capital letter - In typography, uppercase letters (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, etc.) In c. 114 CE, an inscription was chiseled into the base of a column in Trajan's Forum, Rome. That inscription had most of the capital letters known today. Until the sixth century, all inscriptions were in capital letters. And to this day we continue to use them in various ways — for the first letters of important words in titles, proper nouns, etc. They got their alternative name — uppercase — from the standard location in which typesetters stored them. Though visually powerful, whole words written in capital letters should be used sparingly, because they are difficult to read, and may suggest shouting.
caption - A brief text explaining an image, whether on a wall, in a vitrine, a book, magazine, Web page, etc. Typically a caption tells something about the artist and something about the particular work shown. A caption is sometimes called the credit lines or label.
carat - A unit of weight for gemstones, one carat is equal to one fifth of a gram or 200 milligrams. Also spelled karat.
Caravaggisti - Artists influenced by "Caravaggio", Michelangelo Merisi (Italian, Lombard, 1571/73-1610) — his dramatically contrasting dark-light effects; painters of "night pictures" in the "dark manner", a manner known as tenebrism (or by the equivalent Italian term tenebroso). (pr. kah'rah-vah-jee"stee)
carbide disk - An abrasive disk attachment for a power tool, a grinder perhaps.
carbon - A common non-metallic element that occurs in many inorganic and in all organic compounds, exists freely as graphite and diamond, and as a constituent of coal, limestone, and petroleum, and is capable of chemical self-bonding to form an enormous number of chemically biologically, and commercially important molecules. It is an important ingredient in steel and other alloys. Its elemental symbol is C; atomic weight 12.01115. The specific gravity of amorphous carbon is 1.8 to 2.1, of diamond 3.15 to 3.53, and of graphite 1.9 to 2.3. Also, may refer to a sheet of carbon paper, or an image produced by marks made to carbon paper.
carbon dioxide - A colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-explosive and inert gas, CO2, formed during respiration, combustion, and organic decomposition and used in food refrigeration, carbonated beverages, inert atmospheres, fire extinguishers, and aerosols. Tank sizes available are 20 POISONOUS!and 50 pounds. Also called carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, and, in aqueous solution it's called carbonic acid gas. Solid carbon dioxide, or dry ice, is a refrigerant. Toxic if inhaled in large amounts. Also see acetylene, argon, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.
carbon paper - A paper that is coated on its underside with a dark pigment, and used to transfer writing and drawing to other surfaces. When marks are made with sufficient pressure upon its upper side, their likeness is transferred to the surface placed below the carbon paper with the pigments from its underside. Also see copy, reproduce, rouge paper, tracing, and transfer paper.
carbon tetrachloride - An extremely toxic solvent, possibly causing liver POISONOUS!cancer and severe liver damage, even WARNING!from small exposures. Exposure to carbon tetrachloride can be fatal by skin absorption or inhalation.
Carborundum - Another name for silicon carbide, this is a hard crystalline substance used as an abrasive and in refractory compounds. Also see corundum, emery, and rouge.
card or cardboard - A stiff paper which may be of any of many thicknesses, typically made of pressed paper pulp or adhered sheets of paper. Special types include bristol board, corrugated cardboard, foam core or foam board, illustration board, matboard, and oaktag. Sometimes cards are made from plastics. Cardboard has many uses. For example, it is employed as a material in making two-dimensional and three-dimensional work, and as a surface on which to mount other work. Card may also refer to a greeting card, postcard, business card, playing card, trading card, credit card, etc. In the fiber arts, to card is to comb out fibers with a wire brush (also called a card).
cardboard relief - A collage made up of pieces of cardboard. Cardboard reliefs can be used in relief block printing.
carding - Combing out fibers with a wire brush, usually in preparing fibers for spinning. Also, combining fibers between two such brushes for the same purpose. Also see card and textile.
cardo - The north-south road in Etruscan and Roman towns, intersecting the decumanus at right angles. Also see Etruscan art and Roman art.
card stock - Card in the form it is received from a manufacturer, or a stored supply of card. Also see paper.
carnival, carnivalesque - Carnival is an occasion or season of public celebration, often with parades, costumes, music, and dancing; an instance of merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading in riotous excess. As such, carnival is celebrated in Roman Catholic regions during the three-day period before Lent — 40 days of fasting and sacrifice. Examples include Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday", meaning Shrove Tuesday) in New Orleans, LA, and carnivals in cities across Europe and Latin America. Many historians assert that carnival has roots in the ancient Roman festivals Saturnalia (Saturn's festival) and Lupercalia (honoring Faunus, god of fertility and forests), characterized by Bacchanalian revels of unbridled freedom. Thus carnival's temporary subversions of civil order reveal links between Christians' annual remembrance of Christ's redemption from sin to pagans' seasonal celebration of winter's end and spring's beginning.
Carolingian art - French and German art from the end of the eighth to the early tenth century. Stimulated by Charlemagne's forming the first Holy Roman Empire, and his revival of scholarship both at his court and in the monasteries, artisans created beautiful illuminated manuscripts and works in gold, silver, and gems, among other materials. Carolingian artists laid a solid foundation for the Middle Ages.
carta pesta - Italian for papier-mâché.
carte de visite - Separate photographs made on a single negative and mounted on a card the size of a standard calling card. In the nineteenth century, this was an inexpensive means of creating mass-produced prints. (pr. kart duh-vee'zeet")
cartoccio - Italian for cartouche.
cartography and cartographer - Cartography is the making of maps, and a cartographer is a person who makes maps. In ancient times, maps were often decorated with fanciful beasts and monsters instead of accurate details about places. French mapmakers of the 1700s and 1800s encouraged the use of more scientific methods in the art they called "cartographie." The French word "cartographie" was created from "carte," meaning "card" or "map," and "-graphie," meaning "writing." For examples of cartographic images, see map. Also see interdisciplinary and science and art.
cartoonist - An artist who draws cartoons or comic strips for newspapers, magazines, etc. A cartoonist link:
cartouche - An ornamental figure which serves as a frame for an inscription or a decoration within a space which usually has a scroll-like, or an oval or lozenge shape, this figure having a form which is irregular or fantastic. A cartouche may be painted, sculpted, engraved, etc. Often specifies oblong figures enclosing Egyptian hieroglyphic names of gods and royalty. Also much used in the sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe to decorate walls and the title pages of books. Another sort of cartouche, a plaque attached to a work of art, its frame or base, and inscribed with the title, artist's name, etc., is often referred to by its Italian name, cartoccio. (pr. kar-toosh')
cartridge paper - A British term for almost any inexpensive paper. These may be of almost any weight or finish. Such paper is unlikely to be of archival quality, because it is probably not acid-free. Cartridge paper is typically used for sketches, much as newsprint is.
caruncle - Anatomical name for the pink spot at the inner corner of each of the eyes. Also see iris, lens, pupil, retina, and sclera.
carving - The technique of cutting and abrading the surface of a block of material to shape it into aWEAR SAFETY GLASSES! particular form. Among the materials appropriate for carving in schools include clay, chalk, plaster, soft salt blocks, artificial sandstone, bar soap, and wax. Also see subtractive, assemblage, construction, dent, detritus, erasure, fragment, hollow carving, kerf, mark, misericord, modeling, sculpture, solvent, statue, stress, and the names of materials typically carved, such as alabaster, limestone, marble, and wood.
caryatid - A carved female figure used as a column. Dressed in long robes, she supports an architectural element on her head. Her male counterpart is an atlant, atlantid, or atlas. The word caryatid is Greek, and originally referred to maidens of Caryae in Laconia who performed ritual dances at the festival of Artemis. (pr. car'ee-at"id)
casein paint - A paint much like opaque watercolor in which casein — a milk glue — is its binder. Casein is a white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated from milk by rennin. Casein is the basis of cheese, and is used to make plastics, adhesives, and foods, as well as paint. Casein paint can be used on paper or board for light impasto, for underpainting, wall decoration, etc. Casein paint is too inflexible for use on canvas.
casein engraving - A technique in which a piece of Masonite board is built up to about 1/16 inch thickness in multiple layers of casein. This is then used as a plate for engraving. The engraved surface should be sealed before inking.
cast - To form (molten metal, or liquid plaster or plastic, for example) into a three-dimensional shape by pouring into a mold; or something formed by this means. Also, an impression formed in a mold or matrix. Also see hollow casting, lost-wax casting, posthumous, and statue.
castrum - A Roman military encampment. Also see Roman art.
catacombs - Underground tunnels in which the early Christians in Rome and other communities buried their dead. Some catacombs also contained chapels and meeting rooms. The painted decorations found in the catacombs are the earliest known forms of Christian art. (pr. ca"ta-cohmz') Also see cubiculum and sarcophagus.
catalog or catalogue - A list which is an inventory of works in a gallery, museum, or other collection. It describes the works, and may contain articles discussing their history, and classifying them in other ways. It may be in the form of a file of cards (or an electronic equivalent), one card for each object, or in the form of a publication (usually a pamphlet or book), whether for a special exhibition or for all or part of a permanent collection. Also see accession, catalogue raisonné, curator, deaccession, docent, donation, and gallery.
catalogue number - A term used in a variety of ways in museums and other collecting entities. In some museums a catalogue number is assigned to a work based on its class, so that the number's purpose is description. In some museums the accession number is called a catalogue number, in which case its purpose is identification. A catalogue number may also be the number assigned to an object in a printed publication or catalogue of a special exhibition or collection.
catalogue raisonné - A monograph purporting to contain a complete list of an artist's works, or all of an artist's works produced in certain media or during a limited period of time. It typically includesdescriptions, photographs, notes on provenance, collections, samples of signatures, a thorough chronology of notable events in the artist's life, and a bibliography. When one is passionate about an artist's work, one relishes seeing the complete works, along with authoritative writings about the artist and the works. This makes the study of the artist's catalogue raisonné of utmost importance. Although "catalogue raisonné" was originally a French term, English speakers have used it for a long time. (pr. ray'ze-nay")
catalyst - A substance which provokes a chemical reaction in other materials without itself changing. For example, an egg will emulsify water and oil by acting as a catalyst. In resin sculpture, a catalyst must be added in order to cause the resin to harden. An accelerator, usually already added to the resin, reacts with the catalyst and heat is generated which sets off the hardening process. Also see adhesive and emulsion.
cathedral - The principal church of a diocese, which contains the cathedra, or bishop's chair.
caustic - Corrosive. Be careful to read all warning labels, and take all precautions necessary with materials noted as caustic. Also see ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), cleaning art, clean up, flammable, hazardous, poison, solvent, toxic, and volatile.
