The History of Art and Fashion, and why YOU should learn about it
December 7, 2021
TO See the History of Art
as an ongoing process rather than a collection of random pictures — and to understand how political conflicts, philosophical concepts, and the development of technology have influenced modern culture — means to understand the world in which we live in. For example, the First World War led to the emergence of Dadaism and Expressionism. Similarly, the October Revolution of 1917 led to the emergence of the Russian avant-garde; and the global protest against consumerism gave way to minimalism and pop art. There’s a historical connection between art and fashion, both of these mediums have reflected social, economic and political changes throughout time. Here are some examples of artists and fashion designers who, through their work, helped shape a new perspective in 20th century art and fashion:
Artist Salvador Dalí — the avant-garde mastermind of surreal art — came together with the leader of surrealist fashion, Elsa Schiaparelli, to create iconic looks such as The Lobster Dress, The Shoe Hat, and The Tears Dress; all unique pieces that shocked and inspired audiences in both the art and fashion world.
Yves Saint-Laurent was inspired by cultures and art from around the globe, which he successfully incorporated into his clothing. Laurent collaborated with Maison Lesage, a leader in haute couture embroidery, to create their jacket: "Sunflowers" — fully embroidered with glass beads, sequins, and ribbons in different shades of orange and yellow. Inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers (1889), this design choice created a multidimensional texture similar to Van Gogh’s technique of applying thick paint to canvas. It is estimated to have taken over 600 hours to complete, and is amongst the most expensive haute couture items ever made, selling for nearly four hundred thousand euros. Yves Saint-Laurent paved the way for wearing clothing as a work of art in and of itself, regardless of fashion and time period.
The friendship between Roy Halston and Andy Warhol defined the artistic world. Both Roy and Andy were leaders who paved the way for making the artist/designer a celebrity. They removed the pretentious stigma of the art world and brought fashion and style to the masses. Warhol used silk-screen printing to create his images, and although he certainly did not invent the process, he revolutionized the idea of mass production. Roy used fabrics and patterns that were simple, yet glamorous with his use of sequins, chiffon and satin. He was one of the first to make American fashion accessible and desirable. Both left their final marks on art and style throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, much of which is still prevalent to this day.
Over the years, many directions have been paved in artistic culture, though they all hold one common connection: all artists aim to create the most reliable image of their world, capture a fleeting moment, and arouse empathy in the viewer. Being able to resonate with an artist's vision develops a person's aesthetic outlook and their sense of beauty. My personal favorite art movements are impressionism, surrealism, and expressionism.
Movement, air and light. This genre originated in France in the late 19th - early 20th centuries, and quickly spread throughout the world. Its name comes from one of the most famous pieces of art: the painting “Impression, Sunrise” by Claude Monet. Artists working in this style developed innovative painting techniques that made it possible to show the real world as naturally as possible — to preserve shadows and halftones in the canvas, ripples on the water, and the sun’s glare. It was these artists who first used the technique of open composition and painting with thin, light strokes to catch instantaneous changes in lighting and demonstrate the elusive progression of time. Impressionist masters include Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro.
Surrealism is an avant-garde trend in fine arts, literature and cinema that held great influence when it took over during the first half of the twentieth century. The style is characterized by a paradoxical combination of real world forms and visual deception. Followers of surrealism drew creative energy from the depths of the subconscious and skillfully combined both fantasy and reality into their works. Prominent surrealist painters include icons like: Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, and Max Ernst.
Carrying emotions and deep meaning. This movement originated in Austria and Germany at the beginning of the 20th century and seemed to deny every painting style that had existed before it. The artists depicted subjective reality — their own experiences and feelings — by distorting the colors, shapes and proportions of their drawings. Until then, art masters had strived to capture reality on canvas; expressionists recreated symbolic structures that existed only in their minds. Due to the fact that this movement was formed in the era of destructive wars, the characteristic motives of these paintings were rooted in torment, human cruelty, pain, and suffering. The most prominent representatives of this genre are Edvard Munch, August Macke and Marianne von Werefkin.
Is it necessary for artists to know the history of art and fashion?
Love and understanding of the historical art world must be nurtured into each generation. The history of art will not only guide us towards finding out how various artistic styles have developed, which in turn enables us to develop our own unique styles; but it will also help us to harness creativity, think outside the box, and go beyond the established boundaries to find alternative and unconventional solutions. This will allow us to look at the world more broadly — to perceive its beauty — all while building subconscious values and guidelines, which are necessary components in a harmonious development of our personalities. If we change our thinking, we change our lives. If you want to change your life, start within and expand your knowledge. The more you know, the more likely you are to excel.
about the author
Kate Blagodatskhik is a self-taught illustrator, born in Moscow, Russia. She specializes in oil painting on canvas, watercolor and digital art. According to her, the best
Katherine is an artist, vegan activist, and the founder and curator of Creating Freely Magazine. She’s passionate about living on her own terms and maximizing her potential.
Liam M. is a magazine editor who comes from an artistic background, having studied drama and English at University. He’s also composed music that has been broadcasted on