Learn About Art

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Acrylics
Acrylics are synthetic paints, with pigments dispersed in a synthetic vehicle. While this relatively new painting medium was first used by artists in the late 1940s, their use has come to rival that of oil paints because of their versatility. Although acrylics lack the manipulative qualities of oils and watercolors, this paint is popular because it dries quickly enabling an artist to work over a previously painted area almost immediately. Acrylics can be used on nearly any surface in transparent washes or heavy impasto, with mattes, semi gloss or glossy finishes. Acrylic paints dry quickly, do not yellow, are easily removed and can be cleaned up with soap and water.
Airbrush
The use of a spray gun attached by a hose to an electric air compressor to disperse paints, dyes or inks. Airbrush is strongly associated with commercial art where it is often used in illustrations, photographic retouching or to create paintings
Alabaster
A fine-grained marble-like variety of gypsum, alabaster is a soft stone often white or translucent
Archival
Refers to materials that meet certain criteria for permanence such as lignin-free, pH neutral, alkaline-buffered, stable in light, etc
Aquatint
A print produced by the same technique as an etching, except that the areas between the etched lines are covered with a powdered resin that protects the surface from the biting process of the acid bath. The granular appearance that results in the print aims at approximating the effects and gray tonalities of a watercolor drawing.
Art Brut
French term translating as ‘raw art’. Term invented by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art made outside the tradition of fine art, dominated by academic training, which he referred to as ‘art culturel’ – cultural art. Art Brut included graffiti, and the work of the insane, prisoners, children, and naïve or primitive artists.
Art Deco
Design style of 1920s and 1930s in furniture, pottery, textiles, jewelry, glass etc. It was also a notable style of cinema and hotel architecture. Named after the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925.
Artist’s Monogram
A monogram bearing the artist’s initial or personal sign, either stamped or drawn on the print. At times the monogram is drawn on the stone or inscribed on the plate. Many artists have signed their work with a monogram rather than their entire name.
Artist’s Proof
An Artist’s Proof is one outside

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the regular edition, but printed at the same time or after the regular edition from the same plates without changes. By custom, the artist retains the A/Ps for his personal use or sale. Typically, 10% of the edition total is designated as A/P, or in the case of a small edition, five graphics are usually so designated.

Assemblage
A three-dimensional composition made by assembling disparate elements often found by the artist and sometimes bought specially.
Atelier
French term for "printer’s workshop."
Avant-Garde
A group active in the invention and application of new ideas and techniques in an original or experimental way. A group of practitioners and/or advocates of a new art form may also be called avant-garde. Some avant-garde works are intended to shock those who are accustomed to traditional, established styles.
Bleeding
In artwork, the effect of a dark color seeping through a lighter color to the surface
blend – In artwork, to merge colors applied to a surface whether with a brush , crayon, colored pencil or other medium.
Bronze
Metal resulting from the fusion of copper
Cancelled Plate
After an edition is run off, the plate is frequently pierced or scratched
or otherwise defaced in order to prevent further printings.
Canvas
Commonly used as a support for oil or acrylic painting , canvas is a heavy woven fabric made of flax or cotton. Its surface is typically prepared for painting by priming with a ground. Linen — made of flax — is the standard canvas, very strong, sold by the roll and by smaller pieces. A less expensive alternative to linen is heavy cotton duck, though it is less cotton being less durable, because it’s more prone to absorb dampness, and it’s less receptive to grounds and
Casting
A fluid substance such as plastic, clay or molten metal is poured into a cast, a mould which is made from a clay or wax model. Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) is often used in casting, but concrete and resin can also be cast.
Catalogue raisonné
A monograph purporting to contain a complete list of an artist’s works, or all of an artist’s works produced in certain media or during a limited period of time . It typically includes descriptions, photographs notes on provenance, collections samples of signatures and a detailed chronology of notable events in the artist’s life, and a bibliography. When one is passionate about an artist’s work, one relishes
Collage
A picture or design created by affixing elements such as newspaper, wallpaper printed text and illustrations, photographs, cloth, string, etc., to a flat surface, Most of the elements adhered in producing most collages are "found" materials. "Collage" was originally a French word, derived from the word coller, meaning "to paste”
Collagraph
Produced from a collage of materials which are sealed on a board and inked. It can be printed by inking the depressed area (intaglio) or as a relief by inking the raised areas.
Complementary colors
 
