Art Terms Glossary


Abbaye de Créteil

A brief definition for Abbaye de Créteil: Established in 1906, a group of French writers, artists and composers who were inspired by the work of Renaissance writer François Rabelais

Abject art

A brief definition for abject art: Artworks which explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions

Abstract art

A brief definition for abstract art: Artworks that do not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect

Abstract expressionism

A brief definition for abstract expressionism: Term applied to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters in 1940s and 1950s, often characterised by gestural brush-strokes or markmaking, and the impression of spontaneity

Academic art

A brief definition for academic art: Art made according to the teachings of an art academy, often conservative in nature and resistant to innovation

Académie Colarossi

A brief definition for Académie Colarossi: Art school in Paris, France, established in the nineteenth century as an alternative to the official and conservative Ecole des Beaux Arts

Académie Julian

A brief definition for Académie Julian: The Académie Julian established in Paris in 1868, became a major alternative school to the official Ecole des Beaux Arts, especially for women who were not admitted to the Beaux Arts until 1897

Acrylic paint

A brief definition for acrylic paint: Water-based fast-drying paint widely used by artists since the 1960s. Can be used thickly or thinly depending how much water is added

Action painters

A brief definition for action painters: Artists working from the 1940s until the early 1960s whose approach to painting (using drips, splashes and gestural brush strokes) emphasised the act of painting as an essential part of the finished work


A brief definition for actionism: English term for Vienna-based group Wiener Aktionismus founded in 1962 whose actions were deliberately shocking, often including self-torture

Activist art

A brief definition for activist art: Term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political or social issues

Aesthetic movement

A brief definition for aesthetic movement: The aesthetic movement championed pure beauty and ‘art for art’s sake’ emphasising the visual and sensual qualities of art and design over practical, moral or narrative considerations


A brief definition for aesthetics: A branch of philosophy that is concerned with the nature of beauty and taste


A brief definition for airbrushing: Painting technique which uses an airbrush to give an even and consistent surface, often used to create a high level of realism


A brief definition for AkhRR: The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia, founded in Moscow in 1922, depicted everyday life among the working people of Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in a realistic, documentary manner

Albumen print

A brief definition for albumen print: Invented in 1850, and commonly used in the late nineteenth century, the albumen print is a type of photographic print made from paper coated with albumen (egg white)


A brief definition for allegory: Allegory in art is when the subject of the artwork, or the various elements that form the composition, is used to symbolise a deeper moral or spiritual meaning

Analytical cubism

A brief definition for analytical cubism: The early phase of cubism, generally considered to run from 1908–12, characterised by a fragmentary appearance of multiple viewpoints and overlapping planes

The Ancients

A brief definition for The Ancients: Group of artists who formed around the visionary artist and poet William Blake in the last years before his death in 1827


A brief definition for anti-art: Art that challenges the existing accepted definitions of art

Apartment art

A brief definition for apartment art: Underground, usually experimental, art designed to be exhibited in small private spaces (such as apartments)


A brief definition for appropriation: The practice of artists using pre-existing objects or images in their art with little transformation of the original


A brief definition for aquatint: Printmaking technique that produces tonal effects by using acid to eat into the printing plate creating sunken areas which hold the ink, giving the print bold depth

Art autre

A brief definition for 'art autre': Also known as art informel, the term was used to describe the dominant trend of abstract art in the 1940s and 1950s characterised by an improvisatory approach and highly gestural technique

Art brut

A brief definition for art brut: French term that translates as 'raw art', invented by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art such as graffiti or naïve art which is made outside the academic tradition of fine art

Art deco

A brief definition for art deco: Design style of 1920s and 1930s in furniture, decorative arts and architecture characterised by its geometric character, clean lines and shapes

Art intervention

A brief definition for art intervention: Art designed specifically to interact with an existing structure or situation, be it another artwork, the audience, an institution or in the public domain

Art nouveau

A brief definition for art nouveau: International style in architecture and design that emerged in the 1890s and is characterised by sinuous lines and flowing organic shapes based on plant forms


A brief definition for assemblage: Art made by assembling disparate elements often scavenged by the artist, sometimes bought specially


A brief definition for atelier: French word which translates literally as studio or workshop and which is often used to denote a group of artists, designers or architects working collectively


A brief definition for attribute: In art used as both a noun and a verb; (noun) is an object or animal associated with a particular personage; to attribute (verb) a work of art is to suggest it may be by a particular artist

Attributed To

A brief definition for attributed to: A phase used to make an undefined suggested association between an artwork and a particular artist


A brief definition for aura: a quality integral to an artwork that cannot be communicated through mechanical reproduction – such as photography


A brief definition for authenticity: Used by philosophers and critics to describe the qualities of an original work of art as opposed to a reproduction

