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7 min read

Throughout history, the world of art has managed to transcend boundaries and evolve with the times, producing many art styles and movements that each have their ideals and philosophies. These varying styles have helped shaped the world we live in today, and by extension, how we also see the world.

One of the most important aspects that play into furthering our art appreciation is learning the different styles of artand what exactly draws us closer to these paintings and artworks. These styles typically pertain to a distinct set of characteristics that are present between artworks and describe why an artwork looks a certain way.

If you are a fan of art and simply want to immerse yourself into this world, this article will let you in on the 10 most popular types of art styles in no particular order. By learning these, we can learn more about one’s leanings, but also what these art styles signify.

Pop Art

Pop Art is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-loved art styles throughout history and for good reason. It is, after all, a reimagination of sorts that “popped up” and took inspiration from mass or popular culture, particularly American consumerist culture, hence the name.

Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl

Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl, 1963, on display at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Most of the imagery used in Pop Art included the likes of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor and consumer products such as Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup. It also revolved around mass media, comic books, advertising, magazines, and many others.

This movement started in the mid-1950s and reached its height in the 1960s. This particular art style is characterized by the use of bold colours and the use of realistic or even hyper-realistic imagery. Among the methods used by artists of this time included silk screening to produce works faster, akin to mass consumption.

Some of the most notable artists that belong to the Pop Art movement include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jeff Koons. 

Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art is any type of art that is produced in the present day. Many art historians consider contemporary art to simply encompass art that has been produced since the late 1960s or the 1970s to the present, or those that were made from the late 20th century to the early 21st century.

This is one of the types of art styles that is quite challenging to encompass since it makes use of various different approaches and methods. In general, however, this art style is mainly concerned with making new art that is centered on ideas and concerns that are facing them at the moment.

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) – David Hockney

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) – David Hockney

Contemporary Art makes use of different media and materials to convey the intended message and subjects in the artwork. Apart from taking on the ideas and concerns, the artists of this age also focus on their culture, self-expression, interests, political climate, and current trends.


Surrealist art started in the 1920s as a movement that intends to free individuals and artists alike from constant rationalism being championed at the time. Instead, this advocated for a freer way of thinking and expression that’s tied to the unconscious mind.

This just means that this art style that gives viewers unnerving and even uncanny depictions of everyday scenes and objects to create unsettling effects among viewers. It centred on dreams and a reimagination of their subconscious, mostly through the use of everyday objects and juxtapositions that seemed illogical, almost as if one is in a dream.

This art style started in France in the early 20th century. Today, it continues to be one of the most well-loved art styles in the world. Among the most famous artists with this style include Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Pierre Roy, and Paul Delvaux.

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)

Modern Art

Modern art is often confused and interchanged with contemporary art, but both styles could not be farther from each other. Modern art refers to a stylistic movement in art that veers away from traditional art styles and values and instead, is centered on portraying the world as it is according to the artist’s point of view.

Because modern art rejected traditional forms of art, it encouraged artists to embrace their own artistic worldview. This led to using symbolism, dream, iconography, as well as an emphasis on technological advances, innovation, and values that highlighted modern life.

Many artists who delved into modern art or modernism used a bevy of materials and techniques to bring to life the reflected these new realities and ideologies brought about by the times.

Art Nouveau

This particular art style was so popular between the 1890s and 1910s not just in Europe, but also in the United States. Art Nouveau stemmed from the desire to move away from the rapid industrialization of the times and from simply imitative historicism in art.

The Art Nouveau style dominated not just the field of arts, but also interior design, architecture, jewelry, and many others. This style is characterized by its ornamental approach and the use of long, organic lines and curves as inspired largely by flowers and plants.

Besides the aforementioned characteristics, this art style is also recognized for its muted use of colors, mostly using olive, mustard, and deep red tones. Antonio Gaudi, Alphonse Mucha, and Rene Lalique are just some of the renowned artists and designers who worked in this style.

Alfons Mucha - F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur

Alfons Mucha - F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur


Cubism is considered a type of modern art that’s quite abstract. Some of the pioneers of this art style remain big names in the world of art and these are none other than Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

This artistic movement started in 1907 and this made use of geometric shapes and the reinvention of traditional subjects into compositions that can be seen from different viewpoints or perspectives. These geometric planes allowed subjects to view art in a three-dimensional cube or plane, thus the name.

Later on, Cubism came to include the use of collages and the three-dimension effects that it has become known for.

Glass of Beer and Playing Cards by Juan Gris


Yet another artistic movement in the modern age or in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is no other than Impressionism. Developed in France, Impressionist art encompasses work that has been produced between 1867 to 1886 as a result of artists’ wanting to depict and record visual impressions as accurately as they can.

To do this, artists of the time typically used small, thin, and distinct brushstrokes rather than using line and form. In doing so, these artists are able to achieve a soft and fuzzy look that gives a masterful play on color and light.

Artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro are some of the most renowned artists of this artistic style.

Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877) - Claude Monet

Abstract Art

Many people are confused with what abstract artreally is and it’s easy to see why. After all, this type of artistic style is one that does not normally try to represent visual reality in its actuality. Instead, it mainly uses the combination of color, shapes, and other forms to achieve its desired outcome.

Colors can symbolize emotions, while objects are usually designated by shapes and other gestural marks, making abstract art one of the most complex and different art styles out there.

An abstract art style seems to appeal to many primarily because it is a nonrepresentational approach, meaning viewers can easily ascribe meaning or symbol to the art piece as they see fit.

Purple Feelings

Art Deco

An artistic movement that was prevalent in France during the 1920s prior to the First World War, the Art Deco style, later on, boomed to prominence in the 1930s in Europe and the United States.

This art style fused and blurred the lines between different fields of art – whether it be jewelry, design, fashion, architecture, and many others. It sought to lend beauty, craftsmanship, and elegance to ordinary and everyday objects.

In many ways, the Art Deco style was a representation of glamor and luxury, as well as a lifestyle of exuberance and socialization. It manifested itself not just in paintings and various forms of art, but also in architecture, furniture, cars, and ocean liners, to name a few. 

This era and style used streamlined and geographic design for a more seamless look. Artists often used symmetry and vertical lines to reflect their admiration for modern times.

Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti (1925) by Tamara de Lempicka

Spiritual Art

Last but certainly not least on this list is Spiritual Art. This art style is deeply inspired by the divine realm and the use of spirits, with many artists depicting the gods and the divinity in their creations.

This particular artistic approach is said to be largely influenced by spiritualism in itself. By drawing on the divinity or the practices of spiritual manifestation, artists were said to successfully create their artwork.

Spiritualist art also focuses on having an artistic consciousness. Other artworks also portrayed spirits who artists claimed were present during seances, of artists seeing a person’s past, and the like.

Follow Your Heart

The Takeaway

Now that you know the ten most popular art styles, you may want to check out these art styles to try today and explore what appeals to you best. With this introduction to different art styles, we hope that this article has piqued your interest and led you to open up your perspective on the world of art.

What's your favourite art style?

Magna Canvas has a large range of canvas prints with many styles of art to choose from.