Composition
The process of arranging the forms of two- and three-dimensional visual art into a unified whole, by means of elements and principles of design, such as line, shape, color, balance, contrast, space, etc., for purposes of formal clarity and artistic expression
Content
As opposed to subject matter, content is the "meaning" of the artwork.
Charcoal
Compressed burned wood used for drawing
Craft
Technical skill, manual dexterity, considered apart from the fine arts, or from the cerebral, expressive or aesthetic aspects of them. Also, any of the manual activities performed by artisans or craft people, as distinguished from the specific group of techniques that are practiced by artists in the making of fine art.
Design
The organization of line , form , color, value , texture and space in an eye-pleasing arrangement
Docent
A trained volunteer who provides educational tours for museum visitors
Drawing
Pencil, pen, ink, charcoal or other similar mediums on paper or other support, tending toward a linear quality rather than mass, and also with a tendency toward black-and-white, rather than color (one exception being pastel).
Documentation
Document containing artist’s name, edition size, date of printing, etc. This helps to establish authenticity which is important to collectors.
Directional movement
A principle of visual movement in artworks, which can be carried by line, dots, marks, shapes, patterns, color, and other compositional elements. Directional movement in paintings or sculptures directs the viewer’s eye around or through the artwork, in a way which the artist consciously or unconsciously determines.
Edition
The number of prints of a particular image. The number in the edition will be noted, usually in the margin, on each piece by the artist. (See signed & numbered)
Encaustic
Pigment mixed melted wax and resin, then applied to a surface while hot
Engraving
A general term used to describe traditional printing processes, such as etching, aquatint, dry point, etc., where an image is made by the use of metal plates and engraving tools, and printed, usually through a printing press. The image can be incised into the plate, or drawn with fluid and then dipped in acid to etch the uncovered areas.
Erotica and erotic art
Erotica includes images, books, and objects that cause or celebrate sexual feelings or desires. Some observers will perceive erotica as obscene or pornographic
Etching
A print produced by using acid to cut away (etch) the drawing on the plate. The lines are filled with ink, damp rag paper is laid on the plate, and they are put through an etching press to produce the edition.
Encaustic
The process of using pigments dissolved in hot wax as a medium for painting; mostly used long ago, but there are some contemporary artists who have used encaustic, such as Jasper Johns.
Engravings
In engraving, the artist cuts the design into a copper plate with a
steel "burin" or "graver." The surface of the plate is then cleaned and polished, and
ink is rubbed into the incised lines. A dampened sheet of paper is placed over the
plate and together they are run through a roller press. The ink leaves the impression
on the paper resulting in what is called a copper plate engraving.
Etchings
A metal plate is coated with an acid-resisting material called the "ground, " the artist draws his design on the plate with a sharp needle that removes
the ground wherever the needle touches it. When the plate is put in an acid bath,
the exposed parts are etched (or eaten away). This produces sunken lines that
receive or hold the ink for printing. The plate is wiped clean, leaving the ink in the
sunken area. The plate, in contact with dampened paper, is passed through a roller
press. This forces the paper into the sunken areas to receive the ink, thereby forming
the art image on the paper
Figurative
A term used to describe art which is based on the figure, usually in realistic or semi-realistic terms; also loosely used to describe an artist who paints or sculpts representationally, as opposed to painting or sculpting in an abstract or non-objective manner
Focal point
The portion of an artwork’s composition on which interest or attention or centers. The focal point may be most interesting for any of several reasons: it may be given formal emphasis ; its meaning may be controversial, incongruous, or otherwise compelling.
Fresco
A technique of painting which consists of applying diluted paint to fresh, damp lime plaster. This method creates a chemical reaction which, in drying, transforms the lime of the plaster into calcium carbonate. The result is a smooth and resistant surface which incorporates the pigment with the material of the wall.
Genre paintings
Paintings of subjects from everyday life, usually small in scale from the 17th century to the 19th century.
Gesso
An undercoating medium used on the canvas or other painting surface before painting, to prime the canvas; usually a white, chalky, thick liquid. In the mid-20th century, gesso became available already commercially prepared; before this time, artists often mixed their own gesso mixture
Giclee
Method of printing reproductions in which a computerized inkjet printer sprays ink onto the paper. Both the process and the prints are called giclee. While it is a relatively new medium, lots of research has been done on the inks and paper, and quality of the giclee print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries. Numerous examples of giclee prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Recent auctions of giclee prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans
Gouache  
An opaque watercolor, but is different from transparent watercolor in that it has a definite, appreciable film thickness and creates an actual paint layer. It has a brilliant light-reflecting quality
Ground
A surface to which paint is applied, or the material used to create that surface. A painting’s ground is usually specially prepared on its support. Traditionally, for oil paint on canvas a ground of oil and white pigment is used and on wood surfaces either an oil ground or gesso.
