Art Styles & Genres


Compiled by Artworksg

Table of Contents

Art Styles & Genres Of Paintings

Throughout history, artists produced paintings in different art styles and genres, following different philosophies and ideals. The major art styles of contemporary art are:

  • Pop Art
  • Installation Art
  • Photorealism
  • Pop surrealism

And, different artistic tendencies or styles can be grouped in collective titles known as art movements. Hence, art movements are fundamental to understanding the different types of visual art that shapes modern history.


Hierarchy of Genres

The “hierarchy of genres,” was originated from the Italian Renaissance, and was devised by the authorities of the Roman Church. Art institutions soon proclaimed this biased ranking system as the official system for determining the value of paintings. Hierarchy of genres ranked paintings in the following order:

  • Paintings that depicted historical scenes. Paintings such as biblical stories, allegories and carried a strong religious motif and moral.
  • Portrait painting. Included all single portraits, group portraits, and self-portraits.
  • Genre painting. It referred to all the paintings capturing scenes from everyday life, such as, the home, the street, the market.
  • Landscape painting. It referred to all the artwork that depicted “empty” scenes of nature.
  • Still-life painting that depicted arrangements of household objects.


An interesting story of the Art Genre

The arts constitute one of the oldest and most important means of expression developed by human beings.  

Art has always come out of the burning desire of artists to express their ideas, visions of the world, or personal experiences and emotions, thus leaving traces of their existence for future generations.

The first examples of preserved human artwork from the Stone Age represented scenes of hunting or gathering around a fire. It seems that our forefathers wanted to leave a trace of their existence in this world by carving the scenes of their everyday life into cave walls.

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in the history of the Netherlands in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world.

This period of art history is essential because it is remembered as a time of immense progress. During then, the talented artists, mainly from the Netherlands, chose to focus on creating magnificent landscapes, maritime paintings, genre scenes, and still-life. This distinguished them from their colleagues in Italy and Spain, who created the most valued historical paintings and earned them from large church acquisitions.

Dutch Calvinism, the Reformed Protestantism forbade any decorations or religious paintings and objects in its churches. This rule has forced Dutch artists to turn for the acquisitions from middle-class patrons, who wanted smaller pieces of genre painting to decorate their homes.

So, we may conclude that the market demand was the main “culprit” for the new flourishing European art scene. 

Major art movements are fundamental to the understanding of different types of art genres and styles and have shaped our Visual Art history.

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