The use of a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition, which exists with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.
A fast-drying paint containing pigment suspension in acrylic polymer emulsion. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water) or modified with acrylic gels, media or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.
A type of photography using a recording medium based either on a chemical process (photographic film or plate) or electronic means (e.g., using a vidicon or CCD sensor). The pre-cursor to digital photography.
The attribution of human characteristics to animals or non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts.
To properly adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of man-made visual culture. Art practices involve the "appropriation" of ideas, symbols, artifacts, images, sounds, objects, forms or styles from other cultures, from art history, from popular culture or other aspects of man-made visual or nonvisual culture. Inherent in the process of appropriation is the fact that it re-contextualizes that from which it borrows to form a new work.
A type of etching in which a ground of fine particles is used. This material resists acid, but is not a solid coating, which allows for a tonal effect in the printed result.
A high quality, durable, acid-free paper meant for use in publications that require a permanent medium such as those of high legal, historical or significant value, including artworks.
An international style of art, architecture and applied arts – especially the decorative arts – that peaked in popularity at the turn of the 20th century (1890–1905). A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it is characterized by organic, especially floral and other plant-inspired motifs, as well as highly stylized, flowing forms. Art Nouveau is built on the idea that art should be a part of everyday life.
The term used to describe film directors (and on rare occasions producers or writers) who are considered to have a distinctive, recognizable style, because they repeatedly return to the same subject matter, habitually address a particular psychological or moral theme, employ a recurring visual and aesthetic style, or demonstrate any combination of the above. In theory, an auteur's films are identifiable regardless of their genre. Examples of auteurs include Jonas Mekas, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Lynch.
Refers to people or works that are experimental or innovative. Avant-garde art pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement and still continue to do so.
An artistic style prevalent from the late 16th century to the early 18th century in Europe. A dominant style of art in Europe between the Mannerist and Rococo eras, it is characterized by dynamic movement, overt emotion and self-confident rhetoric.
A school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts and was famous for its idiosyncratic approach to design. It was founded with the idea of creating a "total" work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design.
The word used to describe any event that happens every two years. It is most commonly used within the art world to describe an international manifestation of contemporary art (for example, the "Whitney Biennial" in New York).
Art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings, but other types include scarification, branding, shaping (using tight lacing and bodices), full body tattoo and body painting. More extreme body art can involve things such as mutilation or pushing the body to its physical limits and can even consist of the arrangement and dissection of preserved bodies in an artistic fashion. Body art is also a sub-category of performance art, in which artists use or abuse their own body to make a statement.
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Traditional painting involves essentially the same techniques as calligraphy and is done with a brush dipped in black or colored ink; oils are not used. As with calligraphy, paintings are most commonly made on paper and silk. The finished work is then mounted on scrolls, which can be hung or rolled up. Many traditions of Western painting have been adopted by contemporary Chinese painters, who have incorporated both Eastern and Western traditions into a style that is entirely their own.
A full color photographic print produced from a color slide, a film negative or a digital file. The photographic processes known as chromogenic are characterized by a reaction between two chemicals to form the color dyes that make up a photographic image. These images are composed of three main dye layers – cyan, magenta and yellow – that together form the full color spectrum.
Art in which the concept or idea involved in the work takes precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.
The term used to describe art produced at this present point in time, or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced since World War II.
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture. In art history, the term is associated with the "Frankfurt School" of theorists, a group that included Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Jürgen Habermas. Contemporary artists frequently cite their theories when explaining their work.
A 20th century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and George Braque that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture. In cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed and re-assembled in an abstracted form – instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints, thereby challenging the viewer's trained perception of a familiar object.
A cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during WWI and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature (poetry, art manifestoes, art theory), theatre, public performance and graphic design. Its purpose was to ridicule traditional art and what its participants considered to be the meaninglessness of the modern world. In addition to being anti-war, Dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchist in nature. It influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements and groups including surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art, Fluxus and punk rock.
The general term for a range of artistic works and practices that use digital technology. The impact of digital technology has transformed traditional practices such as painting, drawing and sculpture, while allowing for the emergence of new forms such as net art, digital installation art and virtual reality. In an expanded sense, "digital art" is a term applied to contemporary art that uses the methods of mass production or digital media.
