In 1911, Tate published its first book. One hundred years on, Tate Publishing has released its first digital publication, the Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms app: a dictionary of art movements, groups, media, theory and technique.
When we first started to think about digital projects, the idea of a guide to modern art terms seemed an obvious choice. For many, the ‘isms’ and ‘artspeak’ around modern art are baffling so our thoughts were to give people definitions at their fingertips to help unlock the language and open up art for all to enjoy. Unlike a book, an app has allowed us to build a structure that’s perfect for the material and cross-references are live links so readers can move between related terms easily
For me, these links are what makes modern art so interesting. Ever since impressionism, when artists established their own style and their own exhibitions in response to an academic art establishment, art has been in a continuous dialogue with the art world, with social and political events, and with the general mood of the period. No art movement is an island: a fact that is brilliantly demonstrated by the succinct texts in this app. Take futurism and Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, for example. Established in 1909, futurism celebrated the modern world of industry and technology and Boccioni’s striding, dynamic figure embodies this urge towards progress. However, after the brutality of the First World War many artists rejected the avant-garde notions of futurism and other pre-war movements and started using more traditional and reassuring approaches, a phenomenon described as the ‘return to order’. I’ve been lucky enough to oversee both the book and the app of Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms and have found the text a constant source of wisdom. This app might help you expand your knowledge of postmodernist movements or teach you how to use ‘transavanguardia’ in a sentence. But, most importantly, it will help understanding and give context to some of the most exciting and innovative art in the world.
Beth Thomas Assistant Editor and Digital Coordinator Tate Publishing
Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms app was produced by Aimer Media and is available from the Apple App Store for £1.99 for both iPhone and iPad.