ART TERMS

Abstract
A term generally used to describe art that is not representational or based on external reality or nature.
Abstract Expressionism
The dominant artistic movement in the 1940s and 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was the first to place New York City at the forefront of international modern art. The associated artists developed greatly varying stylistic approaches, but shared a commitment to an abstract art that powerfully expresses personal convictions and profound human values. They championed bold, gestural abstraction in all mediums, particularly large painted canvases.
Abstraction
Non-representational works of art that do not depict scenes or objects in the world or have discernable subject matter.
Action painting
Art critic Harold Rosenberg coined the term “action painting” in 1952 to describe the work of artists who painted using bold gestures that engaged more of the body than traditional easel painting. Often the viewer can see broad brushstrokes, drips, splashes, or other evidence of the physical action that took place upon the canvas.
Aesthetic
Relating to or characterized by a concern with beauty or good taste (adjective); a particular taste or approach to the visual qualities of an object (noun).
All over painting
A canvas covered in paint from edge to edge and from corner to corner, in which each area of the composition is given equal attention and significance.
Angular
An object, outline, or shape having sharp corners, or angles.
Architecture
The science, art, or profession of designing and constructing buildings, bridges, and other large structures
Arts and Crafts movement
Informal movement in design and architecture that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsperson, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself. Emphasis was placed on simple, functional forms and the use of local materials and time-tested traditions of construction.
Assemblage
A three-dimensional work of art made from combinations of materials including found objects or non-traditional art materials.
Automatism art
Strategies of writing or creating art that aimed to access the unconscious mind. The Surrealists, in particular, experimented with automatist techniques of writing, drawing, and painting.
Avant-garde
French for “advanced guard,” this term is used in English to describe a group that is innovative, experimental, and inventive in its technique or ideology, particularly in the realms of culture, politics, and the arts.
Background
The area of an artwork that appears farthest away from the viewer; also, the area against which a figure or scene is placed.
Baroque
A term meaning extravagant, complex; applied to a style in art and architecture developed in Europe from the early seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century, emphasizing dramatic, often strained effect and typified by bold, curving forms, elaborate ornamentation, and overall balance of disparate parts.
Bauhaus
The school of art and design founded in Germany by Walter Gropius in 1919, and shut down by the Nazis in 1933. The faculty brought together artists, architects, and designers, and developed an experimental pedagogy that focused on materials and functions rather than traditional art school methodologies. In its successive incarnations in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin, it became the site of influential conversations about the role of modern art and design in society.
Beat
A member of the Beat Generation, a group of American writers and artists popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion and known especially for their use of nontraditional forms and their rejection of conventional social values.
Binder
A component of paint that creates uniform consistency or cohesion.
Biomorphic
Derived from the Greek words bios (life) and morphe (form), a term referring to abstract forms or images that evoke associations with living forms such as plants and the human body.
Brushwork
The manner in which a painter applies paint with a brush.
Calligraphy
Decorative handwriting or lettering.
Canon
A group of artistic, literary, or musical works that are generally accepted as representing a field.
Canvas
A closely woven, sturdy cloth of hemp, cotton, linen, or a similar fiber, frequently stretched over a frame and used as a surface for painting.
Censorship
The act, process, or practice of examining books, films, or other material to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.
Ceramics
Objects, such as pots and vases, made of clay hardened by heat.
Collage
Derived from the French verb coller, meaning “to glue,” collage refers to both the technique and the resulting work of art in which fragments of paper and other materials are arranged and glued or otherwise affixed to a supporting surface.
Color
The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.
Combine
The technique of affixing cast-off items to a traditional support, like a canvas.
Commission
To request, or the request for, the production of a work of art.
Complementary colors
Colors located opposite one another on the color wheel. When mixed together, complementary colors produce a shade of gray or brown. When one stares at a color for a sustained period of time then looks at a white surface, an afterimage of the complementary color will appear.
Composition
The arrangement of the individual elements within a work of art so as to form a unified whole; also used to refer to a work of art, music, or literature, or its structure or organization.