Hue
The name of any color found in its pure state in the spectrum or rainbow, or that aspect of any color.
Impasto
An Italian term for oil paint applied very thickly onto the canvas or other support, resulting in evident brushstrokes (visible).
Installation
A type of art, usually sculptural, which is often large enough to fill an entire space, such as a gallery, and consists of a number and variety of components.. Installation art is often site-specific, meaning that it is created specifically for a certain site.
Linoleum cut (linocut)
A type of relief printing where the image is cut out of a linoleum block. This leaves a raised surface that is inked and printed.
Lithograph
The lithography process is based on the chemical principal that oil (or grease) does not mix with water. The design is drawn with a greasy crayon, or brushed with a greasy ink, directly onto the smooth-grained surface of a stone or metal plate. The plate is then dampened with water, and inked. The ink clings only to the greasy crayon marks. When a sheet of paper is pressed against the stone or plate, the ink on the greasy parts is transferred onto the paper, thus forming the image.
Luminosity
A quality seen in some paintings of a glow coming from within, the illusion that there is actually a light coming out of the picture.
Lyrical
A quality applied to various art forms (poetry, prose, visual art, dance and music), referring to a certain, musical, expressive, or poetic quality of artistic expression.
Maquette
A small sculpture made as a preparatory study or model for a full-scale work
Mannerism/mannered – Mannerism was a style of art in 16th century Italy, characterized by somewhat distorted (usually human) forms and a high emotional key. Practitioners included the artist Pontormo. In modern and contemporary art, the term mannered when applied to a style or work of art is somewhat critical, implying that the style or work of art is done not from the inner convictions and perceptions of the artist, but rather out of
Mixed Media
A work of art produced by combining two or more processes or mediums.
Modeling
Modeling is the process in which a three-dimensional form is shaped from clay or wax. Clay works are placed in a kiln or oven to be fired and the firing process makes the clay permanent and durable.
Monochromatic
Consisting of only a single color or hue; may include its tints and shades
Monogram
Artists have signed their work with a monogram rather than their entire name.
A design composed one or more letters, typically the initials of a name, used as an identifying mark.
Naive art or naïve art
The style of naive painting characterized by a careful, simplifying approach, non-scientific perspective , bright colors and often, an enchantingly literal depiction of imaginary scenes. The art of naive artists is sometimes referred to as primitive but is now most commonly called outsider and folk art
Narrative art
Art which represents elements of a story. Narrative may refer to a textual element, either part of or accompanying a work.
Negative space
In a painting or sculpture, the areas where there are no forms (the "empty" areas). In a painting, this means the areas which have no forms or objects (sometimes also called the ‘background’ ). In sculpture, this means the "holes" between forms or within a form
Non-objective
A term used to describe visual art which is not based on existing, observable forms, but rather on abstract or idealized forms, such as geometric, mathematical, imaginary, etc. Non-objective art came into existence in the early 20th
Odalisque
Term used to refer to a painted reclining woman, from the word for a Turkish harem slave
Oeuvre
The collected works of an artist. Literally, this is the French word for work.
Offset lithograph
Photomechanical printing process by which offset reproductions are made. These may be open or limited edition prints.
Oil
Oil paint is a slow drying paint that is created by mixing pigments with oil, linseed oil being the most traditional. Oil paints are usually opaque and never dry fully, but rather develop a hard film. Since the sixteenth century oil painting on canvas has been a standard medium for artists as it can be easily manipulated and has great flexibility, making it possible for an artist to achieve a layered or smooth, rich colored canvas.
Opaque
Something that cannot be seen through; the opposite of something through..
Open edition print
Offset reproduction produced in an unlimited quantity
Oxide
Any element combined with oxygen. Common rust is iron oxide, one of the most widely used colorants— making red bricks red for example. Silver’s oxide is more often referred to as tarnish. Bronze’s is more often referred to as a Patina.
Paint
Pigment that is dispersed into a liquid, called a vehicle , that includes a binder to make it adhere both to itself and to the surface to which it is applied. Many can have a matte semi-gloss, or glossy finish.. Types of paint include acrylic, tempera watercolor oil,
Patina
A sheen or coloration on any surface, either unintended or produced by age or intended and produced by simulation or stimulation , which signifies the object’s age;. Typically a thin layer of greens (sometimes reds or blues), usually basic copper sulfate, that forms on copper or copper alloys, such as bronze, as a result of oxidation and corrosion.
Photomontage
A two-dimensional combining of photographs or parts of photographs into an image on paper or other material
Pointillism
A method of painting developed in France in the 1880s in which tiny dots of color applied to the . When viewed from a distance, the points appear to blend together to make other colors and to form shapes.
Pop Art
An art movement and style that had its origins in England in the 1950s and made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists have focused attention upon familiar images of the popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, and supermarket products.
Positive space
The areas of a painting or sculpture which are occupied by forms or

