Art 101

From AbEx to ZKM: Our Guide to the Acronyms of the Art World

From AbEx to ZKM: Our Guide to the Acronyms of the Art World
Souvenirs from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

The art world is a busy place, with new shows constantly opening at venues around the globe, artist movements emerging quickly (and sometimes disappearing as fast), and new artistic techniques and academic concepts popping up all the time. So how does one streamline this steady tide of information? With acronymns, of course!

If you've been in the art world long enough, the barrage of abbreviations becomes just a part of the language. For newcomers, though, who are trying to tell their AbExes from their from their MAMbos? Good luck.

Until now. Here at Artspace, we've decided to continue our public-service project of elucidating the pronunciation of thorny artist names with this easy-to-use glossary of art-world shorthand. Enjoy!

abc – Art Berlin Contemporary 
A.B.C. Art –
Critic Barbara Rose's term for Minimalist art in the '60s (it stands for simplicity) 
 American Alliance of Museums
AbEx – Abstract Expressionism
 Austrian Cultural Forum New York
ACP– Australian Centre for Photography
A&D – Architecture and Design department at MoMA
ADAA Art Dealers Association of America
AES+FMoscow artist collective including Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes 
AFL– American Friends of the Louvre
AIPAD – Association of International Photography Art Dealers
ALAC Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair
AP– Artist’s proof (the extra edition of an artwork that the artist keeps)
APT - Artists' Pension Trust, an organization offering a plan allowing artists to invest their own works toward a pension plan
APT – Asia Pacific Triennial
ARS - Artists' Rights Society (licenses image reproductions for artists)
AV – Audiovisual
A.V.A. – Audio Visual Arts (in New York City)
avaf – Assume Vivid Astro Focus, artist group formed by Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide-Pierson in 2001

BAM – Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM/FFA Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
BAT – bonne à tirer
BFABachelor of Fine Arts
BLK Art Group1982 artist collective by British African-Caribbean artists fighting institutional racism 
BMPT Parisian art group formed in 1960s by Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier, and Niele Toroni criticizing the Paris Salons and the authority of the artist
BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, and China (a term to descibe emerging global markets)

C1S – Coated on one side (paper or print)
C2S – Coated on two sides (paper or print)
– Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (Madrid)
CAA – College Art Association
CalArts – California Institute for the Arts
CACT Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art
CAFA China Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing)
CAPC– Contemporary Art Museum (Bordeaux) 
C.G.A.C. Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Santiago de Compostela)
CIFO– Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (Miami)
CIMAN International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art
CMYK – Cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), which are the primary printing colors
CNAP– Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Paris)
CoBrACopenhagen (Co), Brussels (Br), and Amsterdam (A), a free-spirited Marxist avant-garde movement lasting from 1948 to 1951 featuring the artists Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, and Constant, whose countries of origins make up the group's name 
CoCA Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu (Torun)
CPIF Centre Photographique d'Ile-de-France
CPLYThe name American artist William N. Copley went by as a painter
CP – Cancellation proof (the proof made after an edition is finished as evidence that the artist has defaced the plate)
C-PrintChromogenic color print
CR – Catalogue raisonné
CTP – Computer to plate, digital printing process

DAM – Digital Asset Management, museum software for tracking digital images
D.A.P. - Distributed Art Publishers, publish many museum and institutional catalogues and books on art, design, photography, and architecture
DCA– Department of Cultural Affairs (New York City)
DOF - Depth of field (from photography)
DPI - Dots per inch (image-quality indicator)
DSLR - Digital single-lens reflex camera

EA - Épreuve d'Artist (same as an AP, but in French)
EACC– Espai d'Art Contemporani in Castello
EAI - Electronic Arts Intermix (New York)
EARN European Artistic Research Network
EAT - Experiments in Art & Technology (trailblazing art & tech organization started by Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Labs's Billy Kluver, among others)
ECF– European Cultural Foundation
EMPAC– Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Upstate New York)
EMST– National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

FACT– Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (Liverpool)
FAP – Federal Art Project (one of the "alphabet soup" of federal projects supporting New Deal art projects)
FIAC– International Contemporary Art Fair in Paris or the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain

GAM– Galleria D'Arte Modern (Milan)
GAMeC Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Bergama)
GIF - Graphics interchange format (think cats repeating cute activities for eternity)
GRAV - Groupe de Research d'Art Visuel (a 1960s French movement)

HMKV– Hartware MedienKustVerein (Dortmund)
HC - Hors d'Commerce (sample prints for showing to galleries)
Htd./wh. - Heightened white (lithography term)

IAC Instituto de Arte Contemporanea (San Paulo)
IAE International Art English, otherwise known as "artspeak"
IASPIS – The International Artists Studio Program in Stockholm
IBA International Biennial Association
ICA– Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Philadelphia, London, etc.)
ICI – Independent Curators International
ICPP– Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (at Wesleyan University, an unintentionally funny acronymn if said aloud)
ICP– International Center of Photography (New York)
IFT – Ink film thickness
IMAIndianapolis Museum of Art
INIVA Institute of International Visual Arts (London)
ISCP International Studio & Curatorial Program (New York City)
ISEA International Symposium on Electronic Art
IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern

KÖR Kunst im Offentlichen Raum (Wien)
Kunststiftung NRW Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia
KW Institute– Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin)

LACMA–  Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LAF – Loan agreement form (for lending/borrowing artworks for exhibitions)
LIAF Lofoten International Art Festival
LE – Limited edition 
LEF JournalLeft Front of the Arts (a publication in 1920s Soviet Russia)
L.H.O.O.Q. Marcel Duchamp's 1919 readymade of a Mona Lisa postcard; pronounced in French, it means, "She has a hot ass" 

MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona
MACMO – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Gevena)
MACRO The Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome
MAD Museum of Art and Design (New York City)
MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/ Contemporary Art
MAMbo– Museum of Modern Art of Bologna
MASS MoCA– Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (Rome)
MCA– Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Chicago, etc.)
MCB-A Musee Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (Lausanne)
MEMLAF - Miscellaneous Exhibition Material Loan Agreement Form (for museum loans of non-art objects)
MFA – Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Houston, etc.)
MFA – Master of Fine Arts
MFAH– Museum of Fine Arts Houston
MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
MIA – Minneapolis Institute of Arts
MICA Maryland Institute College of Art
MMOMA– Moscow Museum of Modern Art
MNAC National Museum of Contemporary Art (Bucharest)
MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, Cleveland, Detroit)
MoCA NoMi Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
MoCCA Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto)
MoMA Museum of Modern Art (New York City)
MoMI Museum of the Moving Image (New York City)
MONA The Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania)
MOT Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
M.T. – A monotype
MUAC University Museum of Contemporary Art (Mexico City)
MUSAC Museum of Contemporary Art in Castilla and León

NADA New Art Dealers Alliance
NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (Aachen)
NBK Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin)
NCCA National Centre for Contemporary Art (Moscow)
NEA – National Endowment for the Arts (United States)
NGBK Neue Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst (Berlin)
NJTP – New Jersey Turnpike (the site where Robert Smithson and other land artists in the 1970s made site-specific outdoor projects)
NOMA New Orleans Museum of Art
NPG National Portrait Gallery (London)
NSF – National Sculpture Factory (Cork)

OCA Office for Contemporary Art Norway
OE – Open edition (descibing a print or multiple with no limit on the number that can be made)
OP – Original print (the first edition printed)
OCMA– Orange County Museum of Art (California)
OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal (Shenzhen)

PAC– Padiglione Contemporary Art (Milan)
PAC Murcia Contemporary Art Project, Murcia
PICA Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
PMS - Pantone Matching System, a color matching system developed by Pantone, Inc. based on their 14 standard mixing colors
PNG – Portable network graphics (format for compressed small-sized image files)
PoMo – Postmodern
PP – Printer's proof (occasionally an additional edition kept by the printer)
P&S– Painting and Sculpture, the incredibly powerful MoMA curatorial department
PVC - Polyvinyl chloride (a flexible plastic sheet that can be inflated, sewn, welded, and glued; used by many artists in the '60s, especially in Pop and Minimal art)

QAGOMA Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
QMA – Queens Museum of Art
QMA – Qatar Museum Authority

RGB – additive color system for red, green, blue (as contrasted with C.M.Y.K.)
R-Print – Positive-to-positive photographic print 

SAFSharjah Art Foundation
SAM Seattle Art Museum
SAM– Singapore Art Museum
SCUMSociety For Cutting Up Men (a feminist group invented in 1967 by Valerie Solanas, who shot Andy Warhol in 1968 in a failed assassination attempt)
SFKM Sogn og Fjordane Museum of Fine Arts (Førde)
SKMU Sørlandet's Museum of Art (Kristiansand)
SMAK– Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Ghent)
SoHo – South of Houston, home to the artistic avant-garde in 1970s New York (and to a few remaining galleries today)
SWAG  Silver, wine, art, and gold (a term coined by Investment Week's Joe Roseman for investment categories with a history of outperforming the stock market)

TIFF – Tagged image file format, for hi-res digital images
TMS – The Museum System, popular cataloguing software
TP – Trial proof (a preliminary test in the printing process)

UCCA– Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing)
USSEA – United States Society for Education Through Art

VAGA - Visual Arts and Galleries Association, UK-based equivalent to ARS
VAT – Value Added Tax (a form of consumption tax that comes up in art purchases, among other transactions)
VBCN Vereniging Bedrijfscollecties Nederland (Amsterdam)

WAGE - Working Artists in the Greater Economy, current activist group in New York City
WhiBiWhitney Biennial
WKCDA West Kowloon Cultural Authority (Hong Kong)
WKSPWorkshop proof

YAM– Yale Art Museum (New Haven)
YAPYoung Architects Program (a juried competition at MoMA for young graduates creating projects that address environmental problems)
YBA– Young British Artists
YBCA– Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco)

ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe)


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