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Olive Grove, 1889

Olive Grove, 1889
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The Bridge in the Rain, 1887

The Bridge in the Rain, 1887
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Schools of thought

To help you make, sell or buy art, knowing the right art terms is a must.

Abstract

Adheres to the idea that aesthetic values are found in forms and colours separately from the subject of the work.

Action painting

This assumes that the unconscious takes over so that the artist can splash paint on the canvas. See Jackson Pollock.

Anamorphis

Something in a painting that can only be seen by looking at it in a special way – the elongated skull in Holbein's Ambassadors has to be viewed through a special lens or mirror.

Antwerp mannerists

Not related to mannerists, but using affected poses and ornaments.

Baroque

Most evident in Italy, it unites architecture, painting and sculpture in direct appeal to the emotions. Often seen in religious art.

Bauhaus

School founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, it dealt with the issue of machine production, which, for art, had previously been ignored.

Calligraphic

Free and loose writing or paintwork.

Concrete art

Another name for abstract art.

Constructivism

A movement, mainly Russian in the immediate wake of the 1917 revolution, that grew out of collage into hanging constructions.

Cubism

This is where all modern abstract art starts. Picasso and Braque, its early practitioners, emphasised a cerebral approach to form and colour rather than the previous emphasis on surface shapes.

Dada

The Mona Lisa with a moustache is perhaps the most recognised Dadaist offering. The approach, influential in the years between the two world wars, was meant to shock and be anti-art.

Expressionism

Van Gogh is seen by many as the starting point for this approach. Instead of a naturalistic approach, it distorts colours and lines to bring a moody, expressive style to the work.

Fauve

The collected works of Matisse, Marquet, Derain, Vlaminck, Rouault, and several others, with their distortions and violent colours, were displayed together at the Paris Salon d'Automne in 1905 and called Les Fauves (wild beasts).

Fresco

Watercolour painting on plaster wall.

Futurism

Running for a few years from a manifesto published in 1909, among other things it emphasised the beauty of machines in movement.

Gothic

Elaborate style of architecture in northern Europe practised between 12th and 16th centuries.

Gouache

Poster paint.

Illusionism

Using perspective and foreshortening to trick the eye into believing what it sees is real.

Impressionism

Initially an insult, it refers to the approach adopted by Monet and others in the middle to late 19th century emphasising the exact tones and colours and the play of light on objects in a form of sensualism aimed at achieving a better naturalism.

Mannerism

A modern term to describe an art style of the 16th century. The approach prioritises the human figure, but often places it in awkward poses.

Neo

New, revived form, modern. Added to the start of a style to indicate that it is an updated version of the original style, for example neo-gothic.

Pointillism

The use of tiny primary colour dots to generate secondary colours. Van Gogh picked up on this, using combinations of colours to enhance the effects of each.

Pop Art

Using products of everyday modern life in the work of art. The work of Warhol and Lichtenstein would be classic examples.

Post-Impressionism

Movement reacting against Impressionism and instead stressing the importance of the subject and a more formal idea of art. Van Gogh is one of the most significant names in the movement, together with Cezanne and Gauguin.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Started in the mid 19th century, principally by Rossetti, Millais and Hunt, this movement wanted to return to the approach known prior to Raphael (1483-1520).

Primary colours

Red, blue and yellow.

Relief

Non-freestanding sculpture with a background like a painting.

Renaissance

Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the classical-influenced revival of letters and arts.

Surrealism

Aims to express the true process of thought, free of accepted means of expression. Dali is perhaps the best know practitioner.

Synthetism

Another way of referring to Symbolism, it involves the total rejection of naturalistic representations in favour of mood, idea and emotional expression.

Trompe-l'oeil

A deception of the eye, particularly as used in illusionism.

Utrecht school

The Caravaggio-influenced circle of Dutch painters in the early 17th century, such as Baburen, Terbrugghen and Honthorst.

Vorticism

English Cubism, started by Wyndham Lewis.

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