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World Images Glossary of Art Terms and Definitions

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A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

ABC art - a 1960's art movement and style that attempts to use a minimal number of textures, colors, shapes and lines to create simple three-dimensional structures. Also known as minimalism.

Abstract art - any art in which real objects in nature are represented in a way that wholly or partially neglects their true appearance and expresses it in a form of sometimes unrecognizable patterns of lines, colors and shapes.

Abstract expressionism - a style and movement of non-representational painting where artists apply paint quickly and forcefully to express feeling and emotion. Developed in the 1940's and 1950's, the often-large works appear to be accidental but are very intentional. Jackson Pollock is the movement's most important figures.

Academic - art that conforms to traditional standards or the standards of a particular academy or school.

Achromatic colors - white, gray and black colors as opposed to the chromatic colors.

Acrylic colors - synthetic painting colors made by distributing pigments in a vehicle made of a polymethyl methacrylate solution in mineral spirits. Often called plastic paints to distinguish them from polymer colors that also contain acrylic. First used in the 1940's, they are valued for their versatility.

Action painting - a form of abstract expressionism, intended to show the force of the artist's feelings in addition to the dynamic nature of painting itself.

Advancing and retreating colors - the apparent tendency of the warm colors such as oranges and reds to appear to advance toward the viewer and the cool colors of blue and violet to recede. This is derived from the observable phenomenon that an object seen from afar will seem more blue or gray than it truly is. Advancing and retreating colors are used to portray landscapes.

Aerial perspective - the attempt to portray the atmospheric haze that shows depth in nature. Aerial perspective is used to add the illusion of depth in painting. The use of retreating colors and less focus helps to achieve this effect.

Aestheticism - the idea that the pursuit of beauty is the primary goal of art and that art need not reflect any moral, social or religious concerns. Also known as "art for art's sake".

Alla prima - the method of oil painting in which the desired effects of the final painting are achieved in the first application of paint as opposed the technique of covering the canvas in layers with the final painting being achieved at the end.

Alligatoring - a form of cracking that appears on paintings in a pattern that resembles an alligator's hide.

All-over painting - a method of painting in which the entire canvas is covered in a fairly uniform manner rather than the traditional method of painting the canvas in a way that delineates the top, bottom and middle of the painting. First devised by the American artist Jackson Pollock.

American scene painting - a style of representational, naturalistic painting in the U.S. from the 1920's and into the 1940's that depicted scenes of typical American life in an attempt to move a way from modernism.

Anamorphosis - particularly popular in the 18th century, an image that is painted in a way that makes it appear distorted unless viewed from a specific viewpoint or an optical device

Ancient - dating from a time before the 5th century.

Antique - of ancient times or of a bygone era.

Antic work - art using groupings of humans, animal or flowers in a grotesque way.

Applied art - art used in the design or decoration of useful objects. Applied art is secondary to the function of the object itself as opposed to fine art where the primary function is aesthetic.

Aquarelle - a technique or work derived from the technique of using transparent watercolors in painting.

Arabesque - Intricate decorative ornamentation of interlacing lines, fruits, floral and animal symbols loosely based on Arabic styles.

Archaic - pertaining to a relatively simple period in the development of a particular region's art.

Art Deco - popular in the U.S. and Europe in the 1920's and 1930's, a style of design and decoration with designs are geometric and highly intense colors, to reflect the rise of commerce, industry and mass production.

Art for art's sake - the idea that art is valued purely for its aesthetic value and not for any religious or moral value.

Art nouveau - French for "new art". During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an art movement and style of decorative painting, sculpture and architecture which is characterized by the use of flowers and leaves in flowing, interlacing lines. Henri Toulouse-Latrec and Gustav Klimt were among those greatly influenced by the movement.

Asymmetry - the depiction in a work of art of two sides as being not identical without impairing the general harmony of the work. Asymmetry is used to prevent a work from appearing static and superficial, as no two sides of a life form are identical.

Atelier - an artist's studio or workshop.

Attributes - any object or article used to symbolize the profession of the person being represented, such as a caduceus for a doctor.

Avant-garde - French term for "vanguard", a term that describes artists and their art that stand at the beginning of a movement that often does not conform to the traditional or previously accepted ideas or standards.

