Art Term of the Day: Danube School

A term coined in 1892 by Theodor von Frimmel to describe artists working c.1500-50 in the Danube region around Regensburg, Passau, and Linz. The most prominent figures were the prominence of landscape, which was usually mountainous and covered in thick forests, and the depiction of the human figure in a manner which often involved contorted poses and expressive drapery.


Art Term of the Day: Art for arts sake

A concept which originated in literary circles in France ('l'art pour l'art') in the earlier 19th century and transferred to art criticism in discussions of Manet and his circle. It was first used in print in English in 1868 and became associated with the Aesthetic Movement and the belief that the formal qualities of a work of art were more important than its subject matter.


Art Word of the Day: Art

The most elusive of terms, its validity is only vouchsafed in cultures which admit to such a concept. Broadly speaking the term 'art' in the visual sense can be applied to any work/subject which engenders, by intent or otherwise, aesthetic and/or intellectual appreciation. In a teasing subversion of the title of his magisterial survey The Story of Art (1950) the great art historian Sir Ernst Gombrich declared, 'There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.'


Art Word of the Day: Rocaille

A term originally used from the 16th century onwards to describe fancy rock-work and shell-work for fountains and grottoes. It was identified in the 18th century with ornament based on such forms and hence with some of the more fanciful and decorative aspects of Rococo, a term with which it has since become synonymous.


Art Term of the Day: Junk Art

Art which is composed from humble, worthless things and is deliberatly anti-aesthetic, as opposed to the fine art tradition with its use of traditional materials. The term was first applied by the critic Lawrence Alloway to the Combines produced in the mid-1950's by the American painter Robert Rauschenberg: these consisted of canvases to which Rauschenberg fixed rags, torn reproductions, and other waste materials. The concept of junk art is ultimately rooted in Cubist collage and was later manifest in the work of Kurt Schwitters that he produced after the First World War, much of which was made from rubbish. Junk also played a prominent role in the Environment Art and Happenings of the late 1950's and early 1960's.


Art Word of the day: Naive art

Painting and, to a lessor degree, sculpture produced in the so called sophisticated western or westernized countries but lacking in conventional representational skills. Although the first notable practitioner was perhaps EdwardHicks )1780-1849), an American Quaker preacher famous for his religious scenes, naive art really gained widespread popularity only in the 20th century, particularly through the writings of the critic Wilhelm Uhde after the First World War, and through a series of exhibitions of naive art. Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), 'Le Douanier' ('the customs officer), was the first well-known naive painter. Other now famous names have included Alfred Wallis and Grandma Moses. In the decades following the middle of the 20th century there was a particular concentration of naive painters in what is now the former Yugoslavia, particularly Croatia.


Art Term of the Day: Op art

An abréviation of 'optical art', a form of abstract art which developed in the early 1960's and aimed at stimulation of the eye through a radical use of space and colour. This was achieved by the deployment of hard edged, flatly painted shapes in black and white or in complementary colours of full intensity. The term 'Op art' was first used in Time magazine in 1964 and had become a household phrase by the following year when the defining exhibition The Responsive Eye was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Two of the most prominent Op artists were Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. Op art exerted a considerable influence on women's fashion in the mid-1960's


Term of the day: Stopping out

The use of an acid-resistant varnish to cover areas of a printing plate - in printmaking techniques such as aquatint and etching - which one does not wish to be re-bitten when the plate is re-immersed in the acid bath for re-biting.


Art word of the day: Intimisme

A term first used in the 1890's to describe the type of intimate, domestic genre painting that developed from Impressionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and whose most celebrated practitioners were Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947) and Edouard Vuillard (1868 - 1940).


Art word of the day: Edition

In printmaking all the copies of a print produced from a particular printing. Since the later 19th century, in reaction to the seemingly limitless editions made possible by industrialized printmaking processes, there has arisen the concept of the 'limited edition' of a print, for example limited to a total of 50 or 100, often signed and numbered by the artist, which is intended to create enhanced rarity and value.