Post Category: Style

30 Art Styles to Inspire Your Inner Picasso


Entering the art world can be intimidating, but there’s no shame in being a newbie. Classic art isn’t just for collectors with millions of dollars at their disposal. There’s a lot you can learn from studying different art styles.

Part of studying various types of art is learning about technique. The techniques an artist uses to produce their work is called style. There are countless different styles of art, but we’ll discuss the most recognizable art styles over the centuries. Learning to differentiate between the types of art will help you develop your own taste in art.

So, what are the different styles of art? At Redbubble, our independent artists share artwork from every art style, so we’ve pulled together a list of art styles. Combine this knowledge with your aesthetic and order some great wall art to accessorize your space, or pull out your paints and experiment with a new style.

Table of Contents: 

1. Abstract Expressionism

abstract shapes in a mixture of dark and bright colors

Asleep in the Desert designed and sold by dansedelune

While expressionism ended during the 1920s, it returned in the 1940s and 1950s in the form of Abstract Expressionism, an avant-garde movement. Influenced by the tragedy of the Great Depression and the horrific atrocities of World War II, painters of this era felt unable to continue painting beautiful portraits and landscapes. The ideals of expressionism blended with cubism and surrealism to express the trauma of the previous decades and a sense of anxiety about the future.


  • Action painting
    • Paint applied through splashing and dripping
    • Wild, unrefined brushstrokes
  • Color field painting
    • Large areas of a single color
    • Simple design
    • Focus on evoking intense feelings and spiritual contemplation

Dates: 1940s to 1950s

Famous Artists:

  • Jackson Pollock
  • Mark Rothko
  • Willem de Kooning
  • Barnett Newman

2. Baroque

a distinguished dog wearing baroque clothing

Dog Portrait designed and sold by carpo17

Baroque art challenged the Renaissance artistic ideal of perfection in response to the upheaval in Europe caused by the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War. Portraits and religious scenes were popular, but landscapes, still lifes, and history paintings became increasingly common.


  • Dramatic motion
  • Clear detail
  • Bizarre irregularity
  • Stark contrasts
  • Tension
  • Drama
  • Dramatic lighting
  • Dark backgrounds and shadows
  • Deep colors

Dates: early 1600s to mid-1700s

Famous artists:

  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini
  • Annibale Carracci
  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
  • Johannes Vermeer

3. Contemporary

a contemporary desert landscape with bright colors and abstract elements

Desert Eye designed and sold by Charles Harker

Contemporary art is difficult to define because it refers to art that reflects the state of the world at the time in which it was created. So for us today, we could refer to any piece of artwork created in the 2020s as contemporary art, while artists living in the 1970s would consider art created in the 1970s to be contemporary.


  • Reflection of issues and values of the time it was created
  • Pushing the boundaries of what “art” was during the era in which it was created
  • Challenging assumptions of the time period
  • Experimentation with color and mediums

Dates: applies to works whose artists are still living, first used in the 1960s

Famous Artists:

  • Banksy
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • David Kracov
  • Jeff Koons

4. Expressionism

expressionist art with an exaggerated robot

Arbracosmos designed and sold by Exit Man

Inspired by the alienation experienced at the turn of the century, art during this period focused less on depicting reality and more on expressing emotions. Popular artists explored the ideas of self, sexuality, nature, and mysticism in their works, though the specific styles varied by country.


  • Distorted images
  • Exaggerated depictions of reality
  • Vivid color
  • Sense of intensity

Dates: 1905 to 1920

Famous Artists:

  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Edvard Munch
  • Henri Matisse

5. Figurative 

aside profile of a woman with a red background

Portrait of Alysha designed and sold by Roz McQuillan

Figurative art is considered the opposite of abstract art. The figure of the subject, whether it is a person or an inanimate object, is true to life. However, some figurative artists may keep the figure realistic while opting for imaginative colors. For example, a figurative painting may depict what looks like a zebra from the real world, yet it is purple and yellow instead of black and white.