CCD array - Charge-coupled device array. Light-sensitive diodes used in scanners and digital cameras. These usually sweep across an image and, when exposed to light, generate a series of digital signals that are converted into pixel values. Also see moiré and video.
CD-ROM - CD-ROM is an acronym which stands for compact disc read-only memory. A form of write-once, disc-based, random-access data storage, usually mass produced and distributed as a publication. Also see new media.
CE or C.E. - Abbreviation for "Common Era," equivalent to AD, which stands for "Anno Domine" — Latin for "in the year of Our Lord." Unlike AD, but like BC and BCE, CE is conventionally placed after a number to show that it refers to a year counted as following the birth of Christ (even though contemporary experts generally agree that Christ was probably born in 3 or 4 BCE) CE is used to the same purpose as AD, and avoids a fully Christian bias. Although this system of numbering years is the globally dominant system, some cultures name years according to other schemes. Whereas 2007 is CE 2007, much of it is the year ____ in the Jewish calendar, ____ in the Islamic calendar, and the year of the ____ in the Chinese calendar, for instance. Also see millennium.
cel - Short for cellophane. One of the principal media for film animation. Also see anime and sericel.
celadon - A ceramic glaze containing iron. It must be fired by the reduction method, with its red iron oxide (ferric) reduced to black (ferroso-ferric). The final color of the glaze is either olive green, gray-green, or gray. Celadon ware was developed and perfected during the prosperous Sung [or Song] dynasty (960-1279). It was valued by the Chinese largely because of its resemblance to jade.
cella - The main body or sanctuary of a classical temple, in which the cult statue usually stood. In Greek, naos. (pr. sell'uh)
cellocut - In graphic arts, a plastic plate — typically acetate, Lucite, or Plexiglas. Or, a plastic varnish used to add thickness to or texture a design.
cellophane - A thin, flexible, transparent acetate film available in colorless as well as colored sheets and rolls. It is made from cellulose, generally obtained from wood pulp. Cellophane was originally a trademark, but is no longer. Also see acrylics, cel, Lucite, packaging, plastics, PlexiGlas, polyethylene, and scissors.
celluclay - A comercially available material in powdered form, to be mixed with water, and used in making papier-mâché.
celluloid - One of the earliest invented plastics, celluloid is used for photographic films. It is a cellulose nitrate which is tough and flammable, generally obtained from wood pulp.
cellulose - A substance obtained from plant cells, which is one of the basic materials used in the manufacture of plastics.
Celsius - A temperature scale on which the freezing point of water is 0°, and the boiling point of water is 100° under normal atmospheric pressure (after Anders Celsius.) It is the equivalent to Centigrade. Abbreviated C.
cement - A powdered substance made by grinding calcined limestone and clay, which can be mixed with water and poured to set as a solid mass or used as a binding ingredient in mortar or concrete. Sometimes called Portland cement after an important early site of its manufacture.
cenacle or cenacolo - A cenacle is a painting of the last supper — Christ dining with His disciples the night before He was crucified. Cenacolo is the Italian equivalent often used by English speakers.
censorship, censor, censure, censorious - Censorship is the act or process of examining and removing obscene or otherwise objectionable material; the act of expurgating. A censor is a person who examines and removes such material. To censor is to examine and remove such material. To censure is to criticise severely; to blame. A censure is an expression of disapproval, blame, or criticism, which may be an official declaration of such disapproval. Censorious describes the tendency to censure.
Center for Arts and Culture - The Center for Arts and Culture is an independent American think tank which aims to inform and improve policy decisions that affect cultural life. The guiding principles of that mission include freedom of imagination, inquiry and expression, as well as freedom of opportunity for all to participate in a vital and diverse culture.
centering - In architecture, a wooden framework to support an arch or a vault during its construction. In pottery, the process of controlling the position of the clay as it spins on a potter's wheel, so that, however its form is altered, the clay at every level is made to be the same distance from the axis of the spin. In digital imaging, positioning an image properly within the digital field of vision, so that it is framed appropriately.
center of gravity - The point of rest or balance.
Centigrade - A temperature scale on which the freezing point of water is 0°, and the boiling point of water is 100° under normal atmospheric pressure. It is the equivalent to Celsius (after Anders Celsius.) Abbreviated C.
centimeter - A unit of distance measurement equal to 1/100 of a meter, or to 10 millimeters. To convert centimeters into feet, multiply them by 0.03281; to inches, x 0.3937. To convert cubic centimeters into cubic inches, multiply them by 0.06102; into pints (US liquid), x 0.00211. Abbreviated cm. Also see angstrom.
central plan - In architecture, a plan in which the parts of a building radiate from a central point. Also see axial plan, cathedral, and square schematization.
centrifugal casting - A means of casting employing the force achieved in a spinning apparatus to push the casting material into a mold. (Refers to centrifugal force — moving away from an axis; the opposite being centripetal force — moving toward an axis.)
ceramist - A person who makes ceramics. (pr. seh"reh-mist') Also see art careers.
Cercle et Carré - French for "circle and square." A group of painters who came together in 1929.
cerulean blue - A particular blue pigment.
CGM - Computer Graphics Metafile. In digital imaging, an image-file format designed to handle a wide range of image types, but currently used primarily for vector graphics.
chado - Also called the "way of tea," chado is the set of traditions surrounding the Japanese tea ceremony — "cha no yu." In the 12th century, the archetype of drinking powdered tea came to Japan from China. In the 16th century, strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism, Sen no Rikyu originated what became known as chado. Its fundamental principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. A student of chado is called a "chajin." The house used in the tea ceremony is called a "chashitsu." See sublime.
chaitya hall - An Indian shrine, especially a Buddhist prayer-hall having a votive stupa at one end. (pr. chight'yuh)
chalice - A cup or goblet, especially that used in the sacraments of Christian churches.
chamfer - To cut through the thickness of a material at an angle, giving a sloping edge. Also, an oblique face or bevel cut at the corner of a board or post. Or, to cut grooves or flutes into an edge, such as the furrows or grooves in a column. Also see dado and splay.
champlevé - An engraved, etched, or otherwise grooved area on metal that is filled with enamel. Once fired, the enamel is polished down. (pr. shom'pleh-vay")
chancel - The part of a church reserved for clergy and containing the altar and the choir.
chandi - A Javanese temple. Also see cathedral, chaitya hall, mosque, and stupa.
change - To make something become different. To give a different arrangement or direction to something. To substitute, alter, vary, modify, transition, or transform. To become different, as a design or picture might. To move away from sameness, monotony, exact repetition. The concept of change is linked with those of permanence and impermanence, metamorphosis, adaptation, evolution, innovation (newness), and modernism.
Cultural attitudes to changes in society — political, religious, and other reforms and revolutions occurring amid developments in the arts, sciences, technology, business, and other fields — are of either of two or more types, including:
chaos - Disorder or confusion. The opposite of order.
chapel - A small church, or an area or compartment in a church containing an altar dedicated to a particular saint. A prominent feature of many Romanesque churches is the addition of multiple "radiating" chapels. Churches during the Romanesque period were often in the relics business: the more relics they displayed, the more donations they received. Each of the chapels a church had would provide a site for each relic, often funded by a wealthy donor.
chaplet - In lost-wax casting, a core pin or refractory spacing block connecting the core placed within a wax model to its surrounding mold. There are often many employed for each work, and may vary in size from thin wire to thick bars of metal, depending on the scale of the model. When the wax is melted from the mold, the chaplets keep the core from shifting. When molten metal is poured in, they are incorporated into it, and when the investment is broken off, they protrude from the surface of the metal. When they are made of the same alloy as the cast, they are difficult to find once they have been filed down. If they fall out when the core is removed, they leave holes which must be filled.
characters - Individual letters, numbers and other dingbats, glyphs, or symbols. Also see align and alignment, calligraphy, capital letters, dingbat, font, graphic design, letterform, lettering, lowercase, text, and typography.
charcoal - Compressed burned wood used for drawing.
charette - In architecture, an intense effort to complete a design project within a specified time. Also spelled charrette, this French word refers to a handcart or barrow. Also see argument, collaboration, critique, deadline, and discussion.
charm - Something worn or spoken for its supposed magical benefit — warding off evil or attracting good luck, perhaps. Also see amulet, ex voto, fetish, milagro, and talisman.
charrette - An alternative spelling of charette.
chasing - The process of finishing and refining a metal surface of metal object 's surface by denting rather than engraving it with steel tools such as tracers, ciselet, punches, and matting tools. Chasing might be done in order to remove the imperfections and rough spots on a bronze cast which necessarily form in the casting process. Chasing might also be done in order to ornament metal surfaces by embossing or hollowing with tools. Also see beader and chisel.
chess piece glyphschess - A board game for two players, each beginning with 16 pieces of six kinds — king, queen, castle, bishop, knight, pawn — that are moved according to certain rules, with the objective of checkmating (capturing) the opposing king — originally called the "shah." The winner then announces that the king is "dead" (mat). The term "checkmate" came from shah mat (perhaps also sheikh mat). "Shah" evolved, through an Old French plural, esches, into chess: also into checkers, both the game and the design. The Exchequer, which in England deals with the financial side of government, probably derived from the checkerboard tables, eschequier, used in the Middle Ages to facillitate counting. A bank check comes from the same source. The game of chess seems to have entered Europe with the Arabs, at the time of their conquest of Spain. They had learned it from the Persians, who apparently found it in India.
chevet - The eastern end of a Gothic church, including choir, ambulatory, and radiating chapel. (pr. sheh-vay') Also see apse.
chevron - A zig-zag or V-shaped shape.
chiastic - Principally a literary formation, characterized by an inversion of the order of words in two otherwise corresponding parallel phrases, as in the example: "She gave to the poor, to the poor gave she." (pr. ki:-ass'tik) Also see composition.
