Glossary

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

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A

abstract art
art that departs significantly from natural appearances; forms are modified or changed to varying degrees in order to emphasize certain qualities or content; also called nonrepresentational
acrylic (acrylic resin)
a clear plastic used as a binder in paint and as a casting material in sculpture
aesthetics
the study and philosophy of the quality and nature of sensory responses related to, but not limited by, the concept of beauty
albumen print
a paper for making photographic prints, on which egg whites (albumen) coated the paper in order to increase its sensitivity, adding to the brightness of whites in the picture
analogous
colors which are next to each other on a color wheel
anatomy
the study of body structure, whether human or animal, including the bones, the muscles, and all the other parts
appliqué
a decoration make by cutting a piece of one material and applying it to the surface of another
apprentice
to place a person under legal agreement to work a specified length of time for a master craftsman in return for instruction
aquatint
an intaglio printmaking process in which value areas rather than lines are etched on the printing plate
arch
a curved structure designed to span an opening, usually made of stone or other masonry; Roman arches are semicircular; Islamic and Gothic arches come to a point at the top
architect architecture
the art of designing and constructing buildings (structures), and other environmental features; a person who practices architecture is called an architect
art criticism
the description, analysis, evaluation, interpretation, and judgment of works of art; it is a common assumption that criticism is necessarily negative, when actually it can vary in degrees of positive as well as negative remarks
art history
knowledge about the contributions artists and art make to culture and society
atmosphere
the air in any given place
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B

background
part of a painting behind the object shown or the farthest depth of space in the picture
balance
an arrangement of parts achieving a state of equilibrium between opposing forces or influences; major types are symmetrical and asymmetrical
Baroque
the seventeenth-century period in Europe characterized in the visual arts by dramatic light and shade, turbulent composition, and exaggerated emotional expression
Barbizon School
French landscape artists who worked near Barbizon, France, c.1835-1870
base
A plinth or podium on which a sculpture is exhibited, or the portion of a sculpture on which its weight rests
bas-relief
low-relief sculpture that projects slightly from a background
Beaux Arts
a tradition of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries following principles of the French Academy
brayer
a rubber roller used to apply ink in printmaking
bronze
an alloy of copper and tin used for sculpture
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C

cartoon
a humorous or satirical drawing
casting
a process that involves pouring liquid material such as molten metal, clay, wax, or plaster into a mold; when the liquid hardens, the mold is removed, leaving a form in the shape of the mold
ceramic
objects made of clay hardened into a relatively permanent material by firing; also, the process of making such objects
chiaroscuro
Italian for "light-dark"; highly developed by Renaissance painters
cityscape
a landscape, in which a city is viewed in the scene
clerestory windows
In architecture, this term refers to a wall of a building which is raised above an adjoining room, and this section of wall has windows
collage
from the French coller, to glue; a work made by gluing materials such as paper scraps, photographs, and cloth on to a flat surface
color wheel
a circular arrangement of contiguous spectral hues used in some color systems; also called a color circle
column
round or square support for a roof
commissioned
in art, the term used for hiring an artist to make a specific work of art
complementary colors
two hues directly opposite one another on a color wheel which, when mixed together in proper proportions, produce a neutral gray; the true complement of a color can be seen in its afterimage
composition
the bringing together of parts or elements to form a whole; the structure, organization, or total form of a work of art
Contemporary Art
generally defined as art produced during the second half of the twentieth century
contrast
a juxtaposition of dissimilar elements in a work of art; the degree of difference between the lightest and darkest part of a picture
cool colors
colors whose relative visual temperatures make them seem cool; cool colors generally include green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, and violet
curator
a person who is responsible for collection building, care, research, exhibition, and writing
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D

design
both the process and the result of structuring the elements of visual form; composition
dimension
a measure of spacial distance; the dimensions of three-dimensional spaces or objects are given as height by width by depth, and they are conventionally listed in that order
documentary
a true-to-life portrayal of a subject
dome
a generally hemispherical roof or vault; theoretically, an arch rotated 360 degrees on its vertical axis
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E

