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Fine Arts Glossary and Art Terms
The science of the "beautiful" in a work of art. The aesthetic appeal of a work of art is defined by the visual, social, ethical, moral, and contemporary standards of society.
The material that is used to create an artwork, i.e. oil, acrylic, lithography, serigraphy, marble, bronze, etc.
A color scheme that involves different values of a single color.
A formal method of creating a three dimensional effect on a two dimensional surface.
A French term translated as "fool the eye," which denotes a painting so real that the viewer feels he can touch the objects.
Additional proofs from a print run that are not included in the regular edition. These prints are pulled for the artist approval and for personal use. These prints are also used to extend the edition beyond the original numbered run. Artist Proof works are marked AP either with or without a number that denotes how many were run.
A relief-printing technique in which incisions made in a wood or linoleum block print white, and what is left in relief prints black.
Bon a Tirer:
This is a French term which translates as "Good Pull". It denotes that the print that has just been pulled can be used as a guide to match up the remainder of the prints that are pulled in the edition.
A contemporary intaglio process in which prints are pulled from a block on which the design has been built up like a collage. Various objects are adhered to the block to build up the areas that will print white. The block is inked and then wiped so that the paper receives the ink
from the depressions.
Prints made posthumously from the artist's original plates.
Limited edition items made to commemorate a specific date or event.
A limited number of impressions of a print. When the edition is complete, the plate or block is often cancelled by defacing it.
A fraction found on the bottom left hand corner of a print. The top number is the sequence in the edition; the bottom number is the total number of prints in the edition. The number appears as a fraction usually in the lower left of the print. For instance the edition number 25/50 means that it is print number 25 out of a total edition of 50.
A type of intaglio printing in which the plate is cut with a tool called a "graver" or "burin," which cuts a V-shaped trough. Engraved lines are cut so they are sharp and clean, and can be distinguished from etched lines, which are slightly irregular since they are bitten unevenly by the acid.
A form of intaglio printing in which the lines of the design are drawn on the metal plate and then bitten (etched or eaten away) by acid.
The artist's signature is photo-mechanically reproduced and applied to the print. These signatures tend to look hand signed, but upon closer examination reveal a composition of tiny dots that are indicative of its unoriginal status.
This French term literally translates as "before business." Originally an Hors Commerce print was used as the color key and printing guide which the printer would use to insure consistency of the print run. Hors Commerce pieces are designated by the letters H.C. written on the print itself. These pieces are usually printer's proofs that are not for sale and are often used for promotional purposes. H.C. designations can also be used to extend the run of the edition.
All-metal plate engraving and etching processes in which the printing areas are recessed, i.e., the lines that form the design are cut into the surface. The plate is inked and then wiped so that the paper receives the ink from the incised lines and not from the surface of the plate.
A process in which proofs are pulled on a special litho-press from a flat surface that is chemically sensitized to take ink only on the design areas and to repel it on the blank areas.
A reverse-engraving procedure in which the entire surface of a copper or steel plate is heavily abraded with a tool called a "rocker" or "cradle." The resulting surface, called the "burr," prints as a dark, velvety black. White areas are made by burnishing and scraping the burr to create smooth, depressed areas which will not take the ink. Half-tones are created by partially burnishing and scraping the burr.
A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet of glass or metal, and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper. Enough of the original paint remains on the plate after the transfer so that the
same or different colors can be reapplied to make subsequent prints, but no two prints will be exactly alike.
A print made from the original plate, block, stone, screen, etc. which the artist has created and printed from himself.
Archival prints are done on rag paper. It is Ph-balanced, and it bends rather than breaking or cracking. Arches is the most commonly used brand-name of rag paper. If a print is done on Arches paper, you will probably be able to see the Arches watermark by holding the print up to the light.
A signature that is written by the hand of the artist, in pencil. The signature is usually located in the lower right portion of the work, below the image in the white margin. A pencil-signed print bears original status.
Prints in which the artist's signature is put onto the plate itself, and then transferred to the print through the same process as the rest of the design.
Prints in which the original image is photographed through a finely cross-ruled screen onto copper-plates, the margins and non-printing areas of the plate are covered with acid resist and the plate is then etched. A type of intaglio printmaking. In this method the proofs are pulled on dry paper through an etching press. Also called Heliogravure.