Auto-destructive art

A brief definition for auto-destructive art: Term invented in the early 1960s to describe radical artworks, in which destruction was part of the process of creating the work


A brief definition for automatism: In art, automatism usually refers to the accessing of material from the subconscious or unconscious mind as part of the creative process – as seen in the art of the surrealist movement


A brief definition for avant-garde: Art that is innovatory, introducing or exploring new forms or subject matter



A brief definition for Baroque: The dominant style in art and architecture of the seventeenth century, characterised by self-confidence, dynamism and a realistic approach to depiction


A brief definition for Bauhaus: Revolutionary school of art, architecture and design established by the pioneer modern architect Walter Gropius at Weimar in Germany in 1919

Bio art

A brief definition for bio art: Art that uses biotechnology as its medium and raises questions about the future of life, evolution, society and art


A brief definition for biomorphic: Forms or images that while abstract nevertheless refer to, or evoke, living forms such as plants and the human body


A brief definition for Bloomsbury: A circle of intellectuals and artists who lived in Bloomsbury, near central London, in the period 1904–40

Body art

A brief definition for body art: Art in which the body, often that of the artist, is the principal medium and focus


A brief definition for bricolage: The construction or creation of an artwork from any materials that come to hand

Bristol school 

A brief definition for Bristol school: Artists associated with Bristol in the early 1800s and inspired by local scenery

British impressionism

A brief definition for British impressionism: Artists working in Britain in the late nineteenth-century who were influenced by the ideas of the French impressionists

British surrealism

A brief definition for British surrealism: Artists working in Britain who were inspired by the subconscious



A brief definition for C-print (or C-type print or chromogenic print) is a photographic print made from a colour negative or slide

Cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse)

A brief definition for cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse): A collaborative drawing approach first used by surrealist artists to create bizarre and intuitive drawings

Camden Town Group

A brief definition for Camden Town Group: British post-impressionist group founded by Walter Sickert in London in 1911


A brief definition for caricature: A painting, or more usually drawing, of a person or thing in which the features and form have been distorted and exaggerated in order to mock or satirise the subject


A brief definition for chiaroscuro: Italian term which translates as light-dark, and refers to the balance and pattern of light and shade in a painting or drawing

Circle - of

A brief definition for Circle of: An inspired group or clique of artists displaying similar characteristics in the composition and subject matter of their art works that are influenced by a single artist or mentor


A brief definition for classicism: Art that makes reference to ancient Greek or Roman style

The Clique

A brief definition for The Clique: Informal society formed in around 1837 by a group of friends while they were students at the Royal Academy Schools in London


A brief definition for CoBrA: Group formed in 1948 by artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam whose painting style was highly expressionist and inspired by the art of children


A brief definition for collaborative: A term meaning to work together, or in conjunction with another, to engage in united labour


A brief definition for collage: Used to describe both the technique and the resulting work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric and other ephemera are arranged and stuck down to a supporting surface


A brief definition for collective: A group of artists working together to achieve a common objective

Colour field painting

A brief definition for colour field painting: Term used to describe the work of abstract painters working in the 1950s and 1960s characterised by large areas of a more or less flat single colour

Comic strip art

A brief definition for comic strip art: Art that imitates the style, commercial printing techniques and subject matter of comic strips

Complementary colours

A brief definition for complementary colours: Complementary colours are pairs of colours that contrast with each other more than any other colour, and when placed side-by-side make each other look brighter


A brief definition for composition: The arrangement of elements within a work of art

Conceptual art

A brief definition for conceptual art: Term that came into use in the late 1960s to describe a wide range of types of art that elevated the concept or the idea behind the work over traditional aesthetic and material concerns

Conceptual photography

A brief definition for conceptual photography: A type of photography that illustrates an idea


A brief definition for constructionism: An extension of constructivism in Britain from about 1950, with artists using naturally occurring proportional systems and rhythms to underpin their geometrical art

Contemporary art

A brief definition for contemporary art: Term loosely used to refer to art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature


A brief definition for content: Content generally refers to the subject matter, meaning or significance of a work of art, as opposed to its form (size, shape, medium etc affecting what it looks like)

Conversation piece

A brief definition for conversation piece: Informal group portrait, small in scale, showing people – often families, sometimes groups of friends – in domestic interior or garden settings


A brief definition for court: Artists employed by royal courts to paint portraits of the royal family and their courtier


A brief definition for cubism: A revolutionary new approach to representing reality in art invented by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in which the artists aimed to bring different views of their subjects together in the same picture


De Stijl

A brief definition for De Stijl: Circle of Dutch abstract artists who promoted a style of art based on a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals


A brief definition for decadence: Generally refers to an extreme manifestation of symbolism which emphasised the spiritual, the morbid and the erotic


A brief definition for decalcomania: A blotting process whereby paint is squeezed between two surfaces to create a mirror image


A brief definition for décollage: Generally associated with a process used by artists of the nouveau réalisme (new realism) movement that involved making art from posters ripped from walls


A brief definition for deconstruction: Form of criticism first used by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s which asserts that often there are many and conflicting meanings to be found in a work

Digital art

A brief definition for digital art: Term for art that is made or presented using digital technology

Digital C-print

A brief definition for Digital C-print: A digital C-print is the same as a C-print (a colour photographic print), but instead of being made from a colour negative or slide, the process is digital


A brief definition for diptych: Artwork consisting of two painted or carved panels


A brief definition for divisionism: Late nineteenth century painting technique that involved using tiny adjacent dabs of primary colour to create the effect of light


A brief definition for drawing: A technique in which images are depicted on a flat surface by making lines, though drawings can also contain tonal areas, washes and other non-linear marks


A brief definition for drypoint: A printmaking process in which a design is drawn on a plate with a sharp, pointed needle-like instrument

Dusseldorf School of Photography

A brief definition for Dusseldorf School of Photography: A group of students at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the mid 1970s who studied under the influential photographers Bernd and Hiller Becher

Dutch School of Art

A brief definition for the Dutch School of Art: An influential art school dating back to 15th century, encouraging and developing artist to embrace their own unique styles and expressions in their work

Dutch School of Venice (Paris) (Vienna) (London)

A brief definition for the Dutch School of Venice: In the 1600s Dutch School artists began to seek inspiration from other countries, few commissions were awarded therefore teaching and encouraging artists in small groups, influencing styles and techniques became a common place to supplement incomes.

Dye destruction print

A brief definition for dye destruction print (Cibachrome print, Ilfochrome print): A print made using a photographic printing process in which colour dyes embedded in the paper are selectively bleached away (destroyed) to form a full-colour image


Earth art

A brief definition for earth art: Also known as land art and part of the wider conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, refers to art made directly in the landscape

École des Beaux-Arts

A brief definition for École des Beaux-Arts: French term meaning school of fine arts


A brief definition for edition: A series of identical impressions or prints from the same printing surface


A brief definition for Edwardian: Refers to the historical period between 1901 and 1910 when Edward VII was king of Britain


A brief definition for Elizabethan: Refers to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to 1603 which saw a flowering of the arts in Britain


A brief definition for embossed: A raised or depressed surface created during printmaking processes

Emotional architecture

A brief definition for emotional architecture: A style of modernist architecture conceived in the 1950s that embraced space, colour and light, creating buildings that encouraged meditation and reflection


A brief definition for engraving: Printmaking technique that involves making incisions into a metal plate which retain the ink and form the printed image

Environmental art

A brief definition for environmental art: Art that addresses social and political issues relating to the natural and urban environment


A brief definition for etching: Printmaking technique that uses chemical action to produce incised lines in a metal printing plate which then hold the applied ink and form the image

Euston Road School

A brief definition for Euston Road School: British realist group formed in 1938 of artists who either taught or studied at the School of Painting and Drawing at 316 Euston Road in London


A brief definition for expressionism: Refers to art in which the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas


Fairy painting

A brief definition for fairy painting: Particularly associated with the Victorian period, art that depicts fairies and other subjects from the supernatural

Fancy picture

A brief definition for fancy picture: Eighteenth century paintings that depict scenes of everyday life but with elements of imagination, invention or storytelling

Fantastic realism

A brief definition for fantastic realism: Group of painters working in the late 1950s in Vienna whose work combined the painterly precision of the old masters with an interest in modern art movements and psychoanalysis


A brief definition for fauvism: Name given to the painting of Matisse, Derain and other artists from their circle from 1905 to about 1910 characterised by strong colours and fierce brushwork

Figurative art

A brief definition for figurative art: Any form of modern art that retains strong references to the real world and particularly to the human figure

Fin de Siècle

A brief definition for Fin de Siècle: French phrase applied specifically as a historical term to the end of the nineteenth century and more specifically to decade of 1890s


A brief definition for Fluxus: An international avant-garde group or collective that was founded and flourished in the1960s but still continues today

Follower (of)

A brief definition for Follower-of: An artist inspired by fellow artists styles creating similar works in medium, composition and subject matter in homage


A brief definition for form: Can refer to the overall form taken by the work – its physical nature; or within a work of art it can refer to the element of shape among the various elements that make up a work


A brief definition for format: Format is traditionally used to describe the shape or proportions of the support, for example the canvas, of a painting or other essentially flat work of art such as a relief


