Can You Guess the Art Styles of these Popular Paintings?

By: Kennita Leon
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The history of art is a history of revolutions. There’s usually an initial group dictating how they want to see the world, and then various new artists usurp traditions with a fresh way to capture the world on canvas. That is, until that artistic vision becomes the norm and the process repeats itself.

Whether you are an art connoisseur or find the world of art fascinating, you’ll enjoy learning about all the styles that flourished throughout history. This quiz, with 50 well-known and extraordinary paintings will provide a quick overview of some of the most famous examples of artistic methods.

From the subject of the painting itself to the color scheme and brush techniques, there is so much more to know about each style of art. You may be someone who gravitates to the High Renaissance period classics such as "Mona Lisa" or "The Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci. Or you may be swept up by emotion when you see “Large Blue Horses,” a painting from the Expressionism era that symbolizes subjective, personal, and spontaneous paintings that evoke different moods. Then there is Cubism, Surrealism, Constructivism and Fauvism, just to name a few of the artistic styles that will be touched upon in the quiz. Take it now and appreciate artwork even more tomorrow.

"Mona Lisa" by Leonardo Da Vinci, High Renaissance: This timeless piece depicts Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy merchant in the early 1500s during the High Renaissance era. During this time, artists were beginning to paint realistic pieces that gave the painting a lifelike appearance. Mona Lisa became famous because Leonardo was able to capture the amused look on her face and the details of her hands.

"Harlequin's Carnival" by Joan Miro, Surrealism: Artists who believed in surrealism were confident that unconscious thoughts, such as dreams, held great meaning for one’s life and were key to unlocking their creative potential. Miro was one of these artists and named the painting after Harlequin, a comical character in theater. "Harlequin’s Carnival" portrays a festive atmosphere with different spirits, shapes, and colors that appear to dance about.

"Der Blaue Reiter" by Wassily Kandinsky, Expressionism: This refers to a movement led by a group of artists from 1911-1914, who rebelled against the rigid principles of Neue Künstlervereinigung-München (Munich New Artist’s Association). Artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, and Franz Marc organized exhibitions called “The Blue Rider” that were instrumental in the development of abstract and graphic art in Germany.

"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso, Cubism: The Young Ladies of Avignon is a painting of five prostitutes from a brothel in Avignon Street, Barcelona. The women are not portrayed in the manner in which humans are traditionally represented, but instead, they are depicted using Cubism: the art of using objects and shapes to create different viewpoints. Three of the women in the painting appear feminine compared to the other two on the right side of the painting, who are angular in shape.

"A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, Neo-Impressionism: This 1884 painting by George Seurat is set during the Neo-Impression area, at a time when artists began to use color to create vivid pictures that brought their characters to life. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon in Isle de La Jatte, Paris. Seurat was praised for his remarkable depiction of ordinary people and his meticulous attention to the details of the landscape.

"I Was a Rich Man's Plaything" by Eduardo Paolo, Pop Art: Designed by Edwardo Paolozzi, a Scottish sculptor, printmaker, and multi-media artist, this painting is considered as one the first pioneering pieces of the Pop Art movement. With its collage of a pulp fiction stilled novel cover, Coca-Cola, and military recruitment advertisement, it displays elements indicative of Pop Art movement pieces. The work exhibits a dark tone usually associated with British Pop Art, illustrating a woman confessing to being used as a toy by a man of the upper economic class.

"Luxe, Calme et Volupté" by Henri Matisse, Fauvism: This is an oil painting depicting the leading figure in Fauvism, a style that was made popular by Les Fauves, a group of early twentieth-century modern artists. The piece painted in a method known as pointillism and lent its inspiration from a French poem detailing the voyage of a man and his lover to paradise, where most of the women are nude except one woman. The enhanced and exaggerated colors depicted in the piece demonstrate the core characteristics of fauvism.

"Girl with a Hoop" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Impressionism: Pierre-Auguste Renoir was best known for work in portraiture and pieces involving beautiful women such as "Girl with a Hoop," which was created in 1885. He enjoyed painting people enjoying modern pastimes in well-illuminated gardens, outdoor restaurants, and cafes with soft brushstrokes and luminous colors. As standard in his paintings, "Girl with a Hoop" depicted a girl in a light-colored dress with a hoop in a garden with brightly colored leaves bursting off the background.

The Palace at 4 a.m. - Alberto Giacometti- The 1932 surrealist sculpture by Swiss sculptor and painter, Alberto Giacometti, depicts a skinny wood scaffolding, sheet of glass, and delicate skeletal structure. The sculpture was inspired from a six-month relationship with a woman often identified as one of Giacometti’s lovers.

"Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh, Post-Impressionism: This 1889 oil canvas painting is regarded as one of Van Gogh’s finest works. It depicts the pre-sunrise view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, with the addition of a village. The art style of Post-Impressionism speaks loudly in this piece with its unnaturally vivid colors and exaggerated use of geometrically distorted forms.

"The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli, Renaissance: This breathtaking piece shows the goddess of love, Venus, standing daintily on the shore while the god of the west wind, Zephyr blows life into her and, Horae, goddess of the seasons, eagerly approaching her with clothing. Venus’ nude appearance created history with his painting, at a time when traditional Christian values were dominant and such images would be discouraged. However, the angelic nature of the picture allowed it to be accepted and revered by many.

"The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci, High Renaissance: One of the most famous and widely recognizable paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, "The Last Supper" represents the scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, as told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. This fresco-secco based mural is believed to be the starting point of the High Renaissance period in art, traditionally observed as beginning in the 1490s when Leonardo commenced work on this piece.

"A Burial at Ornans" by Gustave Courbet, Realism: "A Burial at Ornans" is an 1849–50 painting by Gustave Courbet, and regarded as one of the major turning points of 19th-century French art. He was a French painter believed to have led the Realism movement in 19th-century, dedicating himself to painting only what he could see and willing to make bold social statements through his work. The painting depicts the funeral of his great-uncle in his hometown of Ornans. He regarded an ordinary small-town funeral with unflattering realism and on a scale traditionally reserved for more highly esteemed settings.

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt, Art Nouveau: This glittery painting features a couple whose bodies are intertwined in a close embrace as they kiss and enveloped in elegant robes. Klimt created this masterpiece at a time when his previous works such as "Philosophy and Jurisprudence" were regarded as crude and pornographic. "The Kiss" was developed during Art Nouveau, a decorative style that incorporated linear and curved shapes like those from plants and flowers.

"Houses at L'Estaque" by George Braque, Cubism: Braque was considered a major figure in the founding of the Cubism movement that revolutionized 20th Century art. In 1908, he created "Houses at L’Estaque," which was regarded as one of the first cubist paintings. It depicted a cityscape landscape reduced to the form of geometric cubes in a simplistic green and brown color palette.

"Large Blue Horses" by Franz Marc, Expressionism: Franz Marc was a German painter and a member of a group of German and Russian expatriate artists whose works were central to the development of German Expressionism. His 1911 painting, "Large Blue Horses," featured primary color compositions and featured vivid colors, particularly that of the vividly blue horses shown looking down in front of a landscape of rolling red hills.

"The Accommodations of Desire" by Salvador Dali, Surrealism: Painted in the summer of 1929, this surrealist oil painting and mixed media collage, details his sexual anxieties over a love affair with an older, married woman. The piece illustrates seven enlarged pebbles each envisioning what he believed lay ahead of him. The unusual elements and visuals of this piece and their not so subtle profound meanings are indicative of the characteristics of surrealist art.

"Mountains at Collioure" by Andre Derain, Fauvism: This 1905 Fauvist-styled painting depicts the landscape of Collioure: a French seaside town, painted with bright, energetic, and clashing colors typical of Fauvism pieces. It features long strokes of colors such as bright green, blue, mauve, and pink, expressing an exaggerated vividness of the scenery.

"President Elect" by James Rosenquist, Pop Art: Like in many Pop Art pieces, "President Elect" has a reminiscent setting in pop culture figures, mass media, and billboard advertisements of products featured during the Pop Art movement. Rosenquist’s piece depicts John F. Kennedy’s smiling face from a 1960 presidential campaign poster alongside a yellow Chevrolet and a slice of cake.

"Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer, Baroque: This 17th-century painting portrays a European girl wearing an exotic dress with a turban and a large pearl earring. The subject’s pose gives off a feeling of subtle intimacy as she attentively gazes at the viewer with wide-open eyes and a parted mouth as if her attention was just recently grabbed. Vermeer’s use of color and light in this piece creates a highly detailed three-dimensional scene. It accurately defines shadows and highlights on the subject’s skin as well as the intricate textures of the clothing worn.

"The Gleaners" by Jean-Francois Millet, Realism: This 1857 oil painting depicts three peasant-classed women participating in the process of gleaning; the activity of collecting leftover corn and other crops from farmer's fields after the harvest. Now regarded as an innovative work of modern art, "The Gleaners" is a perfect example of Millet's respect for human labor. His use of realism painting techniques fully illustrates the backbreaking effort involved in the women’s work.

