artworks to include in this website. In each chapter, I present artworks, crafts, buildings, or images that depict the period in which the artists lived. Precisely they were able to interpret the society surrounding them through their artworks. In this way, this art website not only explains how art history evolved but also places it in a historical context. The aim is to better understand the artists who lived in a specific period.
However, this overview of general art history is nothing more than a retrospective and a summary of the artists and artworks from human history, with an emphasis in this website on the visual arts and architecture. Other applied arts are also covered, such as photography, calligraphy, graphic design, goldsmithing, textiles, and crafts. The art world is, however, broader. Think of music, theater, film, and literature, which are not or much less addressed in this website. Undoubtedly, an observant scholar will point out the incompleteness of what is offered. Moreover, they may question what I find more or less important in this course. I have tried to be objective, but inherent to authorship is that much is colored by my personal experiences. I hope you can enjoy these texts, which do not pretend to be critical but mainly aim to broadly inform you about the history of art in the world we live in.

How to Follow This Art History Course?

Our art history course consists of text accompanied by as many images as possible to supplement and clarify the texts. A well-known proverb says ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ This is certainly true in the art world, as your eyes are a crucial tool for appreciating art. Sometimes I use images of art objects from our own collection, but often they are images of paintings and other artworks from private collections and museums. In the captions of the images, I provide further insights about the respective artworks in relation to the described art movement, so you can immediately apply what you have read to the artwork shown. I hope that your visit to a building or a museum will be different and more enriching after following this art history course.

Enjoy!

Ronnie Rokebrand,
Free Art History

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A carving of a steppe bison (an extinct species of bison) made from a reindeer antler. It is assumed that the animal is licking an insect bite. The sculpture dates from the period 20,000 to 12,000 BC. Originally, it served as the weight of a spear thrower. Characteristic of the first sculptures made by humans was that the depictions followed the contours of the material, in this case, the shape of the antler blade.  Location: This image of a steppe bison is located in the National Prehistoric Museum in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. This town is located in the French region of Bas-Périgord (Black Périgord) in the Dordogne. Les Eyzies-de-Tayac is known as the capital of prehistory. It owes this name to the many prehistoric sites in the immediate vicinity. You will find the National Prehistoric Museum in the 16th-century Château de Beynac, located high above the center of Les Eyzies. ©Jochen Jahnke. License: GFDL.

Lesson 1: Primitive Art

In this lesson, you will become acquainted with the history and meaning of primitive art. This is a term used to refer to artworks made by early human civilizations and indigenous peoples. Yet, this designation is largely outdated and is seen as a product of colonial thinking. A video with our avatar, an extensive text, and numerous images will guide you through the world of primitive art.

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A ceramic statue of a Maya priest (Yucatan, Mexico). Location: This statue of a Maya priest is part of the collection of the Gooise Gallery, an online gallery. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 2: Precolumbian Art

In this lesson on Pre-Columbian art, you will become acquainted with the origins and art history of the peoples who lived in Central and South America, with a lot of attention given to their artistic and cultural development. It concerns the period before the arrival of Columbus. Video footage, texts, and unique images will teach you more about this fascinating period.

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An ancient Egyptian grave figurine of the radiant sun god Ra, also known as Re, one of the most important gods in Egyptian mythology. He was the creator who had withdrawn from the earth. As the sun god, he sailed daily in his boat to the sky, after which he died in the west. During the nighttime hours, he came back to life in the underworld, after which he rose again in the east. An infinite cycle. Location: This grave figurine of the Sun King Ra is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie, an online gallery based in the Netherlands. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 3: Ancient Egyptian Art

This lesson provides insight into ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian art. In ancient Egyptian art, magic was an essential element. The Egyptians believed that images and paintings possessed magical powers, which allowed them to live on even after their death. Through video, numerous images, and texts, you will become acquainted with their world of experience.

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Image on a Greek vase in the red-figure style, where the vase was glazed black, and the red figures were created by leaving the glaze off those areas, revealing the red clay. The vase dates from the Archaic period: 720-480 BC. Location: This Greek vase is owned by Professor Harrison, Jane E.; MacColl, Dugald S. (London 1894).

Lesson 4: Ancient Greek Art

In this lesson, you will receive a comprehensive overview of the development of Greek art in words and images, starting from the Minoan and Mycenaean periods and ending in the Hellenistic period. The Greek culture, divided across independent city-states, had a rich art history. The fascinating art of the ancient Greeks, influenced by the Egyptian culture, laid the foundation for Western art and culture.