Concentric
Two or more things having a common center.
Conceptual art
Art that emerged in the late 1960s, emphasizing ideas and theoretical practices rather than the creation of visual forms. In 1967, the artist Sol LeWitt gave the new genre its name in his essay “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” in which he wrote, “The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.” Conceptual artists used their work to question the notion of what art is, and to critique the underlying ideological structures of artistic production, distribution, and display.
Construct
Something formed or constructed from parts.
Content
The subject matter or significance of a work of art, especially as contrasted with its form.
Convention
General agreement on or acceptance of certain practices or attitudes; a widely used and accepted device or technique, as in drama, literature, or visual art.
Cubism
Originally a term of derision used by a critic in 1908, Cubism describes the work of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and those influenced by them. Working side by side, they developed a visual language whose geometric planes and compressed space challenged what had been the defining conventions of representation in Western painting: the relationship between solid and void, figure and ground. Traditional subjects—nudes, landscapes, and still lifes—were reinvented as increasingly fragmented compositions. Cubism’s influence extended to an international network of artists working in Paris in those years and beyond.
Cultural icon
A person, symbol, object, or place that is widely recognized or culturally significant to a large group of people.
Culture
The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.
Curator
A person whose job it is to research and manage a collection and organize exhibitions.
De Stijl (The Style)
A term describing the abstraction pioneered by the Dutch journal De Stijl (The Style), founded in 1917 by the painter and architect Theo van Doesburg. This international group of artists working in all mediums renounced naturalistic representation in favor of a stripped-down formal vocabulary principally consisting of straight lines, rectangular planes, and primary color. In a response to the devastation wreaked by World War I, de Stijl artists aimed to achieve a visual harmony in art that could provide a blueprint for restoring order and balance to everyday life.
Decorative Arts
A term used to describe the design and aesthetics of functional objects with an emphasis on unique and hand-crafted forms often available in limited quantity.
Designer
A person who conceives and gives form to objects used in everyday life.
Die Brücke (the Bridge)
The artists’ group Die Brücke was established in 1905, a moment that is recognized as the birth of Expressionism. The affiliated artists often turned to simplified or distorted forms and unusually strong, unnatural colors to jolt the viewer and provoke an emotional response. Its leading members were Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Pechstein, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The name Brücke (“bridge”) reflects these artists’ youthful eagerness to cross into a new future. The Brücke artists worked together communally until 1913.
Diptych
A work of art consisting of two sections or panels, usually hinged together.
Draftsman
A person who draws plans or designs, often of structures to be built; a person who draws skillfully, especially an artist.
Drawing
A work of art made with a pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements, often consisting of lines and marks (noun); the act of producing a picture with pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements (verb, gerund).
Drypoint
An intaglio printmaking technique that creates sharp lines with fuzzy, velvety edges. A diamond-pointed needle is used to incise lines directly into a bare metal printing plate, displacing ridges of metal that adhere to the edges of the incised lines. This displaced metal is called burr. Inking fills the incised lines and clings to the burr. Damp paper is placed on the plate and run through a press, picking up the ink from the incised lines and the burr, resulting in a characteristically fuzzy line.
École des Beaux-Arts
French for “school of fine art,” a term for art schools that advance a classical approach to art, design, and literature based on ancient Greek or Roman forms.
Encaustic
Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.
Expression
A facial aspect indicating an emotion; also, the means by which an artist communicates ideas and emotions.
Expressionism
Encompasses varying stylistic approaches that emphasize intense personal expression. Renouncing the stiff bourgeois social values that prevailed at the turn of the 20th century, and rejecting the traditions of the state-sponsored art academies, Expressionist artists turned to boldly simplified or distorted forms and exaggerated, sometimes clashing colors. As Expressionism evolved from the beginning of the 20th century through the early 1920s, its crucial themes and genres reflected deeply humanistic concerns and an ambivalent attitude toward modernity, eventually confronting the devastating experience of World War I and its aftermath.
Facade
Any public-facing side of a building, often featuring decorative finishes.