Chicano art and Chicana art - Generally refers to the culture of Mexican-Americans, and is part of Latino and Latina art. Use of these terms is problematic because while in some regions of the American Southwest they suggest ethnic pride, in others they may be felt to be derogatory. Alternative terms might include Latin American art, Hispanic art, and Hispanic-American art.
chigi - In Japanese architectural tradition, crossed beams extending upwards from both ends of the roof gables on a Shinto structure. Chigi originated in ancient times. Also see diagonal and Japanese art.
chine collé - A technique in printmaking in which an impression is made on a surface at the same time as its opposite side is adhered to a heavier support in the procedure. This process permits printing onto such delicate materials as rice paper and linen, allowing the plate to produce finer details in the printed image than would normally be possible. Once an adhesive (traditionally a solution of rice flour and water) has been applied to the reverse side of the lighter material, the heavier support (typically, such a heavyweight paper as is typically used in printmaking) is placed upon it. In applying the pressure of the press, the reverse side of the lighter material adheres to the support as an image is simultaneously printed onto its obverse side.
(pr. sheen koh-lay)
Ching - A Chinese dynasty (also called Qing and Manchu) which lasted 1644-1911.
chinoiserie - A French word also used by English speakers, for any aspect of Chinese influence on the arts and crafts of Europe, whether produced by Chinese artists, by Europeans, or by others. This term is generally reserved for objects made in the late 17th and throughout the 18th centuries. This roughly coincides with a massive increase in exports from China following the lifting of China's ban on foreign trade in 1684.
chipping out - In lost-wax casting, using a blunt chisel to remove the investment.
chisel - A cutting tool consisting of a metal shaft beveled at one end to form the cutting edge. A chisel is specially designed for cutting WEAR SAFETY GLOVES!a particular material — wood, metal or stone.
chiton - A Greek tunic, the essential (and often only) garment of both men and women, the other being the himation or mantle; a kind of cape. (pr. ky'tuhn)
chlamys - A piece of ancient Greek costume, a short woolen cloak worn by men (and Amazons) and fastened on the right shoulder. Also see himation, mantle, and peplos.
chlorophyll - Green pigment found in plants.
choir - The part of a church or cathedral where services are sung. It is usually east of the transept, and within the chancel, but may extend into the nave, and is often separated from the nave by a screen.
choose, choice - To choose is to select freely and after consideration; or to decide, form a preference, make a selection, or take an alternative. Choosing, along with ordering and expressing, is among the most fundamental activities of an artist. As a general rule, the more options one can compare and contrast, one's chances of selecting the most satisfactory option are increased.
chop - An impression made by an artist's or another person's seal, traditionally used as a kind of signature in the Far East. These seals have usually been made in square, circular and oval shapes, their impression surfaces carved to produce either a red (positive) or white (negative) mark.
chroma - Among colors other than those in the black-white scale, the specific combination of a color's hue, intensity, and saturation; or the degree of a color's vividness.
chroma key - Refers to a level of chroma from high to low intensity and saturation. A high chroma key is bright and pure. A low chroma key is dull and murky. Also see color schemes, contrast key, temperature key, tonal key, and value key.
chromatic pigments - All the pigment which are neither black, white, nor gray — the achromatic pigments. Also see chroma.
the letters C O O L chrome platedchrome or chromium - A hard, brittle, bluish-white metal used chiefly in stainless steel and for electroplating other metals. Although chromium is an element, chrome can be either pure chromium or an alloy of it. Chromium's elemental symbol is Cr; atomic number 24; atomic weight 51.996; melting point 1,890°C; specific gravity 7.18; valence 2, 3, 6.
chrome yellow - A particular yellow pigment.
chromolithography - A lithographic process using several stones or plates — one for each color, printed in register. The result is color prints, to be distinguished from colored prints that have the color hand-applied after printing.
chronology - The arrangement of events in the order in which they occured in time; sequential order. Or, a list, a survey, or exhibition which is sequenced in this way. Such linear narratives follow an easy logic, but can be oppressive. The most commonly employed alternative model is thematic.
chuban - In Japanese art tradition, a size of paper, used for prints, measuring about 11 x 8 inches, sometimes smaller. Also see oban.
ciborium - A canopy, often free-standing and supported by four columns, erected over an altar. Also, a covered cup used in the sacraments of Christian churches. (pr. sih-bor'ee-um) Also see baldacchino.
cinematic montage - Motion-picture effects produced by superimposing separate, unrelated images or showing them in rapid sequence. Also see cinema and jump cut.
cinerary urn - A lidded vessel intended as the container for the ashes of someone who has died, especially one whose body has been cremated (incinerated).
cinnabar - A red. Literally, red mercuric sulphide, sometimes used as a pigment. It is the ore from which mercury is derived.
cinquecento - Italian, literally "five hundred," it refers to the 1500s — the sixteenth century. It is especially used to refer to Italian art of that century, the time of the High Renaissance and Mannerism. (pr. cheen'kway chayn'toh)
circa - About, approximately. (From Latin.) Abbreviated c. and ca. Frequently used before approximated dates. (pr. sir'kuh) Also see time.
Circular stage - Of Victor Lowenfeld's Stages of Artistic Development, the Circular stage is the third sub-stage of the first stage, the Scribble stage. The Scribble stage typically occurs at 2-4 years old. The Circular stage is characterized by further exploring of controlled motions demonstrating the ability to do more complex forms. Also see Preschematic stage (4-6), Schematic stage (6-9), Dawning Realism stage (9-11), and the Pseudorealistic stage (11-13).
circular saw - A circular toothed blade which is power driven. Shown here is a hand-held model. A bench circular saw is used for cutting timber by feeding the wood into the blade, to cut across or down the length. Also see carving, crosscut saw, kerf, and ripsaw.
circumference - The length of a line that is at the outside edge of a circle; the periphery of a circle. The mathematical formula for the circumference of a circle: two times pi (3.14159), or diameter times pi.
circumscribe - To draw a line or lines around something; to encircle, as when enclosing (perhaps a polygon or polyhedron ) within lines, curves, or surfaces. To determine the limits of; to define or restrict.
cire perdue - French for lost-wax casting. (pr. seer payr-doo') Also see sincere.
ciseau - A chisel that cuts or engraves the surface of metal. From the French, and distinguished by them from a ciselet. (pr. see-zoh') Also see tools.
ciselet - A chasing chisel or tracer which dents rather than cuts a metal surface. From the French, and distinguished by them from a ciseau. (pr. see'zeh-lay") See tools.
cissing - In painting, an application of color that would have resulted in a flat area of paint (covering with an even thickness), but resulted instead in running streaks and bare spots, usually because of poor wetting of the surface. (pr. kissing) See dragging.
civilization - An advanced condition of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions. Or, it may be the particular type of culture developed by a nation or region during a period of history. Those people and things which further the development of this condition are called civilized, or may be called civilizing influences.
cladding - A decorative, protective, or insulating layer attached to the outside of a building or other structure. Various metals and stones are often used for cladding. Examples include steel, aluminum, limestone, and marble. Also, a technique of construction with wood: a solid shape is formed by bending thin sheets of Masonite or plywood over a wooden framework. Also see veneer.
clamp - In architectural construction, a device, usually metal, used to hold together blocks of stone of the same course. Also called a cramp. Also see adhesives.
class - A number of objects that have been grouped together because of common characteristics. Also see assessment, order, pattern, sequence, standards, taxonomy, thematic, and typology.
classical - This term has come to have several meaning. Originally it was used when referring to the art of ancient Greece produced during the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Later it included all works of art created from 600 BCE until the fall of Rome. Still later it was used to describe any art form thought to be inspired or influenced by ancient Greek or Roman examples. Today, classical is used to describe perfection of form, with an emphasis on harmony and unity and restraint of emotion. Usually, it is applied to works that are representational but idealistic. Classic is used to describe anything which is the epitome of its type. Also see Greek art, neoclassicism, and Roman art.
classical orders - In architecture, five types of designs for columns. Three were developed in ancient Greece and adopted by the Romans: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Two were introduced by the Romans: composite and Tuscan. Each column has a shaft, capital, and entablature; and with the exception of the Doric, each has a base.
claw chisel - A stoneworking chisel with the blade fashioned into small teeth. It is used for shaping and leaves striations in the stone surface. A "dente di cane" (Italian for "dog's teeth") is type of claw chisel having six or so fine notches in its carving edge. A claw chisel with two long points is know as a calcagnolo (Italian) or as a pied de biche (French). Also see bush hammer and drove.
claw hammer - The head of a claw WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!hammer has a flat striking face on one side and two heavy metal prongs on the other used to trap and lever out nail heads.
clay - Mud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. Also, a hardening or nonhardening material having a consistency similar to clay, often called modeling clay or Plasticine, and others including polymer clay.
