ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
Inner Worlds


Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Richard Hunt
 Judy Onofrio
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity 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.

aerial view--A view from the sky of the landscape or objects below, same as birds-eye-view.

allegory--An image, mythical figure, or story that refers to something else entirely--usually large concepts such as good and evil or comments on the human condition.

Armory Show--An exhibition (actually titled The International Exhibition of Modern Art) that was held in the armory in New York from February 17- March 15, 1913. It subsequently traveled to Boston and Chicago. The exhibition, which was seen by more than 400,000 people was controversial, but a major cultural event of its time. The Armory Show included approximately 1,200 works that introduced the American public to Post-Impressionist and Cubist art.

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

automatism--Technique of creating a work of art without the use of thought or the conscious mind.

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."

Beat Artists--The artists who struggled against conformity, mechanization, and materialism of mainstream culture during the 1950s and 1960s.

biomorphic--Abstract shapes that suggest living organisms.

bird's-eye view--Seen from above as if by a flying bird, same as aerial view.

Conceptual art--Art that focuses on the idea expressed and the process of creating the work.

consumer--Person who buys products.

contrast--The use of opposing elements such as light and dark, large and small, smooth and rough. Shows differences between elements such as the light and dark parts of a picture.

crest--A symbol representing families or clans, groups of people who share the same ansestors.

Dada--Anti-art movement which emerged in Europe in 1916 as a reaction against the inhumanity of World War I; interpreted irrational and nihilistic, or hopeless, social forces by creating ridiculing images; and used shock tactics.

decode--To translate an unknown idea, word, or image into an understandable idea or image.

Early Renaissance--The first decades of the Renaissance, which began in Italy about 1400-1450, in which a revival or "rebirth" of learning from Classical Greece and Rome took place in the arts, literature, and sciences.

Expressionism--Generally, expressionism (with a lowercase "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 uppercase "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.

Fauve--A French term meaning "a wild beast" used to label a group of early 20th century French artists, led by Henri Matisse, who used bright, unnatural colors and slashing brush strokes to paint images of contemporary life.

figurative--Art that depicts animals or human figures.

Flemish--From a region in northwestern Europe including parts of southern Netherlands, northern France and western Belgium. Beginning with the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries, Flemish culture was at a peak and Flemish painters achieved a high degree of skill especially in depicting realistic landscapes using aerial perspective.

formalist--An artist who focuses on the visual elements of art--its color, line, shape, size, structure--to give it its form. Generally, but not always, a formalist emphasizes these elements over content, or subject.

found sculpture--Made from objects already in existence; objects found and put together by the sculptor.

funk art--Art that is visceral and earthy; portrays the subject in a deliberately distasteful way; sometimes pushes the limits of "good taste" (from Beat artists) of the 1950s and 1960s.

geometric shape--Shapes with regular contours, and straight edges such as squares, triangles, or circles.

horizon line--The line created where the sky and earth appear to meet.

iconography--The study of symbols and their meanings.

infrared film--A special kind of film that is sensitive to infrared radiation, which is in the spectrum of light but is not visible to the human eye. Common photographic film records the light and dark tones of a scene as they would ordinarily be seen by the human eye. Infrared film records a scene with a shift in tones, which can suggest an unreal, fantasylike state.

landscape--A painting, drawing, or other depiction of natural scenery.

larva--Worm-like stage of butterfly development.

Medieval--Related to the Middle Ages--a period in history between the last emperor of Rome, 475 A.D., and the Renaissance, about 1450. Art production during this period was dominated by the Catholic Church.

metamorphosis--A change from one form or shape to another.

Mythology-- A collection of stories belonging to a group of people, which addresses their origin, history and heroes.

Neo-Expressionism--A prefix meaning "new," here referring to a revival, or renewed interest in German Expressionism and expressive art in general by American and European artists in the 1980s.

Neo-Surrealism--A prefix meaning "new," here referring to a revival, or renewed interest in Surrealism in the 1980s.

non-objective--Art that is purely an arrangement of line, color, shape, form or texture and that does not show any recognizable person, place or thing.

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

ovoid--A design element used in Northwest Coast Indian art, described as a rounded rectangle, angular oval, or an eggshape.

Perspective--A variety of techniques used to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface by mimicking the effects of distance on human perception. Perspective shows depth and make objects appear three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface.

Photorealism--(Superrealism), 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.

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.

Post-Impressionists--A label given to a diverse group of French artists: Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Georges Seurat, who were working in the 1880s and 1890s. These artists shared a dissatisfaction with Impressionism's tendency to blur shapes and forms with loose brush strokes, but each explored their own individual approaches to form and expression in art. The Post-Impressionists are credited for laying the groundwork for the many modern movements that followed.

potlatch--An important ceremony of the Northwest Coast Indians in which the person hosting the potlatch gives away his or her possessions. It is a way for people to share their wealth with the community, to strengthen their leadership, and to earn the respect of others.

psychoanalysis--A method of treating mental disorders through investigating emotional conflicts and childhood repressions by getting the patient to talk freely, examining his or her dreams.

pupa--Inactive cocoon stage of butterfly development.

Realism--A style of art that represent nature accurately as seen by the human eye.

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

shutter speed--Control on a camera which regulates the amount of time the film is exposed to light.

subconscious--A mental process which occurs without awareness, or conscious perception on the part of the individual.

Surrealism--Movement in art and literature from 1924 to 1945 where artists attempted to give visual representation to dreams, fantasies, and the unconscious mind. Emphasized real objects in unreal situations, surprise, contradiction and shock.

symbol--Usually an image that stands for an idea or object.

symbolism--The practice of using something, usually an object or sign, to represent something else, usually intangible--such as an idea or concept.

symmetrical--Identical on both sides of a two sided image.

text--Text can be written (word), visual (art) or ambient (body language) used to communicate.

three-dimensional--The quality of having height, width, and depth. Painters use illusionary techniques to create a sense of depth on a flat surface which has only height and width (two-dimensional).

urban--Characteristic of a city, usually with many people living very close together, with businesses nearby.

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Inner Worlds Vocabulary

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