A Comprehensive Guide to Art Terms and Concepts.
Welcome to the Art Glossary page!
Here, you will find definitions of common terms and techniques used in the art world. From 'abstract' to 'woodcut', we've compiled a list of terms to help you navigate and understand the various mediums and styles of art on display in our gallery. Whether you're a seasoned art collector or just starting to explore the world of art, this glossary is a valuable resource to enhance your appreciation and understanding of the pieces on display.
Abstract Art - A form of art that does not attempt to depict a realistic representation of a subject, but instead uses shapes, colours, and forms to create a composition.
Acrylic Paint - A fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in a synthetic polymer medium.
Aerial Perspective - A technique used in art and illustration to create the illusion of depth by depicting distant objects as paler, less detailed, and less saturated than closer ones.
Al fresco - A painting or mural executed outdoors.
Alla prima - A painting technique in which layers of wet paint are applied to previous layers of wet paint.
Baroque - A highly ornate and elaborate style of art and architecture that emerged in the late 16th century in Italy.
Bauhaus - A school of art, architecture, and design that was founded in 1919 in Germany and had a major influence on the development of modern art and design.
Bleeding - The spreading of one colour into another in a painting, caused by the mixing of the colours on the surface of the painting or by the use of a wet-on-wet technique.
Brushwork - The technique of using brushes to apply paint to a surface.
Byzantine Art - An art style that developed in the Byzantine Empire from the 4th to the 15th century, characterised by its use of Christian themes and the use of a distinctive iconography.
Chiaroscuro - The use of light and dark shades in a work of art to create the illusion of depth and volume.
Collage - A form of art that involves gluing or pasting various materials, such as paper, fabric , or photographs, onto a surface.
Color field - A style of abstract painting that is characterised by large fields of colour, often with minimal brushstrokes or texture.
Composition - The arrangement of elements within a work of art, including the use of colour, line, shape, and texture.
Cubism - An art movement that emerged in the early 20th century, characterised by the use of geometric shapes and the fragmentation of objects into simple forms.
Dada - A cultural movement that emerged during World War I, characterised by its rejection of traditional values and the use of chance and irrationality in art.
Diptych - A painting or sculpture that is divided into two parts, usually hinged and meant to be closed.
Drypoint - An intaglio printmaking technique in which a sharp tool is used to scratch lines into a plate, which is then inked and printed.
Divide - A term used to describe the separation of colours or values in a painting.
Detail - A small and important element or feature of a work of art.
Expressionism - A style of art that emphasises the artist's inner feelings or ideas, rather than the external appearance of the subject.
Etching - A printmaking technique in which an image is scratched into a metal plate, which is then inked and printed.
Encaustic - A painting technique in which pigments are mixed with hot wax, which is then applied to a surface and fused with heat.
Emboss - A technique that creates the illusion of raised elements
Fauvism - An art movement that emerged in the early 20th century, characterised by the use of bold, expressive colours and simplified forms.
Fresco - A painting technique in which pigments are applied to wet plaster.
Figurative - A style of art that depicts recognisable, representational images.
Foreshortening - A technique used in art and illustration to create the illusion of depth by depicting closer parts of an object as larger than more distant parts.
Fauvism - A style of art characterised by the use of bright, bold colours and simplified forms.
Genre - A category of art that depicts scenes from everyday life.
Gouache - A type of paint that is similar to watercolour, but made with a thicker consistency and more opaque pigments.
Gradient - A gradual transition from one colour or shade to another.
Geometric abstraction - A form of abstract art that makes use of geometric shapes and patterns.
Grisaille - A painting technique in which an image is created using shades of grey.
Hard-edge painting - A style of painting characterised by the use of sharp, precise edges and flat, unmodulated areas of colour.
High key - A term used to describe a work of art that is characterised by the use of light, pale colours.
Hyperrealism - A style of art that depicts subjects in a highly realistic, almost photographic manner.
Impasto - A painting technique in which thick, textured layers of paint are applied to the canvas.
Iconography - The study of the meaning and symbolism of the subject matter in works of art.
Impressionism - An art movement that emerged in the late 19th century, characterised by the use of light, broken brushstrokes and a focus on the changing effects of light and colour.
Intaglio - A printmaking technique in which an image is carved into a surface, such as a metal plate, which is then inked and printed.
Illusionism - A technique used in art and illustration to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality.