easel
a support for an artist’s canvas during painting
edition
in printmaking, the total number of prints made and approved by an artist, usually numbered consecutively; also, a limited number of multiple originals of a single design in any medium
elements
artistic design considerations such as color, line, texture, shape or form, and space
ellipse
a closed, symmetric curve shaped like an oval
emboss
to raise a relief design on the surface of paper through pressure
embroidery
a design worked on a fabric with a needle and thread or yarn
emotionalism
an aesthetic and critical theory of art which places emphasis on the expressive qualities; according to this theory, the most important thing about a work of art is the vivid communication of moods, feelings, and ideas
emphasis
a design principle that gives dominance to a particular area through color, size, or repetition
encaustic
a painting medium in which pigment is suspended in a binder of hot wax
engraving
an intaglio printmaking process in which grooves are cut into a metal or wood surface with a sharp cutting tool called a burin or graver; also, the resulting print
en plein air
French for “in open air” used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors, rather than in the studio and capture the effects of light and air
etching
an intaglio printmaking process in which a metal plate is first coated with acid-resistant wax, then scratched to expose the metal to the bite of nitric acid where lines are desired; also, the resulting print
exhibitions
a public showing of a piece or a collection of objects
expression
a process of conveying ideas, feelings, and meanings through selective use of the communicative possibilities
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F

faux
French for false, artificial, fake
figurative
describes artwork representing the form of a human, an animal or a thing; any expression of one thing in terms of another thing
focal point
the portion of an artwork's composition on which interest or attention centers
foreground
front part of a picture
form
in the broadest sense, the total physical characteristics of an object, event, or situation
formalism – An aesthetic and critical theory of art which places emphasis on form; the structural qualities instead of either content or contextual qualities
foundry
a workplace where metal is melted and poured into molds
fresco
the technique of painting into freshly laid plaster
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G

geometrical
of or according to geometry characterized by straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular forms
gestural
a movement or movements collectively, of the body or of part of the body, to express or emphasize ideas, emotions, etc
genre
a form of realistic painting of people that depicts ordinary events of the day; not religious, historical, or mythological
Georgian
architecture associated with King Georges I, II, III, and IV
gesso
a mixture of glue and either chalk or plaster of Paris applied as a ground or coating to surfaces in order to give them the correct properties to receive paint; gesso can also be built up or molded into relief designs, or carved
glaze
in ceramics, a vitreous or glassy coating applied to seal and decorate surfaces; glaze may be colored, transparent, or opaque; in oil painting, a thin transparent or translucent layer brushed over another layer of paint, allowing the first layer to show through but altering its color slightly
graphic arts
fine or applied visual arts and associated techniques involving the application of lines and strokes to a two-dimensional surface
Gothic
primarily an architectural style that prevailed in western Europe from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries, characterized by pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses, that made it possible to create stone buildings that reached great heights
gouache
an opaque, water-soluble paint; watercolor to which opaque white has been added
ground
the background in two-dimensional works-the area around and between figures; also, the surface onto which paint is applied
gum arabic or gum acacia
hardened sap secreted by acacia trees, used in solution as a medium, vehicle, or binder for water-soluble pigments
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H

Harlem Renaissance
refers to the flowering of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s
harmony
a principle of design which refers to a way of combining elements of art to accent their similarities and bind the picture parts into a whole
highlight
a light area that represents the reflection of light (as in the eye of a model)
horizon line
the distant view where sky meets water or land at the artist’s eye level
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I

icon
an image or symbolic representation often with sacred significance
illusionistic
of the philosophy that the material world is an immaterial product of the senses
illustrator
an artist who develops artwork to accompany a story, advertisement, or written text
image
a picture, idea, or impression of a person, thing, or idea; or a mental picture of a person, thing, or idea
imagery
mental images; especially the products of imagination
impasto
in painting, thick paint applied to a surface in a heavy manner, having the appearance and consistency of buttery paste
Imitationalism
an aesthetic theory of art which places emphasis on a realistic representation of subject matter
Impressionism
a style of painting that originated in France about 1870; paintings of casual subjects, executed outdoors, using divided brush strokes to capture the mood of a particular moment as defined by the transitory effects of light and color
incised
cuts into a surface, typically in metal, stone, or pottery, often used for lettering and decoration
intermediate color
a hue between a primary and a secondary on the color wheel, such as yellow-green, a mixture of yellow and green
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J

jury
in art, a committee for awarding prizes
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K

kiln
an oven in which pottery or ceramicware is fired
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L

