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Narrative

A narrative describes a series of events, and narrative art refers to art that tells a story, whether explicit or implied. Narrative works may draw on historical, mythical, or literary sources. They may depict characters or scenes with which the viewer is familiar, or they might invite the viewer into an imagined scenario.

 

Interest in narrative painting was particularly high during the Victorian period, but waned with the formalist turn to the exploration of materials in the early 20th century. Artists like Marc Chagall, however, combined experimentations with colour with inspirations drawn from Jewish folklore and village life from his time in Vitebsk. In the 1930s, Surrealist artists engaged with narrative as a means of exploring dreams and desires. With the return to painting of the 1980s and the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, narrative once again became important, but in fragmented and complex ways.    

 

Narrative painting asks us to engage our imagination. Often expressionistic and evocative of particular moods or feelings, it unfolds in time and space.     

 

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