European Postwar Art Movements and Styles
World War Two affected all nations differently, and win or lose, losses were widespread and left marks on a nation. While America had fought in the War, they did not have fighting on their continent or as many lives lost as Europeans. The effects of the War were seen in every industry, and art was not exempt from its vestiges. Many famous artists, collectors, and critics had escaped to America before or during the war— creating an opportunity for New York to take the lead as the capital of the art world. Though a generalisation, European artists in Postwar Europe had to re-establish identity and cope with the trauma of the war, the onset of the Cold War, and the shift in the art world center from Paris to New York.
While Americans returned home from the war triumphant to a thriving country and economy, Europeans experienced an aftermath of countries in ruin as well as the effect of two back-to-back World Wars. Postwar European Art often reflected these experiences, finding inspiration in Existentialism, isolation, and the human form. The postwar period in Europe saw a multitude of its own movements across the continent, ranging from Tachisme, Art Informel, Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, and Arte Povera, combining European art and emotion with international influence and developments.
In this part of the course, we will identify the major movements of Postwar European Art. The assignments will help you look at the pictures more closely and will provide a basis for the more difficult parts of the course.