Art Term

Diptych

A diptych is an artwork consisting of two painted or carved panels

David Salle, ‘Calm Down in a Diary (Diptych)’ 1982
David Salle
Calm Down in a Diary (Diptych) 1982
Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Douglas S. Cramer 2010
© David Salle/VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2018

These can be attached together or presented adjoining each other.

In medieval times, panels were often hinged so that they could be closed and the artworks protected.

Altarpieces, paintings placed on or behind the altar of a Christian church as a focus for worship, are often in diptych (or triptych) form. The separate panels show different but related scenes, often from the life of Christ or the life of the Virgin Mary.

Related terms and concepts

Triptych

An artwork in three panels

Selected artworks in the collection