Definitions for terms beginning with the letter A

Jackson Pollock, 'Yellow Islands' 1952
Jackson Pollock is perhaps best known as an abstract expressionist artist, but he also features in the definition for action painters



Jackson Pollock
Yellow Islands 1952
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2014
Tate glossary definition for 43 Group: A modern art movement formed in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1943 by a group of young, pro-independence painters who were committed to promoting a Sri Lankan form of modernism
Tate glossary definition for 85 New Wave: Coined by the curator and critic Gao Minglu, 85 New Wave defined a nationwide avant-garde movement that emerged in China in the mid-1980s
Tate glossary definition for 798 Art Zone (also known as Dashanzi Art District): An artistic community based in an old industrial area of North-East Beijing
Tate glossary definition for Abbaye de Créteil: Established in 1906, a group of French writers, artists and composers who were inspired by the work of Renaissance writer François Rabelais
Tate glossary definition for abject art: Artworks which explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions
Tate glossary definition for abstract art: Artworks that do not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect
Tate glossary definition for abstract expressionism: Term applied to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters in 1940s and 1950s, often characterized by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity
Tate glossary definition for Abstraction-Création: Association of abstract artists set up in Paris in 1931 with the aim of promoting abstract art through group exhibitions
Tate glossary definition for academic art: Art made according to the teachings of an art academy, often conservative in nature and resistant to innovation
Tate glossary definition for academy: Artist-run organisations whose aim was to improve the professional standing of artists as well as to provide teaching
Tate glossary definition for Académie Colarossi: Art school in Paris, France, established in the nineteenth century as an alternative to the official and conservative Ecole des Beaux Arts
Tate glossary definition for Académie Julian: The Académie Julian established in Paris in 1868, became a major alternative school to the official Ecole des Beaux Arts, especially for women who were not admitted to the Beaux Arts until 1897
Tate glossary definition for acrylic paint: Water-based fast-drying paint widely used by artists since the 1960s. Can be used thickly or thinly depending how much water is added
Tate glossary definition for action painters: Artists working from the 1940s until the early 1960s whose approach to painting (using drips, splashes and gestural brushtrokes) emphasized the act of painting as an essential part of the finished work
Tate glossary definition for actionism: English term for Vienna-based group Wiener Aktionismus founded in 1962 whose actions were deliberately shocking, often including self-torture
Tate glossary definition for activist art: Term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political or social issues
Tate glossary definition for aesthetic movement: The aesthetic movement championed pure beauty and ‘art for art’s sake’ emphasising the visual and sensual qualities of art and design over practical, moral or narrative considerations
Tate glossary definition for aesthetics: A branch of philosophy that is concerned with the nature of beauty and taste
Tate glossary definition for Afrapix: Photographers collective and agency founded in South Africa in 1982, which encouraged its members to use photography as activism
Tate glossary definition for AfriCOBRA: A Chicago-based group of black artists who aimed to develop their own aesthetic in the visual arts in order to empower black communities
Tate glossary definition for afrofuturism: A cultural aesthetic that explores the African-American experience, and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry
Tate glossary definition for agit-prop: An enterprise set up by the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in 1920 intended to control and promote the ideological conditioning of the masses
Tate glossary definition for airbrushing: Painting technique which uses an airbrush to give an even and consistent surface, often used to create a high level of realism
Tate glossary definition for AkhRR: The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia, founded in Moscow in 1922, depicted everyday life among the working people of Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in a realistic, documentary manner
Tate glossary definition for alabaster: A fine-grained marble-like variety of gypsum, alabaster is a soft white or translucent stone
Tate glossary definition for albumen print: Invented in 1850, and commonly used in the late nineteenth century, the albumen print is a type of photographic print made from paper coated with albumen (egg white)
Tate glossary definition for allegory: Allegory in art is when the subject of the artwork, or the various elements that form the composition, is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning
Tate glossary definition for altarpiece: Painting placed on or behind the altar of a Christian church as a focus for worship
Tate glossary definition for altermodern: Term coined by curator Nicolas Bourriaud in 2009, to describe art made as a reaction against standardisation and commercialism, in the context of globalisation
Tate glossary definition for American Abstract Artists (AAA): An organisation founded in 1936 to promote the appreciation of abstract art in the United States
Tate glossary definition for American social realist photography: Photographs documenting rural poverty during America’s Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s
Tate glossary definition for analytical cubism: The early phase of cubism, generally considered to run from 1908–12, characterised by a fragmentary appearance of multiple viewpoints and overlapping planes
Tate glossary definition for The Ancients: Group of artists who formed around the visionary artist and poet William Blake in the last years before his death in 1827
Tate glossary definition of Angry Penguins: A modernist literary and artistic movement that sought to shake up the entrenched cultural establishment of Australia in the 1940s
Tate glossary definition for animation: Animation is the rapid display of sequences of static imagery in such a way as to create the illusion of movement
Tate glossary definition for anthropophagia: Meaning cannibalism, as an art term it is associated with the 1960s Brazilian art movement Tropicália whose work, although being rooted in Brazil, took influences from Europe and America
