Art Movements: Why They Are Important, and Why We Need A Strong Resurgence of Them?

The 20th century was full of change, mostly in the way people started embracing civilization as a whole and its complete goal. The onset of World War I, which was supposed to be the end of all wars, and the unexpected devastation that started, gave rise to the belief system of most cultures.

This led to lots of experimentation and scrutiny by artists. Most of them tried to figure out what art should exactly be and done to leave a positive impact on their cultures. This was followed by the emergence of artistic movements that went all out to find their places in the evolving world we are in.

Here is a list of popular art movements and styles that have graced our history:

European Art During the Early 20th Century

The early 20th century was characterized by rapid economic, industrial, cultural, and social changes that changed the global view for many and also opened doors for several artistic movements. Some of the changes marked during this particular period include urbanization, the spread of information and goods, architectural improvements, and an increase in the use of technology.

Most nations competed based on who has the most improved technology, architectural designs, business, and several other factors. During the First World War that took place between 1914-1918, art was widely used as avoidance for the ongoing war. It was an ideal way to disconnect from the continuing war and destruction.

Social and economic changes that took place in the early 20th century were largely influenced by the European and North-American global view, and this created movements for new art styles. Artists started trying out new styles by experimenting with themes of space, reality, time, and perspective. Technological advancements and an increase in its use had a positive impact on artists directly and indirectly. This was seen through the invention of modern materials used in art and also the themes.


Dada was a cross-cutting movement in the world of art that shunned the existing art standards. They did this by coming up with artistic works that were anti-art. It was mostly against war and conservatism, and its political inclination was with the radical left. Most people who participated in Dadaism used this movement to protest against the conservative interests of the nationalists and colonialists.

Most Dadaists believed the illiberal interests were the leading causes of war, and it was against intellectual and cultural standards in society. Dadaists believed the philosophy of the conventional capitalist society is what led to war. They used artistic expression to reject that particular ideology.

It is unclear where the name Dada came from. Some people believe it is a meaningless word, while others believe it came from known Romanian artists Marcel Janco and Tristan Tzara. They were fond of using the word 'da da' which meant ‘yes yes' in the Romanian language.

The other theory behind this particular name is that it came during a meeting scheduled after a knife which was stuck in a French-German dictionary pointed to Dada, a French word used to refer to a ‘hobbyhorse.’ The origin of this particular name is seen as another attempt to lower the logic system, especially that of language.

Dada started in Zurich in 1916 with prominent figures like Emmy Hennings, Raoul Hausmann, Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, and many more. This particular movement played a part in styles that came later like avant-garde and other campaigns like Nouveau realism, Surrealism, Fluxus, and pop art.

Dada became an unofficial global movement attracting participants from regions like North America and Europe. It employed a wide range of media, but it is widely known for its performances, writing, photomontage, and collage. Most Dadaists specialized in collage by creating different compositions. This was from plastic wrappers, transit tickets, maps, and other commonly used artifacts. They also made good use of photomontage, various colleges that use real or photograph reproductions printed in newspapers and different kinds of press.

Some of the photos used include those taken during the First World War by Max Ernst. The other kind of variation used by Dadaists was assemblage. This is the gathering of daily objects to bring out meaningful and meaningless workpieces. They included trash and war objects. When World War I came to an end in 1918, most Zurich Dadaists went back to their home countries, while others started different Dada-related activities in other cities.

New York City became a refuge for World War I artists and writers. Frenchmen Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp linked up with popular American artist Man Ray in New York in 1915. The three became the middle point of anti-art activities in the US.

During this period, Duchamp started displaying ready-made art. This consisted of objects collected each day and declared art. He became super active in the group of independent artists. As of 1921, a wide number of original Dadaists relocated to Paris, where this particular movement saw its final and major personification. Tristan Tzara inspired the action. Paris Dada later gave out manifestos, staged performances, organized demonstrations, and several journals.

As it grew, the Dada movement started becoming unstable. Most artists began shifting to new ideas and movements like social realism and surrealism. Most visionaries assert that Dada gave birth to post-modern art.

The Resurgence of Art Movements

Looking at Western history, it's quite fascinating to see the different types of art and art movements that have left a positive mark on society. By following the timelines closely through various art movements, we can see how contemporary and modern art have grown through the years and how it has become a reflection of its time. Over recent years, there has been a lack of strong or defined art movements, which is slowly tarnishing the essence of the art culture.

The good thing is that things are changing, and we are slowly witnessing the resurgence of art movements. There has been an overwhelming revival of Dadaism. As we stated, this is an art crusade of the European avant-garde dating back to the early 20th century. Almost a century since it began, neo-Dadaism is assuming new forms, and the spread of this popular anti-art movement is growing bigger than expected.

It's not in print form anymore. The growth of visual and animated arts has come with a strong wave of absurdist and satirical art that is in the form of online videos and comics published by a group of millennials who are so desperate to outdo the current situation and be heard. The resurgence of neo-Dadaism could bring a positive impact if everything is done correctly.

World history has been characterized by a series of art movements that have helped push for a specific course. A resurgence of such movements in the 21st century could impact society positively. Modern artists should be wise and use these movements to fight against the disillusionment deep in our society.

#savvypalette #artblog #artistblog #arthistory #artmovements #savvyartist #historyofart


The Savvy Artist

Starting my artistic journey in 1997, the desire to create art that I attained soon became an unyielding obligation to myself to explore the inner mechanism of my creative consciousness.


From small sketches to large scale projects, my art is a highly-personal reflection of myself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have participated in many collaborative projects, as well as exhibiting in a solo capacity, which has solidified my reputation in the art world.


If you would like to find out more about my process, get in touch.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
Join The Palette
© 2017 - 2020 by Matthew R. Paden. All Rights Reserved.