Art Terminology

ICONOGRAPHY

The iconography of an artwork is the imagery within it. The term comes from the Greek word ikon meaning image. An icon was originally a picture of Christ on a panel used as an object of devotion in the orthodox Greek Church from at least the seventh century on. Hence the term icon has come …

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IDENTITY POLITICS

Identity politics is the term used to describe an anti-authoritarian political and cultural movement that gained prominence in the USA and Europe in the mid-1980s, asking questions about identity, repression, inequality and injustice and often focusing on the experience of marginalised groups. Identity politics emerged out of the 1960s Black Civil Rights Movement, second wave …

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IL NOVECENTO ITALIANO

Il Novecento Italiano was an Italian group formed in 1922 with the aim of reviving the tradition of large format history painting and sculpture in the classical manner. The group was formed by artists Achille Funi, Mario Sironi, Carlo Carrá and others. It was officially launched in 1923 at a meeting in Milan, with Mussolini …

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ILLUSIONISM

The term illusionism is used to describe a painting that creates the illusion of a real object or scene, or a sculpture where the artist has depicted figure in such a realistic way that they seem alive. The term is often used specifically in relation to the decorative schemes used in buildings in Baroque art, …

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IMPASTO

Impasto refers to an area of thick paint or texture, in a painting. First noticeable in the paintings of Venetian Renaissance artists Titian and Tintoretto, impasto is also seen in Baroque painting, for example in the work of Rubens. It is increasingly notable in nineteenth-century landscape, naturalist and romantic painting. The use of impasto became …

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IMPRESSIONISM

Impressionism developed in France in the nineteenth century and is based on the practice of painting out of doors and spontaneously ‘on the spot’ rather than in a studio from sketches. Main impressionist subjects were landscapes and scenes of everyday life. Impressionism was developed by Claude Monet and other Paris-based artists from the early 1860s. …

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INDEPENDENT GROUP

The Independent Group (IG) were a radical group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London in the 1950s, and challenged the dominant modernist (and as they saw it elitist) culture dominant at that time, in order to make it more inclusive of popular culture. The …

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INDIGENISM

There are several meanings relating to the word indigenism, but in the context of visual art the term refers to a movement that originated in Latin America during the 1920s which saw artists fighting against the dominance of European art in favour of making art about their own culture which embraced pre-Columbian art. Art associated …

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INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

The term industrial design refers to design of mass-produced, machine-made goods. The word was first used in America in the 1920s to describe the work of specialist designers who worked on product design. Earlier, Henry Ford’s introduction in 1913 of the production line to the motor car industry, and subsequently to the production of other …

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INK

Ink is an ancient writing and drawing medium in liquid or paste form, traditionally black or brown in colour – though it can also contain coloured dyes or pigments. Ink is still most commonly made of carbon and binders, but historically was also made from plant or animal sources such as iron gall and sepia. …

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INSTALLATION ART

The term installation art is used to describe large-scale, mixed-media constructions, often designed for a specific place or for a temporary period of time. Installation artworks (also sometimes described as ‘environments’) often occupy an entire room or gallery space that the spectator has to walk through in order to engage fully with the work of …

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INSTITUTIONAL CRITIQUE

Institutional critique is the act of critiquing an institution as artistic practice, the institution usually being a museum or an art gallery. Institutional criticism began in the late 1960s when artists began to create art in response to the institutions that bought and exhibited their work. In the 1960s the art institution was often perceived …

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INTAGLIO

Intaglio describes any printmaking technique in which the image is produced by incising into the printing plate – the incised line or area holds the ink and creates the image.

INTERACTIVE ART

Interactive art describes art that relies on the participation of a spectator. Interactive art emerged in the late 1950s in parallel with artists’ desires to find less alienating and exclusive environments in which to show art. As the street, the warehouse or the shop front became their choice of venue, the art also became more …

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INTERNATIONAL STYLE

The term international style was first used in 1932 to describe architects associated with the modern movement whose designs shared similar visual qualities – being mostly rectilinear, undecorated, asymmetrical and white. In 1932 the Museum of Modern Art in New York held the first architectural exhibition featuring architects associated with the modern movement. International style …

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INTERNET ART

Internet art is art that is made on and for the internet, also known as net art. It encompasses various sub-genres of computer-based art including browser art and software art. The term is used to describe a process of making art using a computer in some form or other, whether to download imagery that is …

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INTIMISM

Intimism is a French term applied to paintings and drawings of quiet domestic scenes. Although originally applied to the work of of Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard it has since been applied widely to any painting of such subject matter. An outstanding example of an artist who works in this way is Gwen John.

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