landscape
a scenery painting; also includes the cityscape or seascape
line
a mark with length and direction(s); an element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point
linear
a painting technique in which importance is placed on contours or outlines
lithography
a printmaking method in which a metal plate or stone is drawn on with an oily crayon that resists water, while holding the ink for printing
loom
a device for producing cloth by interweaving fibers at right angles
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M

matte
a dull finish or surface, especially in painting, photography, and ceramics
medallion
a large medal worn around the neck on a heavy chain, ribbon, or rope; or, a relief sculpture resembling a medal, usually of circular or oval design, used as a decoration
middleground
in a painting, the area between background and foreground often along the horizon line
miniature
refers to objects often several sizes smaller than the actual size of the object; a small painting, especially a portrait, on ivory, vellum, etc
modernism
theory and practice in late nineteenth and twentieth-century art, which holds that each new generation must build on past styles in new ways or break with the past in order to make the next major historical contribution
mold
a hollow form for shaping (casting ) a fluid or plastic medium, such as clay, plaster, plastic or molten metal
monochromatic
a color scheme limited to variations of one hue, a hue with its tints and/or shades
monument
a structure, such as a building or sculpture, erected as a memorial
mood
overall feeling or emotion, often equated with expression
motif
a consistent or recurrent conceptual element, usually a figure or design
movement
the effect or representation of motion in painting, sculpture, etc
mural
a large wall painting, often executed in fresco
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N

narrative
a representation in art of an event or story
non-objective
art without reference to anything outside itself-without representation; also called non-representational-without recognizable objects
Neoclassicism
new classicism; a revival of classical Greek and Roman forms in art, music, and literature, particularly during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe and America
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O

oil paint
paint in which the pigment is held together with a binder of oil, usually linseed oil
opalescent
a white surface having iridescence
opaque
impenetrable by light; not transparent or translucent
organic
an irregular shape or one that might be found in nature
ornament
something that decorates, adorns, or embellishes; ornamentation- a class of things ornamental
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P

painterly
painting characterized by openness of form, in which shapes are defined by loose brushwork in light and dark color areas rather than by outline or contour
palette
a board on which an artist mixes paints; certain colors used by a specific artist
pastels
sticks of powdered pigment held together with a gum binding agent; pale colors or tints
pastoral
a rural picture or scene, dealing with or portraying a feeling of peaceful innocence
pattern
a principle of art and probably the universe itself; pattern means the repetition of an element (or elements) in a work
patina
the fine crust or film on bronze or copper; any thin film, coloring, or mellowed appearance on the surface of an object as a result of age or use
pedestal
an architectural support or base, as for a column or statue
perpendicular
intersecting at or forming right angles
perspective
a formal method of creating a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional surface
Photorealism
a style of painting that became prominent in the 1970s, based on the cool objectivity of photographs as records of subjects
pigment
any coloring agent, made from natural or synthetic substances, used in paints or drawing materials
Pop Art
objects from commercial art and the popular culture transformed into artworks
portrait
a representation of a person, esp. of the face, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculptured
Post-Modern
an attitude or trend of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, in which artists and architects accept all that modernism rejects
primary colors
those hues that cannot be produced by mixing other hues; pigment primaries are red, yellow, and blue; light primaries are red, green, and blue; theoretically, pigment primaries can be mixed together to form all the other hues in the spectrum
principles
certain qualities inherent in the choice and arrangement of elements of art in the production of a work of art; balance, emphasis, harmony, movement, pattern, proportion, rhythm, unity variety
print (artist's print)
a multiple-original impression made from a plate, stone, wood block, or screen by an artist or made under the artist's supervision  Prints are usually made in editions, with each print numbered and signed by the artist
Prix de Rome
an annual prize awarded by the French government in a competition of painters and artists and sculptors and musicians and architects; the winner in each category receives support for a period of study in Rome
proof
in graphic arts, a preliminary print that is examined for quality control before final printing is done
proportion
the size relationship of parts to a whole and to one another
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Q

quilts
a coverlet or blanket made of two layers of fabric with a layer of cotton, wool, feathers, or down in between, all stitched firmly together, usually in a decorative crisscross design
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R