cleaning art - Dirt makes the surfaces of objects look shabby, and can cause them to deteriorate as well. Art conservators advise not touching the front or back surfaces of oil paintings, because this can cause cracks and other damage. Do not apply cleaning solutions, solvents, sprays, or insecticides near any work of art. Use a soft natural-bristle brush to clean objects and paintings when the surfaces are in good condition. Even feather dusters are not recommended, because feathers can catch in small cracks and dislodge fragments of paint or surface. Traditional advice for the cleaning of a painting's surface is to very gently rub it with a wad of white bread. See art conservation, blot, caustic, clean up, eraser, hazardous, preparator, stain, stain removal, and volatile.
cleaning, clean up, cleansing - To make oneself and one's environment clean, orderly and presentable. For instance, when one has dirtied or disordered a studio space that others will need to use, one must clean it up before those others arrive. And, before it interferes with one's own work! Also see abrasive, absorbent, art conservation, blot, caustic, cleaning art, detergent, detritus, eraser, filter, hazardous, pickle, solvent, stain and stain removal, toxic, volatile, water-soluble, and xylene.
cleave, cleavage - To cleave is to split or divide. Curiously, "cleave" can also bear the opposite meaning: to adhere closely, cling, stick.
clerestory or clearstory - In architecture, this term (spelled either way) refers to a wall of a building which is raised above an adjoining room, and this section of wall has windows. The walls of the nave in a Christian church are higher than the roof over the side aisles, for example, and the clerestory contains windows for light and ventilation. Because of the heavy walls, the clerestory windows of a Romanesque church were small and admitted little light. Development of the pointed arch, piers, and flying buttresses in the Gothic cathedral made possible the enlargement of this window area. (pr. kleer'sto-ry) Also see aisle, crocket, fenestration, glass, stained glass, and vault.
cliché - An idea or expression that has lost its originality or its force, and become trite because of its overuse. A stereotype. Most clichés become popular over the years because they express a thought aptly and concisely, when, if used too often, their aptness can be overwhelmed by their dullness. (pr. klee-shay')
climate control - The ability to adjust and regulate the temperature and relative humidity in a particular environment. Climate-controlled vans and other means of conveyance are capable of adjusting and regulating temperature and relative humidity within certain limits. See art conservation, cleavage, condensation, hygrothermograph, museum, silica gel, storage, and thymol.
clip art - General illustrations, figures, and designs that can be purchased free of copyright restrictions on printed sheets or as digital images, when the use of new art is too costly or otherwise inconvenient. Also see baby spot, dingbat, dry transfer graphics, and vignette.
cloisonné - Enamels fused inside a wire enclosure (a cloison) on a metal or porcelain ground, forming chambers (cloisons) to receive vitreous enamel pastes. Used earliest and commonly by the Byzantines, with excellent examples dating from before the eleventh century. A rarer type of cloisonné is that in which the wire enclosures surround inlaid stones. (pr. klwah'zo-nay')
cloisonnisme - Refers to the painting style of several French artists of the nineteenth century, reminiscent of the look of cloisonné enamel and stained glass windows.
cloister - A covered walkway or ambulatory around an open court or garden. It was a common feature of medieval monasteries, connecting the monastery's church to its domestic parts. (pr. kloy'ster)
clone - Asexual reproduction or propagation of a biological organism. Scientists have successfully cloned various animals, leaving us concerned that human cloning will eventually follow. Used in discussing art, it evokes these developments. Also see appropriation, copy, counterfeit, facsimile, forgery, multiple, reproduction, simulacrum, and trompe l'oeil.
closed shape - Space that is completely enclosed by a line, or unbroken contour. For example, a triangle is a closed shape. See also open shape and empty shape.
close-up - A photograph, film, or video shot in which the subject is tightly framed, and seen at a relatively large scale. A picture zooming in on a detail.
closure - The recognition of meaning in an otherwise unclear or incomplete image, because the brain has been able to draw on previous experiences to discover sufficient similarity between the image and those memories. Bringing something to a conclusion.
clove hitch - A double-knot. Also see macramé.
CLUT - Acronym for color look-up table.
cm or cm. - Abbreviation for centimeter.
cluster of four C M Y K colorsCMYK - Cyan Magenta Yellow blacK. A system for reproduction color in print — "four-color printing," a cluster of three colors -- cyan, yellow, and magentacreating the color spectrum using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
coarse - Of low, common, or inferior quality. Lacking in refinement or delicacy. Indecent or vulgar. Or, consisting of large particles, not fine in texture. Do not confuse it with course, which is pronounced identically. (pr. kohrs) Also see obscene, pornography, and sand.
coat and coating - A coat is a layer of material covering something else, which might also be termed a coating. Or, to cover with a layer, as of ink, paint, or silicone rubber. Something described as coating well is thoroughly opaque with the application of one layer. Also see canvas, gesso, ground, nail, panel, paper, polyurethane, primer, size, and support.
coated paper - A paper surface with white clay or an acrylic substance to provide a smooth printing or drawing surface. This surface is usually glossy, but can also be mat. Also see lustrous.
coat of arms - An arrangement of shapes and figures — called bearings — usually depicted on and around a shield, that indicates ancestry and distinctions. In heraldic terms, this is also termed a "complete achievement." Heraldry governs the terms used to describe bearings and their arrangement in coats of arms. Completely describing a coat of arms in heraldic terms is called blazoning.
cobalt - A metal resembling nickel from which a range of pigments are made.
Cobra or COBRA - A twentieth century European art movement whose members included Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Corneille, Egill Jacobsen, Asger Jorn, Lucebert, and Karl H. Pederson, and was founded in Paris in 1948 by the Belgian poet and essayist Christian Dotrement, and active until 1951. Their art was experimental, inspired by Marxism, somewhat sympathetic to Expressionism and Surrealism, showing greatest affinity to folk art and children's art and to the works of Paul Klee and Joan Miró. Similarities can also be seen to works by American abstract expressionists, but none to those that are geometrically abstract. Cobra's name was distilled from the names of the three capital cities of the countries of its principal members: CO from Copenhagen, Denmark, BR from Brussels, Belgium, and A from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
codex - A manuscript book, its text handwritten on a number of separate pages. A codex cannot be mechanically printed nor can it be written on a rolled scroll. The plural form is codices. The earliest known ones date from the fourth century CE. In Mesoamerican art, a painted and inscribed book on long sheets of fig-bark paper or deer skin coated with plaster and folded into accordion-like pleats.
coefficient of expansion - The degree in change of size caused by heat. Also see measure and temperature.
coffer or coffering - In architecture, sunken panels in a soffit, ceiling, vault, or dome; often ornamental.
cognitive - Having to do with the mental process or faculty of knowing, including such things as analysis, application, awareness, comprehension, perception, reasoning, synthesis, evaluation, and meta-cognition.
coherence, coherent - Coherence is a quality of having logically or aesthetically ordered or integrated parts that afford comprehension or recognition. One of the principles of design, coherence is largely synonymous with unity. A whole is coherent if its parts are so ordered or integrated. Incoherence is the opposite of coherence. Also see arrangement, balance, chaos, closure, communication, comparison, composition, comprehension, contrast, gestalt, harmony, irony, juxtaposition, knowledge, and meaning.
coil method or coil construction - Coils are long, snake-like ropes of clay that are used in making pottery. The coil method of making pottery involves building the walls of a pot with a series of coils into the required shape. Once the desired height has been reached the surface can either remain coil-textured or they can be smoothed. Much pottery in primitive cultures was made this way, and remains one of the principle hand-building technique potters use. Also see helix, pinch, slab construction, potter's wheel, and volute.
cold chisel - A toughened steel chisel used to cut metal when it is cold.
cold-pressed paper - A smooth watercolor paper.
collagraph - A print made from a low relief collage.
collaring - Part of the ceramic technique of throwing a pot on a potter's wheel. Collaring is constricting the top of the pot to prevent the wet clay from flaring out. Not to be confused with a collograph.
collect, collection, collector - To collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection.
collectible, collectable - An object of a type that is valued or sought after by collectors. This term is used less with high art than it is with crafts, memorabilia, and other objects that are becoming rarer, and were previously little recognized as worthy of collection. Another sort of collectible is that which is designed to be marketed as instantly collectible. Examples include sports cards, certain toys, medals, porcelain plates and figurines. At worst, "collectible" is applied in a calculated and inauthentic manner by manufacturers and sellers of new products to increase their appeal, when otherwise those things are simply gewgaws, tchotchkes, kitsch, or replicas. Some of the earliest collectibles of this sort were included as incentives with other products, such as cigarette cards in packs of cigarettes. Popular items developed a secondary market and sometimes became the subject of "collectible crazes," as occurred with Beanie Babies and Pokemon cards, manufactured, as many collectibles are, in series, in order to encourage the gradual buying of larger and larger collections. The early versions of a product, manufactured in smaller quantities before demand has begun to grow, sometimes command exorbitant prices on the secondary market. In a mature market, collectibles rarely prove to have been a sound investment. Although some authorities accept "collectable" is an alternative spelling, it is commonly considered incorrect. According to a study of Usenet traffic several years ago, "collectible" was among the most frequently misspelled of words.