Art Glossary - B

 

B

Background - the part of a picture or scene that appears to be the farthest from the viewer, typically nearest the horizon.

Barbizon school - the name of a group of French landscape painters in the French village of Barbizon during the period about 1830 to 1880 who were the first to paint landscapes from nature rather than from memory in a studio. The approach led to realism.

Baroque -a dynamic and dramatic style of art and architecture in mostly Catholic countries during the 17th century that stressed emotion, variety and movement. It was a style that used ornate forms as well as illusionism and realism to achieve its purpose.

Batik - an Indonesian method of printing textile. A design is made on the fabric by coating it with wax to repel dye. The cloth is then dipped in dye after which the wax is removed so the design appears in the original color of the cloth. Often, this process is repeated for a number of colors to complete the desired design.

Bauhaus - a German school of art and architecture that tried to meld the techniques and materials of industrial mass production (including glass, concrete, steel and chrome) and the aesthetics of design. Founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, it was closed by Hitler in 1933 with many of its practitioners and teachers relocating to the United States.

Bird's eye view - seeing from a high enough view or altitude as to give a comprehensive view of a scene; also known as aerial view.

Board - used as a surface for art, often refers to a piece of wood lumber or a durable sheet of another material such as cardboard.

Body art - a style of art where the artist uses his or her own body as the medium for expression often shown in private or public performances. Examples include tattooing, piercing, scarification, henna painting and branding.

Boite - French for "box", the collection of an artist's work to be viewed by clients.

Bravura - a term used to describe bright and excited brushwork.

Brush - the tool used to apply paint to a surface, often consisting of a gathering of bristles held together by a ferrule attached to a handle. The bristles may come from hairs of a variety of animals including boar, squirrel and badger as well as synthetic. Red sable hairs are often considered the finest. Different shapes are desirable for different paint types and techniques.

Byzantine - the art and architecture of the Eastern Roman Empire from about AD 330 to 1450. The style itself is mostly religious. Pieces are characterized by a strong use of colors and figures. The figures seem to be flat with prominent eyes and backgrounds that are golden in tone. Most works of the period tend to be clear and simple, probably for an effective presentation of the intended religious lesson.

Art Glossary - C

 

C

Cachet - a substitute for a signature on a work of art that is original and creative yet simple.

Calligraphy - the art of handwriting where the writing has been done in an ornamental way.

Camaïeu - a painting or decoration technique done in numerous shades of the same single color disregarding the actual color of the content.

Canvas - the support used for an acrylic or oil painting that is typically made of linen or cotton, stretched very tightly and tacked onto a wooden frame. Linen is considered far superior to the heavy cotton for a canvas.

Caricature - A picture where the subject is depicted in a satirizing way that exaggerates its distinctive characteristics in a comical or grotesque way. Often used as a commentary on political or social matters.

Cartoon - an often humorous or satirical drawing to evoke emotions, usually with a caption. A cartoon is typically a simple-lined drawing and tells a story or continues a story; it can consist of one or more pictures or frames.

Caryatid - Q. What is the word for a female figure used as a column in classical architecture? I can’t remember the term, but I remember reading about them when I studied art history. Is there a male counterpart to these figures? — R.S., Los Alamos, N.M.
A. The word for the female figure is “caryatid,” which has been used in English since 1563. The etymology of the word is interesting: It comes from the Greek “Karytides,” the name for the priestesses of Artemis, a Greek moon goddess, at Caryae, a town in Laconia. The figures represent those priestesses. In a slightly different explanation given by the Roman writer Vitruvius, caryatids represented the women of Caryae, who were doomed to hard labor because the town sided with the Persians in 480 BC during their second invasion of Greece. The most famous example of caryatids is at the porch of the Erechtheum on the Acropolis of Athens, which has six of them. The male equivalent of a caryatid is called an “atlas” (the plural of which is “atlantes”) or, less commonly, a “telamon.” This column is prepared by the editors of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Readers may send questions to Merriam-Webster’s Wordwatch, P.O. Box 281, 47 Federal St., Springfield, MA 01102 (c) 2005, Merriam-Webster Inc. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Chiaroscuro - the painting or drawing of forms where depth and space are illustrated contrasting light and shade.

Chroma - the degree of a color's brilliance.

Chromatic color - any color that is not white, black or gray.

