Archive for the ‘ Genre ’ Category


Dates: 1993-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Louise Bourgeois, Jake and Dinos Chapman

The abject is a complex psychological, philosophical and linguistic concept developed by Julia Kristeva in her 1980 book Powers of Horror. She was partly influenced by the earlier ideas of the French writer, thinker and dissident Surrealist, Georges Bataille. It can be said very simply that the abject consists of those elements, particularly of the body, that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety. Kristeva herself commented ‘refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live’. In practice the abject covers all the bodily functions, or aspects of the body, that are deemed impure or inappropriate for public display or discussion. The abject has a strong feminist context, in that female bodily functions in particular are ‘abjected’ by a patriarchal social order. In the 1980s and 1990s many artists became aware of this theory and reflected it in their work. In 1993 the Whitney Museum, New York, staged an exhibition titled Abject Art: Repulsion and Desire in American Art, which gave the term a wider currency in art. Cindy Sherman is seen as a key contributor to the abject in art, as well as many others including Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Paul McCarthy, Gilbert & George, Robert Gober, Carolee Schneemann, Kiki Smith and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

“Abject art.” 12 March 2010. <>

Jake and Dinos Chapman



Dates: 1990-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Gillian Wearing, Liam Gillick

The French curator Nicholas Bourriaud published a book called Relational Aesthetics in 1998 in which he described the term as meaning ‘a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.’ He saw artists as facilitators rather than makers and regarded art as information exchanged between the artist and the viewers. The artist, in this sense, gives audiences access to power and the means to change the world. Bourriaud cited the art of Gillian Wearing, Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon and Liam Gillick as artists who work to this agenda.

“Relational Aesthetics.” 12 March 2010. <>

Gillian Wearing


Dates: 1980-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Harold Cohen

The first use of the term Digital art was in the early 1980s when computer engineers devised a paint program which was used by the pioneering digital artist Harold Cohen. This became known as AARON, a robotic machine designed to make large drawings on sheets of paper placed on the floor. Since this early foray into artificial intelligence, Cohen has continued to fine-tune the AARON program as technology becomes more sophisticated. Digital art can be computer generated, scanned or drawn using a tablet and a mouse. In the 1990s, thanks to improvements in digital technology, it was possible to download video onto computers, allowing artists to manipulate the images they had filmed with a video camera. This gave artists a creative freedom never experienced before with film, allowing them to cut and paste within moving images to create visual collages. In recent times some Digital art has become interactive, allowing the audience a certain amount of control over the final image.

“Digital art.” 12 March 2010. <>

Harold Cohen


Dates: 1972-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Henry Darger

The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for Art Brut. The English term “outsider art” is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds. Outsider art has emerged as a successful art marketing category (an annual Outsider Art Fair has taken place in New York since 1992). The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people outside the mainstream “art world,” regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work. In 1991, the first and only such organization dedicated to the study, exhibition and promotion of outsider art was formed in Chicago: Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Chicago is often recognized for its concentration of self taught and outsider artists, among them — Henry Darger, Joseph Yoakum, Lee Godie, William Dawson, David Philpot, and Wesley Willis. Intuit maintains a non-profit museum, open to the public, which features exhibitions of art by intuitive, outsider, and self taught artists.

Wikipedia contributors. “Outsider art.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. <>

Henry Darger


Dates: 1970-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Cornelia Parker, James Turrell

A term which arose in the early 1970s to describe works of art constructed in galleries and other places—such as warehouses and museums—for specific exhibitions. The term has been applied to a diverse range of phenomena, and has been used synonymously with other terms such as assemblage and Environmental art. Installation art does relate to these other forms in that they all reject concentration on one object in favour of a consideration of the relationships between various elements. However, an installation may perhaps be distinguished from these other types of art by the extent to which it is bound up with the concept of ‘site-specificity’, relating it to land art (which has been interpreted as a branch of Installation art). Unlike Land art, though, installations are generally concerned with the occupation of internal spaces.

The relationships between exhibition space and work of art are in fact so closely connected in much Installation art that the distinction between the two is deliberately annulled. An example is Vault (1992; London, Mus. Installation) by Chris Jennings (1949– ). Constructed so as to rely on its site, the piece was composed of metal rods creating a series of arcs which were supposed to define the space around them. In other works, the same objects are rearranged according to site. Antony Gormley (1950– ) created several different versions of Field, one having clay figures arranged in a radiating pattern (1989; Sydney, AG NSW), another involving the occupation by more than 35,000 such figures of an entire gallery (1991; New York, Salvatore Ala Gal.).

Parfitt, Oliver. “Installation art.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <>

Cornelia Parker


Dates: 1968-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: John Feckner, Keith Haring

Street art is genre related to graffiti writing, but separate and with different rules and traditions. Where modern-day graffiti revolves around ‘tagging’ and text-based subject matter, Street art is far more open and is often related to graphic design. There are no rules in Street art, so anything goes, however, some common materials and techniques include fly-posting (also known as wheat-pasting), stencilling, stickers, freehand drawing and projecting videos. Street artists will often work in studios, hold gallery exhibitions or work in other creative areas: they are not anti-art, they simply enjoy the freedom of working in public without having to worry about what other people think.

“Street art.” 12 March 2010. <>

Street art is any art developed in public spaces — that is, “in the streets” — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheat pasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations. Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art. Artists have challenged art by situating it in non-art contexts. ‘Street’ artists do not aspire to change the definition of an artwork, but rather to question the existing environment with its own language. They attempt to have their work communicate with everyday people about socially relevant themes in ways that are informed by aesthetic values without being imprisoned by them. John Fekner defines street art as “all art on the street that’s not graffiti.”

Wikipedia contributors. “Street art.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. <>

John Feckner


Dates: 1968-Present

Origin: International

Key Artists: Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman

May be defined as art by women artists made consciously in the light of developments in feminist art theory. In 1971 the art historian Linda Nochlin published a groundbreaking essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’. In it she investigated the social and economic factors that had prevented talented women from achieving the same status as their male counterparts. By the 1980s art historians such as Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker were going further, to examine the language of art history with its gender-loaded terms such as old master and masterpiece. They questioned the central place of the female nude in the western canon, asking why men and women are represented so differently. In his 1972 book Ways of Seeing the Marxist critic John Berger had concluded ‘Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’. In other words Western art replicates the unequal relationships already embedded in society. Feminist art followed a similar trajectory. In what is sometimes known as First Wave feminist art, women artists revelled in feminine experience, exploring vaginal imagery and menstrual blood, posing naked as goddess figures and defiantly using media such as embroidery that had been considered ‘women’s work’. One of the great iconic works of this phase of feminist art is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Later feminist artists rejected this approach and attempted to reveal the origins of our ideas of femininity and womanhood. They pursued the idea of femininity as a masquerade – a set of poses adopted by women to conform to social expectations of womanhood.

“Feminist art.” 12 March 2010. <>

Cindy Sherman