"Self-Portrait with a Felt Hat" by Vincent van Gogh, Neo-Impressionism: A 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh, whose work was famous for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on twentieth-century art. Though he only sold one painting in his lifetime, Gogh regarded this self-portrait as a depiction of his true success as an artist. His posthumous work was appreciated for its emotional depth and anguish.

"The Barbarians" by Max Ernst, Surrealism: This ominous painting, which is believed to represent the trauma Ernest experiences during World War II, shows enormous angry birds striding through a particular area, with the female leading the while the male bird canvases the area. In the background, we can see what appears to be a small female clutching an unknown object. Ernest often used birds in his paintings and believed in the power of one’s dreams in realizing their fullest potential.

"Street, Berlin" by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Expressionism: Before World War I, this 1913 piece by the talented and influential German Expressionist, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, depicts a busy street with a sidewalk swarmed by men in black suits and two flamboyantly dressed prostitutes. The high use of pink to orange shades for skin tones and pink and blue shades for the scenery in the piece are characteristic of the non-naturalistic use of colors found in German Expressionism.

"The Creation of Adam: by Michaelangelo, High Renaissance: This work of art shows a naked Adam on the left reaching for God’s outstretched hand, a touch that will give life to Adam and create mankind. God is depicted as a sturdy, elderly man with a floating beard and he is supported by angels as he reaches out to Adam. This biblical painting exuded a mystical appearance as if God and Adam were floating high above, reaching out to each other.

"The Night Watch" by Rembrandt, Baroque: Originally called The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch," this painting portrays a military group of men armed with swords and other weapons, ready for battle. The painting was dubbed "The Night Watch" due to the dark theme and was designed by Rembrandt for the Great Room of the Kloveniersdoelen (the Musketeers Assembly Hall). "The Night Watch" is considered to be one of the most famous Dutch Baroque Paintings of the 17th century.

"Symphony in White, No. 1" by James Whistler, Realism: Whistler developed this painting of his lover during the Realism era when artists sought to portrays their subjects in their raw form, bringing their emotions and circumstances on canvas. Whistler uses a mostly white color scheme to depict his lover, Joanna Hiffernan, as she stands on top of a polar bear skin rug, in front of a white curtain in a white dress holding a white lily and a blank look on her face. Though the painting was accepted by Salon des Refuses, it was rejected by Paris Salon and the Royal Academy. The picture featured Realism, which was an art movement ordained by non-conformist artists but rebuffed by traditional art institutions.

"Portrait of Henri Matisse" by Andre Derain, Fauvism: Under the guidance of fellow painter, Henri Matisse, Andre Derain painted a colorful piece of his mentor. The artwork, which was completed in Collioure, France where Matisse was visiting at the time, was done by using bold colors to express emotions and to set the tone of the painting. This style of painting was referred to as Fauvism (wild beasts) and also described Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, and other artists with similar interests that called themselves Fauves.

"Self-Portrait" by Chuck Close, Photorealism: Chuck Close was a renowned American artist who rose to fame in the 1960’s for his large-scale portraits of himself and others, and is also a photorealist: the method of developing portraits using painting techniques that produced results remarkably similar to photographs. It is similar to realism and involves the use of brushwork for a smooth, glossy finish.

"Vetheuil in the Fog" by Claude Monet, Impressionism: Monet, a French artist, used light brushstrokes and alternated light and color techniques to create this abstract painting. This view of Vetheuil was taken from Seine’s riverbank in France. Monet is considered to be one of the founders of Impressionism, due to his attention to detail and the manner in which he manipulated colors for visual effect.

"Café Terrace at Night" by Vincent van Gogh, Post-Impressionism: Also known as "The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum," is an art piece of a café in Arles, France. This painting features methods of Post-Impressionism, which was influenced by Impressionism but allowed room to break free from the limitations of the latter. Post-impressionist featured work that was more personal and represented their memories, in comparison to impressionist who preferred a more objective outlook.

"The School of Athens" by Raphael, High Renaissance: In 1508, when Pope Julius II hired Raphael to paint several rooms in the Vatican, "The School of Athens" was featured there and became one of his most famous paintings. It was completed during the Renaissance era and portrayed many famous people such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates of Western philosophy.

Portrait of a Man- Erich Heckel, Expressionism-%0DExpressionism is a style used by artists to comment on their anxieties and fears of what was taking place in the world around them. One year after World War I, Heckel developed a portrait of his own face and used his artistic skill to display those very anxieties and fears he experienced during that time period.