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The Mona Lisa of Galilee. This is an image of the god Dionysus as part of a floor mosaic in Zippori, Israel. In Greek mythology, Dionysus was the god of fertility, wine, and pleasure. He was often depicted in two ways: as a beautiful, almost feminine youth, and as a slightly older bearded man. The Romans knew him as Bacchus. This mosaic is another example of the significant influence of Greek mythology and art on Roman art. Location: The Mona Lisa of Galilee is part of a floor mosaic in the House of Dionysus in Zippori in Lower Galilee, Israel. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 5: Roman Art

Roman art, from the birth of Christ to 400 years after the birth of Christ, was strongly influenced by the ancient Greeks, but also by the Etruscan civilization. The Etruscans introduced Greek art to Rome and had a profound influence on their culture and religion. The Romans copied Greek bronze statues in marble and adopted Greek and Etruscan gods. Through video, numerous images, and texts, you will become acquainted with Etruscan and Roman art.

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A Greek Orthodox icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, this image is known as Theotokos (Mother of God) of the Passion. Mary is depicted wearing a blue undergarment, symbolizing the earth and her humanity. Her red mantle represents the heavens and her divine status. Jesus appears with a mature demeanor rather than childlike. He is depicted as a small adult, born with an adult mind. Location: This Greek Orthodox icon of Mary with the child is part of the collection of the Gooise Gallery. © Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 6: Byzantine Art

The Byzantine Empire lasted from the 5th to the 13th century. In this empire, named after the city of Byzantium, later Constantinople and now called Istanbul, the emperors functioned as the God-appointed Christian leaders. Byzantine art focused mainly on religious themes. Sacred icons, frescoes, and exquisite mosaics narrated biblical stories to the illiterate population. Through extensive texts, images, and a video, you will become acquainted with Byzantine art.

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A photo of the living Goddess Kumari. She is revered as Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Kumari, the virgin, is a symbol of purity and strength for Hindu believers in Nepal. At around the age of five, she is chosen from the Newar caste of gold and silversmiths. She remains Kumari until she experiences her first menstruation or has any injury that causes bleeding, at which point she ceases to be Kumari, and a new Kumari is chosen. One of the most striking features of her appearance is her eye makeup, with black eyeshadow extending to her ears. Her hair is tied in a bun on her head, and she is adorned with a headdress featuring semi-precious stones. Numerous golden necklaces, also adorned with semi-precious stones from the Himalayas, hang around her neck. Location: The house where the living Goddess Kumari resides is located in the historic center of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, near Hanuman Dhoka.

Lesson 7: Hindu Art

Hindu art is closely intertwined with the Hindu faith and manifests itself in sculptures, paintings, architecture, and festivals. These art forms are deeply rooted in countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Indonesian island of Bali, and reflect the rich cultural diversity of Hinduism. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with Hindu art through texts, a video, and unique images.

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A Buddha statue in a lotus position from Nepal (20th century). This is a Varada Mudra, where the right hand hangs down with fingers pointing downwards in an open gesture. This gesture symbolizes blessings and generosity. It is also a symbolic gesture through which Buddha offers the gift of truth. Location: This Varada Mudra Buddha statue is part of the art collection of the Gooise Gallery, an online gallery in the Netherlands. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 8: Buddhist Art

Buddhist art, shaped by the teachings of Buddhism, is widespread across Asia, featuring unique artifacts such as statues, paintings, and temples. This art form, which you will explore in detail in this lesson, originated with the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama around 560 BCE in Nepal. After experiencing the suffering of humanity, Gautama attained enlightenment and became a Buddha, laying the foundation for Buddhism and Buddhist art.

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A copper tray with a variety of decorative patterns. The tray is from Morocco, dating back to the 1970s. Location: This copper tray is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie, an online gallery in the Netherlands. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 9: Islamic Art

The origin of Islamic art lies in the rise of Islam in 622 AD, with the teachings of our prophet Mohammed. This religion and its associated art spread from Morocco to Indonesia. Islamic art is deeply rooted in earlier art traditions, including the Persian. Aniconism in Islam prohibits images of living beings, including the prophet Mohammed. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with this delicate art tradition.

