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Rediscovering forgotten art movements of the 20th century

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Title: Rediscovering Forgotten Art Movements of the 20th Century


Art movement refers to a group of artists who share similar artistic ideas, styles, or philosophies during a particular period. The 20th century witnessed a plethora of groundbreaking art movements that challenged conventional thinking and redefined the boundaries of creativity. While some art movements attained international recognition and fame, others remain largely forgotten or unexplored. In this blog post, we embark on a journey to rediscover overlooked art movements from the 20th century and shed light on their remarkable contributions to the world of art.

1. Arte Povera (1960s)

Originating in Italy during the 1960s, Arte Povera became an influential art movement, challenging the prevailing definitions of art and materials. Literally translated as “poor art,” Arte Povera emphasized the use of humble, everyday materials like soil, fabric, and rocks in the creation of art, thus rejecting the commercialization of the art world. This movement aimed to expose the socio-political issues of the time by creating unconventional, thought-provoking artworks that carried an intense emotional impact.

2. Bauhaus (1919-1933)

Founded by architect Walter Gropius in Germany, Bauhaus was an avant-garde art movement that sought to unify art, craft, and technology. Combining various disciplines such as architecture, design, and visual arts, Bauhaus sought to bridge the gap between fine arts and applied arts. It emphasized functional design, simplicity, and the integration of mass-produced industrial materials into everyday objects. The legacy of Bauhaus can be seen even today in modern architecture, furniture design, and typography.

3. Dada (1916-1924)

Born out of the ashes of World War I, the Dada movement emerged as a reaction against the senseless violence and madness of war. Dadaists, with their absurd and nonsensical art, aimed to provoke society, challenge traditional artistic norms, and reject the idea of art as something precious or valuable. Through collages, readymades, and performance art, the Dadaists aimed to undermine the established art world institutions and open new possibilities for artistic expression.

4. CoBrA (1948-1951)

A short-lived but highly influential art movement, CoBrA emerged in post-World War II Europe. Named after the cities of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, CoBrA sought to revive the spirit of freedom and spontaneity in art. Rejecting formalities and academic traditions, CoBrA artists created vibrant, expressive works characterized by spontaneous brushwork, bold colors, and childlike imagery. The movement’s impact can be seen in the work of later art movements like abstract expressionism and neo-expressionism.

5. Lettrism (1946-1976)

Lettrism, a largely forgotten art movement, focused on the creation of new alphabets and the power of letters as visual forms. Lettrists believed that letters could transcend their linguistic purpose and become symbols capable of expressing emotions and ideas visually. They explored the poetic potential of letters through both visual art and poetry, pushing the boundaries of language and challenging conventional methods of communication.

6. Fantastic Realism (1948-present)

Arising from the ruins of World War II, Fantastic Realism emerged as a response to the horrors and uncertainties of the time. Based on dreamlike and surreal imagery, Fantastic Realism sought to create alternate realities that reflected the internal struggles and shared subconscious fears of humanity. Artists like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte were instrumental in popularizing this movement, yet it remains relatively overshadowed by other artistic movements of the surrealistic genre.


Rediscovering forgotten art movements of the 20th century allows us to broaden our understanding of art, creativity, and the human spirit. From challenging artistic conventions to expressing the struggle and beauty of the human experience, these movements laid the foundation for innovative and groundbreaking art styles that still resonate today. By revitalizing our appreciation for these forgotten art movements, we ensure that the legacy of these artists and their contributions will not be lost to time, encouraging a continuous exploration of artistic possibilities in the 21st century.

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