Art Glossary of Terms
The Art History Archive


This Website is Best Viewed Using Firefox

INDEX - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Art Glossary of Terms - Art Lexicon HA to HZ

  • hacksaw - A multi-purpose saw with a narrow blade fixed at each end in a rigid curving frame. Pictured here are typical designs. The lower-left one is designed for more rugged work. The one on the right is generally known as a "jigsaw", and is capable of much finer work, because it can make sharp turns. Blades of various types are available for each. There are also electric motor-powered models with reciprocating blades. A band saw may be an alternative to these. Also see adze, chisel, circular saw, crosscut saw, file, gouge, kerf, miter, rasp, surform, and wood.

  • Hakuho - A period in Japanese art history from 645-710. It is sometimes called the Early Nara period. The Hakuho period was preceded by the Asuka period (c. 552 - 645) and followed by the Nara period (710-794).

  • halftone art - Printed imagery in which shades of gray are represented by a minute pattern of dots of variable size.

  • hallenkirche - In Gothic architecture, especially popular in Germany, a church in which the aisles are as high as the nave; a hall church. (hahl"un-keer'sheh)

  • hallmark - A mark put on an article to indicate origin, purity, or genuineness. It is usually found on an object's underside. Or a distinguishing characteristic, trait, or feature.

  • halo - A nimbus -- a circle of radiant light around the heads of God, Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint. A type of gloriole or glory. It indicates divinity or holiness, though originally it was placed around the heads of kings and gods as a mark of distinction. Also see Gothic and Middle Ages, mandorla, and votive. Also see Madonna.

  • Han - A Chinese dynasty which lasted 206 BCE - 220 CE.

  • handbill - A single sheet a circular or a flier distributed by hand in public places or to homes or offices. See broadside, brochure, pamphlet, and propaganda.

  • hand-over-hand - A technique in which a teacher places his or her hand over a student's hand in order to teach a skill manually.

  • hand puppet - A small, hollow cloth figure, usually of a person or animal, that fits over and is moved by the hand.

  • haniwa - In Japanese tradition, sculptured pottery cylinders, modeled in human or animal figures, or in other forms, and placed in early (archaic) Japanese burial mounds (or "tumuli"). Human-figured haniwa figurines have generally been found in postdating the mid-5th century. Earlier tumuli tend to have non-human haniwa forms, such as canopies, shields, armor and houses. Many human-figured haniwa, including female shamans, dancers, people in full dress, warriors, farmers, harpists, and hawking men, have been found in the Kanto district. Burial styles changed as stone room tumuli became more common. Typically, several types of clay figurines would be arranged in front of the stone room, almost as if they were attendents at the burial.

  • Happening or happening - Happenings were loosely structured theatrical pieces from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, which shared qualities of unexpectedness (a large margin for improvisation), variety of means, and chaos, with the reactions of the audience potentially influencing the action under way. Although there are elements of theatricality involved in happenings, they took place without traditionally theatrical participants or environments, and resulted from an evolution in modernist art in which the outside edges of the work are blurred, broken, or nonexistent. This trend sprang from artists' reaching for the means of establishing more direct relationships between artist and audience, and between art and life, simultaneous with their rejection of the market's control of art. A happening might take a political or sociological direction, but it could also take a poetic or playful one. Other terms referring to a happening might make it more of an event, a concert, a performance, or an action.

  • haptic - Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.

  • hard-edge - Refers to a twentieth century movement in painting in which the edges of shapes are crisp and precise rather than blurred.

  • hardwood - Certain deciduous trees produce wood which is very tough and durable when seasoned. Cherry, mahogany and oak are examples of hardwoods. Also see softwood.

  • harmika - In Buddhist architecture, a square fence-like enclosure symbolizing heaven on top of the dome of a stupa. In the center of the harmika the yasti arises a spire with three chatras, or circular disks. The yasti symbolizes the universe. Also see finial and tower.

  • harmonic sequence or harmonic series - A sequence of numbers in which the terms are in harmonic progression. Also see Fibonacci sequence, music, and rhythm.

  • harmonious colors - Colors that look good together because they are complementary colors, analogous colors, or otherwise related.

  • harmony - Agreement; accord. A union or blend of aesthetically compatible components. A composition is harmonious when the interrelationships between its parts fulfill aesthetic requisites or are mutually beneficial. As a principle of design, harmony refers to a way of combining elements of art to accent their similarities and bind the picture parts into a whole. It is often achieved through the use of repetition and simplicity.