A brief definition for fresco: A mural painting technique that involves painting with water-based paint directly onto wet plaster so that the paint becomes an integral part of the plaster


A brief definition for frottage: A surrealist and ‘automatic’ method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material


A brief definition for fumage: A technique in which an image is created by painting with smoke from a lighted candle into a ground of wet paint


A brief definition for futurism: Italian art movement of the early twentieth century that aimed to capture in art the dynamism, energy and movement of the modern world


Genre painting

A brief definition for genre painting: Paintings of subjects from everyday life, usually small in scale


A brief definition for Genres: Genres are types of painting. These were codified in the seventeenth century as (in descending order of importance) history, portrait, genre, landscape and still life


A brief definition for Georgian: Term applied to the styles prevalent through the reigns of the four King Georges in Britain from 1714 to 1830

German expressionism

A brief definition for German expressionism: German early twentieth century stylistic movement in which images of reality were distorted in order to make them expressive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas


A brief definition for gestural: Term used to describe the application of paint in free sweeping gestures with a brush


The word Giclée ("g-clay"), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning "to squirt or spray", Giclée, is used to describe a fine art digital printing process combining pigment based inks with high quality archival quality paper to achieve an inkjet print of superior archival quality, light fastness and stability. Our prints are created using an Epson 9880 with Epson Ultrachrome K3 inks, which with the 8 channel print head is capable of producing an extremely wide tonal range and colour gamut.

Giclée printing offers both a softness and richness of colour and our operators will ensure the print represents the artist's original work in the closest possible way by working with the client and producing a test print as part of the service.

The process involves squirting or spraying microscopic dots of pigment-based ink onto high quality art paper or canvas. The image is colour corrected to attain the closest possible match to the original work if required. The digital information is fine tuned to the type of paper or surface on which the image is to be printed, further ensuring fidelity to the original.

Giclées are printed on a variety of substrates or mediums, the most common being watercolour paper or canvas. Image permanence is a concern to artists and collectors. Estimates are based on laboratory simulations of aging to give a fade & colour shift resistance of up to 200 years in ideal conditions, tests developed and conducted by Epson.

Reproducing prints this way can be of an advantage to artists who find it unfeasible to mass-produce their work, but need to reproduce their work on demand. Once we make the master print and archive the digital master file, we can produce identical edition prints at any point in the future.

Glasgow School

A brief definition for Glasgow School: Glasgow School usually refers to the circle of artists and designers working around Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow from the mid 1890s to about 1910


A brief definition for gouache: Water-soluble paint that, unlike watercolour, is opaque so the white of the paper surface does not show through

Graffiti art

A brief definition for graffiti art: Images or text painted usually onto buildings, using spray paint

Grand manner

A brief definition for grand manner: English term for the highest style of art in academic theory based on an idealised, classical approach


A brief definition for Graphite: A metallic grey writing and drawing material most commonly used in pencil form – though graphite powder is also used by artists as a drawing material


A brief definition for grattage: Surrealist painting technique that involves laying a canvas prepared with a layer of oil paint over a textured object and then scraping the paint off to create an interesting and unexpected surface


Hard edge painting

A brief definition for hard edge painting: An approach to abstract painting that became widespread in the 1960s and is characterised by areas of flat colour with sharp, clear (or ‘hard’) edges

Heidelberg School

A brief definition for Heidelberg School: Late nineteenth century art movement named after the village of Heidelberg in Australia where a small group of artists would go to paint en plein air (outdoors and on the spot)

History painting

A brief definition for history painting: Seventeenth century term describing paintings with subject matter drawn from classical history, mythology, and the Bible – also used in the eighteenth century to refer to more recent historical subjects

Hudson River school

A brief definition for Hudson River school: Nineteenth century North American landscape painters who depicted scenes of natural beauty in areas that included the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains



A brief definition for iconography: The iconography of an artwork is the imagery within it


A brief definition for illusionism: Painting that creates the illusion of a real object or scene, or a sculpture where the artist has depicted the figure in such a realistic way that they seem alive


A brief definition for impasto: An area of thick paint, or texture, in a painting


A brief definition for impressionism: Approach to painting scenes of everyday life developed in France in the nineteenth century and based on the practice of painting finished pictures out of doors and spontaneously ‘on the spot’


A brief definition for improvisation: In art, improvisation refers to the act of creating a work of art without pre-planning

Independent Group

A brief definition for Independent Group: Radical group of young artists within the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London

Influenced (by)

A brief definition of Influenced by: A realistic homage to an artists style reflected within a painting, often created by a pupil of the artist or from the same school and period


A brief definition for ink: An ancient writing and drawing medium in liquid or paste form, traditionally black or brown in colour – though it can also contain coloured dyes or pigments