Fauvism
A style of painting in the first decade of the 20th century that emphasized strong, vibrant color and bold brushstrokes over realistic or representational qualities. Central among the loose group of artists were Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. When their paintings were exhibited in 1905, a critic derisively described the works—with their expressive and non-naturalistic palette—as the product of Fauves (“wild beasts”).
Feminist art
Art seeking to challenge the dominance of men in both art and society, to gain recognition and equality for women artists, and to question assumptions about womanhood. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, feminist artists used a variety of mediums—including painting, performance art, and crafts historically considered “women’s work”—to make work aimed at ending sexism and oppression and exposing femininity to be a masquerade or set of poses adopted by women to conform to societal expectations. While many of the debates inaugurated in these decades are still ongoing, a younger generation of feminist artists takes an approach incorporating intersecting concerns about race, class, forms of privilege, and gender identity and fluidity. Both feminism and feminist art continue to evolve.
Figurative art
Representing a form or figure in art that retains clear ties to the real world.
Figure art
A representation of a human or animal form in a work of art.
Foreground
The area of an image—usually a photograph, drawing, or painting—that appears closest to the viewer.
Form
The shape or structure of an object.
Formalism
Relating to the shape or structure of an object.
Futurism
An Italian movement in art and literature catalyzed by a 1909 manifesto published in a newspaper by Italian poet F. T. Marinetti. The text celebrated new technology and modernization while advocating for a violent and decisive break from the past. Working in the years just before World War I, the Futurists portrayed their subjects—often humans, machines, and vehicles in motion—with fragmented forms and surfaces that evoke the energy and dynamism of urban life in the early 20th century.
Genre
A category of artistic practice having a particular form, content, or technique.
Geometric
Resembling or using the simple rectilinear or curvilinear lines used in geometry.
Gesture
A category of artistic practice having a particular form, content, or technique.
Gouache
A water-based matte paint, sometimes called opaque watercolor, composed of ground pigments and plant-based binders, such as gum Arabic or gum tragacanth. The opacity of gouache derives from the addition of white fillers, such as clay or chalk, or a higher ratio of pigment to binder.
Graphic
A visual representation or design on a surface.
Grotesque
Characterized by ludicrous, repulsive, or incongruous distortion, as of appearance or manner; ugly, outlandish, or bizarre, as in character or appearance.
Hardboard
Stiff board made of compressed and treated wood pulp.
Hieroglyphics
A pictographic communication system, closely associated with the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are stylized, recognizable pictures of the things and ideas represented.
Hue
A particular gradation of color; a shade or tint.
Iconic
Having the character of an icon, i.e., an important and enduring symbol, an object of great attention and devotion.
Iconography
Subject matter in visual art, often adhering to particular conventions of artistic representation, and imbued with symbolic meanings.
Illusion
An unreal, deceptive, or misleading appearance or image.
Image
A representation of a person or thing in a work of art.
Impasto
An Italian word for “mixture,” used to describe a painting technique wherein paint is thickly laid on a surface, so that brushstrokes or palette knife marks are visible.
Impressionism
A label applied to a loose group of mostly French artists who positioned themselves outside of the official Salon exhibitions organized by the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Rejecting established styles, the Impressionists began experimenting in the early 1860s with a brighter palette of pure unblended colors, synthetic paints, sketchy brushwork, and subject matter drawn from their direct observations of nature and of everyday life in and around Paris. They worked out of doors, the better to capture the transient effects of sunlight on the scenes before them. With their increased attention to the shifting patterns of light and color, their brushwork became rapid, broken into separate dabs that better conveyed the fleeting quality of light. In 1874, they held their first group exhibition in Paris. Most critics derided their work, especially Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872), which was called a sketch or impression, rather than a finished painting. From this criticism, they were mockingly labeled Impressionists. They continued exhibiting together until 1886, at which point many of the core artists were taking their work in new directions.
Improvisation
The act of improvising, that is, to make, compose, or perform on the spur of the moment and with little or no preparation.