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A Chinese incense burner from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD), with a dragon as the lid. There are also dragon heads on the sides. The dragon is a symbol of good luck and represents the power of the reigning emperor. It is believed that this incense burner was made around 1850. Location: This Chinese incense burner is part of the collection of the Gooise Gallery, an online gallery in the Netherlands. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 10: Chinese Art

What many in the present day do not know is that China, with its long history and large population, was the largest economy in the world until the end of the 19th century. Thanks to this status, a rich art history formed, characterized by continuity, especially in the form of calligraphy and painting. These art forms developed over the centuries, often influenced by the ruling imperial dynasties. In this lesson, you will become extensively acquainted with the many art expressions from China through text, video, and numerous images.

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Fuji On The Left Of The Tōkaidō, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. This is a woodblock print from 1891 by artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), who had a significant influence on the work of Vincent van Gogh. Location: This 19th-century woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige is part of the art collection of the Gooise Galerie, an online gallery in the Netherlands.

Lesson 11: Japanese Art

In this lesson, you will become acquainted with the history and meaning of Japanese art. Japan, with a rich history of acculturation including with the Chinese civilization, reflects the fusion of Asian cultures in its art. This is evident in our appreciation for simplicity and beauty, as seen in the symbolism of the cherry blossom and Mount Fuji. An extensive text, a video with our avatar, and numerous images will guide you through the world of Japanese art.

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A ritual mask from 1850 of the Punu people in Gabon. These so-called 'white masks' are covered in kaolin clay, mixed with crushed human bone powder. This white clay was used as a means of communication with the supernatural world. Location: This artwork is part of the collection of the Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 12: African Art

This lesson gives you insight into African art. African art, defined as the art south of the Sahara, is diverse and rich. This art also includes works made by the descendants of Africans who were brought to America during the slave trade. Traditionally, African art was made from natural materials such as wood and stone, and used in rituals and ceremonies to honor ancestors, promote fertility, or support royal power.

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A wooden bowl from Hawaii, decorated with mother-of-pearl and pig's teeth. This bowl was used to serve the intoxicating drink awa. It was a gift from a chief in Hawaii to Captain Charles Clerke during James Cook's third Pacific Voyage (1776-1780). Location: This wooden bowl from Hawaii was presented to the British Museum in London, United Kingdom, in 1780. The British Museum is the national museum of the UK and is located on Great Russell Street.

Lesson 13: Oceanic Art

Oceanic art encompasses the artistic expressions from Micronesia, Polynesia, Melanesia, Australia, and New Zealand. This diversity is influenced by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and the cultural characteristics of the islands. Oceanic art is characterized by themes such as magic and fertility, and is often associated with religious ceremonies. In this lesson, you will become extensively acquainted with the remarkable art objects from these island realms.

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She-we-na, an earthenware water jar painted with pigments by the Zuni Indians. The water jar was baked between 1825 and 1850. Location: This water jar is located in the Brooklyn Museum in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City in the USA. The museum is situated at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue.

Lesson 14: Native American Art in North America

In North America, there are 562 different Native American tribes, each with their own culture and artistic traditions. This diversity in lifestyles is reflected in their art, which varies greatly depending on geographical origin and climate. The art is often passed down from generation to generation within each tribe. The Native American tribes can be roughly divided into six regions, each with their own unique artistic expressions. Through extensive texts and beautiful images, you can explore Native American art in North America.

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"The Lamentation of Christ" (1304-1306) by Giotto di Bondone, also simply called Giotto. The sorrow of the painted figures over the death of Christ is almost palpable. The composition is structured such that the crest of the ridge culminates at Jesus and Mary, thereby drawing attention to the most crucial event of the mural. Location: You can view "The Lamentation of Christ" in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Italy). The chapel is adjacent to the Augustinian monastery Monastero degli Eremitani.

Lesson 15: Medieval Art

The Middle Ages, which are extensively covered in this lesson, lasted for over 1000 years and were often labeled as the ‘Dark Ages’. However, it was a period of great changes and developments in Europe. The era was characterized by migrations, wars, and a strive to preserve knowledge and art from antiquity, especially in monasteries. Art movements such as Romanesque and Gothic art originated from this period. This era, which spanned from about 500 to 1550, saw the formation of Europe as you know it today, with a diversity of cultures and countries.

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The Creation of Adam by the Italian artist Michelangelo. In this fresco, God grants life to Adam, enabling him as a mortal to think, feel, and move. Adam gazes longingly up at God, but also at Eve, who is embraced by God's left arm. This artwork is part of the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, painted between 1508-1512. Location: The Creation of Adam is located in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City (Rome). Without a doubt, it is the most famous chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the residence of the Pope in Vatican City.

