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Art Glossary

Have you ever wondered what some commonly used words and phrases mean in artistic terms? we give you a quick summary in this handy guide.


This is the emphasis given to certain details and elements within a painting which make them stand out. You can also think of it as the defining feature of a piece of artwork.


You may have heard this word casually thrown around social media, but what exactly does it mean from an artistic perspective? Simply put, an aesthetic response pertains to physical beauty and the appreciation of it. No deeper logical or emotional rationale is necessary to incite an aesthetic response.


Avant-garde can be used to describe original, innovative and experimental art movements. Some such works are produced for the purpose of challenging established, traditional styles. 


Loosely defined, classical can be used to describe artwork that dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Today, it is also used to describe pieces that are based on deliberate composition and logical principles.

Color Wheel

Colors are defined based on color theory and their relationships to each other. This is represented on a circular grid which is also known as the color wheel.

Contemporary Art

While contemporary art is used to describe artwork that is produced today, it broadly covers all art produced since the second half of the previous century.


The most common name that can be used to describe the color of an object, such as orange, red and blue.


A picture paints a thousand words. The story, or narrative, that is depicted in a piece of artwork is referred to as its iconography. This can include the people, places and other images within the work as well as any symbolic elements and connotations attached to them.


A piece of artwork that features natural scenery as its focus. Any figures and images should carry secondary importance to the composition of the painting. 

Linear Perspective

Simply put, linear perspective is the process of conveying 3D depth on a 2D surface. This is achieved by making objects that are supposed to be near to the viewer bigger and objects that are supposed to be farther away smaller. 


Every art movement that has existed historically was guided by a set of theories and directions. This reveals the motivations of a group of artists as well as encourage reactions towards their paintings, whether they are for or against the movement.


Minimalism is a style of painting and sculpting defined by a minimum of lines, shapes and color. As a result, these works can appear sparse or empty.


Strictly speaking, monochrome refers to something that consists only of one color. However, monochromatic artwork usually incorporates different shades of one dominant hue. 


Perspective is used to describe how 3D objects are represented on a 2D surface in order to produce an accurate impression of size and distance.

Pop Art

Pop art is based on items and figures from popular culture and derived from commercial art forms.

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