Installation
A form of art, developed in the late 1950s, which involves the creation of an enveloping aesthetic or sensory experience in a particular environment, often inviting active engagement or immersion by the spectator.
Institutional critique
An art term describing the systematic inquiry into the practices and ethos surrounding art institutions such as art academies, galleries, and museums, often challenging assumed and historical norms of artistic theory and practice. It often seeks to make visible the historically and socially constructed boundaries between inside and outside and public and private.
Interaction Design
The practice of designing digital environments, products, systems, and services for human interaction.
Interior Design
A discipline of design that focuses on the functional and aesthetic aspects of indoor spaces.
Juxtaposition
An act of placing things close together or side by side for comparison or contrast.
Lacquer
Any of various clear or colored synthetic organic coatings that typically dry to form a film.
Landscape
The natural landforms of a region; also, an image that has natural scenery as its primary focus.
Line
A long mark or stroke.
Lithography
A printmaking technique that involves drawing with greasy crayons or a liquid called tusche, on a polished slab of limestone; aluminum plates, which are less cumbersome to handle, may also be used. The term is derived from the Greek words for stone (litho) and drawing (graph). When the greasy image is ready to be printed, a chemical mixture is applied across the surface of the stone or plate in order to securely bond it. This surface is then dampened with water, which adheres only to the blank, non-greasy areas. Oily printer’s ink, applied with a roller, sticks to the greasy imagery and not to areas protected by the film of water. Damp paper is placed on top of this surface and run through a press to transfer the image. In addition to the traditional method described here, other types of lithography include offset lithography, photolithography, and transfer lithography.
Malleable
The ability to alter a material’s shape under compressive stress, such as hammering or rolling.
Mass Production
The production of large amounts of standardized products through the use of machine-assembly production methods and equipment.
Material
An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.
Medium
The materials used to create a work of art, and the categorization of art based on the materials used (for example, painting [or more specifically, watercolor], drawing, sculpture).
Merz
A term invented by the artist Kurt Schwitters to describe his works made from scavenged fragments and objects.
Metaphysical
Transcending physical matter or the laws of nature. Metaphysics refers to the branch of philosophy that studies that fundamental nature of being and knowing.
Mexican Muralist movement
This art movement began in Mexico in the early 1920s when, in an effort to increase literacy, Education Minister José Vasconcelos commissioned artists to create monumental didactic murals depicting Mexico's history on the walls of government buildings. Artists of the Mexican Muralist movement include José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Middle ground
The part of the picture that is between the foreground and background.
Minimalism
A primarily American artistic movement of the 1960s, characterized by simple geometric forms devoid of representational content. Relying on industrial technologies and rational processes, Minimalist artists challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, using commercial materials such as fiberglass and aluminum, and often employing mathematical systems to determine the composition of their works.
Mixed media
1. A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition; 2. A designation for an artist who works with a number of different artistic media.
Model
1. A detailed three-dimensional representation, usually built to scale, of another, often larger, object. In architecture, a three-dimensional representation of a concept or design for a building; 2. A person who poses for an artist.
Monochrome
A work of art rendered in only one color.
Montage
An assembly of images that relate to one another in some way to create a single work or part of a work of art. A montage is more formal than a collage, and is usually based on a theme.
Mood
A state of mind or emotion, a pervading impression.
Motif
A distinctive and often recurring feature in a composition.
Mural
A large painting applied to a wall or ceiling, especially in a public space.
Muse
The guiding spirit that is thought to inspire artists; source of genius or inspiration (noun).
Narrative
A spoken, written, or visual account of an event or a series of connected events.
Naturalism
Faithful adherence to nature; factual or realistic representation.
Neo-Impressionism
A term coined by French art critic Fénéon in 1886, applied to an avant-garde art movement that flourished principally in France from 1886 to 1906. Led by the example of Georges Seurat, the Neo-Impressionists renounced the spontaneity of Impressionism in favor of a measured painting technique grounded in science and the study of optics. Neo-Impressionists came to believe that separate touches of pigment result in a greater vibrancy of color than is achieved by the conventional mixing of pigments on the palette.