Lesson 16: Renaissance Art

This lesson covers the development of art during the Renaissance, starting at the end of the 14th century. Artists wanted people to learn to see and understand what they were looking at, inspired by the art of the Romans, which led to the rebirth of art in the form of the Renaissance. The High Renaissance, from 1495 to 1520, was a period in which masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo shone. In this lesson, you will become extensively acquainted with them, as well as with Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and many others.

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Apollo and Daphne by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). He chiseled this statue from marble between 1622 and 1625. Location: The marble statue"Apollo and Daphne" is on display at the Galleria Borghese, an art museum in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, located in the Villa Borghese park in the Italian capital, Rome.

Lesson 17: Baroque Art

The Baroque, dating from around 1600 to 1750, was a stylistic period known for its lavish forms and rich decorations, especially visible in church interiors and altars. This style began in my beloved Italy, with characteristics such as asymmetry, dynamic forms, chiaroscuro in painting, and realistic expressions in sculpture. The Baroque symbolized the triumph of the Catholic Church over the Reformation and the power of the absolute monarchies. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with Baroque art through texts, a video, and unique images.

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"The Milkmaid," a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer from around 1657-1658. This masterpiece was referred to as "A Maid Pouring Milk" in a 1696 auction catalog. The image portrays a kitchen maid, identifiable by her attire, pouring milk into an earthenware bowl. Loaves of bread rest on the table. The painting is detailed and lifelike, making the bread seem almost edible. In the bottom right corner, against a backdrop of Dutch tiles, stands a foot warmer. It feels as if everything in the painting is frozen in time, with only the milk in motion. What's notable about this work is that the maid is not a background character; instead, she is the central figure. As she intently prepares the meal, all attention is directed towards her. Location: "The Milkmaid" can be viewed at the Rijksmuseum, situated in Museumplein in Amsterdam.

Lesson 18: Dutch Art in the Golden Age

The famous painters Rubens, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer lived in the 17th century, the Golden Age of the Netherlands. Trade and prosperity flourished in the Northern Netherlands, particularly thanks to the influential Dutch East India Company. This wealth enabled citizens to purchase paintings, creating a vibrant market for artworks. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with these famous painters, as well as many others.

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Venus persuades Helen to fall in love with Paris, painted by the Swiss artist Angelica Kauffmann. She created this artwork in the year 1790. Location: This neoclassical painting resides in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The museum is housed within the Winter Palace, situated on the banks of the Neva River.

Lesson 19: Neoclassical Art

Through a video with our avatar, extensive texts, and many images, you will become acquainted with Neoclassical art. Starting from 1760, and particularly after the French Revolution in 1789, there was a reaction against the lavish Baroque style in architecture. This reaction, which led to the Neoclassical style, harked back to the simple and austere forms of Greek and Roman antiquity. This style dominated in the construction of homes for the wealthy and public buildings, where a search for clarity and simplicity was aligned with the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment.

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"Fishing Boats on the Beach with Fishermen and Women Sorting the Catch," from 1835, by the Dutch Romantic painter Wijnand Nuijen (1813-1839). It is likely painted on the beach in the Northern French region of Normandy. Location: This painting by Wijnand Nuijen is displayed in the Rijksmuseum, situated at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

Lesson 20: Romantic Art

The Romantic period in art, which spanned from 1795 to 1848, was a reaction to the rational approach that followed the French Revolution of 1789. This era, characterized by a focus on emotion, fantasy, and the subconscious, sought a deeper connection with nature and nostalgically looked back to the past. Romantic painters emphasized dramatic natural scenes such as wild waterfalls, tragic shipwrecks, and imposing mountain landscapes, illustrating the overwhelming power of nature.

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The Sphinx in Egypt (Le Sphinx en Egypte), a watercolor from 1898 by the French painter Eugène Girardet (1853-1907). Girardet initially traveled mainly to Algeria and Tunisia where he composed his paintings and watercolors. In 1898, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine, where he painted many scenes from Cairo, the pyramids, and Jerusalem. His work began to resemble that of the impressionists more and more. His brushwork became looser and the sparkling sunlight illuminated his artworks. In the background of this watercolor, you see the typical variations of sand colors that are so common in North Africa, while the nomads in the foreground immediately attract attention due to the special use of the colors blue, dark gray, and a touch of red in the clothing of the man on the donkey. The feet of the walking individuals disappear into the dust, making them, in a sense, merge with their surroundings. This makes them not only part of their environment but, from a painting technique perspective, also part of the composition. A bond is created between the depicted nomads and the surrounding landscape. Location: The Sphinx in Egypt by Eugène Girardet is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 21: Orientalism in Art

Orientalism in art is a fascinating period that spanned the entire 19th century and sometimes even longer. During this time, artists were drawn to the mystique of the Orient and the Middle East. A key aspect of Orientalism was the encounter with other civilizations, both Christian and Islamic, which inspired artists. This interest began with Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign in 1798. Through video, images, and texts, this lesson takes you through all these extraordinary places and artists.

