Art VocabularyAbstract artArt that does not accurately represent what is. Shapes and forms tend to be exaggerated orsimplified. Often certain qualities of the subject are isolated and focused upon. Wassily Kandinsky isregarded as the founder of modern abstract art.Abstract ExpressionismA painting movement in which artists tended to apply paint using sweeping physical gestures,sometimes throwing and dripping paint onto canvas with speed in order to express and harness deepemotion. There was usually no intent to represent tangible things, and spontaneity in the process washighly valued. The movement started in the 1940s and peaked the 1950s, largely due to the activity ofAmerican artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem De Kooning andRobert Motherwell.AestheticPertains to the appreciation or recognition of beautiful things. May refer to the distinguishingcharacteristics that define a work, or criteria by which art is judged.AllegoricalThe use of one set of characters, figures or objects to represent another set of people, ideas orstories.
AquarelleMethod of painting with thin, transparent watercolour. Taken from the French word for watercolour.Avant-gardeTaken from the French word for vanguard. Refers to artists whose innovative or experimental ideasand practices place them at the forefront of a new movement, sometimes in conflict with the traditionsand conventions of their own time.Bas-reliefA sculpture that emerges as a raised surface or projected image off a flat background, e.g. as on acoin (also known as low relief sculpture). Meant to be seen primarily from one direction.
Bio-morphicIrregular and abstract in form, based on shapes found in nature. Sometimes representative of a livingobject.ChiaroscuroThe technique of contrasting light and dark in drawing and painting to create the illusion of three-dimensional form.ColouristOne who specialises in colour. An artist for whom colour is the key element.
CompositeConsisting of parts from different sources. (1) The inspiration for the subject, a work of art may bedrawn from a range of sources, not one specific person or thing. (2) The construction of a piece mayinvolve different materials.Composition 1An artwork; or the arrangement of elements (e.g. shapes, lines, colours) in an artwork.CubismAn art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the first decade of the 20thcentury. Picasso and Braque sought to represent on a flat surface all aspects of what they saw inthree dimensions. In Analytical Cubism the artist analyses the subject matter, breaks it down intogeometric forms, and often combines into one view what can be seen from a range of angles. InSynthetic Cubism bits of real objects are worked into the picture.
DabbingThe brief pressing of sponge, cloth or brush to a surface, to apply or remove moisture, withoutrubbing.DiptychA pair of panels or leaves fastened together, often hinged.EclecticDrawing upon a variety of sources/opinions/tastes rather than one exclusively.
EngravingThe process of cutting a design into a hard surface with a tool that has a sharp point.EtchingTraditionally a method of producing a design in which a needle is used to draw an image through awaxed layer on to a metal plate. The work is submerged in acid, which etches the images exposed bythe needle onto the plate. When the plate is inked and applied to paper, an impression is left. (2)Works produced as a result of the above process.ExpressionismSpecifically, a style of painting that grew from within Germany and dominated Europe 1905-1918.Generally, expressionists try to express an emotion rather than reproduce the details of a scene, soshapes and colours are often distorted.
ExpressionistPractitioner of expressionism.ExtrudeTo force a substance or thing into shape by pushing it through a mould.
Fauves/FauvismThe French word fauve means wild beast. This was term applied to a small group of artists (HenriMatisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, Andre Derain) who exhibited in Paris in 1905 and whose work usedcolour in a bold and explosive fashion.Frottage (1) The practice of placing a piece of paper or cloth over an object and rubbing a pencil or crayon across the raised surface, lifting the texture or image. (2) An image achieved using this technique to produce pictures of stronger, bolder colour.
GessoA fine plaster made of gypsum, more commonly known as plaster of Paris. (1) Can be mixed with glueand applied to a surface as a prepared ground for painting; (2) cast in a mold; or (3) used to createthe mold for a sculpture.GouacheA paint more opaque than ordinary watercolour. Its heavier texture tends to produce pictures ofstronger, bolder colour.
GroutThin fluid mortar (a mixture of sand, water and cement) that is used to fill in the spaces betweenbricks, tiles, pavers, etc.HieroglyphicA picture of an animal, object or figure used to represent a sound, syllable or word, e.g. those foundon the walls of ancient Egyptian buildings and in their written records.
IconAn image, object or symbol that is widely understood to represent a person, place, era or culture.IconographyA method of drawing or illustrating using images or symbols that is understood to represent a person,place, era or culture.ImpressionismA style of painting that started in France during the 1860s. Impressionists sought to capture in paintthe effects of sunlight on their subject at different times of the day – to literally capture the moment orimpression.
ImpressionistPractitioner of impressionism.InorganicNot natural. This term is often used to describe geometric or man-made shapes in contrast to shapestaken from nature.
InstallationA type of artwork that is made to go into a particular space, or environment, allowing for interactionbetween the work, its audience and that environment. Light effects, time and sound might feature aselements of an installation piece.KowhaiwhaiThe patterns on the rafters inside a wharenui (Maori meeting house).LapitaA very old style of pottery found in the Pacific that dates back several thousand years, usually highlydecorated and often depicting faces.
LiquinA durable, non-yellowing medium used for thinning paint and speeding drying time. Made by Winsorand Newton.LithographyA method of printing in which a greasy medium, e.g. crayon, is used to draw an illustration on a stone,metal or plastic plate. This surface is then washed. When ink is applied, it sticks to the greasymedium. Paper is placed upon the plate and both are passed through a press to produce a new print.
