Art Terminology

NABIS

Les Nabis were a group of post-impressionist French painters active from 1888–1900 whose work is characterised by flat patches of colour, bold contours and simplified drawing. Some of its key members met at the Académie Julian in Paris, which offered a liberal alternative to the official École des Beaux Arts. Founded in secret by Paul …

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NAÏVE ART

Naïve art is simple, unaffected and unsophisticated – usually specifically refers to art made by artists who have had no formal training in an art school or academy. Naïve art is characterised by childlike simplicity of execution and vision. As such it has been valued by modernists seeking to get away from what they see …

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NARRATIVE

Narrative art is art that tells a story. A narrative is simply a story. Narrative art is art that tells a story. Much of Western art until the twentieth century has been narrative, depicting stories from religion, myth and legend, history and literature (see history painting). Audiences were assumed to be familiar with the stories …

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NATURALISM

Naturalism was a broad movement in the nineteenth century which represented things closer to the way we see them. Until the early nineteenth century both landscape and the human figure in art tended to be idealised or stylised according to conventions derived from the classical tradition. In the nineteenth century there was a trend towards …

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NAZARENES

The Nazarenes were a group of German artists founded in 1809. Their aim was to regenerate German painting by returning to the purity of the early Renaissance. The group was founded by Johann Friedrich Overbeck and Franz Pforr who were later joined by Peter Von Cornelius. They were originally called the Brotherhood of St Luke …

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NÉGRITUDE

Négritude was an anti-colonial cultural and political movement founded by a group of African and Caribbean students in Paris in the 1930s who sought to reclaim the value of blackness and African culture. Introduction Négritude was lead by the Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, French Guianese poet Léon Damas and the future Senegalese President (who was …

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NEO-CONCRETE

The neo-concrete movement was a splinter group of the 1950s Brazilian concrete art movement, calling for a greater sensuality, colour and poetic feeling in concrete art. With the construction of the country’s new utopian capital, Brasilia and the formation of the São Paulo Biennial, young Brazilian artists were inspired to create art that drew on …

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NEO-DADA

The term neo-dada applied to the work of artists working in America in the 1950s and 1960s which was reminiscent of the art of the early twentieth century dada movement. The term is applied to the work of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns because of their use of collage, assemblage and found …

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NEO-EXPRESSIONISM

Neo-expressionism acted as a major revival of painting in an expressionist manner in the 1980s and it occurred internationally. It was seen as a reaction to the minimalism and conceptual art that had dominated the 1970s. In the USA leading figures were Philip Guston and Julian Schnabel, and in Britain Christopher Le Brun and Paula …

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NEO-GEO

Short for neo-geometric conceptualism, the term neo-geo came into use in the early 1980s in America to describe the work of artists who criticized the mechanisation and commercialism of the modern world. Neo-geo is short for neo-geometric conceptualism. It is applied to the work of Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton, Jeff Koons and others. Their work …

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NEO-IMPRESSIONISM

Neo-impressionism is the name given to the post-impressionist work of Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and their followers who, inspired by optical theory, painted using tiny adjacent dabs of primary colour to create the effect of light. Neo-impressionism is characterised by the use of the divisionist technique (often popularly but incorrectly called pointillism, a term Paul …

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NEO-PLASTICISM

Neo-plasticism is a term adopted by the Dutch pioneer of abstract art, Piet Mondrian, for his own type of abstract painting which used only horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours. From the Dutch ‘de nieuwe beelding’, neo-plasticism basically means new art (painting and sculpture are plastic arts). It is also applied to the work …

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NEO-ROMANTICISM

Neo-romanticism is a term applied to the imaginative and often quite abstract landscape based painting of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and others in the late 1930s and 1940s. The work of these artists often included figures, was generally sombre, reflecting the Second World War and its approach and aftermath, but rich, poetic and capable of …

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NEOCLASSICISM

Neoclassicism was a particularly pure form of classicism that emerged from about 1750. Following the discovery of the Roman ruins of Pompeii and also the publication in 1764 of a highly influential history of ancient art by German scholar Winckelmann, there was an intense flourishing of classicism in art, architecture and design in the eighteenth …

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NEUE KÜNSTLERVEREINIGUNG MÜNCHEN (NKV)

Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKV) were an avant-garde exhibiting society founded in Munich in 1909. With Wassily Kandinsky as president and members including Alexei Jawlensky and Gabriele Münter, the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKV) (New Artists’ Association of Munich) mounted controversial exhibitions of futurist-influenced work in 1909, 1910 and 1911. Kandinsky resigned in 1911 and with Franz …

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NEUE SACHLICHKEIT

Usually translated as ‘New Objectivity’, Neue Sachlichkeit was a German modern realist movement of the 1920s. It took its name from the exhibition Neue Sachlichkeit held in Mannheim in 1923. The exhibition was part of the phenomenon of the ‘return to order’ following the First World War (when artists rejected the more extreme avant-garde forms …

