Artists Through History

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Anastasia Elefante

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Art styles are and always have been ever-changing, expressing social concepts through unique interpretations era after era. Revolutionary artists from the past like Salvador Dali (one starter of the surrealist movement) or Wassily Kandinsky (the father of abstraction) have shaped the definition of art for the future.


Criticized for the incredible difference in his painting style in comparison to the previous art era of cubism, Salvador Dali made history with his painting titled “The Persistence of Memory”. This painting displays an image of melting clocks hanging on trees and tables. Surrealism explored the stage of unconsciousness when one sleeps or dreams, abstract in a non-realistic way, branching out into ideas no older artists dared to venture. During the time period of cubism, artists wanted to express life in a modern way after World War I, but Dali wanted to bring change to the world by introducing emotion stemming from unconsciousness as well as sexual desire in a unique and creative way. He was accused for being a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the fascist movement. Although these accusations got him banished from his Surrealist group in Paris, his popularity was not affected primarily for his religious paintings. Dali often painted pictures of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ, but incorporated his new art style in ways the Madonnas of other artists were never portrayed.


“Colour is a means of exerting direct influence on the soul.”

–Wassily Kandinski


Much like renowned painter Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first artists recognized for another form of art taking place in the early 1900s. Kandinsky is officially the first artist to have his painting acknowledged as abstract, and his abstract paintings allowed people to understand art expression in a much different way. Kandinsky attributes the central theme of his paintings to the importance he finds in capturing the essence of inner beauty and spirit. He compared creating abstract art to playing music in which every brush stroke strikes a chord within the soul, letting the colors dance across the page to tell a story. Like many other artists who pinpointed problems they found in their surroundings, Kandinsky’s approach to art was considered radical for the way he pictured the widespread need for reform in the Russian government during this time. Unfortunately, he was turned down to display his works in museums because of the heavily spiritual messages of his paintings. Similar to the fame coming after death of most other remarkable artists, Kandinsky and Dali are appreciated much more in today’s art society than the controversial time periods they lived in.