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
Oil on canvas
support: 1435 x 1854 mm frame: 1462 x 1945 x 41 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery (purchased out of funds provided by Mr and Mrs H.J. Heinz II and H.J. Heinz Co. Ltd) 1961
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2014

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Tate glossary definition for Abbaye de Creteil: Established in 1906, a group of French writers, artists and composers who were inspired by the work of Renaissance writer François Rabelais
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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
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Tate glossary definition for abstract art: Artworks that do not attempt to represent a recognizable reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and textures to achieve their effect
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for academic art: Art made according to the teachings of an art academy, often conservative in nature and resistant to innovation
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Tate glossary definition for academy: Artist-run organisations whose aim was to improve the professional standing of artists as well as to provide teaching
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for alabaster: A fine-grained marble-like variety of gypsum, alabaster is a soft white or translucent stone
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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
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Tate glossary definition for altarpiece: Painting placed on or behind the altar of a Christian church as a focus for worship
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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
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Tate glossary definition for American Abstract Artists (AAA): An organisation founded in 1936 to promote the appreciation of abstract art in the United States
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Tate glossary definition for American social realist photography: Photographs documenting rural poverty during America’s Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for anti-art: Art that challenges the existing accepted definitions of art
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Tate glossary definition for appropriation: The practice of artists using pre-existing objects or images in their art with little transformation of the original
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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
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Tate glossary definition for archive: Traditionally an archive is a store of documents or artefacts of a purely documentary nature
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Tate glossary definition for Art & Language: A pioneering conceptual art group that questioned the critical assumptions of mainstream modern art practice and criticism
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for art deco: Design style of 1920s and 1930s in furniture, decorative arts and architecture characterised by its geometric character
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for Artist Placement Group: Group founded in 1966 with the aim of placing artists in government, commercial and industrial organisations
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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
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for assemblage: Art made by assembling disparate elements often scavenged by the artist, sometimes bought specially
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for aura: a quality integral to an artwork that cannot be communicated through mechanical reproduction – such as photography
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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
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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
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Tate glossary definition for avant-garde: Art that is innovatory, introducing or exploring new forms or subject matter
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