What is Figurative Art Main features Movements and Genres

Figurative Art

Figurative art or figurativism , unlike abstract art (abstractionism), is an artistic style of visual arts based on the representation of forms, whether of human beings, objects, animals, landscapes, among others.

The origin of figurative art goes back centuries of human existence. Cave paintings already indicated man’s need to express emotions, feelings and to “copy” and reproduce figures from nature.

For centuries, visual art has been heavily influenced by the figurative (realistic or stylized) style. However, it began to decline at the beginning of the 20th century, with the advent of European artistic vanguards, modern and contemporary art.

In this sense, abstractionism brought to light a new way of expressing art other than through mimetic representations of reality.

Main features of figurative art

  • Representative art;
  • Realistic and stylized art;
  • Use of forms from nature (imitation);
  • Likelihood.

Figurative Movements

Many art movements are figurative and can arise in two ways:

  • Realistic arts : more faithful representations of reality, such as renaissance, baroque and realism.
  • Stylized arts : less concern with individualizing traits and verisimilitude, as in impressionism and expressionism.

Figurative Art Genres

According to the theme developed in a figurative work, it can be of different types.

Religious Painting

Religious painting is a very old figurative genre, so that many cultures have works with representation of religious themes, from the lives of saints, miracles, among others.

Genre Painting

This type of art gained strength in the 16th century with Baroque art, concerned with representing everyday scenes.

The scenes varied, there were women doing their household chores, taking care of their children; or men doing their jobs.

Historical Painting

Historical painting is a figurative genre that emerged in the 17th century, focused on the representation of historical themes and/or events.

Mythological Painting

Mythology has been widely represented throughout human history and is a figurative genre aimed at the reproduction of mythological beings or events.


One of the most popular genres of figurative art is the portrait.

This type of representation has been part of the history of art since antiquity and its main purpose is to individualize a person or a group of friends, a family, etc.


The landscape was disseminated from the 15th century onwards with the emergence of Renaissance art. Like the portrait, the landscape is considered one of the most popular genres in art.

Figurative landscape art proposes to present a place, whether in the countryside or in the city.

Dead nature

Still life is a genre that emerged in the 16th century and has been widespread ever since. It is based on the representation of inanimate objects, for example, a vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit, a dead animal, etc.


The genre of marine painting emerged in the 16th century in the Netherlands. It represents figurative art related to the sea and marine subjects in general, from seascapes, boats, fishermen, among others.

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