College Art Association (CAA) - Founded in 1911, the College Art Association promotes excellence in scholarship and teaching in the history and criticism of the visual arts, and in creativity and technical skill in the teaching and practices of art. It facilitates the exchange of ideas and information among those interested in art and the history of art. It advocates comprehensive and inclusive education in the visual arts. It provides opportunities for publication of scholarship, criticism, and artists' writings. It fosters career development and professional advancement. It identifies and develops sources of funding for the practice of art and for scholarship in the arts and humanities. It honors accomplishments of artists, art historians, and critics. It articulates and affirms the highest ethical standards in the conduct of the profession. The CAA includes among its members those who by vocation or avocation are concerned about art and art education. Over 13,000 artists, art historians, scholars, curators, collectors, educators, art publishers, and other visual arts professionals are individual members. Another 2,000 university art and art history departments, museums, libraries, and professional and commercial organizations hold institutional memberships. The CAA administrative office is located at 275 Seventh Avenue, New York, New York 10001. Phone 212.691.1051 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
collodion wet plate - A photographic process invented in 1851, involving the use of a thick glass plate on which to create a negative, exposing it in the camera with its emulsion still wet. Also called wet plate and wet collodion process. It was the standard photographic process for a time, replaced in the 1870s by the gelatin dry plate process.
collograph - A print made from an image built up with glue and sometimes other material. The inked image is transferred from plate to paper and is simultaneously embossed. The name derives from collage. Not to be confused with a collagraph or a collotype.
collotype - A photographic printing process in which a glass plate whose surface has been coated with gelatin carries the image to be reproduced. Also called a photogelatin process.
Collyers' Mansion - A residence so packed with piles of possessions that it presents a fire hazard. Accumulations of material are obstacles to walking through the rooms or halls of such a place. The term is most common among firefighters in eastern USA. It originated in 1947, when the brothers Homer and Langley Collyer were found dead in their Harlem dwelling amid an estimated 100 tons of obsessively stockpiled debris, including "stacks of phone books, newspapers, tin cans, clocks, and a fake two-headed baby in formaldehyde" (Newman, 2006). In other regions of America, firefighters sometimes call such a space a packer house, a habitrail house, pack-rat conditions, or heavy debris. In the art world, such an environment might be described as a residence, studio or storeroom that displays horror vacui in its collections of material culture. This miscellany might include art supplies and objects, but emphasize ephemera, bric-a-brac, and other detritus.
colonnade - A row of columns supporting arches, a lintel, or an entablature. Colonnades have been used along streets, courtyards, and around temples such as the Parthenon. (pr. kah'le-nayd")
colonnette - A small column.
colophon - The logo of a printer or publisher. Or an inscription page sometimes found at the end of a book, noting information about the design of the book. This information might identify the font, paper, or bookbinding. Also see glyph.
colorant - A substance, such as a dye or pigment, that colors something else. A colorant may be raw or refined chemical, mineral, or herbal material. Also see mortar and pestle.
color correction - The process of altering colors as they appear in a digital image or in print to insure they accurately represent the work depicted.
color look-up table - In digital imaging, a palette used in the selection of colors. It is also known as CLUT.
color management systems - In digital imaging, systems that attempt to produce consistency in the representation of color in image files, across image capture, display, and output devices.
color scheme - A set of colors that are used in an artwork, and the way they are combined in an artwork; sometimes called a palette. A color scheme is particularly harmonious if its colors are aesthetically compatible with a root color. In devising such a palette, artists might employ theories or principles of color harmony. Examples include achromatic, monochromatic, complementary, analogous, split complementary, and triadic (three) color schemes.
color separation - A photomechanical graphic process used by commercial artists which separates the primary colors in a color picture. A printing plate is then made for each of the colors -- one for yellow, one for blue (cyan), one for red (magenta), and also one for black. When these colors are printed one on top of the other, the full color original picture is reproduced.
color space - In digital imaging, a means of representing the color spectrum.
colorways - Color schemes when a pattern is produced in more than one.
colour-man or colourman - A seller of colours (colors) — pigments and paints. Or a colourer — one who adds color to a black and white print. Although a colorman might sell other supplies as well as paints, use of this title decreases as the sales of artists' colors are increasingly made by sellers of a variety of artists' materials. This term has been used almost entirely in Britain. The Oxford English Dictionary has noted uses of "colour-man" and "colourman" from the late seventeenth century through the nineteenth century.
column - An upright pillar or post, often used to bear weight. Columns usually consist of a base at the bottom, a round shaft tapering toward the top, and a capital. A half-column is attached to a wall and does not bear weight. Half-columns were used for decorative purposes on the Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome.
combine - Any painted assemblage that is neither simply painting or sculpture, but rather a hybrid or interdisciplinary painting-sculpture. The term "combine" was coined by Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-).
commemorate - To honor or to serve as a memorial or monument to. Also see column, desco da parto, donation, memory, monolith, obelisk, pillar, plaque, posterity, and Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
commercial art - Works which involve creating images and objects for commercial purposes, rather than for fine art ones. Today the term more commonly used for commercial art is simply design -- especially three-dimensional works, with two-dimensional works referred to more specifically as graphic design. Also see craft, high art, monetary worth, and popular culture.
commission - The act of hiring someone to execute a certain work or set of works. Such an act is often made in the form of a contract. Commission may refer to a work executed under such an agreement. Also, a group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions, such as the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Phoenix Arts Commission. The first example is a branch of a state's government, while the second is a branch of a city's government. And, commission may refer to a fee or percentage allowed to a sales representative or an agent for services rendered. Also see monetary worth, new media, patron, public art, and specifications.
commodity and commodification - Something which can be bought and sold; an article of trade. Referring to an artwork as a commodity minimizes its significance in other ways — as an expression of an artist's feelings, allegory, formal issues, etc. Bringing out this aspect in an object is called commodification.
communication - Conveying information; exchanging ideas, etc., in such a way that they are coherent. A notion underlying popular ideas of art — that is, that an artwork is made to convey something specific that the artist had in mind, and making an artwork is primarily a matter of finding the means to make that something understood. In the 1960s, Minimalists entirely rejected the validity of this point of view, largely in favor of formalist issues. Ideas are not enough; one needs to get them into the minds of others.
compare, comparison - To compare is to examine, describe, and analyze two or more things for qualities that are equal, similar, analogous, or different. Also, to liken one thing to another — to note how they resemble each other, or how they may be equal or similar in quality or standing. When paired with "contrast," "compare" emphasizes similarities while "contrast" emphasizes differences. A comparison is an instance of comparing. The act of comparing is often called "drawing a comparison," even though comparing needn't have anything to do with making a drawing.
compass - A mechanical tool that has two hinged, adjustable legs for drawing different sizes (radius / diameter) of circle and arcs. One of the legs has a sharp steel point that is placed on one spot on the paper. The other can hold either a pencil, a pen or a blade, determines the circle's size, and that rotates around the pointed end. Also see angle, curve, freehand, mechanical drawing, protractor, and scissors.
compass rose - A symbol typically found on maps; it indicates the direction of north, as well perhaps of others. Also see radial and template.
complementary afterimage - The afterimage (in a complementary color) that is retained briefly by the eye after the stimulus is removed.
complementary colors - Colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, and violet and yellow. When complements are mixed together they form the neutral colors of brown or gray. Note that this term is spelled differently than the word "complimentary," which means gift.
complexity - Closely related to variety, a principle of design, this term refers to a way of combining the elements of art in involved ways, to create intricate and complicated relationships. A picture composed of many shapes of different colors, sizes, and textures would be called complex. Also see monotony, Rube Goldberg, simplicity, and unity.
compluvium - An opening in the center of a roof of a Roman atrium to admit light. (pr. kahm-ploo'vee-um) Also see fenestration, oculus, and Roman art.
compose - To create, put together, or arrange the elements of art in a work, usually according to the principles of design. Also see creativity and homogeneity.
composite order and composite capital - A Roman order with its capital designed as a fusion of the Ionic and Corinthian orders.
compound pier - A pier composed of a group or cluster of members, especially characteristic of Gothic architecture. Also called a cluster pier.
comprehension - The ability to grasp the meaning of material. Comprehension represents the second level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain — one step beyond knowledge — the simple remembering of material. Objectives of lessons which will increase a student's comprehension can be stated with such behavioral terms as: calculate, cite, comprehend, compute, conclude, construe, convert, debate, define, demonstrate, discuss, document, dramatize, estimate, expand, explain, express, extend, extrapolate, generalize, give examples of, identify, illustrate, infer, interpret, locate, paraphrase, predict, propose, recognize, report, restate, review, suggest, summarize, support, tell, and translate. The next higher thinking skill is application. Also see Bloom's Taxonomy and coherence.
computer graphics - Pictures made with the assistance of computers. Computer graphics are often made with software called drawing, painting, illustrating and photographic programs or applications.
concatenation - A series of linked or interconnected things or events. See arrangement, balance, collection, compare, composition, join, juxtaposition, order, periodicity, and sequence.
concave, concavity - To be concave is to have a surface or boundary that curves or bulges inward, as does the inner surface of a hemisphere. Concavity is the state of being concave. (A tip to assist in remembering: caves and cavities go in, while convexities go out.)
concentric - Two or more shapes or forms having the same point at their center. see thumbnail to rightThese three circles are concentric. Concentric contrasts with eccentric: literally, not having the same center, and figuratively, departing from the typical or established norm or pattern.
concept - An idea, thought, or notion conceived through mental activity. The words concept and conception are applied to mental formulations on a broad scale.
conceptual - In general, referring to concept or conception. In reference to art, imagery which departs from perceptual accuracy to present a mental formulation of the object, rather than its appearance alone. As examples, the rigidly formal art of ancient Egypt may be viewed as conceptual, whereas the Realism of Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877) is perceptual. Nevertheless, it should not be thought that perceptual art is really without ideas (or ideology), however. Also see conceptual art and program.
concrete poetry - Poetry in which layout and typography play visual roles.
concretion - In the work of Surrealist Jean (or Hans) Arp (French, 1887-1966), sculptural form characterized by twisting and growing effects. Also see amorphous and organic.
condensation - Water that turns from vapor in the air to liquid on the surface of objects when the air becomes saturated with water vapor because of cooling or the adition of more moisture. Climate control during exhibition, storage, and shipping can prevent such condensation from damaging artworks. Also see art conservation and silica gel.
