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Styles Definitions and descriptions of various artistic styles for sale on Artfuly

Art styles explained

Our main styles can be selected in the filter, and others just by typing terms into the search field or click below for an automatic search on a style you like

Contrasts by Manilal Wijeyesinghe




These are works that may have no relationship to reality at all, or present a visually codified version of individual reality that’s not dependent on recognisable objects. Abstract art is a style that moves away from creating art as it is seen in real life. Instead, it is about exploring shapes, form and colour. Many abstract art pieces can be said to describe what the artist was feeling and can carry a strong moral, aesthetic or philosophical message. Abstract art is non-figurative and non-objective and is more about the creative process itself. 

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Summer Garden by Diana Malivani





Abstract Expressionism is an art movement that occurred in the 40s in the US and made New York the artistic centre. Main characteristics of this movement are spontaneous and automatic painting (such as Pollock action painting). Colour is the dominant element and artists most commonly use soft brush strokes to create a larger area.  


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Min Min by Garry Purchase




Indigenous Australian culture is more than 60 000 years old. Since Aboriginal people have no written language they found an alternate way to tell their stories. They paint symbols on rocks using ochres, paint leaves, make wood and rock sculptures, ceremonial clothes and all of that is connected with religious rituals. Aboriginal art often features different symbols with deep meaning to the artist.

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Music Hall art deco image




Art-deco is a style movement originated in Paris in the 20s of the 20th century. It's also called style moderne and is used to describe not only art but the whole culture (architecture, sculpture, movie theatres, graphics, decorative art, everyday objects...). There is no unique style that can characterise Art-deco, but what impacted on it was Cubism and geometrical forms as well as Fauvistic colour expression. Art-Deco works are very decorative and can be recognised by their use of geometric shapes, and sensuous subjects.

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In the last decade of the 19th-century this new style became dominant. Art Nouveau is a French term and means new art. It first showed in Europe and later spread on the US. Art Neuveau often features undulating and flowing lines to reflect nature in stylised forms and commonly contain plant motifs. Not only art practice was impacted by this new style, so was architecture, jewellery design, every-day objects design, and interior design. Most known Art Nouveau artist is Alphonse Mucha.

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These works tend to be geometric, plainly coloured and compliment many minimalist designs. After the First World War, in 1919 in Germany, Walter Gropius founded the school of art, architecture, and design. Gropius had in mind to create a school in which all arts and architecture, or arts and crafts can collide. The main characteristic of Bauhaus movement can be seen in revolutionising industrial design and thinking about functionality in architecture. Some of the Bauhaus major names are Laszlo-Moholy Nagy and Mies van der Rohe.

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The cartoon can have several meanings. 1. Cartoon as a sketch/drawing that artists used as a pattern for tapestries and paintings. 2. Cartoon as a graphic work of art that become popular in England and France in the 18th and 19th century where it carried satirically messages. 3. Cartoon as animated 2D or 3D movie.

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Constructivism was one of the abstract styles in Russia, and it showed in the second decade of the 20th century. It was created by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko. Their philosophy was contextuality, meaning art should represent and reflect the current modern industrial world and should not be considered as an autonomous. Constructivism pieces feature elements of architecture using shape and colour to portray three-dimensional geometric constructions. These geometric compositions can be combined with images from modern technology and industry.

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Cubism paintings often look like shattered glass, using dimmer colours to create the illusion that the piece is full of little cubes. Picasso and Braque founded one of the most influential art styles in the 20th century. Cubism was invented in the first decade of the 20th century and represented the art that was departed from traditional techniques. There is no perspective, no modeling, no nature imitating. There is only segmenting (mostly geometric) and highlighting canvas two-dimensionality.

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Like many art styles, Dadaism was a reaction, this time to the devastation that the First World War brought. This style was present both in Europe and in the US. Dadaist wanted to show how absurd and ridiculous modern world was. Movement impacted art, music, literature and had it's come back in a form of Neo-dada in the 60s. Dadaist art often explores the anger and frustration of the artist and embracing the absurd. Dadaism is intended to feature odd images to create anti-art pieces and explore a new form of creation.

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Works created since the 1980's using digital technology such as computers, graphics editors and programming. This use of technology is often reflected in the work. Recently AI technologies are experimenting with creating new digital art. A digital artwork could be a projection of light onto a surface or something created in Photoshop and then printed, there are endless variants.

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Expressionist art is often characterised by spontaneous brushwork, distorted figures and more abstract art works. Many expressionist pieces focus on forms with a progression towards colour combinations that evoke mysticism. Expressionism was one of the main styles of Germany during the 1920s. Expressionist paintings represent the high impact of the emotions and relation towards objects that surround the artist.⠀

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A rough style of painting emphasising bright colours and simple shapes to evoke the modern-art movement. Fauvism was the first avant-garde art movement of French artists grouped around 1904. Name Fauvism is derived from the Les Fauves (meaning the wild beasts). The fauvists are known by using vivid colours with which they defined shapes and forms. Some of the prominent artists were Derain and Matisse.

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A dynamic style of painting that captures the speed and movement of the subject as if it is in a time-lapse. This Italian artistic movement appeared in the first two decades of the 20th century. It glorified industrialisation such as planes, cars and depicting youth, speed, violence and the industrial city. Marinetti, Boccioni, and Balla are the most known futurist artists.

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Images and text involved in graffiti are often over-exaggerated in bright colours and interesting shapes. Typically these works are created using spray paint. Graffiti art and street culture started in the 60s in Pennsylvania and then spread. The main characteristics of graffiti are to appeal or provoce the viewer. Today, street art/graffiti is a huge artistic medium.

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Illustration visually represents or decorates written text which may be used in literacy or the media. In the Middle age, manuscripts were illuminated, today illustration is present in almost every publications (posters, books, newspapers).

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Summer Garden by Diana Malivani





Based on spontaneity, showing the practice of painting outdoors and on the spot rather than sketching in a studio. Many impressionist works feature scenes of everyday life and landscapes. In 1860 in Paris artists started going out from their studios and painted in nature. Artists also rejected exhibiting in official exhibitions, so-called salons and academic approach to the art. Impressionists painted landscapes and everyday life. They used a lot of colour and painted in a small touches of colour on canvas.  

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Artworks that are composed of simple geometric shapes, often involved squares and rectangles Minimalism is art movement that emerged in New York in the early 60s and it's described as abstract art composed of geometrical shapes. There is strong bond between minimalism and conceptual art. Both movements changed the way we think about art. Frank Stella, Carl Andre and Yves Klein are most famous minimal artists.

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Small dots are applied to a canvas in various colours to eventually form an image. These dots and patches interact with the eye to provide a painting with optical effects. Invented in the mid-1880s of the 19th century, by two artists; George Seurat and Paul Signac. It was a reaction against Impressionism and it's demand for artist subjectivity and insisted on scientific experience.

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Pop Art draws inspiration from popular and commercial culture. These dynamic works feature bright colours and bold lines. Pioneers of Pop art (short for “popular art) were Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. In the 50s and 60s, those artists used everyday objects into their work. Also, they were finding inspiration in mass culture, advertisements, and comics and stepped away from the supremacy of so-called high art.

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Surrealism embraces the irrational and explores the mind with an unconventional style in darker tones. Surrealism was an art movement that was developed after the First World War. They were strongly influenced by psychoanalysis and unctuousness and they believed that rationality is repressing imagination. It was present not only in art but literature also. Salvador Dali is the most known surrealist painter.

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Above we've listed popular art styles that you can buy on Artfuly. Some artworks don't fit into the above categories such as realist/realism, pixel art, textile art and many more so we've listed them here and we think you'll find some exceptional ideas for your home.

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Above we've listed art styles, but other descriptions of art exist, such as: time period (Contemporary i.e. recent), subject (e.g.Landscape or geometric), technique (and/or result e.g. drawing), ethnicity and medium (e.g. watercolour on paper)



Works that are made in the modern day. This means in our lifetime, so up to the last 80 years or so. Representing an avant-garde nature and taking inspiration from popular culture.


Figurative art is a form of modern art that has many subjects referencing the real world, paying particular attention to the human figure. Odd and contrasting shapes are used in striking colours to create an impression. Figurative art is opposed to abstract art.



Artworks focusing on the precise rendering of lines, angles and shapes. Straight lines and hard angles are often favoured to create hard-edged paintings.



Landscapes show the appreciation of nature, using highly stylised techniques to render a more naturalistic image. Can also be used in the sense of 'a landscape oriented artwork' in that it is wider than it is in height when hung on a wall the correct way up.



A representation of a person, making a record of their image and showing their virtue, wealth, power and importance. Can also be used in the sense of 'a portrait oriented artwork' in that it is longer than it is wide



The precise replication of a subject using high fidelity realism, tricking the eye with such intensity that some paintings look more like photographs.


Street Art

Connected to graphic design, street art covers a wide range of media and is closely related to graffiti art. Often these works are created in public locations using text-based subject matter, stencilling and stickers.



Works that are made in Central, East and Southeast Asia. Also, taking influence from asian culture.



A graphic technique that involves printmaking using chemicals to produce clear lines, usually in a metal printing plate. These plates then hold ink and form images when applied to a surface.



A printmaking process where a stencil is applied to a screen, now less traditional than its roots using brighter colours and more interesting shapes.


Japanese Woodblock

Traditional Japanese printing, often oil-based with a range of vivid colours and glazes to depict images from the Japanese culture.



A style of artwork that involves arranging paper, photographs, fabric and other items on a surface and then sticking them down. Many collage works feature images from popular culture and can also include other artistic elements such as painting, drawing and three-dimensional objects.



An image that is depicted on a surface by drawing lines. Drawings can also have more tonal areas, different washes and other non-linear markings. Mediums for drawings can include ink, pencil, crayon and paint.



An artwork created by applying paint to a surface, such as oil paint, acrylic paint or watercolour paint. Often paint is applied with a brush, sponge, knife or airbrush and the resulting artefact is also called a painting.



Works made using the medium of watercolour, which is a soluble paint that has transparent properties. Watercolour paintings often depict natural scenes and landscapes using muted tones.




Diverse and eclectic, contemporary art as a whole is distinguished by the very lack of a uniform, organising principle, ideology, or "-ism’ [style] - Ref: Contemporary Art on Wikipedia

Without the benefit of hindsight, it’s not always possible to assign a style label to the artworks of current artists, however we continue to discover and support emerging, mid-career and established artists both within and without currently recognised styles.

We only sell artists work directly from the artists studio within their own lifetime, however with respect to popular, recognised contemporary styles, here is a timeline guide