The Isms of Art: A Short Survey of Art Styles and Movements

Lesson Title: The -Isms of Art (5 of 5): Modern Art Since WWII
Academic Standards: National Core Arts Standards (Creating): Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. National Core Arts Standards (Responding): Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work. National Core Arts Standards (Connecting): Anchor Standard #11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
Content Creator: Ms. Beth Bachuss
Level: High School
Duration: 50-60 min
  /  The -Isms of Art (5 of 5): Modern Art Since WWII


  • Students will be able to explain why the center of the art world moved from Paris to New York in the 1940's
  • Students will analyze artwork in a variety of styles
  • Students will compare works by different artists in each style
  • Students will understand the difference between the two categories of Abstract Expressionism
  • Students will view works in the following styles:
    • Abstract Expressionism (Action Painting)
    • Abstract Expressionism (Color Field Painting)
    • Neo-Dada / Pre-Pop Art
    • Pop Art
    • Minimalism
    • Performance Art
    • Conceptual Art
    • Feminism
    • Post-Modernism
    • Street Art
    • Contemporary Art
  • After completing a review of these styles, students will travel to the art studio where they will create art influenced by contemporary artists


After an introduction and confirmation that the students are comfortable moving about in VR, we will discuss reasons the center of the art world shifted from Paris to the US in the 1940’s. We will examine the first major American art style, Abstract Expressionism, and it’s two varieties of Action Painting and Color Field Painting. We will then move through the art styles of the second half of the 20th century all the way to Contemporary Art being made today. After a review, we will travel to the small art studio to create digital paintings using techniques similar to Reginald Laurent and Yayoi Kusama.


  1. Introduction
  2. VR locomotion
  3. Movement of center of art world from Paris to New York
  4. Abstract Expressionism (Action Painting)
  5. Abstract Expressionism (Color Field Painting)
  6. Neo-Dada / Pre-Pop Art
  7. Pop Art
  8. Minimalism
  9. Performance Art
  10. Conceptual Art
  11. Feminism
  12. Post-Modernism
  13. Street Art
  14. Contemporary Art
  15. Hands-on activity in the small art studio

Demonstratives & Media

Virtual Field Trips & Lab Demonstrations
Instructional Videos
3D objects

Suggested Ancillary Support

The Annotated Mona Lisa, Strickland, 2007

Art History for Dummies, Wilder, 2007

Isms:  Understanding Art, Little, 2004

Isms:  Understanding Modern Art, Phillips, 2013

The Art Book, DK, 2017