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images, as contrasted with negative space, which are the "empty" areas where no forms/images are located.

Postmodern
A term used to describe the period of art which followed the modern period, i.e., from the 1950’s until recently. The term implies a shift away from the formal rigors of the modernists, toward the less formally and emotionally stringent Pop artists, and other art movements which followed.
Printmaking
The most popular forms of original prints are lithographs, serigraphs,
woodcuts, engravings and aquatints. Each of these is done with a different technique. Each medium has a special identifiable quality, but
they all involve the artist’s direct hand in drawing, brushing or cutting
an image area on the plate.
Primer
An undercoating paint applied to a surface, sealing it, creating a better bond and providing a ground for a painting. Applying such a ground is called priming.
Provenance
The provenance of a work of art is the history of its ownership. The word comes from the French verb provenir, to come from. Provenance is essential in identifying with certainty the authorship of a work of art. When the chips are down, no amount of connoisseurship can beat a good provenance. The ideal provenance would consist of a history of ownership traceable right back to the artist’s studio.
Realism
Representational painting which, unlike ideal art, desires to depict forms and images as they really are, without idealizing them.
Representational art
Art which is based on images which can be found in the objective world, or at least in the artist’s imagination; i.e., images which can perhaps be named or recognized.
Remarque
In printmaking a sketch originally made by the artist on the margin of his plate to test his tools, before immersing the entire plate in the acid bath . Because such remarques were originally intended to be scraped away before the final edition of the plate is printed, a print with a Remarque is often called a remarque proof . In the nineteenth century such remarques came to be so valued that they were often retained as part of the finished print.
Serigraphs
A serigraph is produced by screen printing. The process has
been popularly known as silkscreen printing since screens were first made of silk.
Today, however, screens can be made of paper, metal or plastics. The screen is
tightly stretched across a frame. The design is made by blocking out the entire
screen, except for the area to be printed.
Paper is placed under the screen, ink is then pressed over the screen through the
open or unblocked areas onto the paper below, thereby creating the original art
image. Whenever a serigraph is printed in more than one color, a separate screen
must be made for each color. Each color is applied separately through a screen
blocked out to allow the color to fall only where wanted on the design.
Serigraph
Serigraph is produced by screen printing. The process has been popularly known as silkscreen printing since screens were first made of silk. Today, however, screens can be made of paper, metal or plastics. The screen is tightly stretched across a frame. The design is made by blocking out the entire screen, except for the area to be printed, a direct printing process that involves pressing ink through a stencil design that has been cut into a mesh (silk) screen. A stencil must be made, and the paper must be run through the press, for each color.
Scratchboard
A scratchboard consists of at least three layers of material. The base is a poster board, or Masonite, or some other sturdy material next a layer of white clay is applied to the base and finally, a layer of black ink is applied on top of the clay. The image is etched into the scratchboard using a sharp knife or other etching tool. Various forms of tools and wire brushes can be used to create various effects. With some forms of scratchboard, multiple layers of colored clay are used instead of or in addition to the white clay, allowing the depth of cut to determine the color displayed. An image done in scratchboard is first sketched in pencil on tracing paper. A sharp point is then used to transfer the outline of the image to the scratchboard. Then, the image is etched into the scratchboard using thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of tiny cuts with a knife or other etching tool
Signed & numbered (s/n)
Created by the artist signing and numbering each print. Both limited edition graphics and limited edition reproductions are S/N. The number appears as one number over another such as 25/100. This tells us this was the 25th print to be signed in an edition of 100. In limited edition reproductions there is no difference between low and high numbered prints.
Many artists have signed their work with a monogram rather than their entire name.
Social Realism
Refers to any realist painting that also carries a clearly discernible social or political comment
Tint
A light value of a color, i.e., a light red; as opposed to a shade, which is a dark value, i.e., dark red.
Tone
The lightness or darkness of an area in terms of black to white; also called value, i.e., a light or dark red, or light or dark gray.
Triptych
A painting which consists of one center panel, with two paintings attached on either side by means of hinges or other means, as "wings."
Wash – A thin layer of translucent (or transparent) paint or ink, particularly in watercolor; also used occasionally in oil painting
Values
Differences in the lightness and darkness of a hue
Watercolor or watercolour
Any paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolors.. When made opaque with white, watercolor is generally called gouache or body color. Most watercolor painting is done on paper but other absorbent grounds can also be employed.
Woodcut
This is the oldest known printing method. The design is drawn on a flat block of smooth hardwood. Then the surface around the lines or areas of the design is chiseled away, leaving the design in high relief. The block is inked and the paper placed over it and rubbed, transferring the image to the paper. A separate block is used for each color.

Art Off the Main

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October 25 • 26 • 27
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11th Ave. & 39th St.
New York, NY 10001


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