While the history of art movements includes many that were either short-lived or limited to few active participants — “Vorticism,” the largely forgotten Cubist-based modernism movement that resurfaced at Tate Britain in 2011 is one that comes to mind — from time to time, one will come to public attention that turns out not to be a “movement” at all. Whether hoax or concept-based practice gone awry, here are eight art movements that never were.
Disumbrationism (1925 – 27) - In 1924, journalist Paul Jordan-Smith was annoyed to read the negative reviews his artist wife’s still lifes had received for being “too realistic,” and, despite having never painted previously, he decided to attack modern art in response... more
Pointlessism (1994 – onward) - “As I toil away interpretating the works in our collection here, I sometimes find it necessary to create labels for specific pieces,” says Michael Frank, curator-in-chief of the Museum of Bad Art in Dedham Square, Massachussetts, which accepts submissions (either of found anonymous works, or works sent by artists’ friends and artists themselves) for their playful exhibitions... more
Headism (2006 – onward) - When British entrepreneur and “tastemaker” Philip Levine began to go bald in 2006, he decided to take advantage of his newly freed-up head space to use it as a canvas for art. He worked with professional body painter Kat Sinclair to create numerous designs for his scalp, which he termed “baldazzling.” ... more
Metadadaism (2006) - UK journalist Tim Williams and a friend came up with the hoax idea of “metadadaism” as what he later termed an “affectionate satire on contemporary art,” specifically as a riff on the Young British Artists and the influence of commerce. As the two later defined it on a blogspot built for the fake movement, Metadadaism “refutes the Nietzschian view of the artist as the vanguard of society while, conversely, retaining the notions of status and authority that such a position affords;” i.e., maintaining the prestige of art stardom without producing works of any actual innovation... more
Chameleon Art (2009) - Visitors to Konstantin and Yuri Shamanov’s show “Good News” at Orel Gallery in 2009 had likely not heard of the Russian artists nor of Chameleon Art, a “radical new art movement” challenging the “mores of a ‘diseased present.’” ... more
Yellowism (2010 – onward) - The tagging of Mark Rothko’s “Black on Maroon” with the words “a potential act of yellowism” at Tate Modern last October 7 by Vladimir Umanets may have been one of the most infamous art-related vandalism acts of recent memory; in part because of the estimated cost of the damage, in part because of Umanets’ two-year jail sentence, and in part because it riled the art world into trying to figure out what exactly Vladimir Umanets and partner Marcin Lodyga’s movement “yellowism” was all about... more
Blue Conceptualism (2011) - A movement that, had it existed, might have been a fascinating one, Blue Conceptualism was a fictional artists' group invented by UK artist Ryan Gander for his 2011 show “Locked Room Scenario.” ... more