  • Realistic figures
  • Three-dimensionality and depth of subjects

Dates: popular throughout history, but was prominent during the Renaissance, mannerism, and baroque periods

Famous Artists:

  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Caravaggio
  • El Greco
  • Jan van Eyck

6. Geometric

geometric triangles in rose gold, blush pink, gray, and black

Geometric Compilation in Rose Gold and Blush Pink designed and sold by UrbanEpiphany

Geometric art is characterized by geometric shapes rather than the organic, natural shapes seen in nature. A geometric work can focus on one geometric shape or several combined for visual interest. It is often a component of abstract art or cubism.


  • Abstract
  • Colorful
  • Frequently futuristic
  • Mathematical precision of geometric shapes

Dates: popular throughout history but most prominent during the art styles of the 20th and 21st century

Famous Artists:

  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Piet Mondrian
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Diego Rivera

7. Impressionism

an abstract landscape in bright colors

Diminuendo Shore designed and sold by scotnaismith

Born as an avant-garde movement and widely panned at the time, impressionism is now one of the most popular art styles, with famous works selling for millions. The works featured landscapes and depictions of everyday urban life, and artists ditched their studios to paint their subjects in the real world.


  • Visible brushstrokes
  • Focus on light and movement
  • Rapid brushstrokes

Dates: mid-1860s to mid-1880s

Famous Artists:

  • Claude Monet
  • Edgar Degas
  • Pierre Auguste Renoir
  • Camille Pissarro

8. Installation

fluffy cotton ball clouds over fake pine trees dusted with snow

A Cloud Over the Forest designed and sold by josemanuelerre

Unlike other art styles, installation art is conceptual rather than something that is set down on paper or canvas. Instead, installations are built specifically for a site, are larger than any other type of art, and involve mixed media. Its surroundings are often incorporated into the art itself. 


  • Large scale
  • Mixed media
  • Multi-sensory experience to fully immerse the viewer in the work
  • Three-dimensional elements
  • Temporary/non-collectible

Dates: late 1950s to present

Famous Artists:

  • Kurt Schwitters
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Ai Weiwei
  • Allan Kaprow

9. Land art

a series of purple mushrooms and fungi arranged in a spiral pattern

Four Seasons – Winter designed and sold by Saara Alhopuro

Also known as Earth art, environmental art, and earthworks, land art involves creating installation art in nature with natural materials. The style was a rejection of the consumerism of the time and a projection of the environmentalist movement beginning to take shape. It contains elements of both installation art and minimalism.


  • Site-specific
  • Constructed from only natural materials
  • Outdoors

Dates: 1960s to 1970s

Famous Artists:

  • Robert Smithson
  • Nancy Holt
  • Walter de Maria
  • Michael Heizer

10. Minimalism

desert landscape created with geometric shapes in orange, red, and yellow

Viso designed and sold by penwork

Minimalism represents only whatever the artist presents rather than an imitation or allusion to anything outside the artwork itself. In other words, it stands completely alone rather than referencing another work. This is an extension of abstract expressionism.


  • Sleek
  • Geometric
  • Abstract
  • Simple forms
  • Repetitive patterns
  • Hard edges
  • Use of two-dimensional space

Dates: 1960s to 1970s

Famous Artists:

  • Frank Stella
  • Ellsworth Kelly
  • Roberty Ryman
  • Agnes Martin

11. Neo-Impressionism

an impressionistic summer meadow

Blue Summer designed and sold by sandyhooley

Inspired by color theory, neo-impressionists blended colors on the canvas with dots or brushstrokes of complementary colors rather than mixing colors together on a palette to create new ones. 

Pointillism refers to a specific technique used by neo-impressionists to blend color. Unlike impressionism, which relied on brush strokes to convey light, pointillism involves using repetitive dots made with a brush tip. When the eye looks at the painting, it blends the color.