  • hashira-e - In Japanese art tradition, a narrow vertical print to be hung. Also called a pillar print.

  • hatching and cross-hatching - Creating tonal or shading effects with closely spaced parallel lines. When more such lines are placed at an angle across the first, it is called cross-hatching. Artists use this technique, varying the length, angle, closeness and other qualities of the lines, most commonly in drawing, linear painting, engraving, and ethnic. Hatching is also referred to with the French word hachure.

  • haunch - In architecture, the part of an arch (roughly midway between the springing and the crown) at which the lateral thrust is strongest.

  • header - In digital imaging, technical information packaged with an image file, which may be of use in displaying the image (e.g. length and width in pixels), identifying the image (e.g. name or source), or identifying the owner.

  • heartwood - The part of a tree trunk yielding the densest, hardest wood, located deep within the tree. The heartwood and the outer wood or sapwood dry out at different rates, so sculptors generally separate the two, using heartwood when working at a smaller scale, and sapwood when working at a larger scale. Also see hollow carving.

  • heddle - The device on a loom used for raising selected warps to create space through which the weft thread can easily pass. Illustrated here is a heddle of the slot-type.

  • Heian - A period in Japanese art history from 794-1185, often divided into the Early Heian (794-897) and the Late Heian (897-1185). The Heian was preceded by the Nara period (710-794) and followed by the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

  • height - The first dimension, the measurement of the distance from the level of the lowest point to the level of the highest point of a shape or space. The height of this see thumbnail to rightblack square is 115 pixels.

  • heighten - In drawing and painting, to raise the value of areas with white or a pale color in order to complete the rendition of forms. Along with its opposite shading an important aspect of chiaroscuro.

  • helium - A colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-explosive, and inert gaseous element. It is used in arc welding and gas-discharge lasers, as a component of artificial atmospheres, as a refrigerant, as a lifting gas for balloons. Tank sizes available include 221 cubic feet. Atomic symbol He, atomic number 2, atomic weight 4.0026, boiling point -268.9C, density at 0C 0.1785 gram per liter. (pr. hee'lee-m) Also see acetylene, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

  • helix - A three-dimensional spiral; a curve that lies on a cylinder or cone. Spirals helixes and volutes are among the ten classes of patterns. The chirality of a helix is the direction of its turning, or handedness. A right-handed helix turns as a screw does; a left-handed one turns in the opposite direction.

  • hemisphere - Half of a sphere. Also see concave, convex, dome, and niche.

  • heptagon - A closed two-dimensional polygon bounded by seven straight-line segments.The formula with which to find an equilateral heptagon's area is 3.6339 times the length of one side squared. Also see mathematics, radial, shape, and vertex.

  • heptahedron - A polyhedron having seven polygonal faces. The plural can be either heptahedrons or heptahedra. Also see mathematics and vertex.

  • heritage - Something that one is born to: the status, conditions, character, and riches that belong to a person because that person is a member of a family, a social class, a particular society i.e., a religious, ethnic, regional or national group. Whatever is inherited, passing from one generation to the next. The history, languages, way of life, the arts, and traditional culture that is passed from preceding generations. Synonyms include inheritance, birthright, legacy, and tradition. (pr. heh're-tj or hr'tj) Also see antiquity, art history, civilization, custom, memory, posterity, posthumous, talent, and time.

  • herringbone perspective - A type of perspective in which the lines of projection converge not on a vanishing point, but on a vertical axis at the center of the picture, as in Roman painting. Also see depth and orthogonals.

  • heterodox and heterodoxy - Contrary to or different from an acknowledged standard, a traditional form, or an established religion; unorthodox, unconventional. Or, holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines. Individuals often see other people's ideas as unconventional while regarding their own as beyond reproach. Contemporaries of Nicolaus Copernicus certainly considered him "not orthodox" (which in his day meant "not correct"), but they wouldn't have called him "heterodox" because that word didn't gain widespread use in English until about 100 years after he died. Although "orthodox" and "heterodox" are considered antonyms, they developed from the same root, the Greek "doxa," which means "opinion." "Heterodox" derives from a combination of "doxa" plus "heter-," a prefix meaning "other" or "different"; "orthodoxy" pairs "doxa" with "orth-," meaning "correct" or "straight." (Pr. heh"-tuh-ruh-dahks' or heh"-truh-dahks') See avant-garde, bohemianism, contrast, creativity, edge, and p.c.

