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 earthwork or earth art. In these works, the land and its materials become part of the art. In the 1960s and later, a number of artists in the USA and Europe developed monumental landscape projects, such as Spiral Jetty (1970) by Robert Smithson (1938–1973). Land art can also be constructed from natural materials brought into a gallery. Artists include Richard Long (b1945).
drawing the human figure, using a real person as a model.
relating to a line or lines. It can refer to an approach to art where line is emphasised and shapes are created through contour and outline, as distinct from a painterly approach, where shapes are distinguished by colour and tone.
a form of relief printing. In this printmaking technique, an image is cut into a block of linoleum with carving tools. The surface is inked up with a roller and printed in relief by hand using a spoon or ‘baren’ or using a book press or printing press. Lino is soft and easy to carve and its smooth surface presents completely flat areas of tone and colour when printed. See also relief.
a print made from smooth, porous stone or grained metal plate on which an image has been made with a greasy medium. Lithography depends on the repulsion between oil and water. The stone or plate is dampened and rolled with ink before being printed in a printing press. The effect gained is similar to drawing.
French for artists book. A book designed and produced or supervised entirely by the artist, for which the artist provides images to accompany a literary text, finely printed in limited edition. The production often relies on the skills of specialist craftspeople for typesetting, bookbinding or papermaking, and the collaboration of writers or poets. A characteristic of these French artists books is that they are often folded but not sewn or bound. See also artists book.