New Genres

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New Genres is an artistic movement begun in the early 20th century. The movement is marked by many famous artists through sculpture, film, body art, installation, performance, photography, painting, and media yet to be discovered.


As much as the method of New Genres art-making is open-ended, the definition of New Genres is various and composed of contradictory ideas. One might construe New Genres through Larry Shiner's theory of the modern system of art: despite the continual acts of resistance, "the fine art world [is] expanding its own limits, by assimilating new types of art, [...] and by seemingly dissolving its boundaries completely." [1]

Historical context[edit]

While there is no official date that begins the New Genre period, many believe that the early 20th century work of Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp initiated this movement. Their work laid a foundation for the experimental practice of New Genres. Duchamp's "Fountain" (1917) introduced the idea of the readymade object: a non-art object which becomes viewed as art due to the intention and designation of the artist.[2] This new use of artistic power and questioning of the art object opened up the conceptual sphere of New Genres. Man Ray invented new photographic techniques, notably solarization and rayographs.[citation needed] These discoveries illuminated the idea that art was possible outside the field of the classical genres, such as painting and sculpture.

To understand the movement of New Genres, it is important to look at the events occurring simultaneously in the 20th century. In the first half of the century, World War I broke out and caused devastation to much of Eastern Europe. In America, the Great Depression caused a major economic crises that affected many parts of the world. World War II quickly followed, splitting the world into two alliances: the Allies and the Axis. This war caused tremendous damage, and introduced new tragedies into the world, such as the Holocaust, and the first nuclear weapons.

At the end of the 1970s, new media art began to enter the scene. A major focus of this art was, self-explanatorily, the use of new and developing technology. While photography had been around for many years, cameras and film you could easily and compactly travel with were newly born in 1889 by George Eastman.[3] In 1895, Louis Lumiere is said to have created the first video, or motion picture, camera. Though many people before him had created similar cameras, he is credited with the invention of a portable video camera, a film processing unit, and projector. These three things made the Cinematographe, which began the motion picture era.[4] Using these two technological advancements, along with many others, artists began to expand their ideas about materials and their function in art, dipping into the modern art movement.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shiner, Larry. The Invention of Art: A Cultural History. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2003. Print.
  2. ^ "ready-made (style of art) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  3. ^ "History of Photography and the Camera". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  4. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]