Classicism - typically referring to what are considered characteristics of classical art that include simplicity, harmony, proportional representation and emotional restraint.

Collage - introduced by the Cubists, the technique of creating a work of art by adhering flat articles such as paper, fabrics, string or other materials to a flat surface such as a canvas whereby a three-dimensional result is achieved.

Color wheel - a radial diagram of colors where primary colors (red, blue or yellow) are on one side and secondary (made by mixing two primary colors) colors appear on the other. A color wheel is used to identify, mix and select colors.

Complementary color - a color that is directly opposite another on the color wheel, such as yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green. When mixed together, two complementary colors yield a brown or gray color.

Cool colors - colors in which blue is predominant including blue and blue-green. Cool colors are associated with water, sky and foliage and appear to recede from the viewer.

Constructivism - a modern art movement beginning in Russia that aimed to create abstract sculpture for an industrialized society. The movement utilized technology and building materials such as glass, plastic, steel and chrome. Vladimir Tatlin was the first artist to develop such art.

Content - the subject matter of a work of art and its values apart from the artist's ability. Form and content are the two elements that comprise a work.

Copy - a reproduction of a work of art usually done in the same medium.

Cotton canvas - a canvas made from cotton. Though considered to be less desirable than linen, it is also less expensive.

Craft - the artist's technical skill or ability beyond the aesthetic value of a work. Also, manual activities done by artisans as opposed to those practiced by artists of fine art.

Cubism - a very influential 20th century art movement driven by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The movement attempts to break up subject matter, analyze it and reassemble it in an abstract form.

Art Glossary - D

 

D

Dada - a controversial art movement begun in Germany in the early 20th century. Works reflected cynicism toward social values and tradition. The artists employed unusual methods and materials in their works. Marcel Duchamp's photograph of the Mona Lisa with a mustache is one example of the Dada movement's creations.

Decorative art - artwork intended for ornamentation purposes. Differing from fine art, decorative art is intended to have a purpose as interior decoration. Some examples of decorative art include furniture, ceramics, glass and jewelry.

Deep color - a color that has a high degree of saturation and low lightness. Deep colors typically have little white mixed in them.

Design - the plan or arrangement of elements in a work of art. The ideal is one where the assembled elements result in a unity or harmony.

Dichroism - the property of a substance to show two different effects under different viewing circumstances. For example, some colors appear different when applied using horizontal strokes than when applied using vertical strokes.

Diptych - a painting done on two separate canvases or panels hinged together.

Distortion - changing the way an object looks, exaggerating a shape's normal image by stretching or changing to make it more interesting or to emphasize the image or express the artist's feelings.

Double image - a painted figure or object that is identifiable as two separate objects. For example, a cloud that resembles a cherub.

Drawing paper - a dull finish, hard-textured paper for drawing that features good ability for erasing and water resistance.

Art Glossary - E

 

E

Earth colors - painting pigments that are made from naturally occurring materials from the earth.

Eclecticism - an art method of borrowing and combining styles from multiple art movements, schools, styles or other artists into one work of art.

Empathy - feeling of concern and understanding for another's situation or feelings. Also, an emotional feeling of identification or understanding of a work of art.

Equilibrium - a state of balance between opposing forces or elements.

Etruscan art - art from the northwestern Italian area of Etruria, now Tuscany, before the advent of Rome. The art is notable for its urns, sculptures and ceramics.

Expressionism - a style in painting where the artist disregards traditional standards of proportion and realism while expressing his or her own inner experience of emotions by using distortion and emphasis.

Art Glossary - F

 

F

Figurative - art that represents a human, animal or object's form by means of a symbol or figure.

Figure - usually referring to a representation of the human body though sometimes also that of an animal or other thing.

Fine art - art that is created for its own aesthetic purpose rather than for a practical, utility purpose. "Art for art's sake.

Foliated - designed or decorated with foliage or leaf patterns.

Folk art - handicrafts and ornamental works produced by people with no formal art training but trained in traditional techniques often handed down through generations and of a specific region.

Foreground - the area of a picture that appears to be closest to the observer, often depicted at the bottom.

Form - the total product of all the aspects of a work of art and how they come together to become one singular unique work.