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The Gleaners, by the French painter Jean-François Millet (1814-1875). The depicted three impoverished women scour the field after the harvest to collect the leftover ears of grain. It is a typical painting representing realism, where the lives of ordinary people were portrayed realistically. Like many other artists who painted in the style of realism, Jean-François Millet was a proponent of socialism. Location: The painting 'The Gleaners' by the 'peasant painter' Jean-François Millet is housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. This museum is situated in the former Gare d'Orsay railway station, located near the current Musée d'Orsay train station on the Quai-d'Orsay - Paris-Austerlitz railway line (7th arrondissement). 

Lesson 22: Realism in Art

Gustave Courbet, a prominent realist painter of the 19th century, aimed to capture truth instead of beauty on his canvases, leading to the rise of realism in art. This movement focused on depicting the everyday life of workers and peasants, as opposed to the ancient Greek, Roman, and romantic themes that were popular until then. Through a video with our avatar, extensive texts, and many images, you will become acquainted with realistic art.

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"Lunch at the Boating Party", also known as "Lunch with the Rowers", is a painting from 1881 by the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Renoir frequently traveled by train from Paris to the chic establishment on the banks of the Seine, the La Fournaise restaurant in Chatou. Although already 40, he enjoyed mingling with the younger crowd there. The painting captures familiar faces of the artist enjoying a hot summer day. The lunch appears partly consumed and some libations to Bacchus have already been made. The sunlight beautifully filters through the awning of the terrace by the Seine, highlighting the rowers' white shirts and the tablecloth. Using quick and loose brush strokes, Renoir applies color and shadow, evoking a warm, convivial, and sensual atmosphere. Location: This painting by Renoir is housed in The Phillips Collection (The Phillips Memorial Gallery) in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington D.C., USA.

Lesson 23: Impressionist Art

At the end of the 19th century, Impressionist art emerged. These artists, including Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, worked in the open air and applied the wet-on-wet technique. They emphasized accurately depicting daylight and colors in the outdoors. They discovered the complementary effect of colors and used loose, quick brushstrokes to capture atmospheric impressions of landscapes, cities, and people. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with the history and meaning of Impressionist art

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"Children of the Sea," from 1872, by the Dutch artist Jozef Israëls (1824-1911). The painting depicts four children playing with a makeshift sailboat in the water by the beach. The oldest boy carries a baby on his back. Israëls painted this theme with a purpose in mind. The fishing children, with their modest clothing and simple toys, give us a glimpse of their future fishing life, with the boat symbolizing the heavy and risky life at sea. The boy carrying the baby symbolically bears the burden of the family on his shoulders. Location: This famous painting by the artist Jozef Israëls is displayed in the Rijksmuseum, located at the Museumplein in Amsterdam. A similar painting can be found in the Paleis het Loo in Apeldoorn.

Lesson 24: The Hague School

The Hague School, whose artists mainly came from The Hague, encompassed various styles and subjects. This movement was known for capturing everyday scenes and the unique light in the Dutch landscape, often casting a grey haze over their paintings. The works of The Hague School were characterized by realism and a strong emphasis on light and space. The style evolved over time, and after 1885, the influence of Impressionism became noticeable. In this lesson, through a video, numerous images, and an extensive text, you will become acquainted with the work of The Hague School.

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Girl with Flower, by Albert Neuhuys from 1910. It is a donation from Anna Singer-Brugh

Lesson 25: The Laren School

The region around the Dutch villages Laren and Blaricum, rich in diverse landscapes such as forests, heathlands, meadows, and the Zuiderzee coast, became a popular location for painters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The painters of the Laren School were influenced by Impressionism but also retained realistic elements. Like other Impressionists, they painted en plein air, with a focus on light and color. This school was particularly known for the peasant interiors of Albert Neuhuys and the sheep herds of Anton Mauve. In this lesson, their notable works and contributions are extensively covered.

