5 Famous Artist Groups that Show the Power of Community

08 Aug 2021 | 0 Comments

Artists often have a habit of coming together to form a group, a collective or a community. They might produce work together or work separately but under shared ideals.

Often it is not just artists themselves, but other creatives, patrons, critics, and collectors that form these thriving communities in order to discuss, share and form ideas helping each other grow and supporting one another.

Here at Cosimo we are constantly inspired by these art groups, that remind us of what we are trying to create: not just a gallery, but a community of artists and art lovers. So, let’s have a look at 5 famous examples.


The Impressionists

The Nabi Group all together, who were oart of the impressionist movement.


Impressionism is one of the most famous art movements, almost everyone has heard of it. But did you know it started as a group of artists whose work had been rejected from the Salon (the only major exhibition of art in France at the time).

The artists, including Monet, Renoir and Pissarro, decided to form a group and host their own exhibition – which they titled the Salon de Refusés – playing on their rejection. They shared similar styles and characteristics, focusing largely on landscapes in bright and sunlit palettes with a more loose, expressive texture of paint.

Their aim was to capture the first impression of a scene i.e., what you actually saw once you first looked at something. It was the title of Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise (1982) that led to the group being referred to as the Impressionists. Initially, however, the artists were critically panned. Their work was considered unrealistic and unfinished.

It was Paul Durand-Ruel, a gallerist and collector, who started buying and championing their work despite this. Michael Prodger, a Guardian journalist described Durand-Ruel’s ‘steadfast support for this group of avant-garde painters’ even stating that several times he became close to financial ruin. The Impressionists may never have been so well known if it wasn’t for their most fervent patron.


The Pre-Raphaelites

William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones together with their families.


The Pre-Raphaelites, originally called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was a secret society of English painters, and one writer, founded in 1848, who shared a common ideal. They rejected the Mannerist style of art that came after artists like Raphael and Michelangelo (hence the name).

Instead, the group tried to paint with lots of detail and bright colours, often utilising symbolism to get across the meaning behind the work. Inspired by the words of John Ruskin, a writer and art critic, who urged artists to ‘go to nature’ the Pre-Raphaelites wanted to represent things as they appeared in the natural world.

The group of young artists would meet secretly and share their work and discuss their philosophies, heavily influencing one another.


The Guerrilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls is a group that is still going strong. Formed in 1985 in New York, the group brings together anonymous feminist, female artists who create work that shines a light on sexism and racism present in the art world.

For them, the group is more powerful than their individual identities, allowing them to focus on the issues their work addresses. To hide their identities the members wear Gorilla masks and refer to each other using code names, each a homage to a female artist.

Guerrilla Girls react against the marginalisation of women in the art world, forming a community of female artists and activists changing how the art world works and increasing accountability amongst curators, art dealers, collectors and critics.


Fluxus Group


Fluxus is an avant-garde network of artists, composers and musicians formed in 1960. They played a key role in redefining and challenging what art can be.

Fluxus formed in opposition to academic art and music, instead championing experimental do-it-yourself creativity. This often involved performance art or audience participation, using ordinary materials to create art and music and encouraging an element of random chance.

The group spread internationally and was prevalent in America, Germany and Japan. It helped expand the artworlds definition of what art is and dismantled some of the elitist ideas around it.




AfroCOBRA was a group of black artists formed in Chicago that heavily influenced the Black Arts Movement. Founded in 1968, the name stood for The African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists.

The group created a community of black artists who had been unfairly excluded from the art world. They collaborated to develop an art style that centred black identities. This involved portraits of well-known black figures, utilising bright colours and political slogans.

AfroCoBRA were rejected by the mainstream art world but found recognition and solidarity within their community and went on to influence future generations of black artists.


Artist groups or collectives have always been a key part in forming communities of likeminded people to inspire and support one another. Often, as we have seen, these groups are formed around identities or ideals ignored by the mainstream artworld. There is strength in numbers and communities can help redress the balance of power within the artworld.


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