Formalism - strict observance of the established rules, traditions and methods employed in the arts. Formalism can also refer to the theory of art that relies heavily on the organization of forms in a work rather than on the content.

Full length - of a portrait that depicts the entire body figure of the subject.

Art Glossary - G

 

G

Genre painting - painting that represents a phase or aspect of common everyday life and people.

Giclée - a printmaking process usually on an IRIS inkjet printer to make reproductions of a photograph of a painting; the printer can produce a very wide range of colors resulting in prints that are of very high quality.

Gothic - the style of Western European (especially from France and England) art from the 12th to 15th centuries, which greatly influenced architecture, sculpture and painting.

Gouache - the technique or product where heavy, opaque watercolor is applied to paper and produces a more brilliant and strong-colored result than usual watercolors.

Gradation - a smooth progression of shades or tints from light to dark, from one color to another or of objects from small to large.

Grand manner - a type of painting where figures of great importance are painted in a way that elevates them above the everyday and common. Other elements in the painting are reduced by means of simplifying or eliminating, shifting the focus to the significance of the primary subject.

Grotesque - a style of painting or other art that either greatly distorts or where fantastic animal forms and human figures are combined with leaves, flowers and other objects in an ornamental way.

Guild - originating in the Middle Ages, an association of skilled craftsmen practicing a particular craft.

Art Glossary - H

 

H

Halftone - a shade of a color whose value is between the darkest and lightest tones of a color; also, in printmaking, the use of a pattern of dots of varying sizes and distances apart to depict varying shades.

Hellenic art - the art from the Greek culture from 1100 B.C. to 100 B.C.

Hieroglyphics - used by the ancient Egyptians, a system of writing which used symbols (hieroglyphs) rather than letters or words

History painting - painting of scenes from the past.

Horizon line - in a painting, a level line where land or water ends and the sky begins. Vanishing points, where two parallel lines appear to converge, are typically located on this line. A horizon line is used to attain the perspective of depth.

Hue - the common name of any color as found in the rainbow or a spectrum or that characteristic of any color, such as a brown tending toward red.

Art Glossary - I

 

I

Idiom - the styles or techniques that are characteristic to a particular artist or period, movement or medium.

Illusionism - in a work of art, the creation of a deception image of reality by using certain techniques including perspective.

Impressionism - beginning in France in the 1860's, a significant art movement and style of painting where artists attempted to paint their subjects in a way that showed the changing effects of natural lighting throughout the day. Monet, Cézanne, Sisley, Renoir and Pissarro are members of the group of Impressionist painters.

India ink - in the United States, the common name for liquid black drawing ink made from carbon.

Iridescence - the color effect on a surface that shows a lustrous, rainbow sort of brilliance. Examples of iridescence include a soap bubble or oil on water.

Islamic Art - art that is produced in the cultural and religious tradition of those who subscribe to the tenets of Islam. Calligraphy is one of the most highly prized forms of art in the Muslim world with its being used to decorate architecture, furniture and clothing. Animal figures can be found in much Islamic art and mosaic art has been an area of much accomplishment. Figures are largely absent from Islamic art and, possibly due to little story telling in the Koran (Islam's holy book), there is not much opportunity to depict parables in art. Islamic art covers the people of a large area with much cultural diversity thus making it difficult to summarize the breadth of the art.

Art Glossary - J

 

J

Japanism - the influence of Japanese art and culture on Western art.

Art Glossary - K

 

K

Key - the range of color values and tone quality in a work of painting. A low-key painting has mostly darker colors while one in a high key is dominated by brighter and lighter colors.

Kitsch - art that is considered to be overly sentimental, pretentious design. Work that is kitschy is usually mass-produced and met with critical disfavor. Interestingly, what is kitsch in one time period becomes art in another, an example being the work of Norman Rockwell.

Art Glossary - L

 

L

Landscape - a painting, drawing or photograph that scenery such as trees, forests, meadows, and rivers. The movement toward a landscape being primary in a work of art, rather than simply the background, began in the 17th century.

Light - technically, the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, which can be seen by the human eye; also, the source of light or its use in painting such as the illumination of a subject or an aspect of a piece of work for emphasis.