  • heuristic - Helping to discover or learn; serving to indicate, point out, guide, or reveal. "Heuristic" can be either a noun or an adjective. A heuristic is anything object or activity that gets a person to think fruitfully about something in order to come up with a solution. Something is heuristic if it has this quality. It might be pushing a pencil, a crayon, or a brush; or looking through a stack of books, or taking a walk in a field (see Velcro ). Each of these can be heuristic activities. Brainstorming is tremendously heuristic. Analyzing an image or model of a Eureka! thing can help one to understand it. Exploring more and more ways to think about a thing gives a student ever-increasing understanding, as when an architect thinks about a site, its users' needs, floor plans, materials, engineering, styles, forms, and various aspects of potential solutions present themselves. This word comes from a Greek root meaning "to find," the same word from which we have "eureka": "I've GOT it!" Also see cognitive, creativity, didactic, direction, inspiration, muse, and teacher.

  • hew - To make a shape as with an ax, chisel or other carving point. The past tense can be either hewed or hewn.

  • hexagon - A closed two-dimensional polygon bounded by six straight-line segments. The formula with which to find an equilateral hexagon's area is 2.5981 times the length of one side squared. Also see mathematics, radial, shape, and vertex.

  • hexahedron - A polyhedron having six quadrilateral faces. A cube is an equilateral hexahedron, as well as being a prismatoid. The regular hexahedron is one of the five Platonic solids (along with the tetrahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron). The plural form can be either hexahedrons or hexahedra. Also see mathematics, polygon, and vertex.

  • hiding - The hiding power of a pigment refers to its opacity its capacity to cover colors and materials (support) underneath in order to obscure them completely. Also see coat, surface, and white lead.

  • hieratic - Representing the sizes of things according to their importance, rather than how they would objectively appear in space. Hieratic compositions are often seen in the art of various ancient civilizations and primitive peoples, as well as during Europe's Middle Ages, and in the art of children at certain stages of artistic development. May also refer to things priestly, secerdotal. (pr. high'er-a"tek)

  • high art - Fine art, also known as beaux-arts, art that is of universal transcendence, having withstood the test of time and representing the epitome of artistic achievement, as opposed to low art, which is also known as mass culture. Until recently, a distinction was typically made between high and low art. Traditionally, high art consists of the meticulous expression in fine materials of refined or noble sentiment, appreciation of the former depending on such things as intelligence, social standing, educated taste, and a willingness to be challenged. Low art is the shoddy manufacturing in inferior materials of superficial kitsch, simply catering to popular taste, unreflective acceptance of realism, and a certain "couch potato" mentality. Although many earlier artists took inspiration from popular and folk art, the most systematic approaches towards blurring the differences between high and low art were taken by Cubism, Dada and Surrealism. Pop Art further weakened the distinction, and artists as various as Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988), Jeff Koons (American, 1955-) and the Guerrilla Girls (American), influenced strongly by the different branches of postmodern thought, have dealt it the further blows. It is not surprising, given for example that the song O Superman by performance artist Laurie Anderson (American, 1947-) reached the top ten of the pop charts in the U.S. and England, that video and camera artist William Wegman (American, contemporary) has appeared on television's The Tonight Show to promote a book of photographs, and that both have done segments on Saturday Night Live. In spite of this, one still wonders if the distinction still exists, albeit in a slightly different form. Few would seriously argue that the droves who follow televised wrestling matches and afternoon soap operas have any genuine interest in contemporary art. It is even less likely that the millions who read supermarket tabloids or romance novels would ever choose to read advanced art criticism.

  • highlight - The area on any surface which reflects the most light. Highlights and shadows are important to the achievement of chiaroscuro. Also, to direct attention or to emphasize through use of color.

  • himation - A rectangular woolen or linen cloak or mantle worn by men and women of ancient Greece. The himation was worn over a tunic and draped in various ways. (pr. high-mat'ee-un) The plural form is himatia.

  • historiated - Capital letters ornamented with representation, such as plants, animals, or human figures, that has a narrative as distinct from a purely decorative function. Historiated initial letters were a popular form of manuscript decoration in the Middle Ages.

  • hollow building - A ceramic technique for sculpture in which the form is built up from slabs and tubes of damp clay in such a way that it is hollow throughout. Ceramic sculptures are made hollow, chiefly to ensure that no part is much thicker than any other; such differences in thickness would create tensions in the clay during firing, as the clay shrinks in cooling.