condensed type - In typography, a narrow version of regular type.
condition - The physical state of an artwork. This may refer to a contract provision or stipulation. One or more condition photographs may clearly document all defects, flaws, and physical conditions of an object. Also see art conservation, climate control, and museum.
cone [first sense] - A three-dimensional shape having a surface formed by a straight line (the side length) passing through a fixed point and moving along a circular curve. It usually refers to a right circular cone — a cone in which the side length remains a constant length. The volume of a right circular cone equals one-third of pi (3.14159) times radius squared times height. Its surface area (including circular side) equals pi times radius times the sum of radius plus side length. Lateral area (not including circular side) equals pi times radius times side length.
cone [second sense] - Physically essential to enabling sight, the photoreceptors on the retina of the eye which are responsive to color and in bright conditions. see thumbnail to rightIn this illustration, the cones and rods are the pink forms shown embedded in the anterior of the retina's surface. The cones are the thicker, conical forms, among the more uniformly thin rods. Also see afterimage, binocular vision, colorblind, the first sense of "cone", gestalt, Op Art, ophthalmology, optical, optical mixing, perception, and peripheral vision.
confection - Something sweet tasting and finely made from many ingredients; most likely a candy. Often, metaphorically, a piece of fine craftsmanship — an example might be a piece of architecture or furniture, or a porcelain figurine, even a painting — but both sugary and finely crafted. Curiously, the speaker's intent may well be either complimentary or derogatory, but is unlikely to be neutral. Also see bad art, bibelot, bric-a-brac, femmage, gewgaw, kitsch, and tchotchke.
configuration - Arrangement of parts or elements of a shape, a form, or of a figure, especially the pattern formed by the arrangement of parts within a form. In the terminology of psychology, Gestalt.
conflation - A fusion or combination of elements into a composite whole. Also see assemblage, collage, composition, construction, montage, pasteup, and pastiche.
conflict - A state of tension, within or between figures, ideas, or interests; discord, a clash, or struggle. In narrative analysis, the opposition of forces that motivates or shapes the action of the narrative.
conglobe and conglobate - To form into a compact spherical mass -- a ball. Both "conglobe and "conglobate" came to English from the Latin verb "conglobare" about the 16th century. The word "glob" is a relative too. "Glob" might have originated as a blend of "globe" and "blob." (pr. kahn-glohb' or kun-glohb' and kahn-gloh'bayt or kun-gloh'bayt) Also see spheroid.
coning - When a mass of clay is worked on a potter's wheel, it is coned by repeatedly drawing it up into a conical shape and then flattening it down to center it on the wheel and shape the mass. In addition, the first part of this process is known as coning up, the second as coning down.
connoisseur - A person, amateur or professional, who through experience, has become highly sensitive to beauty in art. One who professes to know about such matters. A rarely used synonym is iconophile. Many postmodernists find the idea of any connoisseur repugnant. (pr. con'nuh-ser")
connotation - A thought or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing which goes beyond denotations, or literal meanings. Any figurative meaning, emotional baggage, or conventional associations attaching to words and things. Connotations may be universal, restricted to a group (for instance, a nationality, income level or gender), or personal. The usefulness of the latter category is questionable, since it is quite possible for an individual viewer to read into a work personal connotations which are not shared by a general audience. Also see art criticism, blot, judgment, negative, and positive.
consciousness - The state of being conscious or aware, which includes a sense of one's personal or collective identity, especially the complex of attitudes, beliefs, and sensitivities held by or considered characteristic of an individual or a group, especially at a given moment (as opposed to "mind" which is the sum of past conscious moments). Many twentieth century thinkers, both in philosophy and in the medical sciences, describe consciousness on a materialist model as a byproduct of synaptic exchanges (whether described in chemical, electrical, or neurological terms). Also used to refer to a special awareness or sensitivity to a concern, an issue, or a situation. Also see attention, context, epistemology, gestalt, knowledge, meaning, perception, phenomenology, and seeing.
consign and consignment - To consign is to transfer something, a work of art or an antique for instance, to a merchant so that it will be sold. In advance of the transferance, the terms of the consignment must be agreed upon — time period, price, fee paid to merchant, etc. The person or entity consigning something is known as the consignee; the person or entity to which it is consigned is the consignor (also spelled consigner).
consistency - Agreement among things or parts. Compatibility between related aspects. Continuously similar in certain respects. Also, degree or texture of density, firmness or viscosity.
construct and construction - To construct is to form by assembling or combining parts; to build. Construction is either the act of constructing or the structure resulting from it. Although it frequently refers to architecture, a construction may also be a sculpture made by joining together various components of various materials or of the same substance.
construction paper - A fairly stiff paper available in various colors, and useful for tempera painting, collage, and paper sculpture. Its colors typically fade easily. Also see butcher paper, lightfast, permanent, permanent pigment, and tooth.
Constructivism or constructivism - A modern art movement developed in 1917 by the Russian sculptor Vladimir Tatlin (1880-1938). The aim was to construct abstract sculpture suitable for an industrialized society, and the work pioneered the use of modern technology and materials such as wood, glass, plastics and steel. Constructivism was introduced to Western Europe by Antoine Pevsner in Paris, and his brother Naum Gabo in Germany. The principles of Constructivism were highly influential in twentieth century Western art, although for political reasons its influence in Russia ended by 1921.
contact print - A photograph made by placing a negative in direct contact with the emulsion on a sheet of photographic paper.
contemporary - Current, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. Also see modern, new media, posterity, and postmodern.
content - What a work of art is about; its subject matter. Content should not be confused with form (a work's physical characteristics) or context (a work's environment — time, place, audience, etc.), although each of these effect each other, and a work's total significance. On the other hand, some feel that content is the meaning of a work beyond its subject matter — denotations — that it consists also of its connotations, levels of meaning which are not obviously apparent. Content has three levels of complexity. The first includes literal iconography; straightforward subjects and imagery, describable facts, actions, and/or poses. The second includes the basic genres, figurative meanings like those afforded by conventional signs and symbols, basic tropes, and/or performance qualities. The third represents the effect on the subject of form and context. (pr. con'tent)
context - The varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the color of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone.
contour - The outline and other visible edges of a mass, figure or object.
contour drawing - Drawing in which contour lines are used to represent subject matter. A contour drawing has a three-dimensional quality, indicating the thickness as well as height and width of the forms it describes. Making a contour drawing with a continuous line is a classic drawing exercise (sometimes modified as a "blind continuous-line contour"): with eyes fixed on the contours of the model or object, drawing the contour very slowly with a steady, continuous line, without lifting the drawing tool or looking at the paper. There are other variations on this method.
contour lines - Lines that surround and define the edges of a subject, giving it shape and volume. These should not be confused with a form's outlines.
contrast - A large difference between two things; for example, hot and cold, green and red, light and shadow. Closely related to emphasis, a principle of design, this term refers to a way of combining elements of art to stress the differences between those elements. Thus, a painting might have bright color which contrast with dark colors, or angular shapes which contrast with curvaceous shapes. Used in this way, contrast can excite, emphasize and direct attention to points of interest. When paired with compare, as in "compare and contrast," "compare" emphasizes similarities while "contrast" emphasizes differences.
contrast key - Refers to a level of contrast in an artwork or in a color scheme. A high contrast key is distinct. A low contrast key is obscure. Also see chroma key, temperature key, tonal key, and value key.
contre jour - French for back lighting.
contrived - When referring to a work of art, one that has been created in a labored way, not spontaneously, with dexterity but little inspiration. Brought into being as a trick or in an obvious way, especially in its content, intent, and / or process.
convention - General agreement on or acceptance of certain customs; a standard attitude, interpretation, or practice (procedure, technique, iconography, etc.). Also see theater, UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
conversation piece or conversation galante - A portrait of a group of earnest people. "Conversation galante" is the original and French form of this term, often equivalent to or a variant of the fête galante, made popular by Watteau.
convex - Having a surface or boundary that curves or bulges outward, as does the exterior of a sphere, or see thumbnail to righta balloon.
cool colors - Colors are often described as having temperature — as warm (reds, oranges, and yellows) or cool (greens, blues, and violets). Purple (red-violet) and yellow-green are between warm and cool. (Don't call them "neutral," because neutral colors are grays and browns. Email ArtLex if you have a name for in-between-warm-and-cool colors.) Cool colors are often associated with water, sky, spring, and foliage, and suggest cool temperatures. They appear on one side of the color wheel, and opposite the warm colors. Psychologically, cool colors are said to be calming, unemphatic, depressive; and optically, they generally appear to recede. Also see analogous colors, chroma, complementary colors, earth colors, hue, shade, and tint.
cooperative learning - Typically, small-group learning activities that promote positive interaction resulting in improved learning. The teacher divides a class into groups of two to six, each group containing a mix of student types — backgrounds, achievement levels, social skills, etc. — with each member responsible for making specific contributions to the success of the group. Research shows that more students become more successful in school when this method is used. While developing students' social skills, cooperative learning promotes psychological well-being — students gain greater acceptance and freedom, that they are having fun, surviving more securely, and even acquiring power. High-achieving, low-achieving, special education and at-risk students benefit academically. As students' attitudes improve, they become more highly motivated and productive. The teacher plays an active role in monitoring and supervising student groups, helping them function and complete assignments. Individual student progress is measured by individual assessments. Group progress is measured by group success in accomplishing the group's goal. Although excellence in art disciplines is certainly dependent on the efforts of individuals, that excellence is less likely to thrive in a competitive environment than in a cooperative one. Historically, the most successful cultures have been those which interacted and worked together most harmoniously. Also see effort and praise.
co-opt - To absorb, assimilate, or appropriate. As an example, it seems ever more difficult for any movement to be avant-garde, considering how rapidly they are co-opted by the institutions of the artworld and mainstream culture.
copal - A resin made from fossil trees, used as a varnish and in paint media.
coping - A method of splitting away stone from a block preliminary to shaping a carving. Small punch are driven into a block and hit in sequence until the stone splits between them.
copper resinate - A particular green pigment.
