The art is an essential part of life, culture, and history of the humankind which has been in the process of continuous development since the prehistoric ages. There are different types of art, like music or sculpture, but it is commonly thought that painting tends to be the most vivid form of self-expression. This opinion is easily understandable due to the magnificent visual effects of great paintings and the influence of such art on people. Though the history of painting is tremendously rich in both time and detail, it would be interesting to discuss the period from the 1800s to the present time, because the changes during this time have influenced the development of our society a great deal.
The 19th century started with the significant changes in the styles of painting. Romanticism emerged as an opposition to classicism, the style which was very popular in the 18th century. The main difference of romanticism was its emotional component which showed the active flow of life in the surrounding world. This can be illustrated by paintings of Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix, the leader of romanticism movement, for example, Death of Sardanapalus depicting the death of the Assyrian king Sardanapalus, which is a stirring scene made in “beautiful colors to better show its tragic events” (Janson). Romanticism was at the peak of its popularity in the first half of the 19th century.
However, nothing lasts forever, and the next step in the development of painting was the movement of realism. Unlike romanticism, realism was designed to show the surrounding reality in very detailed and realistic manner (Janson). Jean Desire Gustave Courbet was one of the founders of realism in painting.
With time, the tastes of artists and ordinary people began to change, and the late 19th century became the time of impressionism. The movement itself was founded in France, but it rapidly spread across the whole world. It had much in common with both romanticism and realism, because its main purpose was to clearly show the evanescence of real world and its brightest moments (Janson). The founder and at the same time the most famous artist of impressionism was Oscar Claude Monet.
Finally, the 20th century was the time of great shocks for the humanity. The styles which emerged in the 20th century were postimpressionism, modernism, and postmodernism (Fleming and Honour). Postimpressionism was used to depict not clear facts of reality but its main conditions. Modernism was used to show beauty in every human action, it was looking for new means of expression and was very popular before the First World War. One of the most famous impressionists is Pablo Picasso well known for his works in cubic manner. On the other hand, postmodernism was searching for a new meaning in traditional things and ideas. It was used to rethink old ideas and show them in new forms of all kinds, which, in my opinion, shows the development of human mind and ways of thinking.
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It is evident that styles of painting developed together with the evolution of human ways of understanding the surrounding reality and were used to show these changes visually. It can be clearly seen by comparing romanticism and modernism. The first one represents traditional view on reality depicting people and events in easily understandable form as in Death of Sardanapalus. The second style shows innovative means of depicting surrounding reality, for example, Guernica by Pablo Picasso.
Overall, different styles of painting contributed much to the development of the humankind and evolution of human thinking. It is evident that visual arts will continue to develop and bring forth new views on reality that will greatly benefit the modern society.