Art terms explained
In this glossary we’ve explained some common art terms, and plan to add more terms and more detail. Use the Website feedback page to suggest additional terms to be explained.
an early 20th-century art movement which started in Europe and deliberately challenged traditional aesthetic standards and cultural values. Artists include Hans (Jean) Arp (1886–1966), Francis Picabia (1879–1953), Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968).
one of the earliest photographic processes, demonstrated by Louis Daguerre in France in 1839.
the analysis of an artwork by breaking down its social or political meaning; a theory that says there can be multiple interpretations of an artwork.
depth of field
the amount of distance between the nearest and furthest objects that appear in focus in a photograph; also known as the zone of sharpness. Depth of field depends on the lens opening, the focal length of the lens, and the distance from the lens to the subject.
based on, or a recreation of, an actual event, era, life story, etc, and aiming to be factually accurate.
a technique in photography that involves holding back the image-forming light from a part of the image during part of the basic exposure time to make that area of the print lighter. See also burning-in.
a printmaking technique. The surface of a metal plate is scratched or scored with a sharp metal point, which displaces metal, throwing it up on either side (called a ‘burr’). When inked this burr also holds ink, which adds a rich, velvety texture when printed. The burr is fragile, so fewer prints are made successfully from the plate.