A form of photography that uses an array of light sensitive sensors to capture the image focused by the lens, as opposed to an exposure on light sensitive film. The captured image is then stored as a digital file ready for digital processing (color correction, sizing, cropping, etc).
The term "diorama" denotes a partially three-dimensional, full-size replica or scale model of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment. Generally found at natural history museums, many artists construct dioramas as part of their practie.
An artwork consisting of two separate panels or related canvases.
Lines are scratched directly into a plate with a sharp point as opposed to being scratched on an etching ground. The resulting printed lines are less clean, but more bold. This is the most common form of engraving used by contemporary artists.
A futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Many dystopias found in fictional and artistic works present a utopian society with at least one fatal flaw. Whereas a utopian society is founded on the good life, a dystopian society’s dreams of improvement are overshadowed by stimulating fears of the "ugly consequences of present-day behavior." People are alienated and individualism is restricted by the government.
The process of creating a three-dimensional raised image or design in paper and other materials.
Encaustic painting involves adding colored pigments to heated beeswax. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface – usually prepared wood, although canvas and other materials are often used. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted.
A method of printmaking in which a design has been incised by acid into a metal plate. The plate is first coated with an acid-resistant substance through which the design is drawn with a sharp tool. It is then exposed to nitric acid, which eats away at the unprotected areas. After the protective ground is removed, the lines that remain hold the ink and create the final design as it is pressed into paper.
Expressionism was a cultural movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the start of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world from an utterly subjective perspective, radically distorting it for emotional effect, and to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of "being alive" as an emotional experience rather than a physical reality.
The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to make art that reflects women's lives and experiences, as well as to change the way that women are viewed within art history and art practice. Founded in the 1960s, the style is very much alive today.
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork – particularly paintings and sculptures – which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.
Fluxus – a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow" – is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning, architecture and design. Fluxus is sometimes described as intermedia. Artists associated with Fluxus include John Cage and Joseph Beuys.
The term "found art," also known as "ready made," describes art created from objects that are not normally considered art, whose origins are undisguised. Found art orginated with Marcel Duchamp, who made the sculpture Fountain (1917) out of a bathroom urinal.
A type of Japanese tissue paper made from the inner bark of the gampi bush. This soft, silky medium is used for the mending and conservation of artworks on paper.
The dominant photographic process from the period of its introduction in the 1880s until the 1960s, at which time it was eclipsed by consumer color photography. Gelatin silver prints are monochromatic (grayscale) and are typically glossy.
A mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains; eventually works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales.
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. More broadly the term is used in a wide number of contexts for an image, picture or representation. Icon is also used in the general sense of symbol – one thing, an image or depiction, that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning, usually associated with religious, cultural, political or economic standing.
Identity politics refers to political arguments that focus upon the self-interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups and the ways in which people's politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity as defined by race, class, religion or sexual orientation.
A 19th-century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence in the 1870s and 1880s. Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on the accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience and unusual visual angles.
Indigenous art is made by a social or ethnic group native to a particular land. These groups include the Aborigines in Australia and the Native Americans in the United States.
A type of computer printer-generated image created by variable-sized droplets of ink propelled onto paper.
An artistic genre of three-dimensional works designed to transform a viewer's perception of a space. The genre incorporates a very broad range of everyday and natural materials, which are often chosen for their evocative qualities, as well as new media such as video, sound, performance, immersive virtual reality and the Internet. Many installations are site-specific in that they are designed to exist only in the space for which they are created.
An art term that describes the systematic inquiry into the workings of art institutions, and most especially in galleries and museums. It is most associated with the work of artists such as Michael Asher, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson and Hans Haacke. Institutional critique is often critical of how distinctions of taste are not separate from aesthetic judgement, and that taste is an institutionally cultivated sensibility.
A major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modernist architecture. It is identified by three different principles: the expression of volume rather than mass, balance rather than preconceived symmetry and the expulsion of applied ornament.
A method for printmaking using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface. The design is drawn in wax or other oily substances as a medium to transfer the ink to the printed sheet. The image may be directly printed from this plate (resulting in a reverse image) or offset by being transferred through a flexible sheet prior to printing. The process is widely used by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney.
