Glossary

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  • Abstract Art
    Abstract Art depicts anything other than a person, place or thing, most commonly portrayed in a painting or sculpture.
  • Abstraction
    The expressive use of non-representational forms
  • Acrylic
    A type of paint with an acrylic base that was developed during the 20th century. It is quicker drying than the more traditionally used oil or tempera paints.
  • Analog Photography
    Traditional photography using film that must be developed in a darkroom  
  • Anthropomorphization
    The characterization of objects or animals with human traits  
  • Appropriate
    The use of a recognizable element of culture/daily life repurposed iin an artistic context.  
  • Avant-garde
    Any art movement that branches out from the conventional at a a particular moment in history
  • Bauhaus
    A school developed in early-20th century Germany that sought to develop an art and design standard that would be integrated into life. Many prominent artists including Josef Albers were associated with Bauhaus. It was closed during the Nazi rule of Germany, and many of the associated artists emigrated to the United States.
  • Biennial
    A group exhibition that happens every two years. Most famous is the Venice Biennale
  • Conceptual Art
    Art based primarily around a concept rather than a clear visual narrative
  • Contemporary
    Wide term to refer to all art produced post-World War II. Alternatively recent artwork, or what is currently happening
  • Critical Theory
    The developed language and theory behind looking at and analyzing art – art criticism.
  • Cubism
    A style developed circa 1910 by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque that sought to depict objects in a three-dimensional way similar to the way they are understood in life. Cubism is characterized by the fragmentation and thereby abstraction of imagery, and developed in two phases: Analytic and Synthetic Cubism. The period essentially came to a […]
  • Dada
    An artistic, musical and literary avant-garde movement that emerged as a reaction to World War 1 in Zurich and spread elsewhere, based largely upon chance and absurdity. Key figures include Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp and Francis Picabia.
  • Digital Photography
    Photographs taken using a digital camera and often processed with computer technology.
  • Diptych
    A painting with two separate parts
  • Expressionism
    A movement that developed in the early 20th century, primarily in Germany and Austria that emphasized emotional impact and the subjective input of the artist rather than realism. Key figures include Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
  • Figurative
    A type of artwork centered on the realistic portrayal of human figures
  • Fluxus
    An art movement that emerged in the late 1950s, primarily centered in New York but also present in Europe and Japan, characterized by conceptual performances known as Happenings and artwork that otherwise encouraged viewer participation. Key figures include Allan Kaprow, John Cage, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik.
  • Found Art
    The use of objects taken from the outside world and appropriated as artwork.
  • Gruppo N
    Gruppo N (or Gruppo Enne) was a collective artist group based in Padua, Italy in the early 1960s. The group was primarily interested in exploring the optical possibilities to be created in art, and collectively created works that dealt with various perceptive illusions.
  • Gutai
    Co-founded by Jiro Yoshihara and Shozo Shimamoto in Osaka in 1954, the Gutai group was the key avante-garde formation of post-war Japan.
  • Impasto
    A textured surface resulting from the thick application of paint
  • Installation Art
    A large-scale artwork that occupies all or part of a space
  • Institutional Critique
    The practice of questioning the overarching institutions of the art world, such as museums, through artwork, often associated with artists like Andrea Fraser
  • Kinetic Art
    Kinetic Art can be achieved through any type of medium, where the effect of the art depends mainly on movements or the motion of the viewer
  • Light art
    The broad term referring to artwork made from one of a number of types of lights. Neon and LED lights are especially popular.
  • Lithography
    A type of print made through the transfer of a wax-engraved design via a metal plate
  • Maquette
    A small sculpture that often serves as a scale-model for a larger piece
  • MFA
    A Masters of Fine Arts degree
  • Minimal Art
    Refers to a painting or sculpture that emphasizes extreme simplification of color and form
  • Minimalism
    A primarily post-war American art movement characterized by an emphasis of simple geometric forms. Important artists include Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Frank Stella and Dan Flavin.