Isometric perspective - A type of perspective in which all the lines are parallel and recede towards a single vanishing point.
Installation art - A form of art that is designed to be displayed in a specific location and often involves the use of multiple elements, such as lights, sound, and movement.
Japonisme - The influence of Japanese art and design on Western art and culture.
Juxtaposition - The placement of two or more elements side by side to create a contrasting or complementary effect.
Kinetic art - A form of art that involves the use of movement, either actual or implied, as a visual element.
Kaleidoscope - A device that uses mirrors and coloured glass to create patterns and designs.
Kufic - An ancient Arabic calligraphy script characterised by its geometric shapes and strong angular lines.
Kinetic sculpture - A sculpture that incorporates movement, usually powered by motors, gears, or other mechanical means.
Kitsch - A term used to describe art that is considered to be in poor taste because it is gaudy, sentimental, or overly commercial.
Kneaded eraser - A type of eraser that is made by mixing graphite or charcoal dust with a small amount of a plastic binder, which allows it to be shaped and molded before use.
Kinetic energy - The energy of motion, often refers to the movement of brushstrokes or the movement within a painting or sculpture.
Khol - A traditional eyeliner made of soot, which is used in many parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
Landscape - A form of art that depicts outdoor scenes, including natural features such as mountains, forests, and bodies of water.
Linear perspective - A technique used in art and illustration to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality by depicting parallel lines as converging towards a single vanishing point.
Lithography - A printmaking technique in which an image is drawn or painted onto a flat stone or metal plate using a greasy substance, which is then chemically treated so that only the drawn or painted areas will accept ink.
Lightbox - A device that uses a backlit surface to illuminate a transparency or slide, often used for tracing or viewing transparencies in graphic design and illustration.
Luminism - A style of painting that emphasises the effects of light, often with an emphasis on atmospheric perspective and the use of light to create a sense of depth and distance.
Minimalism - A style of art characterised by the use of simple, geometric shapes, minimal colour, and a focus on the essentials.
Monochrome - A work of art that is created using only one colour or shades of one colour.
Mosaic - A form of art that is made by assembling small pieces of coloured glass, stone, or other materials to create a pattern or image.
Mixed media - A form of art that combines multiple different types of materials and techniques, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage.
Modernism - A cultural movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterised by a rejection of traditional values and the embrace of new forms of expression, including abstraction and the use of new technologies.
Naive art - A style of art characterised by its simplicity and lack of formal training.
Negative space - The empty or unoccupied space around and between the subject(s) of a work of art.
Neo-expressionism - A style of art that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s, characterised by the use of bright, bold colours and expressive brushstrokes.
Non-objective - A form of abstract art that does not depict recognisable objects or subjects.
Nouveau - A style of art and architecture that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterised by its use of curving lines, asymmetry, and a focus on the decorative.
Oil paint - A type of paint made by mixing pigments with a medium, such as linseed oil or stand oil, which allows the paint to be spread easily and smoothly.
Op art - A style of art characterised by the use of optical illusions and geometric shapes.
Oeuvre - The body of work of a particular artist.
Old master - A term used to describe a European artist who was active during the 15th, 16th, or 17th centuries.
Optical art - A style of art that uses visual effects, such as colour and pattern, to create the illusion of movement or depth.
Palette - A board or tablet used by an artist to mix and apply paint
Pointillism - A style of painting in which small, distinct dots of colour are used to create the impression of a larger image or pattern.
Pop Art - A style of art that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, characterised by the use of popular culture imagery and the use of bold, bright colours and graphic shapes.
Photorealism - A style of art that depicts subjects in a highly realistic, almost photographic manner.
Performance art - A form of art that is created through live, usually ephemeral, actions or events.
Quadriptych - A painting or sculpture that is divided into four parts, usually hinged and meant to be closed.
Quilling - An art form that involves the use of thin strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs.
Quilting - An art form that involves sewing two or more layers of fabric together to create a decorative design or pattern.
Quattrocento - A term used to describe the art and culture of 15th century Italy, characterised by the emergence of the Renaissance and the renewed interest in classical art and culture.
Quadrilateral - A shape that has four sides and four angles.
Realism - A style of art that emphasises the accurate representation of the subject, often with an emphasis on the details and textures of the subject.
