Elizabeth Reoch

Visual art lessons from a Canadian Artist, Teacher

Digital Expressionism - What art movement are we in today?

What Art Movement are We in Today


What Art Movement are We in Today?

 What art movement are we in today?

Digital Expressionism – What art movement are we in today?

As an art student I asked myself “What Art Movement are we in today?”.  I was fascinated with the evolution of art and how the movements tied into technological inventions, architectural movements, fashion and popular culture. I wondered how our society currently connects to art, and was there a new movement developing that I would eventually join?

An art movement is a style of art with a specific common philosophy or goal by a group of artists during a period of time. Today’s art movements are becoming apparent. Visual art today has many styles and mini movements happening at once called “Artistic Pluralism” an acceptance of a variety of artistic intentions and styles. They commonly express the individual and the development of a unique perspective.

Technology and Art Movements

Artists were influenced by the developments in technologies of their era. We can see the connections between the technological developments and the choices that renowned artists made, creating their styles.  Through Impressionism, Monet pushed us beyond realism. He saw realist paintings as redundant after the invention of photography. He instead depicted his immediate impressions, capturing how light and shadow effect our impression on a subject. Picasso took this further and depicted all sides and shapes of reality at once with Cubism. This movement inspired architects, furniture makers and fashion designers. The new freedoms invented by technologies of the industrial revolution opened doors and gave access to innovations in art. Picasso did not start the industrial revolution but he and other artists of the time were attentive to developments, and reflected the changing times in their art.

Technology and Art Movements Today

Today there are rapid developments in technology changing our social interactions and the visual landscape through Digital Art. These developments are culminating in a culture of individuality and an appreciation of unique perspective. Artists are experimenting with technology striving to develop new techniques and to share their individuality. Art is fast paced and real today with many styles and mini movements. It is about the individual and their unique perspective. Artists are encouraged to reflect, discover and invent new artistic expressions based on what has already been discovered by master artists. This new evolution allows artists to play with media and develop new art forms. Digital and commercial art are an integral part of the art movement we are in today.

Todays art movement - digital art

Digital Art – Elizabeth Reoch

Current Social Issues and Art Movements Today

Technology has brought us greater communication between social groups and over boarders into different cultures but has limited personal interactions. Access and information is no longer prohibited. We are aware of the environmental consequences of our new society through the fast paced exchange of information. In the latter part of the 20th century social injustice was a focus of artistic expression. Cultures were open to our awareness, humanitarian needs and environmental issues in the world gave voice to a generation of Activist Art. Artists used performance art, happenings, graffiti, expressionism and contemporary art as their activist mediums.

Artistic activism remains, but our focus as a society is turning toward the individual perspective. We see the individual expressing themselves in the Social Art Movement. Visual imagery is used to communicate quickly and effectively. Sparse phrases are sent over text messaging and communities are based in online social groups and games. The promotion of the individual through media images like the “Selfy”. A photo one takes of oneself in a way that represents personality and profession. Social Art is the celebrity of the individual. These social media images have turned into forms of expression. It occasionally reflects the misguided judgment of an individual. Even the dramatically misguided are creating a new art forms with their self portraits.

Elizabeth Reoch - Selfy september 2011 014

My “Selfy”

Self Expression and Finding the Art Movements of Today

Struggling to understand what Art Movement we are in today I looked to develop my own style based on what I learned from master painters such as Monet and Van Gogh. The design elements are a key focus in my paintings, looking to realistically depict a scene from nature but with the qualities of abstract design. Abstract Realism is one of the new movements in art today. I use my painterly brushwork to achieve this style but there are multiple medias used in abstract realism.

What art movement are we in today

Abstract Realism – Elizabeth Reoch

I was not aware at the time I was developing my art that many artists were also attempting to develop their own style for the same reasons, with other masters as their influence. This wealth of influence from art history, and a cultural and social need for individuals to differentiate themselves, is how Art Pluralism developed.






  1. Could Artistic Realism just be another way of saying there is no defined movement today?
    Could it be that there are no recognized leading artists prominent enough to establish a movement. And might that be the normal situation?

    • I agree that it does take a prominent artist to describe and instigate a popular movement. It is also history which classifies different styles and forms of artistic expression. The goal of an artist is to push themselves to explore new ideas and to find ways to visually communicate.
      Trends flux in and out at high speeds these days. Are we in a movement now and just don’t know what it is called?

    • In my opinion, I think any “movement” is defined as it happens WITHIN the artists’ community. Art in general, is not a broad, overall SOCIAL movement as it was in days past even before photography and the accessibility of such hand-held technological communicative devices any individual may possess now for good or evil. I like the “Pluralism” name as a general time period, however, SEVERAL movements existed at the same time BEFORE, so they can also be considered “pluralism” periods. “Pluralism” to me doesn’t define a PARTICULAR movement… or TYPE…GENRE of Art. Do you agree? DIGITAL ART is a SPECIFIC MOVEMENT. “Activist Art”…hmmmm I think that label is not valid: The ART STYLE is still a particular STYLE or FROM a MOVEMENT, ie. the Modern style which the socialists used to revive during the political climate in 2008 (without getting too opinionated about the politics) re: the “Change” posters. (I hated them for other reasons, NOT the style…LOL.) So this “ACTIVIST” movement, is NOT necessarily a “STYLE” which has USUALLY meant the “MOVEMENT”. And “Social Art” Movement is NOT ART! It is PHOTOGRAPHY! Selfies or a picture one posts on a socila website IS A PHOTOGRAPH… IT IS perhaps a FASHION TREND, but it is NOT an “ART STYLE” meaning “MOVEMENT”… PErhaps only I consider my old Art History books which taught us “movemensts” as STYLES… I looked up your website to discuss the classical defininition of ART MOVEMENT. I don’t even consider PHOTOGRAPHY as FINE ART – which involves actual PAINT, or CHARCOAL, or PENCIL, or SCULPTURal MATERIALS as rendered by the human hand on a piece of paper or canvas or object. PHOTOGRAPHY is a whole different catagory… Anyway: thought I’d try to define my thoughts here.

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I didn’t know any of what you wrote, but it helps to define my research. GOOD job!

    • Realism means the artist is worshipping science and is becoming out of touch with emotional expression

    • Good question about established movements. I’d say that globalization, digital technology, and post modern thinking will baffle museum curators and critics for decades to come.

      • IMHO, it seems gallerists (even big money gallerists) and what they entice their collectors are baffled, a gambler’s approach to art appreciation.

  2. Yes the new movement is Abstract Surrealism.

    • I don’t think that’s correct.

      If you look at the art that artists are doing on deviantart, there’s everyting from doing hyper-realistic photorealism paintings, to mixed-media fantasy works, to anime and manga styles, and derivatives, and tons of other things.

      Essentially every style ever done and then some is being done now. We no longer live in an age where there is a specific “movement” because in ages past, communication was so slow, that “movements” were spread by word of mouth person to person.

      Now, with the internet, and mass availability of tons of different art techniques of very good quality, people can literally do any style they want, and they do.

      It seems to be a form of “Diverse Individualism” if you could call it that. Where everybody simply does whatever style they want. And people do it well.

      Artists today no longer seem bound by movements and instead simply draw or create whatever appeals to them.

      • I am in agreement with you on “Diverse Individualism” as being a form of Movement, however I made an attempt to find the current “art movement” of today simply because as an art teacher I am asked the question.
        Historical movements broke into popular culture and took over the art scene because of their innovation and a development in styles, techniques and alternative perspective. I do not believe we are finished innovating but I also believe that Art is no longer for the elite, therefore the idea of one innovation taking over the consciousness with the styles and techniques of the past being left aside as boring is unlikely. The term “diverse individualization” means that the individual artist can and will find a platform for being seen and heard. The artists that speak to the population through there work will be put forward and shared and appreciated. There is no longer an elitist wall to push through that kept Van Gogh from being discovered in his lifetime.
        What I really believe:
        A successful piece of art needs to follow the elements and principals of design. Innovative artists in the 18th century discovered that you can play with and evoke emotions by applying the design laws in unexpected and novel techniques. We are still doing that today. Every Art student understands that their work needs to be complete, or in other words be anchored in the principals. In art, music and dance we are all trying to communicate using these principals.

  3. I believe the art movement I believe is a move toward experimental art.

  4. I think, now artist is more conected with outer source of technology, try to find out multiple combination of invented technology by others. In this prectice one can see more of technological play then inner expression. It’s true that technologycal movement is there to creat the style and less movement.

