Faces of Europe

Towards abstraction

Late-19th century art movements such as Symbolism continued into the 20th century alongside new radical modernist developments. There were parallel transformations in other creative arts including literature, poetry, music and philosophy.

Bucharest was an important centre for avant-garde art, as shown in this Cubist portrait of poet Ilarie Voronca by Romanian artist Victor Brauner.

The public and artistic establishment was sometimes unwelcoming to new styles of art. When Mainie Jellet returned to Ireland after training with Cubists in Paris and exhibited her non-figurative work, it was criticized but she continued to act as an advocate for abstraction and modernism.

In the interwar period, many artists continued to be inspired by their own societies. Cypriot artist Adamantios Diamantis communicated his love for rural traditions in The Planters, 1932-33.

In Luxembourg, Expressionist painter Joseph Kutter used clowns to communicate his anxieties.

After the Second World War, Op art, Pop art, Conceptualism, Anti-art and Performance art were just some of the new contemporary art movements. Pop art was one of the more playful of these movements. Estonian artist Malle Leis is known for her striking, colourful works including a vivid interpretation of Pop art, full of bright colours and flowers.