When thinking about art, you most likely have famous masterpieces, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night paintings, in mind. You know, art that you can appreciate because they’re beautiful. Those artworks that are commonly housed in museums for people the world over to see and enjoy.
But, in addition to personal enjoyment and leisurely entertainment, art also serves other functions. Art can be made for religious purposes, such as those portraying the gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks and Romans or those that depict scenes from the Bible like The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo.
Art could also be used to tell a story, such as John Quidor’s The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane and Reading the Will by Sir David Wilkie. And, modern art more often educates or informs, comments on culture or critiques society or an aspect of it, or satiates some intellectual hunger of the audience.
And then there’s the unique art form of caricature art, with its roots embedded in political satire. As my first-born son grew older and became interested in politics (I was writing for the local newspaper at that time), I explained that caricature artists express their art and voice through caricatures.
According to the Britannica definition, a caricature is “made for the purpose of conveying editorial commentary on politics, politicians, and current events. Such cartoons play a role in the political discourse of a society that provides for freedom of speech and of the press”. We’ll discuss it in more detail later on.
But then again, artworks are not created equally and this goes for art styles as well. Let’s face it. There are some weird artworks out there. The ones that make you go, “What was the artist thinking?!” Here are some of them:
Describing a painting as “a painting that looks like a painting” sounds quirky, but it is a real art style. In contrast to artists like Michelangelo who create paintings that are more linear and realistic, Painterly artists use visible strokes and think brush work, along with a strong focus on the fundamentals, such as color, form, composition, and perspective. By creating artworks that feature qualities that set paintings apart, these artists strive for artworks that scream painting, not something that’s masquerading as a beautiful drawing.
Heinrich Wolfflin, a Swiss art historian, used the term “painterly” to describe a painting’s characteristics and that usage caught on. Some notable examples include Boulevard Montmartre by Night by Camille Pissarro, Siesta by John Singer Sargent, and Elena Among the Roses by Joaquin Sorolla. Other artists whose masterpieces fit the Painterly description include Richard Schmid, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh.
A balloon-like head, a big nose, an overstretched smile, and other features that have been magnified or distorted. Perhaps you’ve been handed one yourself one time at a fair and you laughed at how silly you looked. This is a portrait of you, though one that’s been grossly exaggerated or overly simplified to comedic effect.
Exaggeration and oversimplification are the name of the game for caricature, with the goal of creating a humorous image of the subject, which is usually a person but could also be animals such as cats and dogs. Outside of local fairs, you’ll mostly find caricatures of political figures, celebrities, and other famous people.
If you’ve always been enamored by letters, you might want to check out Typography. This art style features letters in a particular typeface or design with a message to tell. You’ll often find numerous examples of Typography on branding and advertising materials, such as posters and signs, but also in books and street signs. It could use technical fonts or decorative lettering but the end result is an artwork that’s pleasing to look at. Examples of artworks under this art style include Faking Silence by Shin-young Park, Epic by Aji Yudalaga, and Continuity by Tetsuya Fukushima.
“Found object” or assemblage art
You know that popular saying that goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, that couldn’t be more true for assemblage art. Artists like Louise Nevelson and Robert Rauschenberg take everyday items and even those in the trash to create masterpieces that make you think. “Found object” art sculptures or installations hold symbolisms and messages that ultimately challenge the way we think and view things.
If your idea of art covers static paintings and sculptures, you might not have come across Kinetic Art. Developed in the ‘30s to ‘60s, this art style presented artworks that seem to move. It could have an actual moving part or you’ll have to move around to perceive its “movement,” but either way, Kinetic Art pieces will give you a sense of movement.
Kinetic artwork can come as paintings, sculptures that are mechanical forward, and mobiles, so it’s not limited to just one type of media. Examples include Arc of Petals by Alexander Calder, Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp, and Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) by Naum Gabo.
Anamorphic or 3D drawing
It’s easy enough to identify a drawing, unless it’s a 3D drawing. More than being realistic, anamorphic drawings draw us into an optical illusion that can be fun or unsettling. Some might be amused by it, find it cool, or get weirded out or confused by the illusion 3D drawings can create.
To achieve this effect, artists use a combination of perspective, scaling, and foreshortening but in a distorted way to create particular angles and visuals that can challenge your perception of the drawing.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like to protest through painting or if painters followed the mantra “to paint for the sake of painting,” look no further than Dada or Dadaism. An art style that proliferated during the early 1900s, Dadaism was developed to object and oppose the First World War. So, artworks have explicit political overtones.
Seeing how senseless the brutality of the war was and how pointless it all was, Dada artists left all reason and rationality out the door when creating their artworks. Some view Dadaism artworks as satire, while others see the humor and absurdity behind the masterpiece. Well-known pieces include The Skat Players by Otto Dix, L.H.O.O.Q. by by Marcel Duchamp, Premiere Promenade by Man Ray, and Entité ailée (“Winged Entity”) by Hans Arp.
All of the art styles we’ve mentioned so far are mostly static, i.e., there’s no other way to engage with the artworks other than viewing and appreciating them from a distance. You don’t have any direct involvement in their creation. In contrast, performance art allows you to engage with the artwork, if you wanted to.
Performance art offers a live, interactive experience to its audience. Topics typically revolve around social and political issues, but personal problems might also be a topic of this art style. Perhaps the most famous performance artists are Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic.
Weird art styles
In conclusion, art comes in various forms and styles, including the weird and unconventional. From caricatures to kinetic art and performance art, these unique styles challenge our perception, provoke thought, and entertain us in unexpected ways.