  • Mixed Media
    An artwork made of multiple materials, and often including non-traditional materials
  • Modernism
    The general term referring to artwork produced after the mid-nineteenth century, which aesthetically and philosophically breaks with traditional earlier artwork and is often produced for “art’s sake.” Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet are generally considered to be the first modern artists.
  • Monoprint
    A print that is not editioned; only one copy is made.
  • Monumental
    An extremely large-scale artwork
  • Multiple
    An editioned art object
  • Oeuvre
    A term referring to everything that an artist has produced throughout their career
  • Op Art
    “Optical” art. A type of artwork that gives an illusion of movement through visual effects
  • Outsider Art
    Art made by those who are not associated with the formal art world – often the artist are outsiders in the sense that they are prisoners, suffering from mental illness etc.
  • Painterly
    A word often used in art criticism to describe a quality in which the hand of the artist can be seen, i.e. paint strokes.
  • Painting
    Painting is a form of creative expression, and involves the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other type of medium to a surface
  • Performance Art
    An artwork that consists solely of a performance with an audience. Performance art is notable for its temporary nature, though often ephemera from the performance are produced.
  • Photography
    Fine art photography expresses the vision of the photographer as artist
  • Photorealism
    A style of painting that is extremely detailed and realistic so as to resemble a photograph. Most notable in the field is Chuck Close.
  • Pittura Analitica (Analytical Painting)
    Pittura Analitica was an artist group representing one of the most significant and influential artistic movements of the Italian Post-War period. Closely aligned to other European movements such as the slightly older Zero Movement (Otto Piene, Gunther Uecker), the Supports/Surfaces group in France (Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier) and ‘Radical Painting’ in Germany, as well as […]
  • Pop Art
    An art movement primarily popular during the 1960s with the rise of Andy Warhol, which draws subject matter from popular culture, and provides an ambiguously neutral position on the subject.
  • Postmodernism
    A term that first emerged during the 1980s to refer to contemporary artwork that differs from modernism. Post-modernism is often characterized by the use of elements of various earlier art movements.
  • Print
    An artwork that is printed, usually on paper and often editioned. Many different types of prints are possible, common types includes lithographs and screenprints
  • Ready-made
    Related to appropriation and found art, a ready-made is an artwork that is simply an object from daily life presented as an artwork. For example, Marcel Duchamp’s infamous use of a urinal.
  • Realism
    A type of artwork based on reality and strongly resembling the existing world
  • Representational
    Artwork that represents something in reality; the opposite of abstraction
  • Representational Art
    A term that generally refers to a painting or sculpture that is clearly recognizable for what it claims to be
  • Screen Print
    A print made through the impression of an image through a screen. Also known as a silkscreen
  • Sculpture
    Sculpture is a form of visual art that is generally made out of two or three-dimensional forms, either representational or abstract
  • Street art
    An art movement that originates from graffiti and urban art. Today many street artists utilize more traditional art forms to replicate works that were originally presented in public, urban contexts.
  • Surrealism
    An art movement popular during the 1920s and 30s and characterized by an interest in dreams and the subconscious. Notable artists include Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst
  • Text-based
    An artwork that utilizes text as a primary factor in experiencing it
  • Triptych
    A painting consisting of 3 related parts
  • Trompe l’oeil
    Realistic painting that gives the illusion of three-dimensionality. Literally “fools the eye”
  • Vernacular
    The everyday – in literature, the use of local language patterns; in art, the use of contemporary low culture
  • Video Art
    Artwork consisting of moving pictures and often audio, displayed on a screen, television or other viewing apparatus.
  • Woodcut
    A print made by applying ink or paint to a block of wood that has been carved with the image to be imprinted.
  • Works on Paper
    Artwork on paper – i.e. a drawing or print
  • Zero
    A global art movement that developed primarily in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s as a reaction to pre-war art. It was founded in Germany by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, and spread to Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands etc.