Neoclassicism (sometimes rendered as Neo-Classicism) is the name given to distinct movements in the visual arts, literature and music.

Visual and literary neoclassicism

In visual art, neoclassicism began as a reaction against the Baroque, and a desire to return to perceived "purity" of the arts of Ancient Greece and Rome, and to a lesser extent the examples of Renaissance Classicism.

Neoclassicism first gained influence in France in the 17th century, and continued to be a major force in art through the 19th century and beyond, although from the late 19th century on has often been considered anti-modern or even reactionary in some art circles.

Noted neoclassical artists have included painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and sculptor Antonio Canova. Neoclassical architecture includes the Smith Tower. Known writers of the period have included Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and John Dryden.

Neo-classicism in music

In music, neo-classicism was a 20th century development, particularly popular in the period between the two World Wars, in which composers drew inspiration from music of the 18th century. The term is somewhat misleading, because inspiration was as much drawn from the Baroque period as the Classical - for this reason, music which draws influence specifically from the Baroque is sometimes termed neo-baroque.

Neo-classicism can be seen as a reaction to the prevailing trend of 19th century Romanticism to sacrifice internal balance and order in favour of more overtly emotional writing. Neo-classicism makes a return to balanced forms and often emotional restraint, as well as 18th century compositional processes and techniques. However, in the use of modern instrumental resources such as the full orchestra, which had greatly expanded since the 18th century, and advanced harmony, neo-classical works are distinctly 20th century.

Igor Stravinsky composed some of the best known neo-classical works - in his ballet Pulcinella, for example, he used themes which he believed to be by Giovanni Pergolesi (it later transpired that many of them were not, though they were by contemporaries). Paul Hindemith was another neo-classicist, as was Bohuslav Martinu, who revived the Baroque concerto grosso form.\n