Luminism is an American landscape painting style of the 1850s–1870s, characterized by effects of light in landscapes achieved through the use of aerial perspectives and by concealing brushstrokes. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquility, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky.
Mannerism is the name given to the style of followers of Raphael and Michelangelo in Italy from about 1520–1600. It is characterized by artificiality, elegance and the sensuous distortion of the human figure.
A maquette is a small-scale model or rough draft of an unfinished architectural work or sculpture. It is used to visualize and test shapes and ideas without incurring the cost and effort of producing a full-scale product. For commissioned sculptures, especially monumental public sculptures, a maquette may be used to show the client how the finished work will fit in the proposed site.
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree typically requiring 2–3 years of study. The MFA differs from the Master of Arts, in that the MFA, while an academic program, centers around practice in the particular field, whereas programs leading to the MA are usually centered on the scholarly, academic or critical study of the field. In the United States an MFA is seen as a terminal degree, meaning that it is considered to be the highest degree in its field.
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art, architecture and design where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental elements. It is primarily identified with developments in post-World War II Western Art, most strongly with American visual arts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is often interpreted as a reaction against representational art and abstract expressionism.
An artwork that consists of more than one medium. For example, found objects such as wood, rocks, magazines and household items are used in conjunction with traditional artistic media such as paints and graphite. Examples of mixed media works are frequently found in installation art and collages.
The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. A tendency toward abstraction is characteristic of much modern art.
A form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals.
An unusually large work of art, such as an outdoor sculpture or a wall-sized painting.
Artists' multiples are a series of identical art objects produced or commissioned by the artist according to his specifications, usually consisting of a signed limited edition work made specifically for selling. They could be multiples of a 2D print, 3D sculpture or installation piece. The multiple offers artists a way to sell work without compromising their artistic integrity. Multiples also make their work accessible to a wider market. The challenge to the artist is in finding ways of realizing an idea that can be repeated multiple times, thus creativity is derived from researching new methods and sourcing new materials, leading to some unlikely collaborations between artists and fabricators, printers and craftsmen.
An artist's "body of work" is their oeuvre. The term is commonly used by: museum and cultural heritage curators, the interested public, the art patron, private art collector community and galleries.
Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In some cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas or elaborate fantasy worlds. The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people outside the mainstream "art world," regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work.
A panorama is any wide-angle view or representation of a physical space, whether in painting, drawing, photography, film/video or a 3D model. Panoramas first originated in the 19th century as a way of immersing large crowds of people into a reconstruction of a foreign place using monumental images.
Performance art refers largely to a performance which is presented to an audience but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, or which alternately does not seek to depict a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. It therefore will often include some form of action or spoken word, which is a form of direct communication between the artist and audience, rather than a script written beforehand.
The Iranian cultural region – consisting of the modern nations of Iran, Armenia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbajian, Uzbekistan and surrounding areas – is home to one of the richest art heritages in world history and encompasses many disciplines including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stone masonry.
A method of printmaking or photo-mechanical process in which a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue, exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a photograph.
Photorealism is the genre of painting based on using photographs to create a painting that so closely resembles the original image that it too appears to be a photograph. The term is primarily applied to paintings from the United States art movement that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially in association with works by Chuck Close.
A type of camera that develops prints instantaneously. Although limited in number, there are Polaroid cameras that can take images up to 40 inches x 80 inches. The Polaroid corporation recently stopped producing film for such cameras, making this type of print rare on the art market.
Pop art is a movement that emerged in the 1950s in Britain and the United States. Pop art challenged fine art traditions by asserting that mass-produced visual commodities such as film stills, cartoons and comic strips are high art. The most well-known pop artists include Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Post-apocalyptic art is concerned with the end of civilization due to a catastrophe such as nuclear warfare, pandemic, impact event, cybernetic revolt, Technological Singularity, Dysgenics, supernatural phenomena, Ecological disaster, resource depletion or some other general disaster. Most often associated with science fiction in films and literature, the genre is becoming increasingly prominent in the work of contemporary artists.
