Glossary of Art Terms
A print produced by the same technique as an etching, except that the areas between the etched lines are covered with a powdered resin that protects the surface from the biting process of the acid bath. The granular appearance that results in the print aims at approximating the effects and gray tonalities of a watercolor drawing.
An Artist’s Proof is one outside the regular edition, but printed at the same time or after the regular edition from the same plates without changes. By custom, the artist retains the A/Ps for his personal use or sale. Typically, 10% of the edition total is designated as A/P, or in the case of a small edition, five graphics are usually so designated.
French term for “printer’s workshop.”
A group active in the invention and application of new ideas and techniques in an original or experimental way. A group of practitioners and/or advocates of a new art form may also be called avant-garde. Some avant-garde works are intended to shock those who are accustomed to traditional, established styles.
Bon a Tirer (B.A.T.)
When the artist is satisfied with the graphic from the finished plate, he works with his printer to pull one perfect graphic and it is marked “Bon a Tirer,” meaning “good to pull.” The printer then compares each graphic in the edition with the BAT before submitting the graphic to the artist for approval and signature. There is typically one BAT which becomes the property of the printer or workshop printing the edition.
An alloy of copper and tin, sometimes containing small proportions of other elements such as zinc or phosphorus. It is stronger, harder, and more durable than brass, and has been used most extensively since antiquity for cast sculpture. Bronze alloys vary in color from a silvery hue to a rich, coppery red. U.S. standard bronze is composed of 90% copper, 7% tin, and 3% zinc.
The art making of objects of clay and firing them in a kiln. Wares of earthenware and porcelain, as well as sculpture are made by ceramists. Enamel is also a ceramic technique. Ceramic materials may be decorated with slip, engobe, or glaze, applied by a number of techniques, including resist, mishima, and sanggam. Pots made be made by the coil, slab, or some other manual technique, or on a potter’s wheel.
Certificate of Authenticity
Certifies the authenticity of an individual piece in an edition and states the current market value.
In drawing, painting, and the graphic arts, the rendering of forms through a balanced contrast between light and dark areas. The technique which was introduced during the Renaissance, is effective in creating an illusion of depth and space around the principal figures in a composition. Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt were painters who excelled in the use of this technique.
The technique of reproducing a design by coating a metal plate with wax and drawing with a sharp instrument called a stylus through the wax down down to the metal. The plate is put in an acid bath, which eats away the incised lines; it is then heated to dissolve the wax and finally inked and printed on paper. The resulting print is called the etching.
The diminishing of certain dimensions of an object or figure in order to depict it in a correct spatial relationship. In realistic depiction, foreshortening is necessary because although lines and planes that are perpendicular to the observer’s line of vision (central visual ray), and the extremities of which are equidistant from the eye, will be seen at their full size, when they are revolved away from the observer they will seem increasingly shorter. Thus for example, a figure’s arm outstretched toward the observer must be foreshortened–the dimension of lines, contours and angles adjusted–in order that it not appear hugely out of proportion. The term foreshortening is applied to the depiction of a single object, figure or part of an object or figure, whereas the term perspective refers to the depiction of an entire scene.
The technique of applying opaque watercolor to paper; also a work of art so produced. The usual gouache painting displays a light-reflecting brilliance quite different from the luminosity of transparent watercolors.
Hors Commerce (H.C.)
Hors Commerce (Not for Trade) traditionally were the graphics pulled with the regular edition, but were marked by the artist for business use only. These graphics were used for entering exhibitions and competitions, but today, these graphics generally are allowed into distribution through regular channels.
Paint applied in outstanding heavy layers or strokes; also, any thickness or roughness of paint or deep brush marks, as distinguished from a flat, smooth surface.
In the graphic arts, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone, metal or plastic plate, invented in the late eighteenth century. A drawing is made on the stone or plate with a greasy crayon or tusche, and then washed with water. When ink is applied it sticks to the greasy drawing but runs off (or is resisted by) the wet surface allowing a print – a lithograph – to be made of the drawing. The artist, or other print maker under the artist’s supervision, then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure. For color lithography separate drawings are made for each color.