A brief definition for Jacobean: Term used to describe the art and culture of the reign of James Ist (reigned 1603–25)

Juxtaposition Art

A brief definition of Juxtaposition art, an act or instance within the works of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast


Kitchen Sink painters

A brief definition for Kitchen Sink painters: A group of British artists working in the 1950s who painted ordinary people in scenes of everyday life


A brief definition for kitsch: German word for trash, used in English to describe particularly cheap, vulgar and sentimental forms of popular and commercial culture



A brief definition for landscape: One of the principal types or genres of subject for Western art


A brief definition for linocut: A relief print produced in a manner similar to a woodcut but that uses linoleum as the surface into which the design is cut and printed from


A brief definition for lithography: A printing process that uses a flat stone or metal plate on which the image areas are worked using a greasy substance so that the ink will adhere to them by, while the non-image areas are made ink-repellent

London Group

A brief definition for London Group: Exhibiting group founded in 1913 to organise modern art exhibitions in Britain


A brief definition for Luminism: Term meaning roughly, painting of light and applied specifically to the American landscape painters of the Hudson River School from about 1830–70


Magic realism

A brief definition for magic realism: Term invented by German photographer, art historian and art critic Franz Roh in 1925 to describe modern realist paintings with fantasy or dream-like subjects


A brief definition for mannerist: Sixteenth century style characterised by artificiality, elegance and sensuous distortion of the human figure

Manner of (In the)

A brief definition of Manner of: A painting without absolute provenance bearing all the characteristics of the suggested artistA realistic homage to an artists style and influence seen within a painting, often created by a pupil of the artist or from the same school and period


A brief definition for medium: Can refer to both to the type of art (painting, sculpture and printmaking) as well as the materials an artwork is made from

Metaphysical Art

A brief definition for metaphysical art: Early twentieth century Italian art movement typified by dream-like views of eerie arcaded squares with unexpected juxtapositions of objects


A brief definition for mezzotint: A form of engraving developed in the seventeenth century which allows for the creation of soft gradations of tone and rich and velvety blacks


A brief definition for miniature: A small painting, usually a portrait


A brief definition for minimalism: Extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the second half of the 1960s and typified by artworks made in very simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle

Mixed media

A brief definition for mixed media: A term used to describe artworks composed from a combination of different media or materials

Modern realism

A brief definition for modern realism: Painting or sculpture created since the development of abstraction in modern art but which continues to represent things in a realistic manner


A brief definition for modern modernism: Broad movement in Western art, architecture and design which self-consciously rejected the past as a model for the art of the present


A brief definition for monochrome: Monochrome means one colour, so in relation to art, a monochrome artwork is one that includes only one colour


A brief definition for monoprint: A form of printmaking where the image can only be made once, unlike most printmaking which allows for multiple originals


A brief definition for monotype: A unique image printed from a polished plate, such as glass or metal, which has been painted with a design in ink


A brief definition for montage: An assembly of images that relate to each other in some way to create a single work or part of a work of art


A brief definition for mosaic: A picture made up of small parts which are traditionally tiny tiles made out of terracotta, pieces of glass, ceramics or marble and usually inlayed into floors and walls


A brief definition for motif: A recurring fragment, theme or pattern that appears in a work of art


A brief definition for multi-media: First used in the 1960s to describe mixed media works which included an electronic element


A brief definition for mural: A painting applied directly to a wall in a public space



A brief definition for Nabis: Les Nabis were a group of post-impressionist French painters active from 1888–1900 whose work is characterised by flat patches of colour, bold contours and simplified drawing

Naïve art

A brief definition for naïve art: Art that is simple, unaffected and unsophisticated – usually specifically refers to art made by artists who have had no formal training in an art school or academy


A brief definition for Narrative: Narrative art is art that tells a story


A brief definition for naturalism: A broad movement in the nineteenth century towards representing things closer to the way we see them


A brief definition for neo-expressionism: The international phenomenon of a major revival of painting in an expressionist manner in the 1980s


A brief definition for neo-impressionism: The name given to the post-impressionist work of Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and their followers who painted using tiny adjacent dabs of primary colour to show light


A brief definition for neo-plasticism: Term adopted by the Dutch pioneer of abstract art, Piet Mondrian, for his own type of abstract painting which used only horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours


Tate glossary definition for Neo-Romanticism: Term applied to the imaginative and often quite abstract landscape based painting of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and others in the late 1930s and 1940s


A brief definition for neoclassicism: A particularly pure form of classicism that emerged from about 1750

New English Art Club

A brief definition for New English Art Club: Founded in London in 1886 as an exhibiting society by artists influenced by impressionism and whose work was rejected by the conservative Royal Academy

