Abstract: Terms with wide-ranging meaning, but always descriptive of artwork in which the realistic depiction of objects ranges from secondary to non-existent. Although it could be argued that the dramatic landscapes of many of the Hudson River painters were exaggerated (abstracted) to emphasize emotion rather than visual reality, Impressionism was the first major step into Abstraction and a critical break with Realism that shocked many viewers and stirred widespread critical commentary in Europe and America.
Abstract Expressionism: Emerging in the 1940s in New York City and flourishing in the Fifties, Abstract Expressionism is regarded by many as the golden age of American art. The movement is marked by its use of brushstrokes and texture, the embracing of chance and the frequently massive canvases, all employed to convey powerful emotions through the glorification of the act of painting itself. Some of the key figures of the movement were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Although their works vary greatly in style, for example the sprawling pieces of Pollock at one end of the spectrum and the brooding works of Rothko at the other, yet they all share the same outlook which is one of freedom of individual expression. The term was originally used to describe the work of Kandinsky but was adopted by writers in the Fifties as a way of defining the American movement, although the practitioners, disliking being pigeonholed, preferred the term New York School. The movement was enormously successful both critically and commercially. The result was such that New York came to replace Paris as the centre for contemporary art and the repercussions of this extraordinarily influential movement can still be felt thirty years after its heyday.
Academic art: The term "Academic Art" is associated particularly with the French Academy and its influence on the Paris Salons in the 19th century. Though Academic art can be meant to extend to all art influenced by the European Academies, it's often meant to refer to artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des beaux-arts. The Académie des beaux-arts, was founded in an effort to distinguish artists "who were gentlemen practicing a liberal art" from craftsmen, who were engaged in manual labor. This emphasis on the intellectual component of art making had a considerable impact on the subjects and styles of academic art. Paris Salons were held in the Salon d'Apollon in the Palais du Louvre. They were enormously influential in establishing officially approved styles and in molding public taste, and they helped consolidate the Royal Academy's dictatorial control over the production of fine art. Academic Art was in fashion in Europe from the 17th to the 19th century. It practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, and more usually used to refer to art that followed these two movements, in the attempt to synthesize both of their styles. Artists such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Leon Gerome epitomize this style. It is reflected also by the paintings of Thomas Couture, and Hans Makart. Academic Art is also called academism, academicism, art pompier, and eclecticism, and sometimes linked with historicism and syncretism.
Acrylic: A water-resistant paint made by mixing pigment in a solution of polymer resin. These paints or colors are also called Plastic Colors to distinguish them from Polymer Paints, which are dispersed in water. Acrylic Paints do not yellow nor fade, and they dry quickly, have much durability and adhesive qualities and are easy to remove with turpentine. These characteristics make them popular with some artists and conservators but unpopular with others because they dry so quickly that subtle mixing of colors cannot occur and they are hard on brushes.
Air brush: An implement slightly larger than a fountain pen. It is a "sophisticated spray gun" that creates a smooth, even toned finish. The device has a barrel that compresses the air and then widens at the end. At the point where the air expands, it combines with paint fed from an attached container. Airbrushing is considered an illustrators' technique because the smooth result is dictated by the machine and not the artist's hand. The airbrush was patented by Charles Burdick, an Englishman, in 1893.
Allegory: In the context of painting and sculpture, an image or images intended by the artist to have underlying meaning or a story line behind the obvious visual arrangement. Allegorical works are exclusive in that they require education or “information outside the work” (Atkins) in accord with what the artist is trying to convey. Traditionally Allegorical painting and sculpture creates a tie between the arts and literature, such as the Bible, respected poets and novelists of English literature, and Greek and Roman mythology.
American modernism: American modernism like modernism in general is a trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve, and reshape their environment, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology and practical experimentation, and is thus in its essence both progressive and optimistic. The general term covers many political, cultural and artistic movements rooted in the changes in Western society at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. American modernism is an artistic and cultural movement in the United States starting at the turn of the 20th century with its core period between World War I and World War II and continuing into the 21st century.
American realisms: American realism was a turn of the century idea in art, music and literature that showed through these different types of work, reflections of the time period. Whether it was a cultural portrayal, or a scenic view of downtown New York City, these images and works of literature, music and painting depicted a contemporary view of what was happening; an attempt at defining what was real. In America at the beginning of the 20th century a new generation of painters, writers and journalists were coming of age. Many of the painters felt the influence of older American artists like Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Thomas Pollock Anshutz, and William Merritt Chase. However they were interested in creating new and more urbane works that reflected city life and a population that was more urban than rural in America as it entered the new century.