Limited edition - a set of prints of a known number, usually not more than 200 that are signed by the artist and numbered

Literary - having or telling a story in painting, drawing or sculpting

Lithography - a method of printing invented in the late 18th century, a drawing is made on a flat plate with a grease-based crayon and then washed off. Ink is then applied and it adheres to the crayon but rinses clean from the rest of the plate. Covering the plate with paper and pressing lightly to transfer the ink then make a print or lithograph.

Luminism - the American art style in the 1850's to 1870's which used light or lighting effects as a major characteristic; also, the school of painting that focuses on the expression of the effects of light whether as the above American art style or the French Impressionists.

Art Glossary - M

 

M

Mandala or mandara - traditionally used in Hinduism and Buddhism, one of several geometric radial designs and mystical symbols that are to aid meditation

Mass - in a work of art, the space that is occupied by an element that is significant to the design.

Master - also known as old master, an artist who is a leader or teacher of a school, period, or movement.

Métier - the area or subject in which an artist is most qualified, most accomplished or most comfortable.

Middle distance - in a painting or picture, the middle part of the composition between the foreground and the background.

Miniature - a work of art where they represented object is created on a much-reduced scale.

Minimal art - also known as minimalism, a movement and style of art from the 20th century which attempts to reduce art to the basic geometric shapes with the fewest colors, lines, and textures. Minimal art does not seek to be representational of any object. Also known as ABC art.

Mixed media - the art technique where the artist employs two or more media such as painting, charcoal, collage, etc. and combines them in a single work.

Monochrome - literally one color, painting or decoration done in different shades of the same color.

Montage - a single picture composition created by superimposing or arranging many portions of images in a way that makes them join or blend into one.

Mosaic - a very old decorative art, the art technique of setting small pieces (tesserae) of tile, glass, stone in a base of plaster or concrete. Often very intricate and detailed, mosaic is usually used on walls, ceilings and floors.

Motif - a design that is the predominant theme or a distinctive repeated pattern, design or shape in a work of art.

Munsell system - the system of specifying colors developed by Albert Munsell in 1915; the system is based on three characteristics of color discernible to the human eye: hue, value, and chroma.

Art Glossary - N

 

N

Naïve art - usually referring to art by artists who have no formal art education or training, a style of painting that is often simple with bright colors, unrepresentative perspective and childlike subject matter.

Narrative - having a story or idea.

Native American Art - artwork created by the indigenous peoples of North America, including but not limited to painting and drawings on paper as well as stone surfaces, weaving, jewelry and pottery.

Neoclassical art - art that is reflective of the Classical period of art, that is, the art of ancient Rome or Greece.

Neo-impressionism - a movement in painting as a reaction to Impressionism; originated by Georges-Pierre Seurat in the late 19th century, the movement used the technique of pointillism which uses dots or points of color which the brain automatically blends upon viewing it.

Nimbus or halo - the circle of radiant light around the head of a religious figure used to indicate holiness. In art, it was often placed around the heads of kings as well to indicate reverence.

Art Glossary - O

 

O

Objet d’art, art object, object of art - Objet d’art is a borrowed French phrase, pronounced awb-ZHAI DAHR, and literally meaning “object of art” or “art object”—that is, sculpture, painting, ceramics, metalwork, or the like made particularly for its beauty and artistic quality rather than for its utility. Put it all in English (art object) or all in French (objet d’art), not in the misspelled mixture that sometimes crops up, object d’art. See FOREIGN PHRASES.
- Kenneth G. Wilson (1923–). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993. http://www.bartleby.com/68/86/4186.html

Objective art - art in which the subject matter is represented as a recognizable object as opposed to abstract art.

Oceanic art - art that is produced by the native inhabitants of the South Pacific islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. It includes skin tattoos, stone carvings and tortoise-shell carvings.

Oil painting - developed over time during the 15th and 16th centuries, the technique or result of using paints made from pigments mixed with oil on a canvas. Oil paint allowed for more demanding uses than the drier, less useful egg tempera type of paint.

Opalescence - the trait of a white surface having iridescence and resembles the colors in an opal.

Op art - from the early 1960's, an abstract style of art. This style is unique in its attempt to show movement on the surface by using optical illusion.

Opaque - the characteristic of not being able to be seen through or not allowing light to show through.

Original - a work that is a new creation by an artist as opposed to that which is copied or reproduced in another work.