This technique is often also called divisionism and chromo-luminarism.


  • Dots of paint or small brush strokes
  • Mosaic-like effects
  • Elements of light
  • Use of color to evoke emotion

Dates: 1880s to 1935

Famous Artists:

  • Georges Seurat
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Paul Signac

12. Neoclassicism

classical profile cameos on a blue background

Cameos – Blue designed and sold by Fabio Mancini

Neoclassicism was inspired by a renewed interest in Greek and Roman culture. The people of the time believed those cultures were ethically superior to their own, so they used historical people and events as inspirations for their artwork.


  • References to Greek and Roman culture
  • Shallow space
  • Strong lines
  • Dark, subdued colors
  • Lack of clear brush strokes
  • Historical accuracy
  • Moralistic and serious tone

Dates: 1760s to 1850s

Famous Artists:

  • Anton Raphael Mengs
  • Benjamin West
  • Jacques-Louis David
  • Angelica Kauffmann
  • Paul Signac

13. Pop Art

a blonde woman with a shocked look on her face and a speech bubble with the text “OMG I’m so retro!”

So Retro designed and sold by mathiole

Pop art blended the contemporary focus on commercialism with art, making it more approachable for the masses. It allowed artists who were tired of abstract expressionism to experiment with realism for the first time after World War II.


  • Images of consumerism
  • Mass reproduction
  • Everyday items as subjects
  • Simple imagery
  • Bright color blocks
  • Hard edges
  • Young and witty

Dates: 1955 to 1965

Famous Artists:

  • Andy Warhol
  • Richard Hamilton
  • Roy Lochtenstein
  • Robert Rauschenberg

14. Portraiture

Ablaze designed and sold by JNew884

Portraiture is the painting of a specific person and can be done by an observer or the subject of the image (self-portraiture). Portraiture has been a staple of most of the significant art movements in history. These works can be realistic or abstract, depending on the artist.


  • Human subject
  • Often a plain or solid-colored background
  • Highlights a person’s characteristics, which can be embellished to make the subject look better to the viewer
  • Use various styles, including abstract, impressionist, and pop art

Dates: popular throughout history, especially in royal and wealthy circles

Famous Artists:

  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • John Singer Sargent

15. Realism

an old man holding a young baby in his arms and holding up an almost empty bottle

Babysitting designed and sold by Michael Haslam

While earlier art movements favored beauty and perfection, realism prioritized reality, which at the time was chaotic with social change. They treated their everyday subjects with the drama and seriousness previously reserved for the elite.


  • Working class subjects
  • Focus on everyday life events rather than the historically significant
  • Dark color schemes
  • Depiction of elements of society previously deemed “ugly”
  • Rejection of perspective

Dates: 1840s to 1880s

Famous Artists:

  • Gustave Courbet
  • Jean-François Millet
  • Édouard Manet
  • James Whistler

16. Rococo

a Greco-inspired woman seated with flowers behind her

Symbiosis designed and sold by noisymouse

Rococo was the epitome of luxury in its time. The term “rococo” was inspired by the French word “rocaille,” which refers to the shell or pebble work popularly used in stucco to make it more decorative. The style is also known as late Baroque since it shares a lot of similar elements but with a lighter tone.


  • Elaborate ornamentation
  • Highly detailed
  • Idealistic
  • Dramatic elements
  • Cupids and Roman motifs
  • Light colors

Dates: 1700 to 1780

Famous Artists:

  • François Boucher
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard
  • Jean-Atonine Watteau
  • Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin

17. Still Life

a potted plant on a table with two mugs of tea

Two for Two designed and sold by Lisafrancesjudd

Still life refers more to the subject matter than a specific art movement. Still lifes focus on inanimate objects, usually consisting of household objects like bowls of fruit or flowers.


