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Anna Moszynska

Term applied in its strictest sense to forms of 20th-century Western art that reject representation and have no starting- or finishing-point in nature. As distinct from processes of abstraction from nature or from objects (a recurring tendency across many cultures and periods that can be traced as far back as Palaeolithic cave painting), abstract art as a conscious aesthetic based on assumptions of self-sufficiency is a wholly modern phenomenon (see Abstraction).

In the late 19th century, and particularly in Symbolist art and literature, attention was refocused from the object to the emotions aroused in the observer in such a way that suggestion and evocation took priority over direct description and explicit analogy. In France especially this tradition contributed to the increased interest in the formal values of paintings, independent of their descriptive function, that prepared the way for abstraction. In his article ‘Définition du néo-traditionnisme’, published in L’Art et critique...

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Judith Wechsler, Patricia Coronel, Michael Coronel, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom and E. Michael Whittington

Type of art in which the characteristic features of the human figure are exaggerated for amusement or criticism. The term caricatura (from It. caricare: ‘to load or change’) was probably invented by Annibale Carracci. It appeared in print, possibly for the first time, in a preface by Giovanni Atanasio Mosini (a pseudonym for Monsignor Giovanni Massani, house master to Pope Urban VII) to Agucchi’s Trattato (1646) and two years later by Bernini.

Caricature appears as an art form throughout the world. Of all its international forms, however, the Western tradition has probably been studied the most, and this article therefore concentrates on this aspect; besides the overview in §2 below, further references to caricature elsewhere may appear within country and regional survey articles of the ancient world and of Asian and African art.

In Western art there are essentially two traditions of caricature. The first derives from Italy, where caricature was seen as primarily a humorous, exaggerated portrait. In northern Europe, especially in 18th-century ...

Article

Ornamental tablet or shield bearing an inscription, monogram or heraldic arms framed in elaborate scrolls, shell-shaped volutes or similar devices. The term has been extended to include the lozenge-shaped frames inscribed with the names of pharaohs in Egyptian hieroglyphs. The cartouche was a minor ornament in the vocabulary of European Renaissance and Mannerist design. Used in both ecclesiastical and secular contexts, it adorned exterior and interior walls and furniture (e.g. cassone with shield cartouche flanked by putti, carved wood and gilt, Roman, mid-16th century; London, V&A). It also embellished manuscripts and prints, used as a motif to enclose titles and brief texts, notably in architectural elevations and maps (see Map).

The use of the cartouche developed more fully in the Baroque era, however, and in its more opulent 17th-century form it spread rapidly as a decorative device throughout Europe and eventually to the New World. It became the dramatic focus of pedimental designs above façades, doorframes and windows, as well as in chimney-pieces, keystones and balconies. Deeply carved in stone, marble and wood or in cast plaster or stucco, its commonly shared characteristics were lavish back or forward scrolls resembling parchment or a profusion of scrolling plant forms. Shields were frequently surmounted by crowns or mantled helmets and flanked by figures, animals or birds and heavy floral swags (e.g. shield cartouche flanked by ostriches, carved and painted wood, façade, ...

Article

Drawing  

Beverley Schreiber Jacoby and Marjorie Shelley

Term that refers both to the act of marking lines on a surface and to the product of such manual work. Whether it is summary or complete, a drawing is defined less by its degree of finish or support than by its media and formal vocabulary. Manipulating line, form, value, and texture, with an emphasis on line and value rather than colour, drawing has been employed since ancient times for both aesthetic and practical purposes. The language of drawing has been used to record, outline, and document images that the draughtsman has observed, imagined, recalled from memory, or copied.

There are several qualities unique to drawing that distinguish it from other art forms. It has always been considered among the most intimate and personal of all the arts. Since the early Renaissance, a drawn sketch was central to the process of artistic creation as thoughts and images were first rendered into graphic form. Although ‘first idea’ sketches represent only one aspect of the creative process (...