Renaissance - A cultural movement that emerged in Italy in the 14th century, characterised by a renewed interest in classical art and culture and the emergence of new forms of expression, including humanism, perspective, and the use of light and shadow.
Relief - A type of sculpture in which the figures and forms stand out from a flat background.
Representational - A style of art that depicts recognisable, representational images.
Rococo - A style of art and architecture that emerged in the 18th century, characterised by its use of ornate decoration, asymmetry, and pastel colours.
Surrealism - A cultural movement that emerged in the 1920s, characterised by the use of dreamlike and fantastical imagery, often with an emphasis on the subconscious and the irrational.
Still life - A form of art that depicts inanimate objects, such as flowers, fruits, and vases.
Street art - A form of art that is created in public spaces, often using graffiti, murals, or other forms of street art.
Symbolism - A style of art that uses symbols and imagery to convey meaning or express ideas.
Scumble - A technique of applying a thin layer of opaque paint over an existing layer of paint in order to modify the colour or tone of the underlying paint.
Tenebrism - A style of painting characterised by the use of stark contrasts between light and dark to create a dramatic effect.
Triptych - A painting or sculpture that is divided into three parts, usually hinged and meant to be closed.
Texture - The surface quality of a work of art, such as rough, smooth, or bumpy.
Tempera - A painting medium in which pigments are mixed with a water-soluble binder, such as egg yolk.
Ukiyo-e - A form of Japanese art that emerged in the 17th century, characterised by its use of woodblock printing to create colourful, detailed images of everyday life, often with an emphasis on entertainment and pleasure.
Underpainting - An initial layer of paint applied to a canvas or other surface before the final layers of paint are applied.
Unity - The sense of cohesiveness and balance within a work of art.
Urban art - A form of art that is created in urban areas, often using graffiti, murals, or other forms of street art.
Utilitarian - Describing art that is functional and serves a practical purpose.
Vanishing point - A point on the horizon towards which parallel lines appear to converge in linear perspective.
Value - The lightness or darkness of a colour, often used to create the illusion of depth and shadow in a work of art.
Verism - A style of art that emphasises the accurate representation of the subject, often with an emphasis on the details and textures of the subject, and the use of light to create a sense of depth and volume.
Video art - A form of art that uses moving images, often with sound and other elements, as its medium.
Visual art - A form of art that uses visual elements, such as colour, shape, form, and texture, to create an image or composition.
Watercolour - A type of paint made by mixing pigments with water and a binder, such as gum arabic.
Whorl - A spiral or circular pattern.
Woodcut - A form of printmaking in which an image is carved into a block of wood, which is then inked and printed.
Warholism - A style of art and culture influenced by the artist Andy Warhol, characterised by the use of popular culture imagery, bright colours, and repetition.
Weaving - An ancient art and craft of creating textiles by interlacing yarns or threads at right angles.
X-Acto knife - A type of knife with a sharp, thin blade that is used for cutting and trimming various materials, including paper and film.
Xylography - A printmaking technique in which an image is carved into a wooden block, which is then inked and printed.
Xenography - A technique of creating art in which the artist paints on a surface that is not typically used for painting, such as a wall, a floor or a ceiling.
X-Ray art - A type of art that utilises X-ray technology as a medium, often to explore the internal structures of living organisms or to create abstract compositions.
Xenodochy - An art form in which the artist invites the public to participate in the creative process, often through interactive installations or performances.
Yellowism - A contemporary art movement that defines itself as a separate medium of art, distinct from painting, sculpture, and photography.
Yarn bombing - A form of street art that involves covering objects, such as sculptures, trees, and lamp posts, with knitted or crocheted yarn.
Yantra - A geometric design that represents a specific deity, often used in Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals.
Yupo - A type of synthetic paper that is water-resistant, tear-resistant, and has a unique texture.
Yarn painting - A form of art that uses yarn to create a picture or design.
Zen art - A form of art that is associated with the Zen Buddhism, characterised by its simplicity, spontaneity, and the use of calligraphy, ink painting and rock gardens.
Zentangle - A form of meditative art that involves creating repetitive patterns and designs using simple shapes and lines.
Ziggurat - A type of architectural structure that is characterised by its terraced levels and staircases, often used in ancient Mesopotamian cultures.
Zigzag - A pattern of alternating lines that zig and zag.
Zine - A small, independently published magazine or book that is often used as a platform for underground or alternative art and culture.