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From the elements of art to the great goddess Durga — Smarthistory is adding new content every week.

Prehistoric to contemporary

videos + essays

Saintly violence? <em>Santiago on Horseback</em>
Saintly violence? Santiago on Horseback

Santiago became an important saint in New Spain, recast to convey Spanish dominance over the Indigenous population in the sixteenth century.

Surrealist Techniques: Subversive Realism
Surrealist Techniques: Subversive Realism

Everything is, in the end, a question of representation (in words or images) in which we choose to believe, or not.

The Bauhaus and Bau
The Bauhaus and Bau

For Bauhaus designers, beauty was achieved through careful choices of materials, proportions, textures, and colors for the functional features of the objects.

The Gupta Period
The Gupta Period

The Gupta period saw tremendous advances in Indian art and architecture.

Surrealism and Women
Surrealism and Women

Surrealism both infantilized and empowered women.

Surrealist Techniques: Automatism
Surrealist Techniques: Automatism

Automatism was a group of techniques used by the Surrealists to facilitate the direct and uncontrolled outpouring of unconscious thought.

Purism
Purism

Purism replaced what they described as Cubism’s decorative, vague, and contingent forms with mathematically-designed compositions of perfected ideal forms.

Surrealism and Psychoanalysis
Surrealism and Psychoanalysis

The Surrealists were interested in the unconscious as a creative source.

Surrealism: Origins and Precursors
Surrealism: Origins and Precursors

The goal of Surrealist writings and art was to “ruin” the logical, practical, and moral reasoning that structures human understanding of reality.

Dada Readymades
Dada Readymades

The purpose of the readymade is fundamentally conceptual. Any objection that the object is not beautiful, or did not require any skill to make, misses the point.

Dada Politics
Dada Politics

The Dadaists were effective in creating devastating social and political criticism in postwar Germany.

Dada Collage
Dada Collage

Collage was in many ways a perfect medium for Dada iconoclasm and social protest.