Appropriation Art: As a term in art history and criticism refers to the more or less direct taking over into a work of art of a real object or even an existing work of art. The practice can be tracked back to the Cubist collages and constructions of Picasso and Georges Braque made from 1912 on, in which real objects such as newspapers were included to represent themselves. Appropriation was developed much further in the readymades created by the French artist Marcel Duchamp from 1915. Most notorious of these was Fountain, a men's urinal signed, titled, and presented on a pedestal. Later, Surrealism also made extensive use of appropriation in collages and objects such as Salvador Dalí's Lobster Telephone. In the late 1950s appropriated images and objects appear extensively in the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, and in Pop art. However, the term seems to have come into use specifically in relation to certain American artists in the 1980s, notably Sherrie Levine and the artists of the Neo-Geo group particularly Jeff Koons. Sherrie Levine reproduced as her own work other works of art, including paintings by Claude Monet and Kasimir Malevich. Her aim was to create a new situation, and therefore a new meaning or set of meanings, for a familiar image. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship, and belongs to the long modernist tradition of art that questions the nature or definition of art itself. Appropriation artists were influenced by the 1934 essay by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and received contemporary support from the American critic Rosalind Krauss in her 1985 book The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Appropriation has been used extensively by artists since the 1980s. (Source: Tate Gallery)
Art Deco: Design style of 1920s and 1930s in furniture, pottery, textiles, jewellery, glass etc. It was also a notable style of cinema and hotel architecture. Named after the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925. Can be seen as successor to and a reaction against Art Nouveau. Chief difference from Art Nouveau is influence of Cubism giving Art Deco design generally a more fragmented, geometric character. However, imagery based on plant forms, and sinuous curves remained in some Art Deco design, for example that of Clarice Cliff in Britain. Art Deco was in fact highly varied, showing influences from ancient Egyptian art, Aztec and other ancient Central American art, and the design of modern ships, trains and motor cars. Art Deco also drew on the modern architecture and design of the Bauhaus, and of architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van de Rohe. (Source: Tate Gallery)
Art Informel: French term describing a wide swathe of related types of abstract painting highly prevalent, even dominant, in the 1940s and 1950s, including tendencies such as Tachism, Matter Painting, and Lyrical Abstraction. Mainly refers to European art, but embraces American Abstract Expressionism. The term was used by the French critic Michel Tapié in his 1952 book Un Art Autre to describe types of art which had in common that they were based on highly improvisatory (ie informal) procedures and were often highly gestural. Tapié saw this art as 'other' because it appeared to him as a complete break with tradition. An important source of this kind of painting was the Surrealist doctrine of automatism.
Art Nouveau: Art Nouveau (French for 'new art') is an international style of art, architecture and design that peaked in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century (1880-1914) and is characterised by highly-stylised, flowing, curvilinear designs often incorporating floral and other plant-inspired motifs. The name 'Art Nouveau' derived from the name of a shop in Paris, Maison de l'Art Nouveau, at the time run by Siegfried Bing, that showcased objects that followed this approach to design. The style introduced by Bing was not an immediate success in Paris but rapidly spread to Nancy and to Belgium (especially Brussels) where Victor Horta and Henry Van de Velde would make major contributions in the field of architecture and design. In the United Kingdom Art Nouveau developed out of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The most important centre in Britain was Glasgow with the creations of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. More localised terms for the phenomenon of self-consciously radical, somewhat reformist mannered chic that formed a prelude to 20th-century modernism include Jugendstil in Germany, Austria and many other countries, named after the avant-garde periodical Jugend ('Youth'), Młoda Polska ('Young Poland' style) in Poland, or skønvirke in Denmark, and Sezessionsstil ('Secessionism') in Vienna, where forward-looking artists and designers seceded from the mainstream salon exhibitions to exhibit on their own work in more congenial surroundings. In Spain, the movement was centred in Barcelona and was known as modernisme, with the architect Antoni Gaudí as the most noteworthy practitioner. Art Nouveau was also a force in Central and Eastern Europe, with the influence of Alfons Mucha in Prague and Moravia (part of the modern Czech Republic) and Latvian Romanticism (Riga, the capital of Latvia, is home to over 800 Art Nouveau buildings). In Russia, the movement revolved around the art magazine Mir iskusstva ('World of Art'), which spawned the revolutionary Ballets Russes. In Italy, Stile Liberty was named for the London shop, Liberty & Co, which distributed modern design emanating from the Arts and Crafts movement, a sign both of the Art Nouveau's commercial aspect and the 'imported' character that it always retained in Italy. The entrances to the Paris Métro designed by Hector Guimard in 1899 and 1900 are famous examples of Art Nouveau in Paris.
Arte Povera: The term Arte Povera was introduced by the Italian art critic and curator, Germano Celant, in 1967. His pioneering texts and a series of key exhibitions provided a collective identity for a number of young Italian artists based in Turin, Milan, Genoa and Rome. Arte Povera emerged from within a network of urban cultural activity in these cities, as the Italian economic miracle of the immediate post-war years collapsed into a chaos of economic and political instability. The name means literally 'poor art' but the word poor here refers to the movement's signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the quasi-precious traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, or bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera therefore denotes not an impoverished art, but an art made without restraints, a laboratory situation in which any theoretical basis was rejected in favour of a complete openness towards materials and processes. Leading artists were Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Piero Gilardi, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini and Gilberto Zorio. The heyday of the movement was from 1967¿1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. Can also be seen as Italian contribution to Conceptual art. (Source: Tate Gallery)
Ashcan School: The Ash Can School, sometimes contracted as the Ashcan School, is defined as a realist artistic movement that came into prominence in the United States during the early twentieth century, best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in poor urban neighborhoods. The movement is most associated with a group known as The Eight, or The Ash Can Painters, whose members were Robert Henri, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, John French Sloan, and George Luks. The Eight exhibited as a group only once, at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908, but they are still remembered as a group, despite the fact that their work was very diverse in terms of style and subject matter. As noted, the Ash Can School was not an organized group, but rather the term was applied later to a group of artists, including Henri, Glackens, Edward Hopper (a student of Henri), Shinn, Sloan, Luks, George Bellows (another student of Henri), Mabel Dwight, and others such as photographer Jacob Riis, who portrayed urban subject matter, also primarily of New York's poorer neighborhoods. It was this frequent, although not total, focus upon poverty and the daily realities of urban life at that time that prompted critics to consider them on the fringe of modern art. Everyday life in the city was dealt with, not only as art, but as a contemporary standard of beauty, rendered in the somber palette observed in the city.