Abstract expressionism Movement in mid-20th-century painting that was primarily concerned with the spontaneous assertion of the individual through the act of painting. Generally, abstract expressionist art is without recognizable images. The abstract expressionist movement centered in New York City and is also called the New York school.
Abstraction The essential form of an object; a process in which the artist focuses on and exaggerates the forms of objects for aesthetic and expressive purposes.
Academic painting An accepted style of painting taught by an academy of art. France during the 18th century had a very strong academic tradition that prescribed subject matter, artistic representation, and training techniques.
Action painting A term coined by the critic Harold Rosenberg to refer to a style within Abstract Expressionism that focused on the physical qualities of paint and the gestures of the artist. Artists associated with this approach include Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.
Bauhaus The Bauhaus School of Design was a highly influential state-sponsored school of art, architecture, and design founded in Weimar in 1919. Its aims included raising the quality of everyday life through an aesthetic of modern and universal design.
Constructivism A Russian art movement of the early 20th century based on the use of nonobjective, often technological, shapes and new materials. Its name derives from the “construction” of abstract sculptures from industrial materials.
Cubism A style of painting, developed between 1907 and 1914 as a collaboration between Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, in which objects are represented as cubes and other geometric shapes.
Impressionists Artists in the later part of the 19th century whose work dealt with the effects of light and color. They used these effects to capture the immediacy or “impression” of a moment.
Les Nabis (ca. 1888) A group of painters who took their name from the Hebrew word for prophet. The Nabis believed that what mattered most was not to depict things but to evoke impressions and feeling. In addition to painting, they made illustrations, posters, and political caricatures focusing on Parisian life.
Muse Any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology, presiding over branches of learning and the arts. A poet’s inspiring goddess, a poet’s genius.
Nonobjective art Art that uses forms, shapes, and colors that are invented rather than observed.
Pointillism A method of painting which systematically applies to the canvas points of pure color that blend together when viewed from a distance.
Post-impressionists Artists including Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh who were grouped into an artistic movement thought to embrace the idea of art as a process of formal design with purely expressive aims.
Romantic painting A style of 19th century art that rebelled against the rules of the prevailing academy and looked for alternative sources for inspiration.
Salon In France in the 19th century the Salons were major exhibitions that introduced the pubic to new and established artists.
Suprematism A highly geometric style of 20th-century abstract painting developed around 1913 by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich. Its guiding principle was, “the supremacy of pure sensation in creative art,” best represented by the square, which Malevich considered the most essential element.
Surrealism A 20th-century art movement in art and literature that sought to express what is in the subconscious mind by depicting objects and events as seen in dreams.