  5. I believe digital expressionism has its place in art of today for example if an artist was to use an app like brushes on an iPad and render the drawing with his / her finger on the pad to create the image then the artist has created an image digitally regardless if it paint , pencils ect were not used , technology has just placed us with a new medium.

  6. Excellent thoughts! I love how fluid the definition of Art can be!

  7. A question for Elizabeth?

    I have painted and carved wood for 50 years as a hobby. In the 1986-87 time period I divorced and lost my job and used Art as theropy. I decided that to effectively do this I did not only have to paint but needed to use the back of the canvass to write what I was thinking about. The writing took several forms, a poem, a message to my children, a message to the world, or just thoughts. I have asked myself many times, what the artist was thinking about when he or she did the painting. I know of no others that have done this yet except for occasional dedications. It seems obvious to me the power of this idea. An inscription with the painting in the artists hand adds incredible value and insight to the work.
    I have recently mentioned this idea to very promenate Artist and he said he was inspired by the idea. It remains to be seen if he will start writing on his empty canvass back but if he does or if other pickup on this I believe a new art movement may be just starting. I have thought about what it might be called and believe Art Lit Movement could describe it nicely. I have done this on Sculptures as well so it has no limits.
    Please tell me what you think and others join in with feedback, Could this be a New Art Movement?

    • It is much harder then people may think to verbalize with words on a canvas or a website the visual and sensory meaning, feelings behind visual art. To express ones deep ideas in two distinct areas of our intelligence at the same time can feel like having the right and left hands doing two separate activities. Being an art teacher taught me how to verbalize techniques and purposeful artistic choices though questions from students. I often have to pick up their brush or pencil to be able to verbalize the technique as I am demonstrating. When I write my article I photograph the techniques as I paint and use those photographs to capture my thoughts. To be honest I am not always able to fully verbalize everything I am thinking and feeling while painting,
      I think your idea is fantastic because the more we are able to express ourselves and in as many different areas of our intelligence the more we will understand ourselves or to be able to create that emotional connection to others that we as humans seem to crave.

  8. I think that at movements at not really created or categorized not until the effect of that particular movement had had on society. If it really moved people it will leave a mark, and that’s where we usually get people to change their way of thinking. The impressionist is the best example of this dilemma. For years the powers of that age rebutted the play of light and color the impressionist had. In contrast you such clean line work and glazes over layers of glazes to hide the brushwork of the artist. Now we have new technologies changing the momentum of not only the artist but society at the same time. Two worlds in one common course constantly crashing is what creates the romantic momentum for a new age or a new movement to be born. My two cents.

    • I agree, history has categorized the art movements but with technology and social media we all suspect that things have changed. A poignant moving image widely seen around the world was the “Peace for Paris” graphic image. The Eiffel Tower used to depict the 60’s peace sign was created by an award winning commercial graphic artist who has designed for car manufacturers.
      Things are moving and changing in the art world because more and more people are expressing and creating with the world watching.

  9. I think the trend is away from artists being outwardly influenced towards being inwardly influenced. Also, it is away from individuals thinking of themselves as a “profession” as in “I am Doctor. I am a lawyer. I am an artist.” But rather, I am a person living my life and while doing that I make some art. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot of art. The old ideas of having to be prolific and a Calvinist sort of hard working serious artist are leaving. Now we have just people making art and being enhanced by that process. The need to learn from or copy or be influenced by or be pleasing to others outside of themselves is leaving. What is left is pure living and doing something that pleases you…for many that will be art. But it want need to include defining oneself by what one does. BEING is becoming more important than doing and impressing or even communicating. People who make art this way are on the leading edge of a great SPIRITUAL change from outer to inner.

  10. When I take a step back from the work of today, the overall pattern that emerges for me feels more like a new romantic period. From the overly bright colors, to the subject matter, hearts and skulls, to even professional sports teams supporting causes with pink bats and pink cleats. While I realize athletes do this to generate awareness for cancer, very important, it illustrates the pattern I’m seeing nicely.

  11. I think looking to “counter history theory” is important. Invention is still an important part of art with many “trade” subjects needed to be learnt to compete with many cutting edge artists. Many artists choose simply to ignore those who inform them that the movement is “over”.

  12. I think doing something new that doesn’t require money or a thesis is my goal. Beauty has been lost …. If it ceases to move you visually I say what’s the point.