Coptic art - Art of the early Christians of Egypt from the fourth to the eighth centuries CE, during the end of the Roman period and the beginning of the Byzantine period. Under Rome, Fayum burial portraits done in encaustic are the great achievement. Coptic style changed greatly under the influence of Byzantium, becoming flat and stylized. Coptic influences can be seen in later Ethiopian art.
copy - An intentional imitation, replica, reproduction, or duplication of an original work of art, usually produced in the same medium. Unlike a fake, a copy generally is intended as an emulation of a model rather than as a deception. A variation on copying, complicating the issues involved in distinguishing between originals, copies, and forgeries, are appropriations. Also, text material, to be printed or spoken. And, to photocopy as with xerography.
copystand scanner - In digital imaging, a type of image capture device that sits on a copystand and can be raised or lowered to get closer to or farther from the material to be scanned. Involves a physical set-up similar to microfilming, or copy photography.
corbel - A supportive architectural bracket or block projecting from a wall. (pr. kohr'buhl) Also see arch, corbel vault, corbelled arch, niche, and vault.
corbel vault - In architecture, a vault built on the same principle as a corbelled arch.
corbelled arch - In architecture, a "false arch" bridging a gap by means of overlapping blocks of masonry. Also see corbel.
Corbis - Corbis is the on-line gallery of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates's Corbis company, which has acquired digital rights to many of the world's art and other images, including works in several major museums around the world and the Bettmann Archive. The Corbis site features a sophisticated front-end that keeps a profile of the user's preferences regarding high- or low-bandwidth options for browsing JPEG images.
core - A hollow wax sculpture to be cast in metal is filled with clay or plaster with grog (refractory material). The wax can be modeled directly over a preformed core, and after the sculpture is cast, the core is generally removed in order to make the sculpture less heavy. A core might be either an original model pared down, or it might be poured into a hollow wax cast. A core may contain an armature, and it may hold chaplets. Also see direct casting, indirect casting, and lost-wax casting.
core pin - A chaplet. In lost-wax casting, core pins connect the core placed within a wax model to its surrounding mold. Typically many are employed for a work. They vary in size from thin wire to thick bars of metal, depending on the scale of the model. When the wax is melted from the mold, core pins keep the core from shifting. When molten metal is poured in, they are incorporated into it, and when the investment is broken off, they protrude from the surface of the metal. When they are made of the same alloy as the cast, they are difficult to find once they have been filed down. If they fall out when the core is removed, they leave holes which must be filled. A possible substitute for core pins are refractory spacing blocks.
Corinthian - The most elaborate of the three classical orders of Greek architecture, distinguished by a slender, fluted column, and a bell-shaped capital decorated with a design of acanthus leaves.
corner clampcorner clamp - A device which holds together two strips or slabs of solid material at right angle while the joint is secured; useful in framing for example.
cornice - The projecting upper section of an entablature. Also any crowning projection.
corrugate and corrugated cardboard or corrugated board - To corrugate is to shape into undulating folds: parallel or alternating ridges and grooves. Corrugated cardboard is a common contemporary material in packaging, especially for boxes and cartons. It is usually made of three sheets of paper, the middle one is corrugated, and laminated between the other two layers. There are many types of corrugated cardboard, including colors, shapes and sizes of the undulations, and variations in the number of their layers per board. Cut corrugated cardboard with sturdy razors and light saws. Join pieces with any of many kinds of adhesives, staples, and tapes. Objects made with this material may not be very permanent, but they're easily and inexpensively produced! Packaging manufacturers as well as commercial users might even be coaxed into donating boards to students.
Cor-ten steel - Cor-ten Steel is a type of steel that oxidizes naturally over time, giving it an orange-brown color and a rough texture. It has a very high tensile strength, and in spite of its rusted appearance it is actually more resistant to damaging corrosion than standard forms of carbon steel. It has been used by many contemporary sculptors and architects. United States Steel Corporation says "COR-TEN® is a registered trademark of United States Steel Corporation and can only be used for products produced by United States Steel Corporation or its licensees. COR-TEN® Steel has proven to be an excellent product for bridges, primary structural framing and sculpture."
corundum - A very hard mineral, crystallized allumina or aluminum oxide, used as an abrasive and polish. Also see carborundum, emery, garnet, and rouge.
cosmetic, cosmeticize, and cosmetize - A cosmetic can be a preparation, such as a powder or cream applied to the skin as makeup, usually intended to beautify the human body, especially the face. Common examples are lipstick, rouge, eyeliner, and mascara. Cosmetics have also been used to disguise or in some other way to change the appearance of an actor or another type of performer. Examples of theatrical cosmetics include pancakes and greasepaints. "Cosmetic" is also used to refer to something artificial that is used to cover a deficit, defect, or irregularity; making something unpleasant or ugly superficially attractive. "Cosmeticize" is a verb form that first appeared in print in the early 19th century. Originally, its use was often literal, with the meaning "to apply a cosmetic to," but today it is usually used figuratively. Some usage commentators have opposed the legitimacy of "cosmeticize", irritated by the proliferation of verbs coined using "-ize". So many such formations are silly, one-time words. However, "cosmeticize" is fairly well-established in contrast with the two other, rarer verbs that have been derived from "cosmetic": "cosmetize," which often turns up in the literal sense that has been mostly lost from "cosmeticize" ("cosmetize the face"), and "cosmetic," which can be literal or figurative ("cosmeticked with bright rouge"; "embellished and cosmeticked"). (pr. kahz-meh'tik, kahz-meh'tuh-size, and kahz'meh-tize)
cosmononplusation - The vague, speechless awe one experiences upon gazing up into the cosmos and contemplating the pathetic minuteness of one's being. This word was coined by Charles Harrington Elster. (New York Times Magazine, August 29, 1999, page 18.)
coulage - A method of making a sculptural automatism in which one pours a molten material, such as a metal, chocolate, or wax, into cold water. As the material cools it forms a kind of randomized if not entirely accidental form. Also see aleatory and aleatoric, bricolage, collage, découpage, femmage, frottage, fumage, marouflage, montage, parsemage, and photomontage.
counterculture - A culture, especially of young people, with antiestablishment attitudes, principles or lifestyles. Also see popular culture.
counterpoint - A parallel but contrasting element or theme in a design. Incorporating one or more counterpoints in producing an artwork is among the possible means to achieving emphasis. Also see anomaly, butt, compare, incongruity, irony, juxtaposition, and point.
counterpoise - A counterbalancing weight or force. Also see balance, cantilever, equilibrium, equipoise.
countersink and countersinking - A countersink is a tool with which a drilled hole's opening can be beveled in order to position the head of a screw or a bolt, used to join sections of a work, even with a material's outer surface. Countersinking is the method of using a countersink to do this.
course - When it does not refer to movement or to a portion of a curriculum, it may refer to a continuous layer of a building material, such as brick or tile on a wall or roof of a building. Do not confuse it with coarse, which is pronounced identically. (pr. kohrs) Also see clamp, dowel, and masonry.
couture - The profession of designing, making, and selling highly fashionable, usually custom-made clothing — costume. Also, such people considered as a group, or their productions. Also see couturier, fashion, and textile.
couturier - An establishment engaged in couture. Such an establishment may be referred to as a house. Also, one who designs for such an establishment. Also see art careers, costume, fashion, and textile.
cover - The capacity of a pigment to obscure an underlying surface; or, its hiding power. Alternatively, its capacity to extend by given volume over a surface. Also see coat and coating.
C.P. - Chemically pure. This designation is sometimes applied to commercial pigments which are entirely free of extenders or any added inert pigments.
crackle - In ceramic glazes, a network of fine craze lines, produced intentionally or accidentally, especially associated with oriental and modern porcelain. Also, in oil painting, when the paint's surface is broken by a network of small cracks.
craftsmanship - The quality of what a person does. Craftsmanship is most admired when a person creates with skill or dexterity, usually with the hands, whether with or without tools.
crayon - Traditionally, any drawing material made in stick form, including chalk, pastel, conté crayons, charcoal, lithographic and other grease crayons, as well as wax crayons.box of crayons To children, the term invariably refers to these last sticks of color made of paraffin, and marketed under various trade names, available in several sizes and shapes, either water-soluble or not, usually in a paper wrapper.
crazing - A network of cracks which sometimes forms in ceramic glazes; crackle. It may be desirable or not, depending on the artist's wishes. It is caused by the glaze and clay body contracting at different rates as they cool after firing.
creative self-expression - The art education paradigm emphasizing the making of art for self-expression — a personal exploration of a variety of art materials and methods. Creative self-expression dominated the field of art education from the 1940s to the late 1980s, until the formulation of discipline-based art education (DBAE). Also see art therapy.
crenel, crenelation, crenelated - In architecture, crenelation is the indented or notched construction of the battlements atop a wall; a crenelated wall is one topped with merlons — pieces of wall protecting defenders who looked through and used their weapons through the notches, or crenels. Crenelation is most typically located on a fortification's parapet. see thumbnail to leftHere are three of the possible shapes of crenelation. Also see arms and armor, corbel, embrasure, masonry, and splayed opening.
crepidoma - The stepped base of a Greek temple.
crepuscular - Of, relating to, or like twilight. Or, dim; indistinct; glimmering; imperfectly luminous; obscure. The early Romans had two words for "twilight." English writers began using "crepuscular" in the 17th century, having borrowed it from the "crepusculum" used by Romans for the half-light of evening, just after the sun sets; it is a diminutive formation based on their word for "dark," which is "creper." (pr. kreh-puss'kyeh-ler)
critique - A critical review or discussion, in particular, for our purposes, one dealing with works of art. A critique is often a meeting involving a group of art students with one or more instructors, and sometimes one or more guests, in a discussion resulting in the assessment of those students' artwork, to review or discuss those works critically in order to sustain and nourish critical reflection. Participants in a critique should focus on describing, analyzing, interpreting, and judging works to an understanding of them which is as deep and broad as time will allow. The works considered in a critique might constitute a portion of a project to be completed within the current semester, up to a large body of recent works. A critique should advance the students' work, and convey a structure which will sustain them as artists long after their graduation.
crocket - In architecture, an ornament, usually in the form of curving leaf, found on the sloping edge of a gable, pinnacle, flying buttress, etc., of a Gothic building.