Neoclassical
A style that arose in the second half of the eighteenth century in Europe with the increasing influence of classical antiquity on the development of taste. It was based on first-hand observation and reproduction of antique works and came to dominate European architecture, painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.
Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity)
A representative style of art that was developed in the 1920s in Germany by artists including Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and George Grosz. Artworks in this style were often satirical in nature, sending a critical eye upon contemporary taste and the postwar society of Germany. In both content and style, artists of this movement directly challenged and broke away from the traditions of the art academies they had attended.
Oil Paint
A paint in which pigment is suspended in oil, which dries on exposure to air.
Old Masters
A distinguished European artist of the period from about 1500 to the early 1700s, especially one of the great painters of this period, e.g., Michelangelo.
Opaque
Impenetrable to the passage of light.
Organic
Having characteristics of a biological entity, or organism, or developing in the manner of a living thing.
Ornamentation
Accessories, decoration, adornment, or details that have been applied to an object or structure to beautify its appearance.
Paint
A combination of pigment, binder, and solvent (noun); the act of producing a picture using paint (verb, gerund).
Painter
One who applies paint to canvas, wood, paper, or another support to produce a picture.
Painting
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
Palette
1. The range of colors used by an artist in making a work of art; 2. A thin wooden or plastic board on which an artist holds and mixes paint.
Panel
A flat board, sometimes made of wood.
Panorama
An unbroken view on an entire surrounding area.
Papier-collé
French for “glued paper,” a collage technique using cut-and-pasted papers.
Papier-mâché
French for “chewed-up paper,” a technique for creating three-dimensional objects, such as sculpture, from pulped or pasted paper and binders such as glue or plaster.
Paranoiac critical method
Emerging from psychological methods, a creative process, developed by Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in the 1930s, for the exploration of the creative potential of dream imagery and subconscious thoughts.
Pastel
A soft and delicate shade of a color (adjective); a soft drawing stick composed of finely ground pigment mixed with a gum tragacanth binder (noun). Pastel sticks are often applied to a textured paper support. The pastel particles sit loosely on the surface of the paper and can be blended using brushes, fingers, or other soft implements. Pastels can also be dipped into water to create a denser mark on the paper or ground into a powder and mixed with water to create a paint that can be applied by brush. Because pastel drawings are easily smudged they are sometimes sprayed with fixative, a thin layer of adhesive.
Pattern
A series of events, objects, or compositional elements that repeat in a predictable manner.
Persona
The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one’s public image or personality, as distinguished from the inner self.
Perspective
Technique used to depict volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface, as in a painted scene that appears to extend into the distance.
Photogram
A photographic print made by placing objects and other elements on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light.
Photograph
An image, especially a positive print, recorded by exposing a photosensitive surface to light, especially in a camera.
Photographer
One who uses a camera or other means to produce photographs.
Photogravure
A printmaking process in which a photographic negative is transferred onto a copper plate.
Photojournalism
A type of journalism that uses photographs to tell a news story.
Photomontage
A collage work that includes cut or torn and pasted photographs or photographic reproductions.
Photostat
A machine that makes quick duplicate positive or negative copies directly on the surface of prepared paper. Also, the resulting copies.
Pictograph
An image or symbol representing a word or a phrase.
Pictorialism
An international style of photography in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by the creation of artistic tableaus and photographs composed of multiple prints or manipulated negatives, in an effort to advocate for photography as an artistic medium on par with painting.
Picture Plane
The virtual, illusionary plane created by the artist, parallel to the physical surface of a two-dimensional work of art; the physical surface of a two-dimensional work of art, e.g. a painting, drawing, or print.
Pigment
A substance, usually finely powdered, that produces the color of any medium. When mixed with oil, water, or another fluid, it becomes paint.
Plan
A scale drawing or diagram showing the structure or organization of an object or group of objects.
Plane
A flat or level surface.
Plastic
A term applied to many natural and synthetic materials with different forms, properties, and appearances that are malleable and can be molded into different shapes or objects.
