Both the 19th and 20th centuries ushered amazing developments in painting. Technological advances, changes in social demographics, world events, politics, or philosophies are believed to have inspired some of these changes. Whether you love art or you are aspiring to be an artist, you cannot afford to ignore the works of artists that came before. And since you can have several artists trying different approaches, you might consider looking at the commonality or differences in their art. This write-up outlines several painting styles that stand out in the 21st Century.


This art style is also known as “real art.” The subjects of the paintings in realism art are painted to looks like the main thing. The artist, therefore, employs some aspect of perspective to come up with a piece of art that creates an illusion of space, setting, and lighting to make the subject appear real. As such, it is only after an up-close examination of the painting that you might be able to pick up several brush strokes. It is also worth noting that realism is one of the oldest and most dominant forms of art since the Renaissance age.


This painting style was at heart the development of art in the 19th Century. Painterly swept across some parts of Europe during the industrial revolution. The early developments of painterly were inspired largely by the invention of the metal paint tube, which made it possible for artists to do their thing outside the studios. The emphasis in painterly is often placed on the brushwork. This means that the artist does not have to smooth the texture of the art. 


This style of art first appeared in the 1880s. Famous artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh were among the first people to try Impressionism. This painting style is characterised by the artist’s ability to communicate some details with gesture and illustration. Therefore, the objects in this piece of art retain their realistic appearance. In some cases, the subjects might be complemented by some vibrancy unique to this style. Initially overlooked as a rough and unfinished art style, Impressionism has become one of the most popular painting styles.


As people ushered in the 20th Century, art began to get less realistic, and abstraction art came about. Ideally, this painting style focuses on the essence of the subject. It is also worth noting that this type of art is entirely subjective, which implies that the piece of art is a reflection of the artist’s interpretation and not the visible details. As such, the painter might opt to reduce the subject to its dominant patterns, shapes, or colours. As much as you might not see all the details, you can quickly tell who they are.


Photorealism is an art style that is made to look more real than the actual subject itself. It is worth noting that no detail or flaw is left out here. Photorealism came about in the 1960s in reaction to Impressionism and Expressionism which were popular at the time. In this style, some artists accurately project some precise details of the subject on the canvas, while others seek to enlarge a print photo.

Looking at these art styles and their place in history, it is evident that artists in the same generation shared the same ideas and painting style. As much as you might not be a part of this history, modern artists enjoy the freedom to try out a variety of art styles. And who knows, you might be able to nature an unique style and take your place in the history books.