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.
also known as body of work. The collective works of an artist.
a distinguished artist from an earlier period, commonly from the 16th to early 18th centuries, or a work of art by one of these artists.
short for optical art. A type of abstract art, developed in the 1960s, based on geometrical forms that create visual illusions. Artists include Victor Vasareley (1908–1997), Bridget Riley (b1931).
used more generally to describe a person who is knowledgeable about the Orient, the term is also applied to 19th-century European painters and photographers of Near-Eastern scenes and their works of art. In 19th-century Europe, the word ‘Orient’ was primarily used for the areas bordering the Mediteranean that were under the Turkish or Ottoman Empire, as well as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Orientalist works included images produced while travelling in the region as well as those produced in a studio with posed models and props.
a work of art created by an artist and then handprinted by either the artist or someone acting under the artist’s immediate supervision.
also known as orphic cubism. A term coined by the art critic Guillaume Apollinaire for the work of Robert Delaunay (1885–1941) and applied to other artists. The style – which developed out of cubism, with a tendency towards abstraction – focused on colour as the primary means of expression. See also abstract art.
see art brut.
in photography, when too much light reaches the film, producing either a dense negative or a very bright/light print or slide.