Tuesday, September 01, 2009

MAM Poll (September 2009): What's your style of art?

The Making A Mark Poll for September is about style! In particular, this month I'm focusing on how people describe the style of their work.

So does the the style of your work have an affinity with any of the following styles? (The definitions are my own but I do confess to looking at the Tate Glossary!). At the end I've included some further options
  • abstract - no attempt to show objects in a real way; elements of an object are abstracted to arrive at a more or less simplified or schematised version. Also art for art's sake eg the creation of a beautiful effect
  • conceptual - idea art; the concept is the priority and the media employed will vary and is chosen to suit the concept
  • contemporary - "Contemporary art" is a "term loosely used to denote art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature."
  • expressionism - paintings which are essentially about feelings, emotions or states of mind. The image of reality is distorted in form and colour in order to make it expressive of the artists inner feelings or ideas about it.
In expressionist art colour in particular can be highly intense and non-naturalistic, brushwork is typically free and paint application tends to be generous and highly textured. Expressionist art tends to be emotional and sometimes mystical
Tate Glossary - Expressionism
  • impressionism - an optical realism which attempts to record the overall visual effect rather than the detail. Often achieved through painting from life (eg plein air) and recording the effects of light on colour - as the artist sees it. Styles of brushwork can vary significantly.
  • photorealism - involves making a painting from a photograph and making it look as much like a photograph as possible. Characterised by painstaking detail and precision and the rejection of painterly qualities by which individual artists can be recognised.
  • pointillism/divisionism - painting in a way which emphasises mark-making which is based on the optical use of colour
  • pop art - art which draws inspiration from popular and commercial culture eg movies, advertising, packaging, pop music and comic books.
  • post modernist - refuses to recognise the authority of any single style or definition of what art should be
  • realism - a type of art that shows things exactly as they appear in life. Sharply focused almost photographic painting irrespective of subject matter.
  • surrealism - artwork is an artifact and expression of the surrealist philosophy and endeavours to reveal the unconscious and reconcile it with rational life. Hence art can express thoughts in the absence of all control exercised by reason and outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation. Works often feature 'real' objects but with an element of surprise and unexpected juxtapositions
  • symbolism - portrays traditional mythological, religious and literary subject matter and/or psychological content. The subject matter is symbolic and can be non-realist and fantastic.
  • I'm not influenced by other styles
  • I've never thought about style
I dare say I'm going to attract quite a few comments about the suggested definitions! :)

Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat
an example of pointillism
photo source- wikipedia

Do please feel free to comment on:
  • the notion of style and/or
  • whether you think you have a style and/or
  • what you think of my suggested definitions of different styles.
Where is the poll? You'll find the poll in the right hand column in the usual place - just below the Blogger Followers widget.

Deadline for responses: The poll closes early on 30th September. The analysis of results will be posted in the second week of October - after I get back from a short trip to France.

Making a Mark reviews......


  1. haha, first comment! :) I'm going to disagree about contemporary - which just means "now", as in art created now. So you can have contemporary abstract, contemporary realism, contemporary conceptual. Contemporary isn't a style at all.

    And it's tricky to choose really. I fall into abstract but feel it's important to clarify it as objective abstract. The cracks in my armor showing there. :)

  2. It seems your terminology is based more on historic styles or movements we use to categorize art history.
    I do think there are lots of other words to describe one's style ie.painterly, graphic, etc. that have more to do with the work itself rather than a category.
    I consider an artist"s style having something to do with habits of working and thinking about one's art that reoccur with a noticable regularity.
    I had a famous illustrator claim quite matter of factly that you can find your style through your sketchbook. Some truth to that for me.

  3. Thanks for posting this and I will link to it on my blog because other friends may need some help in their own style definitions. I just figured out where I think I fit in the list for this WEEK. Thanks for the poll.

  4. I've defined my style as expressionist, but only because of the way you (or the Tate) have defined it. Definitions I've seen previously have made it sound pretty awful -- and I really dislike some of the more often cited examples of expressionism.

  5. Well now I am more confused than ever! According to your posted definitions my work is contemporary realism, bordering on photorealism,often conceptual, surreal, and symbolic. The poll only allows on definition which brings out the post modernist in me.
    However, these are a fine, easy to understand, definitions that are very helpful as your blog is always. Thanks.

  6. 'Contemporary' on its own I'd agree - but if you check the Tate Glossary you'll find that 'contemporary art' is now carrying a certain amount of 'newness' as well as 'nowness'! ;)

    Contemporary Art

    Term loosely used to denote art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature. In relation to contemporary art museums, the date of origin for the term contemporary art varies. The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, founded in 1947, champions art from that year onwards. Whereas The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York chooses the later date of 1977. In the 1980s, Tate planned a Museum of Contemporary Art in which contemporary art was defined as art of the past ten years on a rolling basis.

    Bottom line I think it means 'new' as well as 'now'

  7. This poll really should be multiple choice, I find it impossible to pick just one!

  8. Oh dear! ALL of the above. Is that because I'm still finding my style or desperately seeking it? More likely, I'm just a dilettante.

    I do hope you run this poll next year, Katherine and that I can tick one, rather than all the boxes.

  9. Linda - I'm using terminology which is grounded in various art movements because that is the terminology used by many of those whose job it is to describe different styles of art - as in "he is an expressionist painter".

    I'm interested in what you mean by 'painterly' and 'graphic' in terms of style.

    My own take on it is that 'painterly' is an adjective we might understand but it doesn't appear in a dictionary nor in the Tate Glossary. 'Graphic' actually has a wide range of meanings in common use and I personally have trouble with using it because of that. I don't find it useful for describing a style.

  10. Nancy / Charlene - I know I learned a few things working out definitions for these style categories - I'm glad that you're also finding it helpful.

  11. Very difficult to make a choice. I'm not sure whether I would be modernist or impressionist or expressionist. I guess I wander between all three.

  12. Good question, and it's difficult to answer. I said impressionist but that's simply because that's a closer category than the others. More like painterly realism.

  13. WOW... What a question..
    Is there such a thing as contemporary expressionistic impressionism??? LOL???

    Guess we're all feeling the same questions but I'd guess we all have a huge range of "styles"!!

    I look forward to reading the results of this poll!

  14. Still trying to find and define my own style too. I guess I've been defining myself vaguely as "contemporary realist".

    I think a lot of artist hate to be put in a box or labeled, but I guess it's important to buyer, galleries, etc. to have a defined style. Or so I hear...lol.

  15. Wow, that was hard to choose. I was interested that, based on those definitions, I am not an abstract artist. So often I tend to think that one is either a realist or an abstract painter and yet it is never quite so clear-cut. These definitions highlighted that beautifully.

    I finally went for post-modernist because I have no fixed style. However, since it refuses to recognise the authority of a style, is post-modernism a style at all?

    I shall be thinking about this all day...

  16. As a new painter I have been struggling to understand just why I paint in the way that I do. Your definitions certainly help. I think I am a mix though of Expressionism and Surrealism. But I was only allowed to vote once. :-(

    I am a new follower. Love your blog, Katherine.

  17. I paint in Contemporary Social Realism. For a description go to: http://www.peterworsley.com/Links/Contemporary_Social_Realism.html


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.