An art movement is basically a tendency or style in the visual arts with a common philosophy that the artists of the relevant times adhered to during a restricted time period. Art movements assumed special significance in modern art, when each subsequent movement or style was regarded as a new avant-garde.
The concept of art movement gained popular approval in context of the theories of modernism and post-modernism, in particular during the time corresponding to advent of modern art. The period of time accredited to what we call modern art today came through a change mid-way through the 20th century and this was when contemporary art movement took its due place. Postmodernism began as a movement parallel to the late modernism and this movement in the arts after the modern period during the contemporary period.
In context of the visual arts during the period referred to as ‘modern art’, each art movement came only after a somewhat glorified rethinking of everything that preceded it. Quite evidently there was a cohesion in the visual style that tied together the works and artists that were a part of any particular movement. A detailed explanation or description of the movement came from the artists themselves, sometimes in the form of something that they called an art manifesto. At other times this explanation also may have come from art critics or other art professionals of considerable repute who took it upon themselves to put forth their own understanding and interpretation of the new movements that arose in those times.
It is a characteristic trait of artists, art critics, art dealers, theorists, art collectors, art historians and those who are observers of the perennial perpetuation of modernism and the continuation of modern art even into the contemporary period accredited to the field of visual arts, to accept and invite new philosophies of art as they present themselves from time to time. The theorists from the Postmodernist period of art have been known to acknowledge that the idea of art movement is no longer applicable in the current art environment, nor is it as discernible as the idea of art movements had been before the postmodern era. Some theorists have also been known to question the very existence of such an era and term it as a mere passing fad or trend.
The term ‘movement’ is often associated with the visual arts, new ideas in architecture, and occasionally in literature. In other fields of creative inclination like music, the commonly used terms are genres or styles. Also as most of the art movements are known to end with the suffix –ism, the movements in the visual arts are known to be referred to as the isms.