Overmantel - a piece of art that is of a mostly long horizontal shape and is suited to hang in the space over a mantelpiece.

Overpainting - the final layer of paint that is applied over the underpainting or under layer after it has dried. The idea behind layers of painting is that the underpainting is used to define the basic shapes and design so that the overpainting can be used to fill in the details of the piece.

Art Glossary - P

 

P

Painterly - in painting, sculpture or architecture, the use of masses of color to show as opposed to linear painting which uses contours and edges to define its forms. The forms are thus more amorphous and the eye can interpret more movement.

Painting - in art, the creation by an artist of a piece with aesthetic value using the application of paint to a surface.

Paint quality - the beauty of the surface of a painting especially as to how skillfully the paint is handled and used to create.

Palette - a thin board of wood, plastic, metal, paper or other material with a hole for the thumb to hold while painting where the artist holds and mixes the paints he or she is using while painting.

Panorama - from Greek meaning "all view", the wide-open view of the complete surrounding area.

Papyrus - a predecessor of modern paper used in ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, made from parts of the Mediterranean sedge plant.

Parchment - a predecessor of modern paper, a type of writing material derived from the skins of calves or sheep.

Parergon - part of a work of art that is not its main theme such as a person that is a secondary subject to a landscape. Also, artwork created by a person who works primarily at another job such as someone who paints on the weekend but works at a main job during the week.

Pastel - a crayon made from pigment mixed with gum and water and pressed into a stick-shaped form. A work of art created from these crayons is also called a pastel. Pastel can also indicate a pale color.

Pastiche or pasticcio - a work of art that is clearly derived from multiple styles; sometimes used to parody other artists or styles.

Pattern - also referred to as design, the repetitive use of any form, object or color in a work. Patterns can be waves or circles, for example.

Perspective - the art technique used to give an illusion of three-dimensional nature on a two-dimensional surface, mostly by giving the illusion of depth. One example is that objects further in the distance appear smaller and higher in the picture

Photomontage - an art composition created by arranging multiple photographs into one; often, uses photographs that hold elements or represent a single theme that the artist is trying to express.

Picturesque - common in 19th century Europe and America, a style of representational landscape painting which focuses on unusual designs and rustic or quaint features.

Pisciform - of or related to the shape of fish.

Pointillism - an area of French impressionism where color is broken up into dots or points. These points compose forms that are visible to the viewer only from a distance where the eye blends the points to create such forms or objects.

Polyptych - a painting done in more than three sections or panels that may be hinged together.

Pompier - a term used to describe a work of art that is common and pretentious.

Pop art - developed in New York in the 1960's, a style of art that derives from mass popular culture including consumer products and cartoon characters. Some leading artists of the style include Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Portfolio - a portable case for carrying the art or images of an artist; also, the collection of works that an artist has created and is offering for sale or to show as a representation of the artist's style and skills.

Portrait - a representation of a person or group or animal on a two-dimensional medium that typically also shows some aspect symbolic of the subject.

Post-impressionist painting - as a reaction to the Impressionists, this style focused on the emotional content, structure and form of their subjects and eliminated the strong focus on lighting in their works. Examples of artists of this movement include Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin.

Prehistoric art - art created during the first known period of human culture about two million years ago. The period is broken into three major periods: Old, Middle and New Stone Ages. The old is dominated by the use of stone tools, carvings and paintings while the Middle is characterized by pottery and the New by pottery, spinning and weaving. The three periods illustrate the evolution of a previously nomadic group to urban civilizations who domesticated animals and plants.

Primary color - the three colors of red, blue and yellow from which all colors can be derived with the addition of black and white.

Prototype - the original form which serves as a model on which successors are based.

Provenance - the source or origin of a work, can also be the record of ownership from when the artist created it.

Art Glossary - R

 

R

Realism - the attempt to represent people, objects, or places in a realistic manner as opposed to an idealized way; also, a later 19th century art movement in France which objected to the idealized style of Romanticism by creating works that depicted a more true view of everyday life.

Renaissance - French for rebirth, the revival of culture and learning during the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe that emphasized Roman and Greek art and culture.

Representational art - art that attempts to accurately depict its subject so that it is recognizable to the viewer.

Romanticism - in the early 19th century, a movement in art that rejected the more objective, reasoning style of classicism and embraced a more dramatic, personal and emotional style even to the point of melancholic emotion.

