Sunday, January 2, 2011


I am not a person for new year resolutions.  I always break them.  Pretty much like everyone else I guess. But this year I'm determinined to do a couple of things. 1) I really want to improve my vocabulary and 2) I really want to improve what I know about  art history.
So i guess these are  new year resolutions as such.  Imust admit they are pretty pathetic   after all  I only have to learn one new word or one new 'ism' and i have succeeded.  That's gotta be good.
But I'm not going to be that soft.
During the last week of term I was asking the headteacher of art at school about the pre raphaelite brotherhood (i can't remember why - just one of those random things) and she couldn't give me a clear answer as to who they were or what they stood for but she said she had a little book on "isms" and she would look it up. She did so and showed me the book (i didn't catch the author or publisher) but just a quick  look through showed me just how ignorant i am about all these so called movements.
A couple of days ago the 'ism' idea jumped at me again while i was researching some stuff for my extension class (the nsw curriculum has an element that is quite focused on post modernism/post structuralism/post colonialism/feminism etc) and while i feel fairly confident in this narrow use of the terms I would really like to see how it all fits together. I don't know if that is even possible. I suspect it is not.
not taking it too seriously...
I have decided to undertake a random look at the 'isms'
knowing it has been done before but much more capable/knowledgable/articulate people than myself
but not for any other purpose than to learn something new.
i put together a list of isms (from a number of web pages and my own knowledge):

• abstract expressionism

• aestheticism

• classicism

• neoclassicism

• cubism

• cloisonnism

• dadism

• deformalism

• existentialism

• expressionism

• formalism

• fauvism

• futurism

• humanism

• impressionism

• neo-impressionism,

• post-impressionism

• luminism

• mannerism

• maximalism

• minimalism

• ophism

• post-minimalism

• modernism,

• postmodernism

• multiculturalism

• naturalism,

• realism,

• photorealism,

• spatalism

• social realism,

• socialist realism

• stuckism

• suprematism

• romanticism

• structuralism

• post-structuralism

• surrealism

• synthetism

• vorticism

and I am going to randomly investigate each one of them! (Random in that I am going to work down the list, which is alphabetical, apart from the 'post' isms) 
Please feel free to add to the list. ...just leave me a comment and i'll be happy to include any you think need to be included.  (please don't make them up! although i'm sure that is very tempting).

So.....first cab of the rank is.....

will report back soon
cheers jane
ps Should feminism be included in a list of artist's 'isms'.   eek, i problem before I even start (but it's ok 'f' is a long, long way off). Could you more knowledgable arty folk please tell me, what you think?


  1. oooo what fun!!!!!!!

    hey - I was one of those very strange beasts who actually willingly undertook 3 unit art waaaaaaay back in high school.... and the extra unit was theory..... and in order to get the course going I convinced 3 friends - including your little sis - to come along for the ride.... then we convinced the school to put it into the timetable - and our fav arty teacher (mrotten) to take us on wheeeeeee! mmmmmmmm art theory...sooooo delicious! (natch I later went on to do my BA in..... art history!)

    now - if you are a very good girlie (ie you come for a visit bearing gifts of fermented grapes) I will let you touch and play with my art history tomes..... I have a very tempting collection of ab-ex books that I'm sure you'd find YUMMY! (I may even let you borrow some....but only if the fermented grapes are v. good hee hee hee)

    ps when you get to post-modernism maybe you'd like to explain it to the rest of the world.... tarrr!

  2. ooooooo in my enthusiasm I forgot to admit that there's an awful lot of 'isms' there that I know nothing of (ophism, cloisonnism, stuckism anyone?) soo its going to be fun seeing what you make of things!

  3. Good on you Jane! Sounds like I'll be able to read your blog before I have to read my art history books... yippee! Hope you've had a great Christmas and I'm wishing you every luck with your resolutions :) Sara x

  4. There's quite a few that I'm not sure of, or have no idea about at all, so it will be an exciting trip learning alongside you. You're taking on a huge challenge, best of luck with it. xx

  5. Absolutely, feminism is an ism to explore in art... but you could save some time and just sweep the whole lot under one 'ism': onanism.

  6. LOL
    Sorry, I'd had too much champagne yesterday. It was a bit harsh.
    But I do get a bit annoyed with all those isms, which are just manufactured by art theorists to give themselves something to talk about.
    Why do humans always have to impose order and structures around things? Actually, that's a Winterson BAO question...