MarblingTo imitate the texture of marble through the blotching and streaking of paint, sometimes achievedthrough the application of oil paint on top of water or water-based paints.MattA colour or surface that is dull and non-reflective. Gloss v mattMediaPlural of medium – the physical materials or technique used by an artist to produce a work of art, e.g.sculpture, crayon, collage.
MereA traditional Maori club used as a weapon. Usually made from stone e.g. greenstone (pounamu) orwood, and sometimes elaborately carved.MetaphorA descriptor of one thing is applied to something else in a figurative sense. A direct comparisonbetween two things is implied.
MonoprintOne of a series of prints in which differences from the original common image are developed, print-by-print. Each new print has something added, e.g. colour, texture or new design elements.MotifA distinctive design feature or re-occurring pattern, central in importance that may be repeated in avariety of ways.
MythA traditional story, often peopled by supernatural characters, that explains the origins of values orideals upheld by society, or aspects of the natural world.NarrativeA composition that tells a story.
NaturalisticAdhering to ideals and forms that are true to nature.Negative spaceEmpty space in an artwork, a void. The space in a painting around the objects depicted.
Neo-expressionistA term referring to a trend in art, which arose in the 1970s and extended into the 80s. Artistsemulating the original expressionists revived their principles and practices in the context ofmodernism.OchreClay and iron oxide mix to create a mineral commonly used as a pigment, especially to produce earthtones. It varies in colour from light yellow to brown.
Olde EnglishOfficially the English language spoken in Britain prior to 1150. The term is commonly used to refer tothe language of medieval times.OpaqueAllows no light to pass through.Optical artA form of abstract art, which rose to prominence in the1960s. The art creates an optical illusion, e.g.the impression of movement, by stimulating the retina of the eye through the manipulation of certainelements (line, shape, colour etc), at the same time challenging assumptions about what is seen.
Paper ToleThe process of making three-dimensional pictures by cutting, shaping and reassembling paperpieces. The finished work, resembling a three-dimensional image, is often placed into a deeplyrecessed frame. Otherwise known as 3D decoupage.Papier-machéFrench for chewed-paper. A material made from shreds of paper mixed with wallpaper paste, or flourand water, which can be modelled into the required shape when wet and becomes hard and suitable 2for painting or vanishing when dry.
ParadoxA statement that appears to contradict itself and/or commonly held notions of what is reasonable, butmay still be true.ParodyA creative work in which the attributes of someone or something, are humorously depicted or madefun of.
PeaA full-body tattoo of Samoan tradition and style.Pollock Krasner Foundation GrantFinancial assistance (for a one-year period) to painters, artists and sculptors who meet theFoundations criteria. Lee Krasner was a leading abstract expressionist painter and the widow ofJackson Pollock.For more information visit the following website: www.pkf.orgPositive spaceSpace in an artwork that is filled with something, e.g. lines, designs, colour or shape.
Post-ImpressionistRefers to artists during the 1880s and 1890s, immediately after the initial Impressionist movementswept Europe. These artists may have been through an Impressionistic phase but were no longerpioneering new ideas, and while not opposed to Impressionism, were moving in new directions.RenaissanceA revival of interest in art, culture (particularly ancient Greek and Roman) and learning that occurredin Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries.
SatiricalContaining or using humour, exaggeration and/or irony to ridicule the views and/or behaviour ofothers.SchminckeBrand name of a range of top quality oil painting materials, watercolours and pastels.SennitRope or cord made from coconut fibre.
SeriesTo paint a series is to produce several pieces of work about one subject or idea. This enables theartist to explore different aspects of his/her theme.SgrafittoThe technique of scratching through one surface or layer to reveal what lies beneath.
ShellacA varnish made from an animal product. A gummy substance secreted by a scale insect hardens intowhat is called lac. Crushed and processed into shellac, the substance is mixed with alcohol, tobecome a thin varnish.SiapoSamoan word for tapa.
SilverpointAn artists tool like a pencil with a drawing pointmade of silver, that produces hard, clearlydefined lines, and requires a carefully preparedground. For more information visitwww.silverpointweb.comSpatulaFlat broad-bladed tool used to pick up or mix powders and pigments.
Still lifeA picture, usually drawn, painted or photographed, of inanimate objects.StipplingA method of applying paint or ink, employing a series of dots rather than lines.
SurrealistA painter, whose work is not necessarily rational in its composition, but has dreamlike qualities,fantastical elements and startling qualities. Surrealists are interested in expressing what comes fromthe subconscious (or even unconscious) mind. Surrealism had its origins in an early TwentiethCentury movement called Dadaism.TapaA cloth made from the inner bark of a tree (e.g. paper mulberry) that has been beaten. Used by avariety of Polynesian and African cultures.
TemperaAn emulsion used as a medium for pigments, traditionally made with egg-yolks (although milk, glue or 3gum can be used) and thinned with water.TranslucentAllows some light to pass through.
TriptychA work featuring three panels side by side, often hinged.TypographyThe style or appearance of the text you use to print, e.g. font style or size.
Waka huiaIn pre-European times these were ornately carved boxes that held the feathers of the Huia bird, wornonly by Maori chiefs of distinction.WoodcutA design is cut from the surface of a block of wood so that ink adheres only to the raised surfaces.The illustration is then transferred to paper