A response to the tragedies of the First World War, Surrealism turned traditional subject matter on its head, positioning everyday objects in absurd situations in a search for metaphysical truths rooted in the powers of creativity, imagination, and the subconscious. Different styles evolved from this movement, including approaches wherein realistic detail was used to convey irrational images or where unrelated objects were juxtaposed to suggest an alternate reality. Recognizable Surrealist artists include Salvador Dali and René Magritte.
The earliest major European avant-garde movement in the 20th century, the term ‘Fauvism’ was coined at a 1905 Paris exhibition from the French term “les fauves,” which means “wild beasts”. Although the style was generally expressionistic in nature, it was characterized by paintings that revolutionized the concept of color in modern art. Rejecting the soft palettes of the Impressionists, the Fauves used bold and sometimes violent colors to portray distorted images and flat planes. At the center of this movement were Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault.
Led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, this painting movement abandoned traditional perspective, unfolding in two general phases. First came was what was known as Analytic Cubism, characterized by fragmented spaces where the subject is depicted from several angles simultaneously. Synthetic Cubism took this further, converging separate elements in collage fashion to create a layered look. This was a radical shock to the art world, as it completely discarded classic definitions of beauty in the reconfiguration of multiple viewpoints.