New spirit painting

A brief definition for new spirit painting: The resurgence of expressionist painting around 1980

New York school

A brief definition for New York school: The radical art scene that emerged in New York after the Second World War

Newlyn school

A brief definition for Newlyn school: Group of artists who settled in Newlyn and St Ives in the late nineteenth century and whose work is characterised by an impressionistic style and an exploration of rural scenes

Non-objective art

A brief definition for Non-Objective art: Defines a type of abstract art that is usually, but not always, geometric and aims to convey a sense of simplicity and purity

Norwich school

A brief definition for Norwich school: Important British early nineteenth regional school of landscape painting

Nouveau réalisme

A brief definition for nouveau réalisme: French movement (meaning new realism) which can be seen as a European counterpart to pop art


Objective abstraction

A brief definition for objective abstraction: Non-geometric style of abstract art developed by a group of British artists in 1933

Oil paint

A brief definition for oil paint: A slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil that forms a tough, coloured film on exposure to air


A brief definition for Olympians: Term often used to describe certain Victorian artists whose work emphasised the classical in both style and subject matter

Op art

A brief definition for op art: A major development of painting in the 1960s that used geometric forms to create optical effects


A brief definition for orientalism: Term describing the mythological identity created by the West about the East


A brief definition for orphism: Abstract, cubist influenced painting style developed by Robert and Sonia Delaunay around 1912

Outsider art

A brief definition for outsider art: Term used to describe art that has a naïve quality, often produced by people who have not trained as artists or worked within the conventional structures of art production



A brief definition for painterly: Refers to the application of paint in a 'loose' or less than controlled manner, resulting in the appearance of visible brushstrokes within the finished painting


A brief definition for palette: A smooth, flat surface on which artists set out and mix their colours before painting, often designed to be held in the hand

Papier collé

A brief definition for papier collé: Papier collé (pasted paper) is a specific form of collage that is closer to drawing than painting


A brief definition for parchment: A surface for drawing or writing made from the skins of calves, goats and sheep


A brief definition for pastel : A coloured drawing medium made from pure coloured pigment mixed with a binder to form a stick

Pen and ink

A brief definition for pen and ink: Drawing technique involving the application of ink using a quill or pen with metal nib


A brief definition for pencil: An implement for drawing or writing made from graphite (a metallic grey crystallized form of carbon) encased in a wooden cylinder

Penwith Society of Arts

A brief definition for Penwith Society of Arts: Artists’ society formed in 1948 at St Ives, Cornwall, Britain by artists working in an abstract style


A brief definition for perspective: A system for representing objects in three-dimensional space on the two-dimensional surface of a picture


A brief definition for photomontage: A collage constructed from photographs


A brief definition for photorealism: Painting style that emerged in Europe and the USA in the late 1960s, characterised by its painstaking detail and precision


A brief definition for pictorialism: An experimental photographic movement dating from the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that sought to elevate the photograph to the status of painting or drawing


A brief definition for picturesque: An ideal type of landscape that has an artistic appeal, in that it is beautiful but also with some elements of wildness

Pittura Metafisica

A brief definition for Pittura Metafisica (metaphysical art): Early twentieth century Italian art movement typified by dream-like views of eerie arcaded squares with unexpected juxtapositions of objects


A brief definition for plane: A plane surface is a flat surface, and any distinct flat surface within a painting or sculpture can be referred to as a plane


Tate glossary definition for polyptych: A painting or other two-dimensional artwork made up of more than three panels

Pop art

A brief definition for pop art: Name given to art made in America and Britain from the mid 1950s and 1960s that drew inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture


A brief definition for portrait: A portrait is a representation of a particular person


A brief definition for post-impressionism: Umbrella term to describe changes in impressionism from about 1886, the date of last Impressionist group show in Paris

Postcolonial art

A brief definition for postcolonial art: Art produced in response to the aftermath of colonial rule, frequently addressing issues of national and cultural identity, race and ethnicity


A brief definition for postmodernism: Term used from about 1970 to describe changes seen to take place in Western society and culture from the 1960s onwards

Post-painterly abstraction

A brief definition for post-painterly abstraction: A blanket term covering a range of new developments in abstract painting in the late 1950s and early 1960s characterised by a more rigorous approach to abstraction


A brief definition for Pre-Raphaelite: Founded in London in 1848, a secret society of young artists (and one writer) who were opposed to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the ideal as exemplified in the work of Raphael


A brief definition for primitivism: Term used to describe the fascination of early modern European artists with tribal art from Africa, the South Pacific and Indonesia, as well as prehistoric and very early European art, and European folk art


A brief definition for provenance: The provenance of a work of art is the history of its ownership

Psychedelic art

A brief definition for psychedelic art: Generally associated with the 1960s and work made by artists under the influence of the mind-expanding drug LSD


A brief definition for purism: Movement formed around 1918 which proposed a kind of painting in which objects are represented as powerful basic forms stripped of detail


Rational painting

A brief definition for rational painting: A style of painting that emerged in the mid-1980s in Northern China and was part of a utopian idea of a new spiritual culture, one detached from history and tradition, and based on rationalism


A brief definition for rayograph: Photographic prints made by laying objects onto photographic paper and exposing it to light


A brief definition for rayonism: An early form of abstract art characterised by interacting linear forms derived from rays of light


A brief definition for readymade: Term used by the French artist Marcel Duchamp to describe works of art he made from manufactured objects


A brief definition for realism: Refers to a nineteenth century art movement characterised by subjects painted from everyday life in a naturalistic manner and also to artworks painted in a realistic, photographic way


A brief definition for Regency: The style of architecture, furniture and decorative art produced from 1811 until 1830, during the Prince Regency and subsequent reign of George IV

Relational aesthetics

A brief definition for relational aesthetics: Term created by curator Nicholas Bourriaud in the 1990s to describe the tendency he noticed in fine art practice to make art based on, or inspired by, human relations and their social context


A brief definition for relief: A relief is a wall-mounted sculpture in which the three-dimensional elements are raised from a flat base


Tate glossary definition for Renaissance: The great revival of art that took place in Italy from about 1400 under the influence of the rediscovery of classical art and culture


A brief definition for replica: A copy of a work of art that is virtually indistinguishable from the original


A brief definition for representational: Blanket term for art that represents some aspect of reality, in a more or less straightforward way


A brief definition for Restoration: In relation to art, refers to artworks made in the period immediately after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 after ten years of Commonwealth


A brief definition for Rococo: Light, sensuous, intensely decorative French style developed in the early eighteenth century following death of Louis XIV and in reaction to the Baroque grandeur of Versailles


A brief definition for Romanticism: Early nineteenth century term describing the movement in art and literature distinguished by a new interest in human psychology, expression of personal feeling and interest in the natural world

Rural naturalism

A brief definition for rural naturalism: Nineteenth century painting movement characterised by scenes of rural life painted in a realist, often sentimentalised, manner



A brief definition for salon: Originally the name of the official art exhibitions organised by the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture and its successor the Academy of Fine Arts

School of Altamira

A brief definition for School of Altamira: Avant-garde art school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, founded in 1946 with the aim of promoting the idea that a new art was necessary to reflect the modern world as revealed by science

School of London

A brief definition for School of London: London-based painters who were pursuing forms of figurative painting in the face of avant-garde approaches in the 1970s

School of Paris

A brief definition for School of Paris: Term describing the early years of the twentieth century when Paris became a magnet for artists from all over the world and the focus of the principal innovations of modern art

Scottish Colourists

A brief definition for Scottish Colourists: Group of four Scottish artists, who were among the first to introduce the intense colour of the French Fauve movement into Britain in the 1920s


A brief definition for screenprint: A variety of stencil printing, using a screen made from fabric (silk or synthetic) stretched tightly over a frame


A brief definition for sculpture: Three-dimensional art made by one of four basic processes: carving, modelling, casting, constructing

Scuola romana

A brief definition for Scuola romana: An umbrella term for the artists based in Rome, or having close links with it, in the 1920s and 1930s


A brief definition for secession: The breaking away of younger and more radical artists from an existing academy or art group to form a new grouping


A brief definition for self-portrait: A portrait of the artist by the artist.


A brief definition for sensorial: Describes art that seeks to engage the audience by activating the senses

Serial art

A brief definition for serial art: Art that adheres to a strict set of rules to determine its composition or to determine a series of compositions

Shaped canvas

A brief definition for shaped canvas: Term used to describe a canvas that is not the traditional rectangular shape

Significant form

A brief definition for significant form: Term coined by art critic Clive Bell in 1914 to describe the idea that the form of an artwork or forms within an artwork can be expressive even if largely or completely divorced from appearances


A brief definition for site-specific: Refers to a work of art designed specifically for a particular location and that has an interrelationship with the location

Social realism

A brief definition for social realism: Refers to any realist painting that also carries a clearly discernible social or political comment

Socially engaged practice

A brief definition for socially engaged practice: Term used to describe socially engaged art that is collaborative, often participatory and involves people as the medium or material of the work

Software art

A brief definition for software art: Art created using software programmes. It is closely related to Net art because of its reliance of the World Wide Web as a tool for dissemination


A brief definition for solarisation: Technique that involves exposing a partially developed photograph to light, before continuing processing, creating halo-like effects