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"Herinnering" (Memory), from 1893, by the painter Jan Verkade (1868-1946). He was the son of Ericus Gerhardus Verkade, the director of the famous cookie factory in Zaandam. The painter Jan Verkade was a member of the artists' group Les Nabis, a group of French painters who settled in Brittany and focused their works on Breton rural life. Nabis means "prophet" in Arabic and Hebrew. These painters, including Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) and Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), were like prophets in search of a new art with a spiritual meaning. Verkade moved to Fiesole in Italy in 1892, where he traveled and worked for three years. He created this painting during this period in Italy, hence the title "Herinnering" (Memory), which refers to his time in Brittany. The Italian influence is evident in this sensitively painted portrait of a Breton woman. The girl is dressed in the Breton costume of the village of Saint Nolff, where Jan Verkade stayed during his time in Brittany. The painting is composed of fine lines that come together to create a spiritual image. It is an idealized image, not a true portrait. The woman depicted not only resembles an unspoiled rural girl but also an Italian Madonna.  Location: This post-impressionist painting is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, located on Museumplein in Amsterdam.

Lesson 26: Post-Impressionist Art

In the art world, just as in society, there are artists who strive for innovation and renewal. This desire for new forms of expression and techniques led to a reaction against Impressionism, resulting in the Post-Impressionist art period, which lasted from about 1885 to 1910. Key representatives of this style were Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, and sculptors like Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel.

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The Kiss, from 1907-1908, is a prime example of an Art Nouveau painting by the artist Gustav Klimt. It is believed to be a self-portrait of Gustav Klimt kissing his beloved Emilie Flöge. Location: Gustav Klimt's The Kiss is part of the collection of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. This art museum is located in the Baroque Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere), situated at Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27 in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Lesson 27: Art Nouveau and Art Deco

Art Nouveau and Art Deco represent two different approaches to art and design. While Art Nouveau focused on natural, organic forms and was a reaction against the industrial revolution, Art Deco embraced technological progress and industry, resulting in a sleeker and more streamlined style. An example of Art Deco design is the original Coca-Cola bottle with its wavy glass. In this lesson, you will become extensively acquainted with both art styles through video, in-depth texts, and many unique images.

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"The Market in Pont Audemer" by the French painter Robert Antoine Pinchon (1886-1943). The market is painted in a colorful and vibrant manner, which is characteristic of Fauvist art. Pinchon worked in the Fauvist style from 1907 to 1909. This painting was created during that period. Location: This painting is part of a private collection.

Lesson 28: Fauvist Art

Fauvism, an art movement active from 1898 to 1910, ironically received its name from an art critic during an exhibition at the Paris Salon d’Automne in 1905. He mockingly called these painters “les fauves” or “the wild animals.” This label was adopted as a badge of honor by artists like Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice Vlaminck, whose expressive and unmixed use of color straight from the paint tubes was striking. Fauvism, which is covered in this lesson, was characterized by the application of bright color contrasts, making the style distinctive.

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Portrait of W.G.F. Jansen, 1931, attributed to the Dutch painter Jan Sluijters and some fellow artists. In the early 20th century, it was a tradition among painters to collectively create a portrait of a fellow artist when they turned sixty and then present it to them. Each artist signed the portrait with a unique signature. Therefore, the leading painter of this artwork can only be determined based on the composition and brushstrokes. Location: This Portrait of W.G.F. Jansen, jointly attributed to Jan Sluijters, is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 29: Expressionist Art

In this lesson, you will become acquainted with the history and meaning of Expressionist art. Expressionism, an art movement that flourished between 1905 and 1940, originated in Europe, with a strong presence in Germany. According to the art critics of your time, who look back on the era of Expressionism, I contributed to the development of this style with my paintings. Important movements within Expressionism were Die Brücke, Der Blaue Reiter, and the Bauhaus. Notable figures in Expressionism included Edvard Munch, Karel Appel, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and Amedeo Modigliani.

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"Mountain Landscape (Mallorca)," a cubist-inspired painting by the Dutch artist Leo Gestel from 1914. In this work, he divides his subjects into fragments in complementary cool and warm colors, resulting in this painting. Location: This painting by Leo Gestel was acquired by the couple Els Blokker-Verwer and Jaap Blokker for their Nardinck Collection. In 2022, the painting was donated to the Singer Museum (Drift 1) in the village of Laren, North Holland. Photo: Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 30: Cubist Art

Cubism, which we extensively cover in this lesson, was a key art movement in the early 20th century. The Cubists viewed the imitation of reality as making copies. They wanted to show objects from multiple perspectives, giving observers a novel view and allowing them to assemble these perspectives themselves. This approach required more effort to ‘discover’ the artwork. Cubist works were constructed from geometric shapes such as cubes, cones, and cylinders, and abandoned traditional perspective.

