Art Terminology

BAROQUE

Baroque was the dominant style in art and architecture of the seventeenth century, characterized by self-confidence, dynamism and a realistic approach to depiction. At its height in Rome from around 1630–1680, Baroque is particularly associated with the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Its dynamic movement, bold realism (giving viewers the impression they were witnessing an actual event), and …

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BAUHAUS

Bauhaus was a revolutionary school of art, architecture and design established by Walter Gropius at Weimar in Germany in 1919. The Bauhaus teaching method replaced the traditional pupil-teacher relationship with the idea of a community of artists working together. Its aim was to bring art back into contact with everyday life, and architecture, performing arts, …

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BEAUX ARTS QUARTET

The Beaux Arts Quartet was name given to a group of four young realist painters whose work was exhibited at the Beaux Arts gallery, London in the early 1950s. The Beaux Arts Gallery in London was run by the painter Helen Lessore from 1951–65. (There is no connection with the present London gallery of the …

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BEIJING EAST VILLAGE

Beijing East Village was a short-lived, politically motivated, Chinese arts collective that came to prominence in the early 1990s. The collective formed soon after the Tiananmen Square protests, colonising an impoverished area of East Beijing that became known as Beijing East Village. Much of the art produced was performance based with an emphasis on collective …

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BIENNIAL

A biennial is a large international art exhibition held every two years. In the art context, biennial (or biennale, as it is sometimes styled) has come to mean a large international exhibition held every two years. The first was the Venice Biennale in 1895, which was situated in the Giardini, a public park, and now …

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BIOMORPHIC

Biomorphic forms or images are ones that while abstract nevertheless refer to, or evoke, living forms such as plants and the human body. Biomorphic comes from combining the Greek words ‘bios’, meaning life, and ‘morphe’, meaning form. The term seems to have come into use around the 1930s to describe the imagery in the more …

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BITUMEN

Bitumen is a naturally-occurring, non-drying, tarry substance used in paint mixtures, especially to enrich the appearance of dark tones. Bitumen became very popular as a paint additive in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth. However, because it does not dry it eventually causes often severe darkening and cracking of the paint. This can be …

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BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT

The black arts movement was an ideological movement that emerged in the USA in the early 1960s when black artists and intellectuals came together to organise, study and think about what a new black art and black politics movement might be. The movement was inspired by the revolutions in China, Cuba and successful African and …

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BLACK ATLANTIC

Black Atlantic describes the fusion of black cultures with other cultures from around the Atlantic. Paul Gilroy first used the term in his book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness published in 1993. He argued that the Atlantic world has been deeply shaped by slavery and the slave trade. Between 1492 and 1820 about …

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BLACK AUDIO FILM COLLECTIVE

The Black Audio Film Collective is a pioneering arts initiative founded in 1982 whose ground-breaking experimental works engaged with black popular and political culture in Britain and the black / Asian Diasporas. Black Audio Film Collective was formed by seven undergraduates in Portsmouth in 1982, and was based in Dalston, East London from 1983 to …

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BLACK BOX

Relating to performance art, the black box is the name for a square room painted black in which artists performed experimental work. The black box became popular in the late 1960s, when artists began using abandoned warehouses as their studios. The appeal of the black box was that it was cheap to maintain and had …

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BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE

Black Mountain College was a highly influential college founded at Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA, in 1933 where teaching was experimental and committed to an interdisciplinary approach. The college’s progressive principles were based on the educational theories of John Rice, its founder. In the curriculum, drama, music and fine art were given equal status to …

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BLOOMSBURY

Bloomsbury is the name commonly used to identify a circle of intellectuals and artists who lived in Bloomsbury, near central London, in the period 1904–40. In 1905 a group of writers and intellectuals began to meet at the London home of the artist Vanessa Bell and her writer sister Virginia Woolf to share ideas and …

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BODY ART

Body art is art in which the body, often that of the artist, is the principal medium and focus. Body art covers a wide range of art from about 1960 on, encompassing a variety of different approaches. It includes much performance art, where the artist is directly concerned with the body in the form of …

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BOMBAY PROGRESSIVE ARTISTS’ GROUP

The Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group was a short-lived progressive art group founded in 1947 in Bombay by a group of artists who challenged India’s existing conservative art establishment. Founded in the year of Indian independence the group sought to create an Indian form of modernism that celebrated traditional Indian painting while also acknowledging the pioneering …

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BRICOLAGE

Bricolage refers to the construction or creation of an artwork from any materials that come to hand. Bricolage is a French wording meaning roughly ‘do-it-yourself’, and it is applied in an art context to artists who use a diverse range of non-traditional art materials. This approach became popular in the early twentieth century when resources …

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BRISTOL SCHOOL

Bristol school refers to artists associated with Bristol in the early 1800s and inspired by local scenery especially the River Avon and Avon Gorge. The group conducted evening sketching meetings and sketching excursions to scenic locations around Bristol, and works by the group often feature these locations. Its principal figures were Francis Danby, during the …

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BRITISH BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT

The British black arts movement was a radical political art movement founded in 1982 inspired by anti-racist discourse and feminist critique, which sought to highlight issues of race and gender and the politics of representation. The movement was founded around the time of the First National Black Art Convention organised by the Blk Art Group …

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BRITISH IMPRESSIONISM

British impressionism describes the work of artists working in Britain in the late nineteenth-century who were influenced by the ideas of the French impressionists. Modernist ideas and techniques associated with what was to become known as French impressionism (such as the use of rapid, broken brushstrokes, awareness of light and shade and the depiction of …

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BRÜCKE

Brücke was a German expressionist group founded in Dresden in 1905 which developed a radical anti-traditional style characterised by vivid non-naturalistic colour and emotional tension. Brücke means bridge and may have been intended to convey the idea of a bridge between the artist and society at large. Also, Brücke recruited members who were not artists …

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BRUTALISM

Brutalism is an architectural style of the 1950s and 1960s characterised by simple, block-like forms and raw concrete construction. The term was coined by the British architectural critic Reyner Banham to describe the approach to building particularly associated with the architects Peter and Alison Smithson in the 1950s and 1960s.The term originates from the use, …

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