A stencil and stencil-brush process used to make multicolor prints, for tinting black and white prints, and for coloring reproductions and book illustrations, especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand coloring or hand illustration.
A sketch made by the artist on the margin of an etched plate, often unrelated to the main composition.
Silkscreen print whose color areas are paint films rather than printing-ink stains. The direct technique is versatile enough to produce an unlimited range of colors and depths, which justifies to some extent the opinion that serigraphy is as much a painter's as a printmaker's medium.
Complete print documentation given to the buyer upon purchase of a print. The "who, what, where, when, and how many" of the print.
Not realistic, though the intention is often based on an actual subject, place, or feeling. Pure abstraction can be interpreted as any art in which the depiction of real objects has been entirely discarded and whose aesthetic content is expressed in a formal pattern or structure of shapes, lines and colors. When the representation of real objects is completely absent, such art may be called non-objective.
A 1940's New York painting movement based on Abstract Art. This type of painting is often referred to as action painting.
American Genre Painting:
Usually paintings of the rural Midwest and west during the 1920s and 30s.
During the 1920s and 30s, artists used decorative motifs derived from French, African, Aztec, Chinese, and Egyptian cultures.
A style which evolved during the 1890s which used asymmetrical decorative elements derived from objects found in nature.
A group of American painters and illustrators of the early 20th century, often known as The Eight. They were Robert Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur Davies, and Ernest Lawson. Their work depicted such subjects as the streets and inhabitants of big cities with a vigorous sense of realism.
French landscape artists who worked near Barbizon, France between 1835 and 1870.
A design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in Germany. The Bauhaus attempted to achieve a reconciliation between the aesthetics of design and the more commercial demands of industrial mass production.
Artists include Klee, Kandinsky, and Feininger.
A school of fine arts located in Paris which stressed the necessity of academic painting.
Generally defined as art which was produced during the second half of the twentieth century.
A revolutionary art movement between 1907 and 1914 in which natural forms were changed by geometrical reduction. Leading figures were Georges
Braque and Pablo Picasso.
A concept of painting in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion is overridden by the intensity of an artist's emotional response to the subject.
A painting technique in which the artist concentrates on the changing effects of light and color. Often this style can be characterized by its use of discontinuous brush strokes and heavy impasto.
A form of realistic painting of people that depicts ordinary events. These paintings are not religious, historical, abstract or mythological.
Not representing any object, figure, or element in nature, in any way; nonrepresentational.
A style derived from commercial art forms and characterized by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterized in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.
A pigment in a plastic binder medium that is water based and adheres to most surfaces. Acrylic paint is used to mimic the look of oil paint. The advantages of acrylic over oil is that it is less toxic and it dries more quickly.
A term describing art that departs from the existing norm in an original or experimental way.
The dramatic use of light and shadow to create a mood or a focal point in a painting.
Collage: A grouping of different textured materials or objects that are glued together.
Encaustic: Pigment is mixed with melted wax and resin and then applied to a surface while hot.
Textural rubbing on paper done with crayon, oil or pencil.
An underpainting medium consisting of glue, plaster of Paris, or chalk and water. Gesso is used to size the canvas and prepare the surface for painting.
A watercolor medium which is mixed with finely ground white pigment to provide an opaque paint.
The thick textured build up of a picture's surface which is created through the repeated applications of paint.
A continuous painting which is designed to fill a wall or other architectural area.
A powdered pigment which is held together with oil, usually linseed oil.
An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, a part of a painting, or an original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.
Pigment which is mixed with water or egg yolk and usually applied to board or panel.
A pigment mixed with a binder and applied with water to give a transparent effect.
A low relief sculpture that projects only slightly from its 2 dimensional background.
An alloy of copper and tin used for sculpture.
A subtractive method of sculpture which consists of removing wood or stone from a single block.
Reproducing in plaster, bronze, or plastic, an original piece ofsculpture made of clay, wax, or similar material.
Any object made of clay and fired.
A twist or "S" curve of the human figure caused by placing the weight on one foot and turning the shoulder.
A method of creating a wax mold of a sculpture and then heating the mold to melt out the wax and replace it with a molten metal or plastic.
Terms coined to describe work created by Alexander Calder. The mobile is a hanging, movable sculpture and the stabile rests on the ground but also may have moving parts.