  • hollow carving - Wooden sculptures are often hollowed or partly hollowed in order to avoid strain resulting from the different rates of shrinkage in heartwood and sapwood. stone is also hollowed out, but to enable it to be supported (especially in the case of a bust, for example) or to be lifted and transported more easily. Ceramic sculptures are made hollow, chiefly to ensure that no part is much thicker than any other; such differences in thickness would create tensions in the clay during firing, as the clay shrinks in cooling.

  • hollow casting - Casting in a mold by lining the walls of the mold with layers of sculpture material rather than filling up the mold. The technique varies with the medium being used. Cast metal sculptures are made hollow chiefly to ensure that no part is much thicker than any other; such differences in thickness would create tensions in the metal as it shrinks in cooling.

  • holography - A medium for producing a three-dimensional image of an object by recording on a photographic film the pattern of interference formed by a split laser beam and then illuminating the pattern either with a laser or with ordinary light. The resulting object is a hologram, also known as a holograph. (pr. ho-LAHG-r?-fee)

  • homage - Special acknowledgment or respect shown or expressed publicly to persons whose influence an artist wishes to honor. (pr. HAHM-'?j)

  • homogeneity, homogeneous - Homogeneity is the quality of uniformity of structure throughout or composed of parts that are all of the same nature or kind. Also see balance, coherence, complexity, monotony, pattern, principles of design, and unity.

  • hooptedoodle - A literary word that, technically, has no place being in this dictionary. Hooptedoodle is stuff that gets in the way of a story's making progress, it is wordy, unnecessary, space-taking, and, typically, should be edited out. Related to balderdash, folderol, flummery, foolishness, and fill; nonsense, prattle, blather, bombast, and baloney.

  • horizon line - A level line where water or land seems to end and the sky begins. Vanishing points are usually located on this line. The image behind this text features a horizon line separating sky from sea which, as you look lower, morphs into sky again, etc. (Notice too, the way rows of waves are depicted as receeding toward vanishing points.)

  • horizontal - Straight and flat across, parallel to the horizon. The opposite is vertical. All other directions are diagonal.

  • horn - One of a pair of pointy projections, either straight, curved or helical, which have grown from the head of an animal. The animals that have horns include cows, sheep, goats, antelope, and their relatives. The rhinoceros is an exception because its single horn grows from its nasal bone. Deer grow antlers instead of horns. Antlers are made of bone, and go through annual cycles of growing out and shedding. "Horn" can also refer to a substance which is the outermost part of a horn tough keratin, a type of protein. It usually develops as a conical sheath over bone. Keratin also covers the hooves, claws, and nails of various animals, as well as armadillo and tortoise shells, the scales of the pangolin, porcupine quills, and birds' feathers. A rhinoceros horn is the only horn that is a solid growth of keratin. It also consists of some fused hair.

  • horologist and horologer - A person who practices or is skilled in horology. Horologists (alternatively called horologers) include those who design and craft timepieces, and perhaps connoisseurs of them as well. (pr. hah-RAH-le-jist and hah-RAH-l?-jer) Also see art careers.

  • horror vacui - The compulsion to make marks in every space. Horror vacui is indicated by a crowded design. In Latin, it is literally, "fear of empty space" or "fear of emptiness." Some consider horror vacui one of the principles of design. Those who exclude it from their list of principles apparently interpret it as posessing an undesirable, perhaps obsessive quality, in contrast to the desirable, controlled principle of limitation, or perhaps to that of emphasis or dominance. (pr. horror vack'wee)

  • hoso-e - In Japanese art tradition, a small narrow print. Also see hashira-e, kakemono, and kakemono-e.

  • hot glue, hot glue gun, hot-melt glue gun - A hot glue gun is a hand-held, pistol-like device that heats a round stick of solid adhesive, so that when it melts, and a user pulls the trigger, the melted glue can be squirted out of the nozzle at the gun's tip. Hot glue guns (also called hot-melt glue guns) are used to bond a broad range of materials. Most hardware stores and many department stores carry hot glue guns and glue sticks. Many brands are sold, varying in quality and price. Some accept nozzles having openings producing extrusions of different sizes and shapes. Most are electrical, some use batteries, and some burn butane gas. The sticks can vary in width and length (from 4-12 inches), color, translucence, and viscosity, as well as in the temperature required to melt the glue. Although lower melting point guns and glues are safer to use, the strongest glues are those with higher melting-points, and set rapidly, bonding in 30 to 60 seconds.