  • Realistic depictions of inanimate objects

Dates: popular in nearly every art movement since the 1500s

Famous Artists:

  • Paul Cezanna
  • Caravaggio
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Andy Warhol

18. Surrealism

a melting clock with one wing growing out of it and two butterflies landing on it

Le Temps Passe Vite (Time Flies) designed and sold by Norman Duenas

Surrealists faced an uncertain world and used fantasy and symbolism to explore the irrational. The psychological work of Sigmund Fruend and Carl Jung heavily influenced the movement


  • Lack of reason
  • Imaginative
  • Provocative
  • Spontaneous
  • Absurd imagery
  • Humorous yet ominous

Dates: 1924 to 1966

Famous Artists:

  • Salvador Dali
  • Frida Kahlo
  • André Breton
  • Joan Miró

More art styles 

19. Art Deco 

Art Deco style became popular in the 1920s after World War I. Geometric shapes and clean lines rule this Great Gatsby-esque style, also known for its bright pinks, royal purples and brilliant teals.

20. Art Nouveau

You can identify this art style by its characteristic long, serpentine lines. It’s been used in countless different bodies of design including architecture, jewelry, and interior design. The Metropolitan Museum in New York City was famously built in this style.

21. Cubism

Cubism was invented around 1908. It was created by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. This art style uses shapes to play with perspective and depth. A key point of recognizing Cubism is if you’re able to see different angles of the subject from one viewpoint.

22. Dadaism

Dadaism was born around 1916, shortly after World War I began. This rebel art style was created in protest of WWI, a war people of that day saw as pointless. The nature of this art style is humorous and absurd. A well-known piece of Dadaist art features a bearded Mona Lisa.

23. Dutch Golden Age

The Dutch Golden age refers to the 17th century period where art, trade, science, and military power flourished in the Netherlands. Painters from this period produced works like Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. Most Dutch Golden Age paintings project richness, tension, and movement.

24. Fauvism

Fauvism might be defined as taking expressionism one step further through vibrant color. Early Fauvist artists wanted to use color to project emotion onto the canvas. This usage separated color from its traditional realistic role and gave it a new depth.

25. Futurism

Futurism began in the early 1900s in Italy as part of a radical movement. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was an Italian poet who wanted to discard traditional forms of art and declared Futurism the new art style. Futurist artists sought to portray constant, furious movement in their work.

26. Post Impressionism

Vincent Van Gough, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne are three painters who revolutionized Post Impressionism. Displeased with the restrictions of the Impressionist art style, they formed a style that allowed for easier, longer brush strokes on their paintings. Van Gough, especially, used this technique in his famous work “Starry Night”.

27. Renaissance

The Renaissance was flourishing in the 15th century, shining a spotlight on notable artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo Da Vinci. The Renaissance was a time period where life was modernizing and art was no exception. Painting and sculpture were especially popular art forms. The art focused on the human body and nature.

28. Romanticism

The Romantic movement began in the 19th century and was categorized by one main thing: showing emotion. Rage, love, fear, and gothic paintings were all part of the romantic movement. The paintings were usually of people, acts of nature, or scenes of wars.

29. Ukiyo-e

This ancient Japanese art style is defined by its colorful woodblock prints. Directly translated it means “pictures of the floating world”. This style typically depicts Japanese life at leisure. Landscapes, people, and nature are usually the subjects of Ukiyo-e art. “Under the Wave” by Katsushika Hokusai is arguably the most famous piece of Ukiyo-e art, and is even an emoji.

Now that you’ve seen these popular art style examples, it’s your turn! Tackle a new style of art and put your own spin on it. If you think others would enjoy what you create, consider signing up to sell your art on our marketplace.

If your art skills leave something to be desired, don’t worry! You can support our independent artists by buying their artwork and arranging it on your wall. Whether you’re framing a poster or just hanging it on your wall, we’ve got the perfect piece of art for you.

Featured Image: Arcadian Topography designed and sold by dansedelune

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