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The avenue in the park at Saint Cloud (L'Avenue du Parc à Saint Cloud), by the naïve painter Henri Rousseau from 1908. Saint-Cloud is a commune in the Hauts-de-Seine department in France. Location: This naive painting by Henri Rousseau is displayed at the Städel, also known as the Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, an art museum located on the Museumsufer (Museum Embankment) in the German city of Frankfurt am Main.

Lesson 31: Naive Art

Naive painting was characterized by an intuitive and childlike approach to painting, both in subject depiction and painting techniques. This style focused on everyday life, without intellectual interpretations, creating an atmosphere of innocence and simplicity. Initially, naive artists were not taken seriously. However, the art world eventually recognized the importance of this movement, especially after encountering the work of Henri Rousseau. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with this remarkable art movement through video, beautiful images, and texts.

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Composition, a painting by the Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943). After the death of her first husband, Sophie Taeuber married Hans Arp. Sophie worked with lines, triangles, and circles in this painting. She also placed white opposite blue, red, gray, and black. The geometry in the painting was juxtaposed with chance, much like how humans walk hand in hand with chance in their existence. Location: The painting 'Composition' is housed in the Muzeum Sztuki (Museum of Art). This museum of modern and contemporary art is located in the Maurycy Poznański Palace at Gdanska 43 in the Polish city of Lodz.

Lesson 32: Dada Movement

The Dada movement flourished from 1916 to 1924. It consisted of an avant-garde group of artists, including painters, sculptors, philosophers, writers, and poets, who experimented with new forms of art. These anarchistic Dadaists sought absolute artistic freedom and rejected any rational approach, particularly during the horrors of World War I. In this lesson, you will learn a lot about the Dada movement, a group of artists who resisted established art forms.

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Entre L'Hiver et le Printemps (Between Winter and Spring), a lithograph by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that he created in Paris. On the artwork, you can see Mother Russia on the right, while the colorful tree on the left represents the City of Light, Paris. In between stands Chagall with his wife Bella, caught between two worlds, hence the title Between Winter and Spring. Location: The lithograph "Between Winter and Spring" by Marc Chagall is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 33: Surrealist Art

The Dadaists, active from 1916 to 1924, opted for a radical approach to art by rejecting reason and embracing chance. This attitude led to a paradoxical struggle, as all human actions are driven by the brain. Out of this struggle emerged Surrealism, in which art directly stems from the subconscious, guided solely by fantasy. This movement laid the foundation for the works of famous artists such as Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, René Magritte, Carel Willink, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, and Giorgio de Chirico.

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"Bureau and Room" by the painter Kazimir Malevich. Location: This abstract painting was originally displayed at the Stedelijk Museum at Museumplein 10 in Amsterdam. In 2008, the museum had to return this painting to Malevich's heirs. It is currently unknown where the painting is located.

Lesson 34: Abstract Art and Abstract Expressionist Art

At the end of the 19th century, a new generation of artists emerged who distanced themselves from depicting figures and portraits. In our art, we wanted to use only rhythm, colors, lines, and forms, independent of what people actually saw. This led to the emergence of abstract art: an art form without representation, a new phenomenon in the art world. Within abstract art, there are two movements: geometrically oriented abstract art and abstract expressionism. Both movements are covered in this lesson through video, texts, and a number of beautiful images.

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This monumental bas-relief, known as the Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War, with the Ukrainian flag above it, stands outdoors in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II. Location: The National Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II is located at 44 Ivan Mazepa Street in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The museum is easily recognizable from a distance due to the gigantic and 102-meter-high Motherland Monument that adorns the museum. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 35: Socialist Realism

In this lesson, you will become acquainted with socialist realism, also known as propaganda art. Socialist realism, an art movement dominated by the ideologies of Karl Marx and communism, originated in the Soviet Union. Under the leadership of Lenin and later Stalin, the art evolved, with Andrei Zhdanov declaring socialist realism in 1934 as the only permitted form of art in the Soviet Union. The artworks depicted an idealized version of the socialist state, where hard work by ordinary people would quickly lead to a better future.

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"Love Comic" from 1970, a pop art artwork on curtain fabric created by the American artist, textile designer, rock 'n' roll musician, comic book author, cartoonist, and illustrator Nicholas Zann (1943-2020), also known as Nicky Zann. Location: This curtain fabric artwork was created by Nicholas Zann in 1970. The artwork was part of the collection of Target Gallery London, which has unfortunately closed.