realism
a type of representational art in which the artist depicts as closely as possible what the eye sees
relief printing
a printing technique in which the parts of the printing surface that carry ink are left raised, while the remaining areas are cut away; woodcuts and linoleum prints (linocuts) are relief prints
relief sculpture
sculpture in which three-dimensional forms project from a flat background of which they are a part; the degree of projection can vary and is described by the terms high relief and low relief (bas-relief)
Renaissance
period in Europe from the late fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries, characterized by a renewed interest in human-centered classical art, literature, and learning
representational art
art in which it is the artist's intention to present again or represent a particular subject; especially pertaining to realistic portrayal of subject matter
rhythm
the regular or ordered repetition of dominant and subordinate elements or units within a design
Romanticism
a literary and artistic movement of late eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe; art of any period based on spontaneity, intuition, and emotion rather than carefully organized rational approaches to form
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S

salon
a general term for a group art exhibition in France
scagliola
plasterwork in imitation of ornamental marble, consisting of ground gypsum and glue colored with marble or granite dust
scale
the size or apparent size of an object seen in relation to other objects, people, or its environment or format
screen-printing (serigraphy)
a printmaking technique in which stencils are applied to fabric stretched across a frame and paint or ink is forced with a squeegee through the unblocked portions of the screen onto paper or other surface beneath
sculptor
one who produces sculptures
sculpture
a three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it; may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast and can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media
secondary colors
pigment secondarys are the hues orange, violet, and green, which may be produced in slightly dulled form by mixing two primaries
sensory
of or pertaining to the senses
sepia
a dark brown ink or pigment originally prepared from secretion of the cuttlefish
shade
a hue with black added
shadow
an area that is not or is only partially illuminated because an opaque object is between the area and the source of light
shape
a two-dimensional or implied two-dimensional area defined by line or changes in value and/or color
shard
a piece or fragment of broken pottery
shuttle
a device used in weaving to carry the woof thread back and forth between the warp threads
sketch
generally a rough draft, drawing, or design not finished, but containing adequate detail to complete a finished product at a later time
soldered
a method of joining pieces of metal by melting an alloy of tin and lead into the joint to fuse the two edges together; the application of a flux to surfaces to be soldered is generally required
space
an element of art that refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within things
still life
a painting or other two-dimensional work of art representing inanimate objects such as bottles, fruit, and flowers  Also, the arrangement of these objects from which a drawing, painting, or other work is made
streetscape
an artistic representation of a street
studio
an artist's workroom
style
a characteristic handling of media and elements of form that gives a work its identity as the product of a particular person, group, art movement, period, or culture
symbol
a form or image implying or representing something beyond its obvious and immediate meaning
symbolism
the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships
symmetry
a design (or composition) with identical or nearly identical form on opposite sides of a dividing line or central axis; formal balance
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T

tempera
a water-based paint using egg, egg yolk, glue, or casein as a binder
techniques
any method of working with art materials to produce an art object
textile
artifact made by weaving, felting, knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers
texture
the tactile quality of a surface or the representation or invention of the appearance of such a surface quality
three-dimensional
having height, width, and depth
tint
A hue with white added
tones
harmony in colors and values in an artwork
traditional
of, relating to, or in accord with tradition
translucent
allowing some light to pass through, but greatly obscuring the image of objects on the other side
two-dimensional
having the dimensions of height and width only
typography
the art and technique of composing printed materials from type
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U

unity
the quality of wholeness or oneness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of design
utilitarian
having a useful function
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V

value
the lightness or darkness of tones or colors; white is the lightest value; black is the darkest
vanishing point
in linear perspective, the point on the horizon line at which lines or edges that are parallel appear to converge
variety
a principle of design that refers to a way of combining elements of art in involved ways to achieve intricate and complex relationships
Victorian
being in the highly ornamented, massive style of architecture, decor, and furnishings popular in 19th-century England
visualize
to form a mental image or vision; to imagine
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W

warm colors
colors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem warm; warm colors or hues include red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow
wash
a thin, transparent layer of paint or ink
watercolor
paint that uses water-soluble gum as the binder and water as the vehicle; characterized by transparency and also, the resulting painting
welding
The process of joining metals by fusing them together under direct, intense heat usually with an oxyacetylene torch; a metal rod may be applied to the joint which melts into any gaps and strengthens the bond
woodblock print
a type of relief print made from an image that is left raised on a block of wood

Reference: The ArtLex Art Dictionary