  • hot wire cutter - A tool for cutting Styrofoam. A wire is held taut in a frame and heated, enabling it to pass cleanly through the Styrofoam without undue pressure being applied. A hand-held or bench model may be used.

  • hue - The name of any color as found in its pure state in the spectrum or rainbow, or that aspect of any color. May refer to a particular wavelength. Pigment colors combine differently than colors of light. The primary colors (in pigment: red, yellow, and blue; in light: red, green, and blue) together with the secondary colors (in pigment: orange, green, and violet; in light: cyan, magenta, and yellow) form the chief colors of the spectrum. Also see brilliant, color wheel, complementary colors, cool colors, dark, deep, monochrome, pale, push and pull, saturation, tint, tone, value, and warm colors.

  • humanism - Any attitude that gives priority to human endeavors, their values, capacities, worth, interests, needs, and welfare, rather than to those of the gods, the spirits, the animals, or any other non-human thing. Also, the study of the humanities. The term is frequently qualified, as in "Renaissance humanism," which is characterized by a love of the achievements of the Greco-Roman world, an optimism that humans are inherently endowed with the skills necessary to reshape the world according to their own needs, and a belief in inherent human dignity. While the Renaissance humanists did not see their enlightened self-interest as a contradiction of their Christianity, a few recent demagogues identify "secular humanism" as a tacitly atheistic preoccupation with human affairs.

  • humanities - The liberal arts the non-scientific branches of study, such as philosophy, history, literature, and the arts, that are concerned with human thought and culture. On the other hand, Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911, German historian, psychologist, sociologist, philosopher, and student of hermeneutics) called the humanities (particularly history, law, literary criticism) the "spiritual sciences," as distinct from the the "natural sciences" (e.g. physics, chemistry, biology).

  • human scale - The size or proportion (scale) of a space, a part of a building, an article of furniture, or any other object, relative to the structural or functional dimensions of the human body. Also see anatomy, architecture, design, ergonomics, figure, full-scale, lifesize, and visual scale.

  • hurrygraph - The Oxford English Dictionary says a hurrygraph is a "jocular nonce-word" meaning hurried sketch.

  • hydria - An ancient Etruscan or Greek water jar or jug. Typically ceramic, with rounded shoulders, with two horizontally attached handles, and a vertical handle at the neck to assist in pouring. (pr. high'dree-uh) Among the other types of Greek vases are the alabastron, amphora, kantharos, krater, kylix, kyathos, lekythos, oinochoe, pelike, phiale, pinax, pithos, pyxis, and rhyton.

  • hydrogen - A colorless, odorless, tasteless, slightly water-soluble, highly flammable gaseous element, the lightest of all gases and the most abundant element in the universe. The hot flame produced by a mixtureFLAMMABLE! of oxygen and hydrogen is used in welding, and in melting quartz and glass. Such a flame is also called an oxyhydrogen torch. Tritium, one of hydrogen's three isotopes, is used in luminous paint. Tank size available: 191 cubic feet. Atomic symbol H, atomic number 1. Also see acetylene, argon, carbon dioxide, helium, and nitrogen.

  • hygroscopic - Having the capability of absorbing moisture. Examples of hygroscopic materials include textiles, woods, and papers.

  • hygrothermograph - An instrument that measures and records temperature and relative humidity.

  • hyperactive - Excess of energy, restless, easily distracted, unable to sit still.

  • hyperbola - A plane curve having two branches, formed by the intersection of a plane with both halves of a right circular cone at an angle parallel to the axis of the cone. It is the locus of points for which the difference of the distances from two given points is a constant. (hi:-purr'b?-l?) The plural form can be either hyperbolas or hyperbolae.

  • hyperbole - Exaggeration used for emphasis or effect. Some Baroque ceiling paintings are extravagantly hyperbolic. (pr. hi-PURR-b?-lee) Also see hyperbola.

  • hypermedia - A type of computer imagery which employs a programming technique allowing users to switch between a variety of other screen images, each of which might be derived from information stored either on the same or on networked computers. The World Wide Web (WWW) is an important example of hypermedia. Another is a program called Hyperstudio. Any place on a computer screen image which serves to facilitate switching to another screen image is called a hyperlink, or a link.

  • hypoactive - Absence of energy, lethargic, listless, very quiet.

  • hypostyle hall - In architecture, a hall with a roof supported by columns; applied to the colonnaded hall of the Egyptian pylon temple.
  • Click Here to Join some Webrings