  13. What is post Internet art?

  14. There is art theory and then there are great artists. Picasso defined art in the 20th century, likewise Da Vinci & Michealangelo defined the Art of the Italian Renaissance. There are other great artists who define the intervening periods of romanticism and other movements in the last 500 years: Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, etc.

    What the 21st century needs is another Da Vinci or Picasso to define all the wild and wacky styles that we are already experiencing in the first 2 decades of the 21st Century.

  15. Wow! Just came upon your site after an internet search asking what art movement we are currently engaged. Wonderful discussion and ideas. Thank you Elizabeth for the post and thanks everyone else for taking the time to comment. I agree with everything said. I feel affirmed as a human and an artist by the discussion.

  16. By the way, see what 101-year-old artist Carmen Herrera has to say about “talking about art.” http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/t-magazine/art/carmen-herrera-documentary-alison-klayman.html

  17. I know Art,but I don’t know about Art.

  18. How do you skirt around the outside of Digital Art and not call it the period of Art which we are in, which you call abstract purilism? More digital media, art, content in all forms is produced daily than all art ever before (or some crazy stat like that.) Digital art would include: game art, online content creation, digital photography streams, Visual art streams and more.

    You stated “In my opinion, I think any “movement” is defined as it happens WITHIN the artists’ community” and the period of art is the overall vibe of the population, then Digital art surely is the period of today.

    • I am asking the question “what Art Movement are we in today”. Many have given their opinions including yourself which has opened up a good and informative discussion, which I hope will help to define today’s art movement for myself and other artists.
      Digital Art is definitely a dominate influence in the Fine Arts as a medium and as an influence. I have refereed to different examples including a rough attempt at my own Digital Art. My husband is a Graphic Designer and we have had many discussions about how he has used the elements of principals and design in his logos and advertisements. Even more interesting to me is his process of connecting his visual design to his target audience. A process that is similar to my own as a painter.
      I wonder if Digital Art is a new Medium or if it has inspired a movement with it’s influence. Is their a common subject, undertones, methods or purpose to all Digital Art or is their a variety of movements within the Digital Art media.

    • What philosophies are attached in this digital art movment what’s the mindset? How is the human condition spoken of in um… game art? The problem with digital art is that it’s just restrictive and it’s boring cuz it’s always fake. A digital pen stroke will never compare to a pen in the hand of an artist ( muchless a brush) and if it ever does reach that level of realisim than its just simulation. But the best question of all is, when u paint a picture on the computer… why didn’t u just paint it? Imagery comes easy on the computer at that will always show threw.

      • There is so much room for expression in digital Art. The above is a link to an image I drew as an illustration using pencil and ink. I then used digital art to enhance and to balance it with the look of the website.


      • I think no matter what, art can only come as a conscious act of a human being and whatever lies between him and his intention is just a tool or a medium. The designer of a digital system and the final user can both be artists only if their actions carry a meaning beyond the necessity. Unfortunately, in the digital revolution many cannot surpass their tools and forget the true richness of humanism. Traditional tools are the closest link between the artist mind and the world and will stay like this for a while.

  19. I feel like we’re in the slow dwindling end of post modernism nothing is really being made to help that movement anymore were really just left wondering what to do after the philosophical beating that was modernisim. In many ways I think that philosophy of the psykie is pretty inseperable from art now. I feel like we still want to question the mental but at the same time I see a great longing for realisim and romanticism appearing in today’s artists. Figure paintings commin back expressionism is less express-full and more realistic and in general on Instagram I see a lot of realist artists. What can we still say that is true, what can we reveal in art to come? I am eager to see the voice of our times come about and eager to see a new art movment too.

  20. When art movements came from individuals that communicated with each other often in a specific geographical area there was little opportunity to become recognized accept by critics or monied nobles. Trends could be recognized. The world is much smaller now thanks to the internet.
    Fashion and art have audiences that can be of any size, very specific or general.
    As with water, art seeks its own level. Everyone has access and a budget. This goes for museums too.
    Galleries and critics are still powerful and try to shape trends but there is room at the inn. Authenticity, the right work for the right space and audience, all are welcome to participate. Only the persistent are rewarded.

  21. Has anybody heard of Altermodern? It was the topic of the 2009 Tate Britain Triennial, coined by Nicolas Bourriaud to describe art in our globalised, Internet-dominated era. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this and whether this could well be our current art movement. Looks like there are a lot of valid viewpoints on there. Thank you!