Post-War American Painting
After World War II, America (most specifically New York) became a center of artistic production in the art world (whereas before they had been housed in Europe). Characterized by movements such as abstract expressionism and pop art, the term "Post-War American Painting" is sometimes used to categorize the entirety of contemporary art produced in the past six decades.
Postmodernism is a term used to describe an art movement which serves as a contradiction to modernism. The traits associated with the use of the term postmodern in art include bricolage, use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, a return to traditional themes and techniques as a rejection of modernism, depiction of consumer or popular culture and Performance art.
Primitive is a term used to describe artifacts and objects created by the indigenous people of (controversially named) "primitive cultures." It can be thought of as folk art, often containing ritual/religious significance pertaining to the custom within a particular culture. Primitive art has been appropriated by many Western artists, most notably Pablo Picasso and the Surrealists in the 1920s and 1930s.
Artworks made by printing, normally on paper. The process has the capacity to produce multiples of the same piece. Each piece produced is not a copy but considered an original since it is not a reproduction of another work of art. It is technically (and more correctly) known as an "impression."
An art criticism term referring to artwork referencing mundane aspects of everyday life. It also can be defined as something that is a very temporary phenomenon that will date the work.
A piece of art created from the undisguised use of objects that are not normally considered to be art, such as bicycle wheels, toilets or cars.
A style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. There is an emphasis on the actuality of subjects, depicting them without idealization, without omitting their sordid or ordinary characteristics.
Representational artwork describes or stands in for an object that exists in real life. Examples of representational artworks include icons, portraits, landscapes and still lifes. The term is broad, and encompasses all media in art.
Romanticism (or the Romantic Era) was a complex artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as heroic individualists and artists, whose pioneering examples would elevate society. It also legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority, which permitted freedom from classical notions of form in art.
A type of installation art. Objects (often found objects) are arranged in a seemingly random fashion or tossed and “scattered” into the space in an act of chance.
Also known as Silk Screen or Serigraph. A method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of silk or other fine mesh. Negative areas are coated with an impermeable substance and ink is forced through the mesh onto a printing surface. This technique was made famous by Andy Warhol.
A mixture of nitric acid and gum arabic (or in rare cases, saliva) that can be dripped, spattered or painted onto a metal surface to provide an interesting effect in the completed etching.
Designs in a syrupy solution of sugar or Camp Coffee are painted onto the metal surface prior to it being coated in a liquid etching ground or "stop out" varnish. When the solution is removed using hot water, the images remain and the plate can be used for further etching processes.
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is heavily informed by dreams and the subconscious as defined by Sigmund Freud. Often used to describe a number of practices, including theater, painting, photography, film and philosophy, Surrealism is the outgrowth of Dada. Well-known surrealist painters include Rene Magritte and Salvador Dalí.
A late 19th-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian that originated in poetry. Distinct from, but related to, the movement in literature, symbolism in art represents an outgrowth of the darker, gothic side of Romanticism; but where Romanticism was bold and rebellious, symbolist art was static and based on rigid hierarchies.
A work of art based around or composed entirely of texts. These texts are either conceived of by the artist, or appropriated from other sources.
A work of art (often a panel painting), which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and folded. The middle panel is typically the largest and is flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels.
An art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three dimensions.
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico legal system. The concept, being ideal, is often explored and imagined in artistic production..
A theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays, minstrels and movies. Vaudeville developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums and literary burlesque.
A common tongue, or mother language, to which all ordinary conversation or exchanges refer. In photography or other artistic production, it is a work by an amateur or unknown artist who uses everyday life and common situations as subjects. Examples of vernacular art include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photo-booth images. Vernacular photographs are types of accidental art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic.
Video art relies on moving pictures and comprises video and/or audio data. Video art came into existence during the 1960s and 1970s and is still widely practiced, often in video installations. Video art can take many forms: recordings that are broadcast, viewed in galleries or other venues, or distributed as tapes or discs; sculptural installations, which may incorporate one or more television receivers or monitors, displaying "live" or recorded images and sound; and performances in which video representations are included.
A method of printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood. The negative areas are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the characters or design to be revealed in the print at the surface level.
An artwork made by the hand of the artist directly applied to a piece of paper.