Lesson 36: Pop Art

Pop music, which flourished in the 1950s and 60s of the 20th century thanks to radio and record players, became a cultural phenomenon among youth. This period, marked by economic growth, gave young people the means to invest in music and concert attendance. Pop art artists like Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and George Segal used elements from comic strips, advertisements, and everyday objects in their work, creating a connection between traditional and popular culture. Through video, texts, and images, you will get to know this art movement well.

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A photo of the Rockefeller Center in New York, United States of America. The building was constructed in the Art Deco style between 1929 and 1940 under the leadership of architect Raymond Hood (1881-1934). In 1988, it was designated as a national historic monument. Location: The Rockefeller Center is located in the heart of Manhattan, between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, and between 48th and 51st Street, in New York, USA

Lesson 37: Modernism in Art and Architecture

In architecture, an art form you can experience daily, differences between style periods are clearly visible. Modernism in architecture is characterized by efficiency and functionality, with sleek geometric shapes and the use of new materials such as reinforced concrete. The International Style, an important part of modernism, encompasses various architectural approaches. The Bauhaus, a German academy of art and applied design, played a crucial role in spreading modernist ideas. This extensive lesson focuses mainly on modernism in architecture.

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"Peephole into the World" from 2020 by Italian painter Vincento Osada. The glass of the porthole distorts the view of reality, while the whole painting is still realistic, figurative, recognizable, and neutral. The composition forces the viewer to look at their own world as a voyeur, while the porthole also creates distance from the subject. A porthole symbolizes an uncertain view of reality because you usually look through such a maritime window towards turbulent waters, and the place from which you look is also not stable. In that sense, the symbolism of this painting is recognizable because we know that a human life does not always proceed harmoniously, and also our view of our world is not straightforward. Truth and reality are nothing more than viewpoints seen from a certain reference. With this painting, Vincento Osada prompts viewers to reflect on the world in which they live. This is characteristic of postmodern art. Location: The painting "Peephole into the World" is part of the collection of the Gooise Galerie, an online gallery in the Netherlands. © Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 38: Postmodern Art

Postmodernism, which became popular around 1975, encompasses a wide range of styles and approaches, where the idea of ‘anything goes’ is central. This movement, building on the freedom and pluralism of the sixties, emphasizes variation, chance, and irony, and breaks with the order and functionality of modernism. Important postmodern artists include Keith Haring, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, Duane Michals, Victor Burgin, Jenny Holzer, Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with their work, among others.

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This artwork by Maria Murgia (1935-) is titled "Always on the way to victory" (Hasta a la victoria siempre). The remarkable photo mosaic from 2021 is dominated by a large and brightly red-colored image of this exceptional doctor and revolutionary against a background of hundreds of small photos from Che Guevara's life, capturing his history in images. Just as Maria Murgia inevitably looks back on her own life. The painter Maria Murgia created digital photo mosaics on Kapafix. She combined well-known portraits of celebrities with photo collages from their past. By painting over these photos, Murgia's art took on a new appearance, as if reality were being recycled. Location: The artwork "Tribute to Audrey Hepburn" is part of the collection of the Gooise Gallery. © Ronnie Rokebrand.

Lesson 39: Photography, Video Art, and Digital Art

In the 19th century, some photographers aimed for artistic photography, although this was initially not widely recognized. With the arrival of the portable Leica camera around 1925, photography changed significantly. Photographers began to experiment with techniques such as lens aperture and exposure times, further developing photographic art. In the 20th century, the art world embraced photography as a legitimate art form. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with the work of press, war, portrait, and documentary photographers. Additionally, there is attention given to video art, digital art, and NFTs.

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"Bright Eyes" by English artist David Thorpe (1950). In this oil painting, Thorpe has depicted a portrait of a woman; a lady with an open gaze that captivates the viewer. The woman is both independent and vulnerable. Location: This painting by David Thorpe is in private ownership.

Lesson 40: Contemporary and Metamodern Art

In this final lesson, you will become acquainted with contemporary and metamodern art. After the transition into the new millennium, further strengthened by the financial crisis of 2008, there was a shift in the thinking and doing of artists. A new generation of artists wanted to create art with meaning again, moving away from the cynicism and irony of postmodernism. These artists strive for sincerity and want to bring ideals back into their work, without the doctrines of modernism. This approach marked the birth of metamodernism, a movement that balances between modernism and postmodernism.

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