Art Terminology

RAYOGRAPH

Photographic prints made by laying objects onto photographic paper and exposing it to light. The technique of creating photographic prints without using a camera (photograms) is as old as photography itself – but emerged again in various avant-garde contexts in the early 1920s. Artist Man Ray refined and personalised the technique to such an extent …

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RAYONISM

An early form of abstract art characterised by interacting linear forms derived from rays of light. Rayonism was one of the Russian avant-garde movements that proliferated in Moscow and St Petersburg in the years from about 1910–20. It was the invention of Michel Larionov and his partner Natalia Goncharova in 1912. Rayonism, or rayism, was …

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READYMADE

The term readymade was first used by French artist Marcel Duchamp to describe the works of art he made from manufactured objects. It has since often been applied more generally to artworks by other artists made in this way. Introduction Duchamp’s earliest readymades included Bicycle Wheel of 1913, a wheel mounted on a wooden stool, …

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REALISM

In its specific sense realism refers to a mid nineteenth century artistic movement characterised by subjects painted from everyday life in a naturalistic manner; however the term is also generally used to describe artworks painted in a realistic almost photographic way. Until the nineteenth century Western art was dominated by the academic theory of History …

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RÉALITÉS NOUVELLES

The Salon des Réalités nouvelles (new realities) was an exhibiting society devoted to pure abstract art founded in Paris in 1939. Artist Sonia Delaunay set up the society along with other artists working in an abstract style. The name reflects the fundamental idea that abstract art is a new reality because it does not refer …

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REBEL ART CENTRE

The Rebel Art Centre was founded by Wyndham Lewis in London in March 1914 as a meeting place for artists to discuss revolutionary ideas and teach non-representational art. The Centre, based at 38 Great Ormond Street in London, was a short-lived enterprise and by the summer of 1914 had closed down as a result of …

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RELATIONAL AESTHETICS

Term created by curator Nicolas Bourriaud in the 1990s to describe the tendency to make art based on, or inspired by, human relations and their social context. The French curator Nicolas Bourriaud published a book called Relational Aesthetics in 1998 in which he defined the term as: A set of artistic practices which take as …

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RELIEF

A relief is a wall-mounted sculpture in which the three-dimensional elements are raised from a flat base. Any three-dimensional element attached to a basically flat wall mounted work of art is said to be in relief or a relief element.

RENAISSANCE

French word meaning rebirth, now used in English to describe the great revival of art that took place in Italy from about 1400 under the influence of the rediscovery of classical art and culture. The Renaissance reached its peak (known as the High Renaissance) in the short period from about 1500–1530 in the work of …

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REPLICA

A copy of a work of art that is virtually indistinguishable from the original. Unlike a fake, a replica is not trying to pass for the original and is often made by the artist and used for historical and educational purposes. The vogue for collecting replicas reached the height of popularity in the mid to …

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REPORTAGE PAINTING

Reportage painting was a Japanese post-war art movement that emerged in the early 1950s in opposition to the presence of the American military in Japan, and sought to reveal the inherent contradictions of post-war Japanese society which they saw as a puppet state to America. The paintings produced by artists associated with the movement were …

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REPRESENTATIONAL

Blanket term for art that represents some aspect of reality, in a more or less straightforward way. The term seems to have come into use after the rise of modern art and particularly abstract art as a means of referring to art not substantially touched by modern developments. Not quite the same as figurative art …

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RESIN

A usually transparent solid or semi-solid substance sometimes used as a medium by sculptors. As a fairly lightweight, durable material that is relatively cheap – compared to other traditional sculptural materials – it a desirable medium for artists (especially those who want to make multiple versions of a sculpture). Resin can also be painted or …

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RESISTANCE ART

A form of art that emerged in South Africa in the mid-1970s after the Soweto uprising that focused on resisting apartheid and celebrating African strength and unity. The Soweto uprising marked the beginning of social change in South Africa. Resistance art grew out of the Black Consciousness Movement, a grass-roots anti-Apartheid movement that emerged in …

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RETURN TO ORDER

A European art movement that came about following the First World War and characterized by a return to more traditional approaches to art-making – rejecting the extreme avant-garde tendencies of art in the years leading up to 1918. The First World War administered a huge shock to European society. One of the artistic responses to …

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RETURN TO ORDER

A European art movement that came about following the First World War and characterized by a return to more traditional approaches to art-making – rejecting the extreme avant-garde tendencies of art in the years leading up to 1918. The First World War administered a huge shock to European society. One of the artistic responses to …

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ROCOCO

Light, sensuous, intensely decorative French style developed in the early eighteenth century following death of Louis XIV and in reaction to the Baroque grandeur of Versailles. The name comes from French rocaille, rock-work, based on forms of sea shells and corals. In practice Rococo is a style of short curves, scrolls and counter curves, often …

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ROMANTICISM

Term in use by the early nineteenth century to describe the movement in art and literature distinguished by a new interest in human psychology, expression of personal feeling and interest in the natural world. This complex shift in attitudes away from the dominant classical tradition was at its height from about 1780 to 1830, but …

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RURAL NATURALISM

Nineteenth century painting movement characterized by scenes of rural life painted in a realist, often sentimentalised, manner. The tendency to sentimentalism of the rural naturalist artists distinguishes their work from the more gritty realist work of the nineteenth century, as produced by Gustave Courbet and his followers. In Britain, rural naturalism is exemplified by the …

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RURALISTS

Group of British artists founded in 1975 who aimed to revive the painting of figure subjects in idyllic rural settings. The group was centred round pop artist Peter Blake after his move from London to the countryside near Bath. The full name was The Brotherhood of Ruralists and this, combined with the original number of …

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