Art Glossary - S

 

S

Saturation - the intensity or vividness of a color.

Scale - the proportion or ratio of a painted object's size to the original object being depicted.

School - a group of artists who have a common style which may come from geographic, movement, period or other attribute.

Seascape - a painting or work of pictorial art that depicts the sea or a scene that includes the sea.

Secondary color - one of three colors created by mixing equal parts of two primary colors (red, blue and yellow); secondary colors include violet, orange, and green.

Shade - a color which when compared to another has a clear difference in color whether lighter, darker, greener, etc.; also indicates an area of darkness due to an absence of light in an area of a painting or picture.

Silhouette - an outline of a single solid color that is usually a portrait and is placed on a strongly contrasting background, usually black on white.

Silk screen - the process of making a print during which an image is imposed on a screen of silk and blank areas have been blocked out. Ink is then forced through the mesh onto the paper surface. Andy Warhol is known for his use of the silkscreen method in his painting.

Simultaneous representation - the depiction in a painting or picture of more than one image of the same object or person; often done with different perspectives of the same image such as showing the profile and the frontal perspective of a person's face.

Sketch - a quick outline or drawing used to capture the basic elements and structure of a situation often used as the basis for a more detailed work.

Still life - usually set indoors, a grouping of inanimate objects that are positioned and then painted by artist, often including fruit, bowls, flowers and books.

Style - the usual technique or expression of an artist or group of artists.

Sunday painter - a person who paints as a hobby or non-primary occupation; sometimes used to imply that the painter is not a professional artist.

Super realism - similar to photo-realism, a style of painting in which the details of the subject are represented in such realistic detail as to mimic photography.

Surrealism - a successor to Dadaism, the style or movement starting in the 1920's which was influenced by Freud's focus on dreams. Works in the Surrealist style often appear dreamlike, irrational and fantastical in their presentation. Some contributors include André Breton, Salvador Dali, and Joan Míro.

Art Glossary - T

 

T

Technique - a method or way of working with materials to create a work of art.

Tectiform - shaped like a house.

Tenebrism - meaning dark and gloomy, a style of painting in which light is rendered in great contrast to dark to create a dramatic effect. Often, a work appears to have a single source of illumination to highlight the primary subject.

Tertiary color -- literally third color, colors that are created by mixing unequal amounts of two primary colors; for example, two parts of yellow and one part of blue would yield the tertiary color of a yellowish green.

Texture - the surface quality or physical feel of a piece of art; examples are flat, prickly, bumpy, rough, smooth, etc.

Tonalism - a style of painting in which the artist attempts to accurately capture the visual effects of the sunlight on the subject.

Translucent - able to allow some light to transmit some but not all light.

Transparent - able to allow all light to pass through, often appearing clear and glasslike.

Triptych - a set of three paintings often on panels that are related in subject matter.

Trompe l'oeil - literally, trick of the eye, painting that is so realistic to the viewer's eye that the viewer may thing that the viewed objects or scene are actually real and not painted.

Art Glossary - U

 

U

Underpainting - the preliminary coats of paint in a painting that render the basic outline before the final paint layers are added to complete the work.

Art Glossary - V

 

V

Value - degree of lightness on a scale from dark to light of black and white or any color. Low values indicate darker color or less lightness and high values indicate lighter color or more lightness.

Vanishing point - in perspective, the point on the horizon in the distance where two lines seem to converge and visibility ends.

Verism - the 20th century concept that not only items or subjects of great beauty are worthy of art but that everyday subjects also have aesthetic value for art.

Vignette - a picture or painting where the borders are undefined and seem to fade or blur away.

Art Glossary - W

 

W

Warm colors - colors in which red or yellow are dominant including purple, orange, yellow and red. Warm colors are associated with the sun and heat and appear to come toward the viewer.

Watercolors - a paint that uses water as its base usually painted on heavy paper.

Worm's eye view - the viewing perspective of seeing from the floor or the surface of the earth.

Art Glossary - Z

 

Z

Zeitgeist - literally, spirit of the times, the outlook or general feeling characteristic of the art creations of a time or cultural period.

Zones of recession - the three areas of a painting or picture that attempts to show spatial depth; the three areas are the foreground, the middle distance and the background.