GLOSSARY


ABSTRACT ART - Abstract works of art can be either non-representational, or can be derived from the real world. In the first case, the work of art is completely invented by the artist, and does not directly reproduce anything in the real world. In the second case, the artist may start with an observation in the real world and then transform that image into a pattern-like shape or form.

ALL-OVER (composition) - First used in connection with the "drip" paintings of Jackson Pollock, the term describes a style of painting in which the whole surface of the canvas is used in a somewhat uniform manner.

ASSEMBLAGE - The technique of creating three-dimensional works of art by combining a variety of material- including "found objects"- into new aesthetic objects.

AUTOMATIC or AUTOMATISM - The practice of automatic drawing, painting, or writing, made in a state of unconscious free association. This was an important method of working for the Surrealist artists.

AVANT-GARDE - A French term meaning "advanced guard," used since the mid-19th century to describe artists, art movements, or ideas that are ahead of their time.

CONCEPTUAL ART- An art form in which the idea or concept and the process by which it is achieved are more important than any touchable product.

EXPRESSIONIST ART - Painting, sculpting, drawing, etc., in which natural forms and colors are distorted or exaggerated to create a personal treatment of thematic material.

FIGURE-GROUND - In a painting, the way in which an object or shape is related to the background against which we see it. Human perception normally operates in such a way that the `figure' seems to advance, and lie in front of the background. In abstract art, this relationship is less clear.

MEDIUM - Generally, the physical substance the artist chooses to use for his/her work of art is the medium. For example, marble is a medium of sculptors.

NON-REPRESENTATIONAL or NON-OBJECTIVE WORKS - Abstract works that make no reference whatsoever to the world of people, places, and the objects associated with them; art from which all identifiable subject matter has been eliminated.

PAINTERLY- A term that describes a painting in which the tactile, fluid quality of the paint and the movement involved in its application become a principal quality of the work.

PRIMARY/SECONDARY COLORS - For paints (as opposed to theater lights), the hues red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. These building blocks of color are often arranged on a color wheel. From these three colors, with the addition of white or black, it is theoretically possible to mix the full range of colors in the spectrum. Orange, green, and violet are the secondary colors, or those colors that stand mid-way between the primary colors.

RHYTHM - For the visual arts, the regular repetition of a color, shape, or form.

SHAPED CANVAS - A development in painting that enabled artists to depart from the traditional parallelogram canvas and to explore the canvas as a form.

SILKSCREENING - A printing method in which the image is transferred to a surface by forcing ink through a fine mesh screen on which non-printing areas are "blocked out" to prevent ink penetration.

SURREALIST ART - An art style of the early 20th century that focused on fantasy, dream-world imagery, and the irrational juxtaposition of images, words, and things. Surrealists wanted to liberate the riches of the subconscious mind from the "prison" of the rational mind.

UNPRIMED CANVAS - Canvas is traditionally sealed with a primer paint before a painting is made. Sealing the canvas creates an even surface and protects the canvas. Unprimed canvas is not sealed.

WARM/ COOL COLORS - Warm colors are red, orange, or yellow, and cool colors are blue, green, or blue-violet. Psychologically, warm colors tend to be exciting, emphatic, and affirmative; optically, warm colors seem to advance or to project forward to the viewer. Psychologically, cool colors are calming, unemphatic, depressive; optically, they generally appear to recede.