Plastic Art
A term broadly applied to all the visual arts to distinguish them from such non-visual arts as literature, poetry, or music.
Plasticizer
Any of a group of substances that are used in the manufacture of plastics or other materials to impart flexibility, softness, hardness, or other desired physical properties to the finished product.
Plate
In printmaking, the flat surface onto which the design is etched, engraved, or otherwise applied.
Pliable
Capable of being shaped, bent, or stretched out.
Plywood
A material made of thin layers of wood that have been heated, glued, and pressed together by a machine.
Pointillism
A painting technique developed by French artists Georges-Pierre Seurat and Paul Signac in which small, distinct points of unmixed color are applied in patterns to form an image.
Polyethylene
One of the most common forms of plastic known for being tough, light, and flexible. Made of synthetic materials, polyethylene is commonly used in plastic bags, food containers, and other packaging.
Pop art
A movement comprising initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s. Pop artists borrowed imagery from popular culture—from sources including television, comic books, and print advertising—often to challenge conventional values propagated by the mass media, from notions of femininity and domesticity to consumerism and patriotism. Their often subversive and irreverent strategies of appropriation extended to their materials and methods of production, which were drawn from the commercial world.
Popular culture
Cultural activities, ideas, or products that reflect or target the tastes of the general population of any society.
Portrait
A representation of a particular individual, usually intended to capture their likeness or personality.
Pose
The way a figure is positioned.
Positive
In photography, images capable of being produced in multiples that result from the transfer of a negative image to another surface, such as a photographic print on paper.
Post-Impressionism
A term coined in 1910 by the English art critic and painter Roger Fry and applied to the reaction against the naturalistic depiction of light and color in Impressionism, led by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. Though each of these artists developed his own, distinctive style, they were unified by their interest in expressing their emotional and psychological responses to the world through bold colors and expressive, often symbolic images. Post-Impressionism can be roughly dated from 1886 to 1905.
Praxinoscope
A popular 19th-century optical toy, invented by a Parisian science teacher named Charles-Émile Reynaud, comprised of a cylinder fitted with a strip of paper printed with 12 sequential image frames. When the cylinder spins, a mirror fixed in its center reflects the images and makes them appear animated.
Prime
To prepare a surface for painting by covering it with primer, or an undercoat.
Primitive Art
A term initially used to refer to the arts of all of Africa, Asia, and Pre-Columbian America, later used mostly to refer to art from Africa and the Pacific Islands. By the late 20th century the term, with its derogatory connotations, fell out of favor.
Print
A work of art on paper that usually exists in multiple copies. It is created not by drawing directly on paper, but through a transfer process. The artist begins by creating a composition on another surface, such as metal or wood, and the transfer occurs when that surface is inked and a sheet of paper, placed in contact with it, is run through a printing press. Four common printmaking techniques are woodcut, etching, lithography, and screenprint.
Profile
A side view, usually referring to that of a human head.
Prop
An object used to aid or enhance a story or performance.
Propaganda
Any systematic, widespread dissemination or promotion of particular ideas, doctrines, practices, etc. to further one’s own cause or to damage an opposing one; ideas, doctrines, or allegations spread in this manner, now often used disparagingly to connote deception or distortion. Propaganda may take many different forms, including public or recorded speeches, texts, films, and visual or artistic matter such as posters, paintings, sculptures, or public monuments.
Proportion
Refers to the harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole.
Prototype
An early sample built to test a concept or process.
Rayograph
A term invented by Man Ray to describe what is conventionally known as a photogram, or photographic print made by placing objects and other elements on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light.
Readymade art
A term coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1915 to describe prefabricated, often mass-produced objects isolated from their intended use and elevated to the status of art by the artist choosing and designating them as such. The term “assisted Readymade” refers to works of this type whose components have been combined or modified by the artist.
Relics
Body parts or personal belongings of saints and other important figures that are preserved for purposes of commemoration or veneration.
Renaissance
A term meaning rebirth or revival; applied to a period characterized by the humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature, and learning, originating in Italy in the fourteenth century and later spreading throughout Europe and lasting through the sixteenth century.