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Icon  

Richard Temple

[Gr. eikon: ‘image’]

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, and Post-Byzantine art, §II, 1). The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. All this was bound up with the complex questions of Christology that exercised the best minds of the period. Whole communities and nations were divided into Orthodox and heretics over the problem of defining the two natures of Christ, the relationship between his humanity and his divinity. The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy)....

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Dominique Collon, Sara Peterson, Eva Wilson, John Villiers, Eva Baer, W. Iain Mckay and Madeline McLeod

In 

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Dominique Collon, Sara Peterson, Eva Wilson, John Villiers, Eva Baer, W. Iain Mckay and Madeline McLeod

In 

Article

In painting, the attempt to make images that seemingly share or extend the three-dimensional space in which the spectator stands. The term is also applied in sculpture, for a presentation of figures that attempts in some way to make them seem alive, and occasionally in architecture, for a presentation of structures that attempts in some way to enhance their dimensions. It was coined by Franz Wickhoff in 1895 and has been used by modernist writers to characterize all methodical attempts to represent, or ‘give the illusion of’, the visible world. But in current usage it generally denotes work where the intention is that something should seem not so much represented as substantially present.

Such intentions are widespread in sculpture, in work ranging from the statues of ancient Greece—often originally polychromed—to Mme Tussaud’s wax museum, set up in 1835. The use of the term for a distinct developing tradition is, however, mainly confined to European painting. In painting, three-dimensional illusions tend to lose their hold when the surface, seen closely, yields an identical image to each eye, thus showing its lack of depth: still more so when the spectator moves and the relation of the represented planes fails to change. As a result, illusionist painting falls largely within certain limits of presentation or of imagery. It may be shown to one eye only, in a ‘peepshow’, or be kept at a distance from the spectator, for instance on a high ceiling, where the two eyes can no longer confidently judge depth. For imagery, the painter may represent a flat surface from which planes jut and recede to a slight depth—the range of effects properly known as ...

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Article

Helen Langdon

Type of work in which natural scenery is the essential visual motif; an independent pictorial form in Europe from the 16th century. The German term Landschaft and the Italian paese (later paesaggio) were both first employed c. 1520. The Western tradition from which the form arose, and which is discussed here, stretches back, however, to the Classical world. Different traditions of representing natural scenery are discussed in detail in Egypt, ancient, §VI, 17; China, People’s Republic of, §V, 3, (iv); Japan, §V, 2; Korea, §IV, 2, (ii); and Islamic art, §I, 8; they are also described within articles surveying other cultures, civilizations and countries. Landscape painting has developed alongside, or evolved into, other forms that are treated in separate articles: Capriccio, Land art, Topography, Marine painting, Townscape and Veduta. Its influence is also discussed in Photography, §II and Garden, §I.

The history of landscape painting in the Western tradition originates in the Hellenistic era and in the art of ancient ...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.

Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...

Article

Term used in an art-historical context to describe art forms that include a variety of media, often unconventional. It is used mainly where a complete description of media would be too lengthy. Multimedia may also comprise live or Performance art, Happenings, Environmental art, Video art and Installation. The origins of multimedia may be traced to Dada, especially the activity in 1916 in Zurich of the Cabaret Voltaire. The concept was developed further by artists associated with Surrealism, for example at the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme (1938) at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris: works were exhibited in a series of ‘environments’, such as the display of Salvador Dalí’s Rainy Taxi, which was positioned under a localized rainstorm and contained a female dummy and live, crawling snails; in another room Marcel Duchamp hung 1200 coal-sacks from the ceiling, covered the floor with dead leaves and moss and installed a lily pond surrounded by firs and reeds. Duchamp in particular opened the way for artists to explore new art forms and combinations of multimedia. In the second half of the 20th century groups or movements that advanced the concept of multimedia included the ...