The Human Condition- Rene Magritte, Surrealism- This refers to a painting that features two major themes made popular by Magritte- the window painting and the ‘painting within a painting.’ Magritte was able to create beautiful surreal paintings that using aspects of nature as his subjects. In The Human Condition, it appears that a tripod is supporting a painting of a landscape that is held against a window. Initially, the viewer believes that this painting shows us the part of the landscape that it is hiding, but upon closer inspection one realizes that they are one of the same, it is just an illusion and both are part of the same painting.

"American Gothic" by Grant Wood, Modernism: Modernism refers to the movement that occurred in the early twentieth century to represent the changes and transformations taking place in every aspect of society, particularly in the world of art. Grant Wood was a painter at the time who rejected traditional art forms and began experimenting with others during that era, resulting in paintings such as "American Gothic." The portrait shows a middle-aged couple standing in front of their 19th-century style home referred to American Gothic. The couple portrays the stereotypical countryside couple: adorned in traditional overalls, a pitchfork, and a grim expression to match.

"Song of the Lark" by Jules Breton, Realism: This simple painting of a barefooted peasant girl in a large empty field quickly became one of Breton’s most famous pieces. It is heavy with emotion, and the look of wonder and breathlessness on the girl’s face is a story waiting to be told, in this compelling work of art. Breton became well known for painting rural scenery that gave empathy to the life of a peasant.

"Violin and Palette" by Georges Braque, Cubism: This 1909 painting shows fragments of objects placed together, almost in the form of a puzzle. "Violin and Palette" was made during the Cubism era, where objects were painted into a three-dimensional abstract form. This period also favored darker hues in comparison to lighter ones, to produce a more dramatic effect.

"Le Bonheur de Vivre" by Henri Matisse, Fauvism: In one of his most revered paintings, Matisse showcased the land of Arcadia in a brightly colored landscape of the forest adorned with trees, sky, and the sea. The trees form a canopy over the people below, as they lounge about in their nakedness. Matisse used vivid colors to create a sensual painting that is considered to be a Fauve masterpiece.

"BLAM" by Roy Lichtenstein, Pop Art: This represents an aircraft that was shot down and flipped over during the war and the word ’blam’ is used to emphasize the impact it created. Lichenstein developed the painting by the use of a Benday dot technique that was popular at the time in the production of comic books. "BLAM" became part of the ‘pop art’ idiom: a revolutionary style that used elements of the media and popular cultural themes.

"Mad Woman" by Chaim Soutine, Expressionism: This expressionist style of painting emphasized the character of the subject; a mad woman with rumpled hair, long face, tense body, and wide eyes. Soutine contrasted colors to create this piece, which produced a fearful looking woman trying to protect herself from some unknown entity as she stares into the abyss.

"Olympia" by Edouard Manet, Realism: This 1865 painting portrays a nude woman being given flowers by a black maid, as she lounges on a bed staring straight ahead. Olympia was a name frequently associated with prostitutes, and the nude woman in the painting wore a black choker that they usually wore. This art piece created waves among the audience when it was showcased in Paris Salon, for these very reasons.

"L'Absinthe" by Edgar Degas, Impressionism: This painting depicts an informally dressed male sitting adjacent to a formally dressed woman in Paris at the Café de la Nouvelle-Athènes, but not looking at or talking to each other. The original title "Dans un Café" was changed to "L’Abstinthe," the alcoholic beverage the woman stares solemnly into. It is believed that "L’Abstinthe" depicted the lack of interpersonal communication among people in industrial countries such as Paris.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch, Expressionism: This refers to four versions of different works of art, both in paintings and pastels and designed by Munch. It shows a figure with wide eyes, an open mouth, and a tormented face, against a turbulent orange sky. "The Scream" is a famous painting that has been sold over 120 million in 2012, and the dominant, terrifying theme has been featured in many horror films.

"Birthday" by Dorothea Tanning, Surrealism: In honor of her 30th birthday, Dorothea Tanning developed this self-portrait of her standing in a doorway, bare-breasted and barefoot, wearing a skirt made of roots and a strange creature at her feet. She was a surrealistic painter who believed in subconscious thought, and so she painted many open doors in the background to represent the depths of her unconscious mind.

"Campbell's Soup Cans" by Andy Warhol, Pop Art: This piece of art depicts thirty-two cans of soup, each with a different flavor that was sold by the international company at that time. It was arranged just like products on a shelf in a supermarket and Warhol used this hand painted piece to comment on the mundane advertising campaign employed by the company.

"Guernica" Pablo Picasso, Surrealism: Painted in 1937, this artwork illustrates a powerful political statement, as a response to the Nazis" devastating bombing on the Basque town of Guernica in Spain. "Guerica" displays the various tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals and has since gained notoriety as an anti-war symbol of pce. Its surrealist setting, elements, and lack of color adds to the intensity of the drama shown in the scene.

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