Arts Curriculum


September 16, 2005–January 11, 2006



Deesis The Greek word for a humble request or prayer. This tier of an iconostasis would include a representation of Christ Enthroned between the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist, who was thought to be able to intercede on behalf of humans.

Egg tempera A painting medium that uses colored pigments, ground into powder and mixed with egg yolks, to create paint. Bright colors are derived from minerals including cinnabar (red), lapis lazuli (blue), and malachite (green)

Icon Derived from the Greek, meaning any image or likeness, but commonly used to designate a panel representing Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint venerated by Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity.

Iconostasis In Eastern Christian churches, a screen separating the main body of the church from the altar; it was usually decorated with icons whose subject matter and order were largely predetermined.


Hetman Military captain

Serfdom A system in which an agricultural worker is bound to the land and the landowner. Serfdom had gradually begun to take hold in Russia during the 16th century. It is distinguished from slavery, which indicates legal bondage to a person, but is similar in its effects.

Tsar Derived from the word “Caesar”; the Russian king or head of the Russian royal family. Tsars held absolute power and considered themselves appointed by God to rule the country.


The Enlightenment A movement in the late 1700s that emphasized the value of experimentation and reason in learning. This was a dramatic shift from the previous emphasis on tradition and faith.


Romanticism A style of art and literature that emerged in mid-18th century Europe and spread to Russia. It emphasized individual emotions expressed in a dramatic manner. Artists explored ways to express their individualism and to intensify the emotional expressiveness of their art.


Genre A painting that depicts a scene from everyday life.

Realism A mid-19th century style of art based on the belief that the subject matter should be shown true to life, without stylization or idealization.

The Wanderers A group of talented artists who left the official academy and formed an artist’s commune. They believed that art should reflect the realities of Russian life. In 1863 they resigned from the Academy of Art in St. Petersburg and formed the Society for Traveling Exhibitions, designed to bring art to the people. They later joined with other Moscow-based artists and in 1870 mounted their first exhibition.


Fauvism In 1905 an exhibition was held in Paris with paintings that blazed with pure, highly contrasting colors. One critic dubbed the creators of these paintings “les fauves”—French for “wild beasts”—and the name stuck. Matisse is generally acknowledged to be the leader of the group.

Impressionists A group of 19th century painters who explored fleeting effects of nature and light with loose brushwork. Many of their works appeared to be rapidly executed to capture the impression of a subject rather than the subject itself.


Avant-Garde Originally a military term for those at the front of the battle formation; now used to describe artists or groups of artists who are operating outside the mainstream cultural production and are striving to push the boundaries of acceptable art.

Cubism An early-20th-century art movement developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque around 1907 in which objects have been abstracted by breaking and fragmenting them into geometric forms; objects from the visible world may still be recognizable.

Cubo-Futurism An early-20th-century style in Russia in which Cubist and Futurist influences are mixed.

Futurism Italian art movement described in the 1909 Futurist Manifesto that was anti-academic and looked to modern technology and the euphoria of speed for inspiration.

Neo-Primitivism A style that draws upon the past and indigenous cultures for inspiration. It is characterized by the flatness seen in icons, lack of depth, and bold striking colors.

Nonobjective Paintings or sculptures that do not depict a subject as it might look in real life, but use line, shape, and color to form an abstract composition

Suprematism Influential artistic movement founded by Russian painter Kazimir Malevich in 1915. An entirely abstract art, it insisted on the supremacy of geometric forms to transcend the natural world and express pure emotion.


Capitalism An economic system characterized by private ownership of property and goods and competition on an open market.

Communism A theory and system of social and political organization in which property is owned by the community as a whole rather than by individuals.

Socialist Realist Art that is realistic in form and socialist in content; the official Soviet style of art.


Installation An artwork designed for a specific gallery space; its components are often arranged within that space to be viewed as a single work of art.