St Ives School

A brief definition for St Ives School: Artists associated with the fishing town of St Ives in West Cornwall, which became a centre for modern and abstract developments in British art from the 1940s to the 1960s

St John’s Wood clique

A brief definition for St John’s Wood clique: A loose association of painters who lived in the St John’s Wood area of London in the 1870s and 1880s, and who aimed to seek a fresh approach to historical subjects

Still life

A brief definition for still life: One of the principal genres (subject types) of Western art essentially, the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead

Street art

A brief definition for street art: Related to graffiti writing in that it is created in public locations and is usually unsanctioned, but it covers a wider range of media and is more connected with graphic design


A brief definition for Stuart: Refers to the reigns of seventeenth-century British monarchs Charles I and Charles II who were part of the Stuart dynasty


A brief definition for Stuckism: Founded by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson in 1999, Stuckism is an art movement that is anti-conceptual and champions figurative painting


A brief definition for sublime: Theory developed by Edmund Burke in the mid eighteenth century, where he defined sublime art as art that refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation


A brief definition for Superflat: A concept devised by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami based on the principle that all creative works on a flat surface are two-dimensional and as a result should be given equal weight be they fine art, pop vide


A brief definition for surrealism: Movement, which began in the 1920s, of writers and artists who experimented with ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination


A brief definition for symbolism: Late nineteenth-century movement that advocated the expression of an idea over the realistic description of the natural world


A brief definition for synthetism: Term associated with the style of symbolic representation adopted by Paul Gauguin and his followers in the 1880s characterised by flat areas of colour and bold outlines



A brief definition for tableau: A painting in which characters are arranged for picturesque or dramatic effect and appear absorbed and completely unaware of the existence of the viewer


A brief definition for tachisme: Term used to describe the non-geometric abstract art that developed in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s characterised by spontaneous brushwork, drips and scribble-type marks

Telematic art

A brief definition for telematic art: Interactive art that uses the internet and other digital means of communication, like email and mobile phones


A brief definition for tempera: The technique of painting with pigments bound in a water-soluble emulsion, such as water and egg yolk, or an oil-in-water emulsion such as oil and a whole egg

The Ancients

A brief definition for The Ancients: Group of artists who formed around the visionary artist and poet William Blake in the last years before his death in 1827

The Clique

A brief definition for The Clique: Informal society formed in around 1837 by a group of friends while they were students at the Royal Academy Schools in London


A brief definition for tondo: A circular painting or relief sculpture


A brief definition for tone: The lightness or darkness of something – this could be a shade, or how dark or light a colour appears


A brief definition for triptych: An artwork in three panels

Trompe l'oeil

A brief definition for trompe l'oeil: French phrase meaning ‘deceives the eye’ used to describe paintings that create the illusion of a real object or scene


A brief definition for Tudor: Family name of the dynasty who ruled Britain from 1485 to 1603! !!!


Ugly realism

A brief definition for ugly realism: A style of painting developed in the 1970s that combined fine draughtsmanship with images that were considered ugly

The uncanny

A brief definition for the uncanny: A Freudian concept which describes the strange and anxious feeling individuals might sometimes experience with familiar paintings or objects

Underground art

A brief definition for underground art: First used in relation to the cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and early 1970s where groups of creatives were regarded as existing outside or on the fringes of popular culture

Unit One

A brief definition for Unit One: British group formed by Paul Nash in 1933 to promote modern art, architecture and design


Vanishing point

A brief definition for vanishing point: The point at which receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge


A brief definition for vanitas: A still life artwork which includes various symbolic objects designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the shortness and fragility of human life


A brief definition for vellum: A surface for drawing or writing made from the skins of calves, goats and sheep


A brief definition for verism: From Italian term 'verismo', meaning realism in its sense of gritty subject matter


A brief definition for Victorian: British life and culture during Queen Victoria's reign from 1837 to 1901; in relation to art it usually alludes to the style of genre painting that predominated during the period


Washington Color School

A brief definition for Washington Color School: An art movement founded by Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland in the late 1950s in Washington DC promoting a form of abstract art developed from colour field painting


A brief definition for watercolour: Refers both to the medium and works of art made using the medium of watercolour – a water soluble paint with transparent properties


A brief definition for watermark: An image or mark in a sheet of paper visible when viewed by transmitted light

Wood engraving

A brief definition for wood engraving: A printmaking method distinct from woodcut in that the line is incised into the woodblock, rather than the background being cut away to leave a line in relief


A brief definition for woodcut: A method of relief printing from a block of wood cut along the grain


Young British Artists (YBAs)

A brief definition for Young British Artists: Label applied to a loose group of artists who began to exhibit together in 1988 and who became known for their openness to materials and processes, perceived shock tactics and entrepreneurial attitude