Collector’s Minute: An Art and Architecture Glossary
Art and architecture, like all other fields of interest, have interesting words and terms. Here is a quick guide to some of the styles and terms found in our worlds of art and architecture.
Abstract Expressionism: This is a type of painting which developed in New York in the 1940s in which painting a recognizable object was not the goal. Instead, the artists strive to use color, design, rhythm and even the way paint is applied to the canvas or paper as the means of expression.
Abstract Expressionism: "Woman V," by Willem de Kooning
Baroque: The term is used to apply to music, art and architecture of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Baroque architecture is very flamboyant with many of the classical forms augmented by ornamentation. Baroque art reflects a highly decorated and almost emotional involvement by the artist to stir the viewer.
Baroque: "The Adoration of the Magi," by Peter Paul Rubens
Classical or Classicism: As the name implies, this art form relates to what is considered time-honored. Its roots are in the ancient Greek and Roman cultures to follow that style in simplicity of line and angle and in balance of the visual elements.
Classicism: "The Inspiration of a Poet," by Nicholas Poussin
Cubism: This form of modern art began about 1907 and lasted until about 1925. The emphasis of cubism is not in reproducing recognizable objects, but instead dwelling on changes in perspective as though viewing a person or object from different angles, yet composing a whole. It is almost geometric in form and probably is best seen in the art of Picasso and Braque.
Cubism: "Still Life with Fruit Dish and Mandolin," by Juan Gris
Dadaism: Originating in France, Germany and Switzerland at the end of World War I, this art form gets its name from a nonsense word in French. The art tends to satirize the world. The traditions and classical forms are not used. Art historians say Dadaism led to the later form of art called Surrealism.
Dadaism: "Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany," by Hannah Höch
Expressionism: This originated in Europe just after the end of World War I and is marked by a free expression of the artists in putting forth their own subjective feelings. Klee and Kandinsky are noted expressionists.
Expressionism: "Portrait of Diego Rivera," by Amedeo Modigliani
Fauvism or Les Fauves: The root of the word is from French for “wild beasts.” It began to be applied to art about 1906 to describe the works of Derain, Dufy and Matisse who used bright color and distortion as means of expression.
Fauvism: "Woman with a Hat," by Henri Matisse
Gothic: This style of architecture was common in Europe from about 1200-1500. Pointed arches, flying buttresses, ribbed ceiling vaulting and a formal and elegant look characterize Gothic architecture. The viewer’s eyes are lifted upwards by this style, so it is common in great cathedrals such as Notre Dame in Paris and Westminster Abbey in London.
Gothic: "St. Mary Magdalene," St. John's Church, Toruń
Impressionism: This style of art began in France about 1865. It uses color, light and mood as means to interpret the subject and the light and air around the subject. Masters of impressionism include Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.
Impressionism: "Woman in the Bath," by Edgar Degas
Mannerism: The last two-thirds of the 16th century in Italy particularly marked mannerism, a method using vivid and bright colors and styles especially in depicting humans. Some of the paintings are very emotional, such as those of El Greco and Tintoretto.
Mannerism: "Madonna with the Long Neck," by Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola
Neo-Classicism: This was a revival of the classical style and took place in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Its influence spilled over into literature, too.
Neo-Classicism: The Royal Scottish Academy Building on the Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland
Post-Impressionism: This is similar to Impressionism, but the artist depicts a subjective, not objective, view. Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin are among this art form which originated in France.
Post-Impressionism: "Haying at Eragny," by Camille Pissarro
Pre-Raphaelite or Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: These artists banded together in England from 1847-1849 to revive typical Italian art before the time of the artist Raphael (1483-1520). Bright colors and extreme attention to detail mark this style.
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: "Proserpine," by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Realism: This focuses on accurate depiction rather than emotion or idealization. The movement began about the middle of the 19th century in protest to the Romanticism, which often marked the art of that period.
Realism: "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet," by Gustave Courbet
Renaissance: From a French word meaning “new birth,” this style of art and architecture marked the release of humankind in Europe from the grip of the Dark Ages. It gave a flowering of emotions and hope. It began in Italy in the 14th century, but quickly spread throughout Europe and revitalized art. The ancient Greek and Roman art forms had their influence, but the style went beyond those to become a style of its own. Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael are just three of the noteworthy Renaissance artists.
Renaissance: "The Creation of Adam," by Michelangelo
Rococo: Developed in France in the mid-18th century, this style spread through Europe and influences art and architecture. It is highly decorated architecture featuring such forms as shells, leaves and scrolls. Although formal in some respects, Rococo art is light in its feel. It is considered an off-shoot of the Baroque style, but with a more delicate touch. The word comes from the French word “rocaille” which means “shell.” Shells are some of the commonly-used ornamentations in Rococo art. Watteau and Fragonard are typical of the Rococo artists.
Rococo: "Le Déjeuner," by François Boucher
Romanesque: Using the roots of art of the Roman period, this style of architecture was a popular form about the 11th to 13th centuries. It is characterized by rounded arches, tiers and a massive look and it is highly ornamented.
Romanesque: The "Morgan Leaf", detached from the Winchester Bible
Romanticism: This movement began in Europe around the mid- to late-18th century as a revolt against classical forms. The art and architecture of this style emphasize emotion, individualism and even the supernatural or odd.
Romanticism: "Twilight in the Wilderness," by Frederic Edwin Church
— by Stephenie Slahor
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