Cro-Magnon - Of or pertaining to the homo sapiens whose remains, dating from the Aurignacian period, were found in the Cro-Magnon caves in Dordogne, France. The French Ministry of Culture maintains several Web pages about sites in France. Also see Stone Age.
cromlech - A prehistoric monument, consisting of a mound surrounded by a circle of monoliths. Also see archaeology, cairn, dolmen, megalith, obelisk, and Stone Age.
crop and crop mark - To crop is to trim one or more of a picture's edges, or to place one or more of the edges of an image so that only part of a subject can be seen within the image.
cross-barrel vault - In architecture, a barrel (or tunnel) vault in which the main barrel (tunnel) vault is intersected at right angles with other barrel (tunnel) vaults at regular intervals. Also see cross vault.
crosscut saw - A saw with fine teeth set and angled to cut transversely through the grain of a dense material, usually wood. Also see circular saw, kerf, and ripsaw.
crossing - The space in a cruciform church formed by the intersection of the nave and the transept.
cross vault - In architecture, two barrel vaults intersecting each other at right angles. Also called a groin vault.
crucible - A heatproof vessel in which metal is made molten for pouring into a mold. See melting point and temperature.
crucifix - An image or figure of Jesus Christ on the cross. The act of placing the figure there or this method of execution is called crucifixion. Christ's act of submitting to suffering and death is central to Christianity — to a belief in Jesus Christ as the savior of all of mankind from punishment for Adam and Eve's "original sin." (pr. kroo"suh-fix')
cruciform - Cross-shaped. Examples include the letter "t" and the typical plan of Gothic churches. (pr. kroo"suh-form') Also see basilica, crossing, Greek cross, labyrinth, and square schematization.
crypt - The chamber beneath the main floor of a church, usually containing graves or relics. It is typically vaulted, and wholly or partly underground. In medieval churches, it was usually under the apse or a chevet. The history of "crypt" starts with "kryptein," a Greek word meaning "to hide." From this word came "kryptos," meaning "hidden," which led to "crypta" ("vault, cavern"), another "kryptein" derivative, and the Latin predecessor of "crypt."
cryptic - Having or seeming to have a hidden or ambiguous meaning; mysterious; often marked by an often perplexing brevity. "Cryptic" sometimes carries the deeper sense of secrecy or the occult, and is often sensed in Dada and in surrealist works. The history of "cryptic" starts with "kryptein," a Greek word meaning "to hide." From this word came "kryptos," meaning "hidden," which led to "crypticus," the Latin predecessor of our "cryptic." Not surprisingly, "cryptic" is closely related to "crypt." "Kryptein" also gave us several words having to do with secret codes, such as "cryptogram" and "cryptography" (the coding and decoding of secret messages). And in fact, something "cryptic" can sometimes seem as if written in code. (pr. krip'tik) Also see absurd, amphibolous, Dada, incongruity, irony, and Surrealism.
cryptogram - A coded message or a secret symbol — a figure or representation with secret meaning or significance. Cryptograms have often been used by students of the occult. (pr. kripp"te-gram') See a discussion of the root of this word at cryptic. "Cryptography" is the coding and decoding of ciphers. The adjectival form is "cryptogrammic."
cube - A polyhedron having six square faces. It is also one type of hexahedron, as well as one type of prismatoid. Calculate its volume by multiplying the length of one edge by itself, then again by that product. A quantity is cubed when it is multiplied twice by the same quantity (3 cubed = 3 x 3 x 3 = 27).
cubic - Adjectival form of cube. Abbreviated cu.
cubiculum - A Roman bedroom, or a small room constructed in the wall of an Early Christian catacomb to serve as a mortuary chapel.
culture jamming and culture jammer - Culture jamming refers to forms of art and other activities involving social agitation. Culture jammers take a number of sociopolitical issues as their primary focus, including media literacy, consumerism, television addiction, television violence, pollution, North American social laziness, use of sweatshops, and various hazards of corporate dominance of media, government, and daily life. The term was first used in 1984 by the San Francisco audio-collage band Negativeland, but the concept dates back to the suffrage and avant-garde movements of the early 20th century. Because they often employ photomontage and other techniques employed by graphic designers, and they take stances in defiance of the status quo, their works often resemble the anti-art of the Dadaists, as well as various works by Surrealists and Situationists.
cuneiform - The wedge-shaped depressions made by the ancient Mesopotamians in clay in order to inscribe the characters of their written language. It was in southern Mesopotamia, or more precisely in Uruk, around 3100 BCE, that writing appeared for the first time in the world, initially pictographic writing, "drawing" the elements of the real world. In this region the earliest known records have been found of political, military and religious administration, set up to administer new complex town structures. As these regions developed, so cuneiform writing also began to appear.
cupola - A dome, especially a small one which is surmounted by a lantern.
cupreous - Of or containing copper; copper-like. Or, having a color which is metallic reddish-brown; copper-colored. (pron. kyoo'pree-es, or koo'pree-es)
curator - A person who is responsible for collection building, care, research, exhibition, and writing. Curators often work with community members to determine interests and needs, which will be reflected in special exibitions, and result in the meeting educational goals. Also see art careers, art conservator, director, docent, museum, preparator, registrar, and typology.
cure - The hardening process of a material which is worked in a moist or liquid form, such as resin and concrete. To mature. Also see cement and mortar.
cursive - Of flowing writing with strokes joined and angles rounded. Also see calligraphy, font, fontography, scriptorium, scroll, text, typeface and type, and typography.
curtain wall - In castles, the surrounding fortified walls. In modern architecture, an outer non-load-bearing wall, often simply a field of large panes of glass held in place with a lattice of other material, sometimes merely thin metal bands. The modern curtain wall was first made possible with the introduction of the structural steel skeleton by watchmaker and inventor James Bogardus, using modular prefabricated cast iron and glass in New York City in 1849. Other notable progress in this direction was made by architects Louis Sullivan (American, 1856-1924), in the Carson-Pirie-Scott store (Chicago, 1899-1904), and Walter Gropius (German, 1883-1969), whose design for the Bauhaus (Germany, 1926) became the precursor to the "glass box" building of the International style.
curve - A line or edge that deviates from straightness in a smooth, continuous way. Or, a surface that deviates from flatness in the same way. Or, something that has the shape of a curve, such as an arc. Or, to make something curve, such as when a straight piece of wire is made to be curved. A curlicue is a curve with flourish. Also see aliased and anti-aliased, circle, cone, curvilinear, cylinder, ellipse, French curve, helix, mandala, meander, oblong, organic, oval, ovoid, parabola, radial, sphere, tangent, tondo, and volute.
curvilinear - Formed or characterized by curving lines. Elements of late Gothic and Art Nouveau ornament are examples of curvilinear treatment of form. Also curvilineal.
cusp - The projecting point on the inner side of an arch, window, or rondel. Also see fenestration and pendant.
custom - A practice followed by people of a particular group or region. Also see culture, ethnosphere, heritage, and tradition.
cute - Pretty, dainty, precious. Also see aesthetics, beauty, collectible, feminism and feminist art, nice, positive, and praise.
cutout or cut-out - In art, a piece of paper cut into a shape and arranged with other cutouts to form designs and picture.
cyan - The blue-green subtractive primary color which absorbs red and transmits blue-green; that is, white light minus red. Also see additive colors, CMYK (cyan magenta yellow black), and penumbra.
cyanotype - A very direct photographic process resulting in monochromatic images in tints and tones of blue. It first appeared in 1842.
Cycladic art - The art of an ancient (c. 2800-1400 BCE) culture on a group of islands of southeast Greece in the southern Aegean Sea, especially those surrounding the small island of Delos. (pr. si-kla'dek)
Cyclopean - Gigantic, vast and rough; massive. Cyclopean architecture is a method of stone construction using large, irregular blocks without mortar. Also see colossus and colossal, dolmen, mass, rustication, and size.
cylinder - A three-dimensional surface generated by a straight line (a generatrix) intersecting and moving along a closed plane curve (the directrix) while remaining parallel to a fixed straight line that is not on or parallel to the plane of the directrix. The portion of such a surface bounded by two parallel planes and the regions of the planes bounded by the surface. A solid bounded by two parallel planes and such a surface, especially such a surface having a circle as its directrix. Or a cylindrical vessel or object. Generally refers to a right cylinder — having end planes both parallel and at 90 to the generatrix. Calculate volume of a right cylinder as pi (3.14159) times the radius squared times the length of the generatrix. The surface area of a right cylinder (including the circular ends) is 2 times pi times the radius times the product of the radius plus the length of the generatrix. The surface area of the lateral area (not including the circular ends) of a right cylinder is 2 times pi times the radius times the length of the generatrix. Canisters, drums, and rolling pins are typically cylindrical in form. Any of several parts of a printing press that rotate, especially the one that carries the paper. In archaeology, a cylindrical stone or clay object with an engraved design or inscription. (pr. si'len-dr)