Rendering
A representation, executed in perspective, of a proposed structure.
Resin art
Art Resin is a high-gloss epoxy resin clear coat that creates a gorgeous, durable finish. Designed specifically for creative projects, this crystal clear resin is easy to use. Engineered to protect against yellowing, Art Resin enhances and protects your work.
Replica
A copy or reproduction.
Representation
The visual portrayal of someone or something.
Rococo Style
A style of art, particularly in architecture and decorative art, that originated in France in the early 1700s and is marked by elaborate ornamentation, including, for example, a profusion of scrolls, foliage, and animal forms.
Satire
A genre of visual art that uses humor, irony, ridicule, or caricature to expose or criticize someone or something.
Scale
The ratio between the size of an object and its model or representation, as in the scale of a map to the actual geography it represents.
Scene
A setting for or a part of a story or narrative.
School of Paris
A loosely defined affiliation of international artists living and working in Paris from 1900 until about 1940, who applied a diversity of new styles and techniques to such traditional subjects as portraiture, figure studies, landscapes, cityscapes, and still lifes. Among the artistic movements associated with the School of Paris are Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Symbolism.
Screenprint
A stencil-based printmaking technique in which the first step is to stretch and attach a woven fabric (originally made of silk, but now more commonly of synthetic material) tightly over a wooden frame to create a screen. Areas of the screen that are not part of the image are blocked out with a variety of stencil-based methods. A squeegee is then used to press ink through the unblocked areas of the screen, directly onto paper. Screenprints typically feature bold, hard-edged areas of flat, unmodulated color. Also known as silkscreen and serigraphy.
Sculptor
One who produces a three-dimensional work of art using any of a variety of means, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, molding clay or wax, or assembling materials.
Sculpture
A three-dimensional work of art made by a variety of means, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, molding clay or wax, or assembling materials.
Secondary color
A color made by mixing at least two primary colors.
Self-portrait
A representation of oneself made by oneself.
Set-dresser
The person responsible for arranging the furnishings, drapery, lighting fixtures, artwork, and many other objects that together constitute the setting for scenes in television and film.
Setting
The context or environment in which a situation occurs.
Shape
The form or condition in which an object exists or appears.
Shutter
A mechanical device for controlling the aperture, or opening, in a camera through which light passes to the film or plate. By opening and closing for different amounts of time, the shutter determines the length of the photographic exposure.
Site-specific
Describes a work of art designed for a particular location.
Sketch
A rendering of the basic elements of a composition, often made in a loosely detailed or quick manner. Sketches can be both finished works of art or studies for another composition.
Special effect
An illusion created for movies and television using props, camerawork, computer graphics, etc.
Stencil
An impervious material perforated with letters, shapes, or patterns through which a substance passes to a surface below.
Stereotype
Standardized and oversimplified assumptions about specific social groups.
Still life
A representation of inanimate objects, as a painting of a bowl of fruit.
Street photography
A type of photography that captures subjects in candid moments in public places.
Style
A distinctive or characteristic manner of expression.
Stylized
To represent in or make conform to a particular style, especially when highly conventionalized or artistic rather than naturalistic.
Subconscious (in technical use, Unconscious)
In popular writing about psychology, the division of the mind containing the sum of all thoughts, memories, impulses, desires, feelings, etc., that are not subject to a person’s perception or control but that often affect conscious thoughts and behavior (noun). The Surrealists derived much inspiration from psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s theories on dreams and the workings of the subconscious mind.
Subject matter
The visual or narrative focus of a work of art.
Suprematism
A term coined by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich in 1915 to describe a new mode of abstract painting that abandoned all reference to the outside world. His new style claimed "the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts" and rejected the deliberate illusions of representational painting. Using the basic components of painting’s language—color, line, and brushwork—he constructed a visual vocabulary of colored geometric shapes floating against white backgrounds, which he felt mapped the boundless space of the ideal.
