ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?

Art and Artists
 Africa, Zaire
 England, Higham Manor,
 Donald Judd
 New Mexico (Mimbres)
 Claes Oldenburg and 
 Coosje van Bruggen
 Thailand,  (Blue Hmong)
 Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment   Identity Designing Spaces and Places

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.

Abstract Expressionism --Art that rejects representation; has few recognizable images; emphasis on line, color, shape, texture, value; expression of internal feelings or emotions of the artist.

accordion-pleated--A series of accordian-like folds, often found in clothing.

aesthetic--Relating to standards of beauty and art.

aestheticians--Philosophers who study the question "what is art?" and "what is beauty?"

aesthetics--The philosophical study that explores questions about "what is art?" or "what is beauty?"

appliqué--A sewing technique in which a cutout decoration is attached to a larger piece of material.

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

batik--A fabric dyeing technique in which the pattern is first drawn with beeswax onto the cloth with a metal tool, and then the cloth is immersed in dye. The areas covered by the wax are not affected by the dye, creating a pattern that can be seen when the wax is removed by boiling the cloth. Wax and dye applications may be repeated for color variation.

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

cantilever--Horizontal shapes extending outward over space.

civic--Relating to citizenship or the public affairs of a community.

collaboration--To work together in an artistic undertaking.

combine paintings --Art using found objects or ready-mades in random juxtaposition in order to unleash the unconscious mind by free association.

complementary colors--Colors which appear opposite one another on a color wheel. When placed next to one another, complementary colors are intensified and often appear to vibrate.

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

cosmos--The universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious whole.

cross-stitch embroidery --Needlework stitch that forms an "x."

culture--For the purposes of this unit, culture is the values, customs, language hustory, and traditions of a group of people. This term includes, but is not exclusive to, ethnic origin.

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.

existentialism--A philosophical perspective in which it is believed that humans are totally responsible for their actions; from this perspective, art is a conscious act.

formal skills--The elements and principles of design (line, shape, color, texture, balance, unity, etc.)

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

Happening--Loosely organized performance art that might include music, theater, dance, visual art, or audience participation.

Haring, Keith -- Came to New York to attend art school, but believed the most interesting art was happening "on the street" rather than in the classroom or art galleries. He did thousands of illicit anonymous graffiti drawings on public spaces. He achieved international recognition as a gallery artist working in the graffiti style. Keith Haring died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of thirty-two.

hearth--The fireplace, or other main source of heat in a room. Rooms are often designed around a hearth.

judicial--Relating to the system of laws and justice in a community.

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).

mortar--A building material similar to cement which is used in masonry or plastering.

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

paradigm--A particular way in which a person views the world; his or her reality.

period room--A room set up to resemble a particular time and place in history. Period rooms frequently contain furnishings and actual flooring or wall paneling from historic houses. Period rooms can reveal much about the values and lifestyles of the people who inhabited them.

pilaster--A flat column, which is attached to the wall.

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.

random--Having no specific pattern, arrangement or predictable outcome.

ready-mades--A label given by artist Marcel Duchamp to a series of works he created in the early 20th century in which common objects--such as bicycle wheels, urinals, snow shovels, and bottle racks--were altered slightly and signed with a fictitious name and presented as works of art.

ritual--A ceremonial act or action.

silk-screen printing --A color printing process in which ink or paint is forced through a mesh screen onto the paper or canvas.

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.

vitrines--French term meaning showcases, or shop windows.

work-in-progress --An artwork which is not yet completed.

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What is Art? Vocabulary

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