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NEUE SLOWENISCHE KUNST (NSK)

The Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) were a pioneering artist collective formed in the 1980s in Slovenia which addressed the social and political history of the country. Neue Slowenische Kunst (the name is the German translation of New Slovenian Art) was formed at a time of upheaval during the country’s separation from former Yugoslavia. The collective …

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NEUE WILDE

The term Neue Wilde was used in Germany for neo-expressionism, a movement which saw the re-emergence of expressive painting in the late 1970s and 1980s. Like other neo-expressive movements of this era, the work of the Neuen Wilden (i.e. new Fauves), is characterised by bright, intense colours and quick, broad brushstrokes, and can be seen …

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NEW BRITISH SCULPTURE

The term New British sculpture applies to the work of young British sculptors in the 1980s who, in reaction to minimal and conceptual art, adopted a more traditional approach to materials, techniques and imagery. Around 1980 there can be seen to have been a general reaction in western art to the predominance of minimal and …

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NEW ENGLISH ART CLUB

The New English Art Club (NEAC) was founded in London in 1886 as an exhibiting society by artists influenced by impressionism and whose work was rejected by the conservative Royal Academy. Key early members were James Abbott McNeill Whistler (although he soon resigned) Walter Sickert and Philip Steer. Others in the first show included Sir …

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NEW FIGURATION

New figuration is a blanket term referring to the revival of figurative art in Europe and America in the 1960s following a period dominated by abstraction. The term first used by the French critic Michel Ragon, sometimes argued that the move back to figuration occurred during an era of political and social turbulence in Europe …

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NEW GENERATION SCULPTURE

New generation sculpture were a group of young British sculptors working in the 1960s, who experimented with materials, forms and colours with the shared aim of ridding sculpture of its traditional base. New Generation was the title used for a series of exhibitions of painting and sculpture by young British artists held at the Whitechapel …

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NEW GENRE PUBLIC ART

The term new genre public art, refers to public art, often activist in nature, and created outside institutional structures in order to engage directly with an audience. The term was coined by the American artist, writer and educator Suzanne Lacy in 1991, to define a type of American public art that was not a sculpture …

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NEW MEDIA

A term new media is used to describe the sophisticated new technologies that have become available to artists since the late 1980s that can enable the digital production and distribution of art. New media defines the mass influx of media, from the CD-Rom to the mobile phone and the world wide web. Websites like MySpace …

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NEW OBJECTIVITY

New Objectivity is the English translation of ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’, a German modern realist movement of the 1920s, described by one of its founders as ‘new realism bearing a socialist flavour’.

NEW SCULPTURE

New sculpture is a name applied to the sculptures produced by a group of artists working in the second half of the nineteenth century. The term was coined by critic Edmund Gosse in an 1876 article in Art Journal titled The New Sculpture in which he identified this new trend in sculpture. Its distinguishing qualities …

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NEW SPIRIT PAINTING

New spirit painting is a term which refers to the resurgence of expressionist painting around 1980. A New Spirit in Painting was the title of a major exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1981. It attempted to sum up the state of painting at that point. It was an early response to the …

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NEW TOPOGRAPHICS

New topographics was a term coined by William Jenkins in 1975 to describe a group of American photographers (such as Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz) whose pictures had a similar banal aesthetic, in that they were formal, mostly black and white prints of the urban landscape. Many of the photographers associated with new topographics including …

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NEW YORK SCHOOL

The term New York school seems to have come into use in the 1940s to describe the radical art scene that emerged in New York after the Second World War. The intensely creative and innovative developments in New York in the 1940s gave birth to the radical and world-conquering new style of painting that in …

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NEWLYN SCHOOL

The term Newlyn school refer to a group of artists who settled in Newlyn and St Ives in the late nineteenth century and whose work is characterised by an impressionistic style and subject matter drawn from scenes of rural life. Following the extension of the Great Western Railway to West Cornwall in1877 the Cornish fishing …

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NON-OBJECTIVE ART

Non-objective art defines a type of abstract art that is usually, but not always, geometric and aims to convey a sense of simplicity and purity. The Russian constructivist painters Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich and the sculptor Naum Gabo were pioneers of non-objective art. It and was inspired by the Greek philosopher Plato who believed …

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NORWICH SCHOOL

Norwich school were an important British early nineteenth regional school of landscape painting. The Norwich school formally dates from 1803 when, at his house in Norwich, John Crome and others formed the Norwich Society. It was initially a self-help discussion group for ‘an Enquiry into the Rise, Progress and present state of painting – with …

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NOUVEAU RÉALISME

Nouveau réalisme was a French movement which can be seen as a European counterpart to pop art. Founded in 1960 by the critic Pierre Restany, artists associated with nouveau réalism (which translates as ‘new realism’) made extensive use of collage and assemblage as well as painting. Some of the artists incorporated real objects directly into …

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