In art, a public declaration or exposition in print of the theories and directions of a movement. The manifestos issued by various individual artists or groups of artists, in the first half of the twentieth century served to reveal their motivations and raisons d?etre and stimulated support for or reactions against them.
In sculpture, a small model in wax or clay, made as a preliminary sketch, presented to a client for his approval of the proposed work, or entered in a competition for a prize or scholarship. The Italian equivalent of the term is bozzetto, meaning small sketch.
A picture made up of various proportions of existing pictures, such as photographs or prints, arranged so they join, overlap, or blend with one another.
A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet or slab of glass and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper held firmly on the glass by rubbing the back of the paper with a smooth implement, such as a large hardwood spoon. The painting may also be done on a polished plate, in which case it may be either printed by hand or transferred to paper by running the plate and paper through an etching press.
A building, place or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical or artistic value. The word Museum is derived from the Latin muses, meaning “a source of inspiration,” or “to be absorbed in one’s thoughts.”
A colored crayon that consists of pigment mixed with just enough of a aqueous binder to hold it together; a work of art produced by pastel crayons; the technique itself. Pastels vary according to the volume of chalk contained…the deepest in tone are pure pigment. Pastel is the simplest and purest method of painting, since pure color is used without a fluid medium and the crayons are applied directly to the pastel paper. Pastels are called paintings rather than drawings, for although no paint is used, the colors are applied in masses rather than in lines.
A film or an incrustation, usually green, that forms on copper and bronze after a certain amount of weathering and as a result of the oxidation of the copper. Special chemical treatments will also induce different colored patinas on new bronzes. Bronzes may be painted with acrylic and lacquer.
The representation of three-dimensional objects on a flat surface so as to produce the same impression of distance and relative size as that received by the human eye. In one-point linear prespective, developed during the fifteenth century, all parallel lines in a given visual field converge at a single vanishing point on the horizon. In aerial or atmospheric perspective, the relative distance of objects is indicated by gradations of tone and color and by variations in the clarity of oulines.
A stencil and stencil-brush process for making muticolored prints, and for tinting black-and-white prints, and for coloring reproductions and book illustrations, especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand-coloring or hand-illustration. Pochoir, as distinguished from ordinary stencil work, is a highly refined technique, skillfully executed in a specialized workshop.
A branch of French Impressionism in which the principle of optical mixture or broken color was carried to the extreme of applying color in tiny dots or small, isolated strokes. Forms are visible in a pointillist painting only from a distance, when the viewer’s eye blends the colors to create visual masses and outlines. The inventor and chief exponent of pointillism was George Seurat (1859-1891); the other leading figure was Paul Signac (1863-1935).
A current practice of some artists is the addition of a small personalized drawing or symbol near his pencil signature in the lower margin. The practice is borrowed from Whister’s famous “butterfly” which was added to personalize many of his graphics.
From the French verb meaning to push back. A means of achieving perspective or spacial contrasts by the use of illusionistic devices such as the placement of a large figure or object i the immediate foreground of a painting to increase the illusion of depth in the rest of the picture.
Serigraphy (also referred to as ‘silkscreen’ or ‘screenprint’) is a color stencil printing process in which a special paint is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Areas which do not print are blocked with photo sensitive emulsion that has been exposed with high intensity arc lights. A squeegee is pulled from back to front, producing a direct transfer of the image from screen to paper. A separate stencil is required for each color and one hundred colors or more may be necessary to achieve the desired effect. A serigraph differs from other graphics in that its color is made up of paint films rather than printing ink stains. This technique is extremely versatile, and can create effects similar to oil color, transparent washes as well as gouache and pastel.
In painting, to apply small dots of color with the point of the brush; also to apply paint in a uniform layer by tapping a vertically held brush on the surface in repeated staccato touches.
Document that provides backgraound information on the graphic edition such as edition size, printer, technique, year of execution.
Trompe L´oeil (Tromp´- loy)
A french term meaning “deception of the eye.” It is applied to painting so photographically realistic that it may fool the viewer into thinking that the objects or scene represented are real rather than painted.
Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique.