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.
pottery or another other object made from fired clay, which is porous and permeable. It is fired at a relatively low temperature, may be glazed or unglazed, and is usually yellowish-brown, brown or red in colour.
see land art.
in printmaking, a group of identical impressions of a print from a plate, block or stone. The print number indicates the print within the series: for example, 6/20 refers to the sixth print in an edition of 20.
in photography, refers to thin layers of gelatin on film in which light-sensitive silver salts are suspended. These create a chemical reaction, resulting in a photographic image.
a print made by carving into wood or metal. When printed, the engraved line is sharp and clear.
a print produced from a metal plate into which the image has been bitten (ie etched) by acid. Copper, zinc or steel plates are favoured, the surface of which is polished before being covered with an acid-resistant layer or ‘ground’ composed of wax, gum and resin. The ground can be removed in part to expose the metal below.
in photography, the act of directing light onto a photosensitive material. Also, the amount of light allowed to reach the material.
a non-naturalistic form of art in which shape or colour is exaggerated or distorted so as to express the artist’s emotions. As a movement (often with a capital E), it has its roots in the work of Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) and Edvard Munch (1863–1944) in the late 1800s, although the term itself is first used in 1911 to describe an exhibition of cubist and Fauvist works. In Germany, where it was dominant from around 1905 to 1930, it is associated with Die Brücke and Blaue Reiter groups. See also abstract expressionism, cubism and Fauvism.