Surrealism
An artistic and literary movement led by French poet André Breton from 1924 through World War II. Drawing on the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, the Surrealists sought to overthrow what they perceived as the oppressive rationalism of modern society by accessing the sur réalisme (superior reality) of the subconscious. In his 1924 “Surrealist Manifesto,” Breton argued for an uninhibited mode of expression derived from the mind’s involuntary mechanisms, particularly dreams, and called on artists to explore the uncharted depths of the imagination with radical new methods and visual forms. These ranged from abstract “automatic” drawings to hyper-realistic painted scenes inspired by dreams and nightmares to uncanny combinations of materials and objects.
Symbol
A form, sign, or emblem that represents something else, often something immaterial, such as an idea or emotion.
Synthetic
Produced by chemical synthesis, rather than of natural origin; prepared or made artificially.
Tactile
Touchable, or sensed by the touch.
Technique
The method with which an artist, writer, performer, athlete, or other producer employs technical skills or materials to achieve a finished product or endeavor.
Tempera
A painting medium in which colored pigment is mixed with a water-soluble binder, such as egg yolk; a painting done in this medium.
Tension
The state of being stretched or strained; in construction, the level of tautness when a load is applied to a structure.
The New Art
An international, middle-class artistic movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that emphasized the unity of the arts and sought to reflect the intensive psychic and sensory stimuli of the modern city. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, the movement’s chief manifestations were in design, performance art, and architecture. Variants in cities throughout Europe and the US accrued labels such as Arte Nova, Glasgow Style, Stile Liberty, and Arte Modernista. The version commonly referred to as Art Nouveau flourished in France and Belgium and was characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms. Its more rectilinear counterpart, called Jugendstil or Secession style, flourished concurrently in Germany and Central Europe.
Tint
In painting, a color plus white.
Tone
The lightness or darkness of a color. In painting, a color plus gray.
Translucent
Permitting the passage of light.
Triptych
A work of art consisting of three sections or panels, usually hinged together.
Trope
A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression; a significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
Typography
The art and technique of designing and/or arranging type letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, and of printing from them.
Vantage point
A position or place that affords an advantageous perspective; in photography, the position from which a photographer has taken a photograph.
Vernacular photography
Images by amateur photographers of everyday life and subjects, commonly in the form of snapshots. The term is often used to distinguish everyday photography from fine art photography.
Video
A term describing moving-image artworks recorded onto magnetic tape or digital formats, or generated using other mechanisms such as image-processing tools, and available for immediate playback.
Video camera
A camera that captures moving images and converts them into electronic signals so that they can be saved on a storage device, such as videotape or a hard drive, or viewed on a monitor.
Viewpoint
The position from which something is viewed or observed.
Virtuosity
Great technical skill or captivating personal style, especially as exhibited in the arts.
Viscosity
The thickness of a liquid. In painting, the viscosity of oil paints is altered by adding a binder (such as linseed oil) or a solvent (such as turpentine).
Watercolor
Paints composed of pigments ground to an extremely fine texture in an aqueous solution of gum Arabic or gum tragacanth. The absence of white fillers, such as those in gouache, creates a medium with luminous transparency.
Welding
A process of joining two pieces of metal together by heating the surfaces to the point of melting and then pressing them together.
Wet-collodion
A photographic process invented in 1848 by F. Scott Archer, in which a glass plate, coated with light-sensitive collodion emulsion, is placed in a camera, exposed, developed, and varnished for protection before being used to create prints.
Wide shot
In photography and filmmaking, a shot that reveals much of the context or setting, or a large group of people.
Wiener Werkstätte
An association of Vienna-based visual artists, craftspeople, and designers established in 1903 around the idea that fashionable art, design, furniture, and household goods should be accessible to everyone.
Woodcut
A printmaking technique that involves printing an image from a carved plank of wood. The image is cut into the wood using tools such as chisels, gouges, and knives. Raised areas of the image are inked and printed, while cut away or recessed areas do not receive ink and appear blank on the printed paper. Woodcuts can be printed on a press or by hand, using a spoon or similar tool to rub the back of the paper.
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