Article

Dominique Collon, G. A. Gaballa, Guy Hedreen, Marianna S. Simpson, D. A. Swallow, David M. Jones, Paula D. Leveto and Randy R. Becker

Term used to describe art that provides a visual representation of some kind of story, sometimes based on literary work. It is found throughout the world, and it appears not only as an art form in its own right in both two and three dimensions but also as decoration on a variety of objects. Narration, the relating of an event as it unfolds over time, is in principle a difficult task for the visual arts, since a work of art usually lacks an obvious beginning, middle and end, essential features of any story. Nevertheless, since ancient times many works of art have had as their subjects figures or tales from mythology, legend, history, or sacred texts. The artists overcame the inherent limitations of visual narrative by representing stories that the viewer might be expected to know and by providing key scenes to trigger memory.

A. Thomas: The Illustrated Dictionary of Narrative Painting...

Article

Dominique Collon, Sara Peterson, Eva Wilson, John Villiers, Eva Baer, W. Iain Mckay and Madeline McLeod

Decorative devices applied or incorporated as embellishment. Ornament and pattern are not generally essential to the structure of an object, but they can serve a number of other purposes: they can emphasize or disguise structural elements, particularly in architecture, and they can fulfill an iconographic role. Furthermore, a study of the choice and treatment of ornament and pattern not only provides information about the aesthetics of the society applying it but also provides important clues about contemporary social and political values. In Pre-Columbian America, for example, ornament and pattern developed within the interrelationships and constraints of history and beliefs, in the representations of these as symbols and in the technical limitations imposed by the materials used. Patterns and symbols were initially utilitarian and ritual in nature, but eventually developed into purely decorative art, at times largely devoid of their previous ritual and symbolic meaning. A similar evolution from specifically functional to generally decorative can be seen in East Asian ornament....

Article

Janis Callen Bell

Janis Callen Bell

Term used in two main senses with respect to art: generally, for any systematic technique that renders the illusion of recession behind a two-dimensional surface (including receding lines, gradients of colour, tone and texture, degrees of clarity etc); but also more specifically, for the geometrical technique of linear perspective, the modern form of which was invented in the early Renaissance.

The word perspective derives from the Latin perspectiva (It. prospettiva), which in the Middle Ages came to denote the whole science of optics, including the study of the eye, reflections and refractions. With the invention of linear perspective in the early 15th century, the scientific term was annexed by writers on art (see §II below). Existing literature on the subject has paid enormous attention to linear perspective, and full-scale historical reviews are available (e.g. Kemp, 1992), while other forms of perspective have been relatively neglected. This article gives more attention to the neglected topics, particularly the forms of depth illusion that use gradients of colour, acuity and chiaroscuro, methods collectively referred to as non-linear perspective. Although linear and non-linear perspective have often been used together in works of art, they are examined here separately in a historical context. Systems such as anamorphosis, which were developed as alternatives to basic linear perspective, are also examined separately....

Article

Lorne Campbell

Art or practice of making portraits. Although many of the general points made in this article apply to all forms of portraiture, its focus is mainly on Western portrait painting. Portraiture in other civilizations is discussed in considerable detail under the appropriate country or culture heading, while further discussions of portraiture in the Western world can be found in the following articles: Bust, Medal, Medallion, Miniature, Photography, §II, Prints, §II, 1, (viii) and Statue.

The word ‘portrait’ cannot be tersely defined, for any definition equating portrait with likeness leads immediately to difficulties. On 27 February 1639 the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand wrote from Brussels to his brother Philip IV of Spain about Rubens’s Judgement of Paris (c. 1639; Madrid, Prado): ‘The Venus who is in the middle is a portrait, very like, of his own wife, who without doubt is the prettiest woman at present in this place.’ Hélène Fourment, Rubens’s second wife, was obviously the model for Venus, just as she posed for other figures in her husband’s pictures, but whether such representations are truly portraits may be disputed. A recognizable image of a ...

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