Neo-Romanticism – The Concept & the History
Neo-Romanticism cannot be categorized as a specific art movement belonging to a certain period. Continuing, it is still used widely to cover various styles until date. Neo-Romanticism was first observed in Europe, around 1880s, in response to Naturalism. It rejected the ugliness of the modern world, giving way to an art style that refuted reality and embraced fantasy. Around 1910, Neo-Romanticism had faded from most parts of Europe, but re-emerged in Britain during late 1930s. In the Depression Era, with a war like atmosphere, many British artists found solace in the pleasant and quixotic prowess of Neo-Romanticism. The art form also inspired some then French artists, such as Berman and Tchelitchew. Their imaginary landscapes and sad figures even carried the essence to the British artworks. The genre influenced music, literary arts , painting, and architecture. The critic Raymond Mortimer coined the term ‘Neo-Romanticism’ in 1942.
Naturalists had strived to capture the true external world, while Neo-Romanticists aspired to accentuate beauty in all their depictions. Their own imagination, perception, and intuition inspired their creativity. They were distrustful of the modern outlook of art and were nostalgic about the past. Neo-Romanticists stressed on emotions and expressions. They strived to inculcate a mystical and spiritual feel in their works. Their paintings mostly characterized picturesque historical landscapes, surreal haunted ruins, youthful innocence, perfect love, and romantic death. Art critics often shunned this genre for being insular and far too ideological. The portrayals were considered figurative and theatrical.
o 1880-1910 – This was the first rein of Neo-Romanticism. It mainly influenced music and literary arts . Estonian painter Konrad Vilhelm Mägi (1878-1925) is probably the only well known Landscape Painter from this period.
o 1930-55 – John Piper (1903-1992), Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), Paul Nash (1889-1946), John Minton (1917-1957), and Michael Ayrton (1921-1975) were some of the main British proponents, who helped re-establish Neo-Romanticism during this phase. They found inspiration in the brilliant Romanticist works of their predecessors William Blake (1757-1827) and Samuel Palmer (1805-1881).
o 1955-75 – During the 1950s, American Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art gained prominence and Neo-Romanticism began to falter.
o 1975-Present – It is still known to hold its place in the English Underground. Artists Graham Ovenden (born 1943), Viona Lelegems, & Gerald Brom (1965) and photographers Fay Godwin (1931-2005), James Ravilious (1939-99), Raymond Moore (1920-87), & Andy Goldsworthy, are the key people associated with the art form. English and German music continues to exhibit Neo-Romanticism with a Gothic influence.