Tate glossary definition for anti-art: Art that challenges the existing accepted definitions of art
Tate glossary definition for anti-form: Term associated with a group of artists working in the United States in the late 1960s who embraced chance and other organic processes in the creation of their minimal sculptures
Tate glossary definition for apartment art: Underground, usually experimental, art exhibited in private spaces (such as apartments)
Tate glossary definition for appropriation: The practice of artists using pre-existing objects or images in their art with little transformation of the original
Tate glossary definition for aquatint: Printmaking technique that produces tonal effects by using acid to eat into the printing plate creating sunken areas which hold the ink
Tate glossary definition for Arab Image Foundation (AIF): A not-for-profit organisation established in Beirut in 1997 to preserve, exhibit and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab Diaspora
Tate glossary definition for archive: Traditionally an archive is a store of documents or artefacts of a purely documentary nature
Tate glossary definition for Art & Language: A pioneering conceptual art group that questioned the critical assumptions of mainstream modern art practice and criticism
Tate glossary definition for 'art autre': Also known as art informel, the term was used to describe the dominant trend of abstract art in the 1940s and 1950s characterised by an improvisatory approach and highly gestural technique
Tate glossary definition for art brut: French term that translates as 'raw art', invented by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art such as graffiti or naïve art which is made outside the academic tradition of fine art
Tate glossary definition for art deco: Design style of 1920s and 1930s in furniture, decorative arts and architecture characterised by its geometric character
Tate glossary definition for art fairs: Trade exhibitions for commercial dealers and galleries to showcase specifically to collectors, but also to the public, the art and artists they represenf
Tate glossary definition for art informel: French term describing a swathe of approaches to abstract painting in the 1940s and 1950s which had in common an improvisatory methodology and highly gestural technique
Tate glossary definition for art intervention: Art designed specifically to interact with an existing structure or situation, be it another artwork, the audience, an institution or in the public domain
Tate glossary definition for art nouveau: International style in architecture and design that emerged in the 1890s and is characterised by sinuous lines and flowing organic shapes based on plant forms
Tate glossary definition for AWC: Group of activists who came together in New York in 1969 to promote artists’ rights and to challenge the art establishment into implementing various reforms
Tate glossary definition for Arte de los medios de comunicación de masas (art of the mass media): Experimental arts group formed in Argentina in 1966 who used mass media as their medium (or art form) in order to question its role and power in society
Tate glossary definition for Arte Madí: Artistic group formed in Buenos Aires in 1944 devoted to pure geometric abstraction
Tate glossary definition for arte nucleare: Artist group founded in Milan in 1951 whose aim was to make art in response to the nuclear age
Tate glossary description for arte povera: Radical Italian art movement from the late 1960s to 1970s whose artists explored a range of unconventional processes and non traditional ‘everyday’ materials
Tate glossary definition for artist-curator: The name given to a practising artist who also curates shows or runs not-for-profit spaces from which they exhibit their art and that of other artists
Tate glossary definition for Artist Placement Group: Group founded in 1966 with the aim of placing artists in government, commercial and industrial organisations
Tate glossary definition for Artists International Association: An exhibiting society founded in London in 1933, which held exhibitions and events to promote and support various left-of centre political causes
Tate glossary definition for Arts and Crafts: Design movement initiated by William Morris in 1861 which aimed to improve the quality of design and make it available to the widest possible audience
Tate glossary definition for Ashcan School: Group of North American artists who used realist techniques to depict social deprivation and injustice in the American urban environment of the early twentieth century
Tate glossary definition for Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (Concrete-Invention Art Association): One of two artistic groups formed in Buenos Aires in 1944 devoted to pure geometric abstraction
Tate glossary definition for Asociación de Arte Constructivo (Association of Constructivist Art): Art movement founded in Uruguay in 1935 by constructivist artist and writer Joaquín Torres-Garcia, with the aim of creating a truly Latin American art
Tate glossary definition for assemblage: Art made by assembling disparate elements often scavenged by the artist, sometimes bought specially
Tate glossary definition for atelier: French word which translates literally as studio or workshop and which is often used to denote a group of artists, designers or architects working collectively
Tate glossary definition for attribute: In art used as both a noun and a verb; (noun) is an object or animal associated with a particular personage; to attribute (verb) a work of art is to suggest it may be by a particular artist
Tate glossary definition for aura: a quality integral to an artwork that cannot be communicated through mechanical reproduction – such as photography
Tate glossary definition for authenticity: Used by philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin to describe the qualities of an original work of art as opposed to a reproduction
Tate glossary definition for auto-destructive art: Term invented by the artist Gustav Metzger in the early 1960s to describe radical artworks made by himself and others, in which destruction was part of the process of creating the work
Tate glossary definition for Autograph ABP: An influential photography collective set up in 1988 to support photographers from racial minorities, and also to confront the lack of visual representation of marginalised groups in British society
Tate glossary definition for automatism: In art, automatism usually refers to the accessing of material from the subconscious or unconscious mind as part of the creative process – as seen in the art of the surrealist movement
Tate glossary definition for avant-garde: Art that is innovatory, introducing or exploring new forms or subject matter
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