Art 101

5 Art Genres to Know

Discover 5 new art genres and our top picks for each of them.

By Antoinette Genevieve

1. Kitsch Art

The German word for trash has found new meaning and an art movement in English. A term that delineates art that is cheap, vulgar, and mass-produced, [typically focusing on cultural icons]. It is also associated with low-brow art, which gained initial notoriety in the LA art circles of the early 1990s. The roots of Lowbrow, however, go back decades to Southern California hotrods ("Kustom Kars") and surf culture.

Painter and sculptor Oleksandr Balbyshev reinterprets classical Soviet-era portraits, using playful motifs such as dripped paint and collage to rid his subjects of their original meaning. Oleksandr combines the serious with the playful and the high with the low.

Disguised Evil (Stalin), 2021, by Oleksandr Balbyshev


2. Neo-Futurism

This style is often applied to varying creative fields, but is primarily applied to fine art, design, and architecture. Quintessentially post-post modern, we have hit a point where the future of art is in fact, the concept of the future. See also Neo-Modernism

A perfect example of Oliva Peake’s futuristic approach to blending architecture and design into her work. Peake is even referenced on Wikipedia as the artist of Neo-Futurism.

Flux, 2015, by Oliva Peake


3. Thinkism

Strongly embedded in the roots of Thinkism are the events of 9/11. The disaster sparked questions about the rapid change of our environment and the influence by geo-political and man-made forces. This style is championed by the prolific artist/activist Ai Wei Wei. The socially conscious art movement, Eco-Art has roots in (and is promoted) by Thinkinsm advocates.

Not much needs to be said for this commanding political statement. Sophie Iremonger's work is difficult to define, as it falls into numerous categories, allowing her to freely express her political views through layered, mixed-media paintings.

Baroque Landfill, 2020, by Sophie Iremonger


4. Mass-Surrealism

Mass-surrealism as an art form initiated around the 1960s. It paradoxically turned to the tools of mass media – primarily the commercial tools of video and graphic production – to make artistic statements. “Pop-art, mass-media, and surrealism do not so much define mass-surrealism as they identify the boundaries containing it..."

Visually tied to the collages of surrealists, Alexandra Gallagher offers a contemporary take on materials that directly relates to the primary goals of Mass-Surrealism; this piece also addresses religious subject matter.

Forbidden Fruit, 2015, by Alexandra Gallagher


5. AlterModern

Altermodern is against cultural standardization and massification, but also opposed to nationalisms and cultural relativism. Positioning themselves at the crux of the modern cultural inconsistencies, artists whose work can be identified as Altermodern focus on cultural translation, mental nomadism, and format crossing. Viewing time as a multiplicity rather than as a linear progress, the altermodern artist navigates history as well as all the planetary time zones producing links between signs faraway from each other; (see also Neo-Geo).

Matt Cahill's work address issues that are rooted in the modern plight. In this piece, Cahill initially presents the viewer with a bubbly, colorful image; inviting them to search out the individuals and consider their position within their social environment.

Possibilities are Endless, 2016, by Matt Cahill


6. Abject Art

This movement or style can be thought of as a close relative to Transgressive Art. The term abjection literally means ‘the state of being cast off’ and the style has influenced artists since the 1980s. It is defined by the Tate glossary as: “art that explores themes that transgress and offended (threaten) our sense of cleanliness and propriety, referencing the body and bodily functions.” In common vernacular, it is art that literally focuses on crap. How fun!

Olga Shcheblykina works across painting, installation and photography to create visceral and textured works of art. In her paintings, Olga’s free and gestural approach to mark-making delves into themes of vulnerability and fantasy, reflecting the meeting of internal feelings and the external world. 

Untitled, 2021, by Olga Shcheblykina


You can also find a wealth of information and art terms defined on the Tate website’s glossary of art terms.


About the Author

Antoinette Williams is an independent art consultant, curator, and writer, Antoinette is an enthusiast of art of all media. Holding a BA in Art History and MA in Fine and Decorative Art, she has been a contributing writer for Or Does It Explode Magazine, Fresh Paint Magazine, and Artfetch, (now joined with Rise Art). She currently divides her time between San Diego and New York.

Follow her

Twitter: @awilliams87888  |  Instagram: @antoinette_8788

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