    • Nicolas Bourriaud is asking the question himself and has identified that postmodernism period is over and has declared that the movement we are in today is a global movement. We are one country. I am not sure if this fully defines a new Altramodern movement or just sets the parameters for which the movement will emerge. He believes that the global artist will define our current movement.
      I would bounce onto this idea. Are the global artists commenting on how we are being affected by this new small world where technology and information are open and available to all humans. The world is touching the person.

  22. Historically, the movements that have been remembered are those that broke new ground or old rules and had enough like-thinking practitioners that art historians could lump them all together conceptually. If you know your art history you know Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Futurism and even Impressionism wasn’t started by one person and suddenly caught fire across the globe. These were started by groups of artists who already knew, met and wrote to with one another, fostering and melding their ideas. All but the Impressionists began in Europe post World War 1 and pre World War 2. Many of them were veterans of WW1.

    Artists of the Internet Age, by and large, are not pushing boundaries even if they have polished their technique. Polished technique is no guarantee of either establishing a movement or being remembered as major contributors in art history books of the future. Most of us cannot name the old school European artists who scoffed at those crazy Impressionists and their ‘sloppy’ painting style. Yet their work was welcomed in the salons and galleries at the same time the Impressionists’ paintings were not.

    Art should be about self expression and creating a style, a visual voice, that is individual and unique. Art does not progress through imitation alone even if the imitations are well executed. And don’t get me started on ‘concept for concept’s sake’ art that is so prominent today. If anything/everything is art then nothing is art.

    The Internet is a catch-all stream with lots of flotsam and jetsam. It’ll take time to distinguish the diamonds from the loads of cubic zirconium. It always has.

  23. Indeed, we have been fractured into individual camps as artists and as patrons of the arts. I agree, based on all that has come before us, a specific ideology, whether it be form/style or social thought or both, defines the movement. Certainly it is possible some factor will emerge that will collect the art world’s consciousness; be it a group of artists or a unifying political ideology or whatever. Currently I do not see it but that is not to say it is not out there. To close I would like to assert that digital art is not a movement, that is like saying painting with oil was a movement. It is simply another tool.

  24. Very useful post. Currently I am compiling a Timeline of Art movement. I came up to Hyper realism which started around 1975 and after that I couldn’t find any established or recognized Art movement. I agree with T.Clay digital art is not a movement, it is rather a media or tool to create art. Thanks for the post.

  25. I have not pinned a title for what is happening, but what I see is a huge creative movement. More people on this planet are embracing their inner creative natures. They are being able to see art in many different venues. People are conceiving and creating in all mediums possible.
    This is an amazing concept. I have spent most of my life listening to so many people quoting, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”. Or the sort. Art classes are being removed from the public schools and art schools are priced through the roof.

    Yet with the digital world growing exponentially, more ways of expression are becoming available. People can buy materials and learn through the internet how to do something.
    The biggest part of the movement is people are getting less afraid to express themselves. Art has now taken many, many forms. More people are studying art and even making it a profession. The more this expression is encouraged the more they fine tune their craft. Through experimentation more are forms and movements are happening.
    Also these movements don’t last long. Its like people are constantly looking for the next big thing. The consistency of the movements now are that no matter how hard you try to get rid of art, the more it thrives. Art is used now more than ever as a tool or weapon to shape the people’s view of the world around them.
    The collective consciousness of all of the individual points of view. We now have a better idea of how people really see the world. Because everyone is using creative means to express it.

  26. I created the art form called “Squiggleism”. It is an impressionistic dash with a twist of unblended color. It is similar to pointillism but of the squiggled or elongated undulating lined placed in staggered position. I have been dubbed the American Van Gogh from the master’s influence. I had sought to continue a kind of natural progression of style from his a kind of neo-goghism to Squiggleism. Each stroke is like a vibrational/sound note. Sometimes I referred to it as God’s essence. Everything that exists is made of the interactions of vibrations.

  27. In quest of finding what can we call the art movement of today’s time, i came across many logic and theories. The most important fact to note is, that technology has changed the pace of art movements. Earlier it took decades to establish a movement. As industrial age came, many movements came one after another in rather smaller time period. Now, art technic, logic and reasoning travels faster than ever. The most suitable and convincing movement in my opinion today is NO MORE a simple two or three dimensional interpretation but more re complex and dynamic.

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