List of French artistic movements

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The following is a chronological list of artistic movements or periods in France indicating artists who are sometimes associated or grouped with those movements. See also European art history, Art history and History of Painting and Art movement.

School of Fontainebleau[edit]

The École de Fontainebleau was two periods of artistic production during the Renaissance centered on the Château of Fontainebleau.

First School (from 1531)

Second School (from 1590s)


See as well Louis XIV of France, Palace of Versailles, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Gobelins, Louis Le Vau, Jules Hardouin Mansart, Baroque


The expression "Rococo" is used for much European art throughout the 18th century, including works by the Italians Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Canaletto and Francesco Guardi and the English Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and the furnituremaker Thomas Chippendale. Compared with the 17th century Baroque, Rococo implies a lighter and more playful decorative art; the nude female is frequently featured; chinoiserie is also fashionable. Some of the artists that are most often grouped as "Rococo" are listed below. See as well Régence, Louis XV of France, Palace of Versailles.



Most of the early 19th-century artists given in the chronological list above have been at some time grouped together under the rubric of "romanticism", including the "realists" (as the Barbizon school) and the "naturalists". Some of the most important are listed here. See also French Revolution, Napoleon I of France, Victor Hugo, orientalism.


See also Academic art, Napoleon III of France, Second Empire. The expression pompier is pejorative and means pompous ; it refers to Academic painters in the mid to late 19th century.

Barbizon School[edit]

The École de Barbizon was a landscape and outdoor art movement which preceded Impressionism. The city is near the forest of Fontainebleau. Théodore Rousseau came to the region in 1848 and he subsequently attracted other artists.


The term is much criticised, but implies a frank and unidealized portrayal of real life, especially of the working classes and agricultural workers (in contrast to Jean-François Millet's idealized paintings of field workers), and locales such as factories, mines and popular cafés. See also the writers Émile Zola, Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant.


From around 1872.


The term is most often associated with the following artists, though it could equally apply to most of the movements leading up to cubism.

Pont-Aven School[edit]

Pont-Aven is a town on the coast of Brittany frequented by artists in the late 19th century (1886–1888).


See also Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, Huysmans, Symbolist painters.

Les Nabis[edit]

The expression comes from the Hebrew word for "prophets"; from around 1888.


Fauvism, or Les Fauves means "wild beasts". They first appeared at the salon of Autumn 1905–1908.


"Cézanne period" (1907–1909); "Analytic period" (1909–1912); "Synthetic period" (1913–1914).

Orphism or the Puteaux Group[edit]

Sometimes called "Cubic Orphism"; compare to the British Vorticism.


Founded in 1882, its satirical irreverence anticipated many of the art techniques and attitudes later associated with avant-garde and anti-art.



School of Paris[edit]

The École de Paris starts from around 1925.

Tachism or L'art informel[edit]

See also Abstract Expressionism, Cobra group, Lyrical Abstraction.

Pop Art[edit]


Situationist International[edit]

Though not an art movement per se, the Situationists did produce much détournement of art. See also May 1968 for work from the atelier populaire.


Founded in 1962, this international art movement stressed play, active participation, and unusual materials.

Nouveau Réalisme[edit]

Founded in 1960, this movement stressed the importance of the real and the modern consumer object and was similar to the Pop art movement in New York.

Figuration Libre[edit]

Early 1980s