Art Terminology

DECADENCE

Decadence generally refers to an extreme manifestation of symbolism which appeared towards the end of the nineteenth century and emphasised the spiritual, the morbid and the erotic. The term came into use in the 1880s with, for example, the French journal Le Décadent published in 1886. Decadents were inspired partly by a disgust at the …

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DECALCOMANIA

Decalcomania is a blotting process whereby paint is squeezed between two surfaces to create a mirror image. The most common example of decalcomania involves applying paint to paper then folding it, applying pressure and then unfolding the paper to reveal a mirror pattern. Decalcomania is most commonly associated with the surrealist painters Max Ernst and …

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DÉCOLLAGE

Décollage is a French word meaning literally to unstick, generally associated with a process used by artists of the nouveau réalisme (new realism) movement that involved making art from posters ripped from walls. Although the first time the term décollage appeared in print was in the Dictionnaire Abrégé du Surréalisme in 1938, it is usually …

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DECONSTRUCTION

Deconstruction is a form of criticism first used by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s which asserts that there is not one single intrinsic meaning to be found in a work, but rather many, and often these can be conflicting. A deconstructive approach to criticism involves discovering, recognising and understanding the underlying and unspoken …

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