ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
Identity


Art and Artists
 Africa, Sierra Leone
 Chuck Close
 James Ensor
 Frank Gehry
 Robert Gwathmey
 Marsden Hartley
 Pepón Osorio
 James Rosenquist
 Ernest Whiteman

Inner Worlds What is Art?  Environment  Designing Spaces and Places
Vocabulary

abstract--Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often "abstract" objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see.

anecdote--A short story of some interesting or humorous incident.

assemblage--A three-dimensional collage created from a group of everyday objects, many times pre-made and put together in a specific way.

autobiographical--Telling the story of your own life.

avant-garde--Describes new and innovative art or artists that depart from tradition to experiment with a new style, technique, or subject matter. From the French word for "vanguard."

Belief system--All cultures develop a system of values that are applied to meet a culture's needs. Our understanding of the values of a culture and our acceptance or rejection of those values is often based upon our own cultural belief system.

caricature--A representation of a person that exaggerates or distorts certain recognizable features, often concentrating on personal as well as physical features.

chrysalis--The casing, or pupa, of an undeveloped butterfly.

collaboration--To work together in an artistic undertaking.

cultural reclamation--The act of "looking for, searching out, and piecing together aspects of lost or hidden legacies."

Depression--A period during the 1930s of drastic decline in the economy characterized by decreasing business activity, falling prices and unemployment.

environmental art--Art that focuses on human interaction with their environments such as pollution and land use.

expressionism--Generally, expressionism (with a lower case e) refers to any art that emphasizes strong emotions or feelings. Shortly before World War I, a group of artists in Germany set as their goal the depiction of emotional and psychological concerns of themselves and their times. Some of these German Expressionists (with an upper case E) used strong color contrasts, angular simplified forms, and heavy black outlines to express their anger and hostility; others explored color and abstraction to express spiritual or mystical ideas.

Federal Arts Project (FAP)--A program organized by the U. S. Government in 1935 during the Depression designed to employ artists by placing them on the Federal payroll and in return having the works they producedÑwhich included murals,photographs, archival drawings and easel paintingsÑbe submitted to the government for use in public buildings. By the time it was dissolved on 1943, the FAP had employed ten thousand artists.

foreground--The part of the picture that appears to be closest to the viewer.

found objects--sculpture materials from everyday life

gesture--A motion of the body as a means of communication or expression.

grisaille--A painting technique using only grey tints.

Historical and cultural context--Refers to what the artist was trying to express considering the history, period, school, style or cultural influences evident during the time in which the art was created.

icon--An image or representation of something that may be considered sacred or symbolic.

identity--The distinguishing character or personality of an individual; the condition of being the same with something described or asserted.

Impressionism--A movement in painting in which the emphasis on light and color, loose brush strokes, ordinary subject matter; creates the "impression" of a moment in time. Dabs and strokes of color are used to depict the natural appearances of objects and reflected light.

juxtaposition--To place two different things side by side.

kitsch--Art using popular culture icons, mass-produced objects; means "worthless" in German.

Mastaba--The Egyptians didn't become great pyramid builders right away. They started by cutting tombs into the rock of the desert floor and building mastabas (from the Arab word meaning "bench") over them. Mastabas were raised, flat, platforms. Some were as large as twenty-five feet high and two-hundred feet square. Ordinarily a burial chamber was cut into rock below ground level.

Megalithic--A period dating back to as early as 5000 bce.. Marked by the establishment of huge architectural monuments. Early megalithic man-made monuments, such as Stonehenge, were massive, upright stones. Almost 50,000 of these structures still exist.

metaphor--An idea or image that stands for something else.

Minimalism--A style of art in which the least possible amount of form shapes, colors, or lines are used to reduce the concept or idea to its simplest form (geometric shapes, progressions).

modernist, modernism--In art history, this term refers to the philosophies of art made in Europe and the United States during a period roughly from 1860s through the 1970s when certain artists began to take radical steps away from traditional art in order to be deliberately different, critical, and often dissenting from the dominant official taste. Modern art or modernism is characterized by changing attitudes about art, an interest in contemporary events as subjects, personal artistic expression, and freedom from realism. Modernism can be seen as artistsO attempts to come to terms with the urban, industrial and secular society that emerged during the nineteenth century in Western society.

montage--The process of making one picture from many pictures or designs closely arranged or overlapping each other.

motif--A dominant theme, idea, or pattern in a work of art. Motifs are often repeated.

occult--Ideas having to do with the supernatural and mysterious; specifically, in the early 20th Century, a system of Ohidden truthsO leading to metaphysical revelations.

organic--Things pertaining to living organisms or something from the natural world. In art, organic shapes are derived from natural forms.

petroglyphs--An ancient carving or inscription in a rock.

picture plane--The surface of a picture.

Photorealism--A style of painting in which an image is created in such exact detail that it looks like a photograph; uses everyday subject matter, and often is larger than life.

pointillism--A painting technique in which a white background is covered with tiny dots of pure color that fuse when seen from a distance producing a luminous visual effect.

Pop art--An art movement associated with the 1960s in the United States in which artists incorporated imagery and/or media from popular culture such as advertisements, mass produced objects, movies, and comics.

popular culture -The opposite of high cultural art forms, such as the opera, historic art, classical music, traditional theater or literature; popular culture includes many forms of cultural communication including newspapers, television, advertising, comics, pop music, radio, cheap novels, movies, jazz, etc. In the beginning of the 20th Century, "high art" was the realm of the wealthy and educated classes while popular culture or "low art" was considered commercial entertainment for the lower classes. In the 1950s and 60s the gulf between high and low art closed with the rise of Pop Art.

Poro Society--The secret association for men in Mende society.

repetitive pattern--A visual shape (or dance step or musical note) that is repeated over and over.

representational--Depicts an object in nature in recognizable form.

Rituals and Traditions--As a culture evolves, common practices develop that influence the members of that culture.

Sande Society--The secret association for women in Mende society.

scarification--Permanent patterned marks made by small scratches or cuts in the skin. In many parts of Africa these scars are marks of beauty and a way to identify someone belonging to a particular group.

sharecropper--A tenant farmer who gives a share of his crop to the landowner in lieu of rent.

Stagnant Civilization--The best example of this concept is the Egyptian civilization that flourished for about 3000 years. Because of its cultural obsession with immortality, the Egyptian's rituals and traditions were concerned with assuring a comfortable afterlife.

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