Abstract Expressionism – Originated in New York City in the 1940s and flourished in the 1950s, brushstrokes and texture were notable features. Large pieces of canvases were used and the result looked glorious and grand. Some well known artists of art this movement were Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline.
Acrylic Paint – An alternative to oil, acrylic dries much faster than oil. It can be mixed with water but once dried, it becomes water-resistant. It is a versatile medium as the artist can control the appearance during the mixing process. If more water is used, the final art work can resemble water color. If less, the appearance becomes closer to that of an oil painting.
Baroque Art – This art movement had its roots in the conflict between Catholicism and Protestants. Baroque art started off mainly in Catholic countries in middle 16th Century. It was used by the Catholic Church as a form of visual appeal to attract large audiences. Baroque Art involved not only painters, but sculptors and architects as well. Practitioners of this style attempt to express emotion, movement and variety in their creations. Notable Baroque artists included Paolo Veronese, Paul Bril and Annibale Carracci. It has also influenced some of the masterpieces created by Rembrandt.
Brush – Something with hair at the end … that an artist uses to paint with.
Classicism – An art form inspired by ancient Greece and Rome. In general, it refers to any art form characterized by conservatism and clarity of expression. Famous classical artists included Michaelangelo, Raphael, Correggio and Mantegna.
Contemporary Art – An all encompassing term that includes art since late 20th Century, after the end of the Modern Era. As the name implies, anything that is current can be considered contemporary. A few hundred years from now, what is currently being done will not be “contemporary” anymore.
Cubism – Its most famous exponent was Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. This art form developed at the dawn of the 20th Century and the use of simplified planes, lines and geometric forms gave it its name. This art movement is generally considered to have undergone two phases: the Analytic Phase from 1907-12; and the Synthetic Phase from 1913 to the 1920s. During the former, artists attempted to present an object as the mind perceives it, and not the eye. By the time the Synthetic Phase came around, the art works were featuring fewer and simpler forms, but in more vivid colors. Other notably Cubist artists included Robert Delaunay and Francis Picabia.
Dada – Lasting from 1915 to 1922, this art movement was predominantly European in scope and was a reaction to the violence and senseless carnage of World War I. Absurdity and chaos were characteristics of the Dada movement. In one notorious exhibition, visitors were provided with axes to smash the work on display. A famous Dadaist was Marcel Duchamp, who painted a Mona Lisa with moustache and goatee. This painting is considered a Dada classic. While brief in duration, the Dada movement had a lasting impression on a future art movement – Pop Art.
Early Renaissance – From the 14th Century until early 15th Century, there was a rebirth of European art, predominantly in Italy. It was a self discovery of sort, as previous styles and content such as Classicism were revisited, albeit with new perspectives and interpretations.
Enamel Paint – Has a high content of varnish/oil, giving it a hard surface. It is translucent and a strong layer of undercoat is needed before applying it.
Expressionism – This was an early 20th Century art movement, notably in Germany. Intense colors, agitated brush strokes and disjointed space were the characteristics of expressionist painting. Expressionism is all about the artist and how he chooses to convey the hidden meaning of his subject. Some prominent artists of this movement were Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Lionel Feininger, Alfred Kubin and Kadinsky.
Folk Art – Please refer to Na’ve Art.
Futurism – This Italian avant-garde art movement was strongest in its influence in the first half of the 20th Century, beginning from 1909. Its growth was inspired by new technology and modernity. It glorified war and machine, and had been linked to the growth of Fascism. Prominent artists of this movement included Carlo Carr’, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni.
Gothic – It was more of an architectural style than an art movement. Most notable in Europe from the 12th Century to the 16th Century, Gothic architecture was characterized by pointed archways and elaborate rib vaulting. Started in France, it enabled cathedrals to be built with thinner walls and stained glass windows. Some of the finest examples of Gothic architecture are the cathedrals of Chartres, Reims and Amiens.
Henri Rousseau (c. 1844-1910) – The most well known of Naive artists, Rousseau had supreme confidence in his own ability as an artist. His confidence enabled him to paint in a refreshing and unbinded manner, garnering much admiration from members of the art world, including one Pablo Picasso.
High Renaissance – Following from Early Renaissance, the period from the second half of the 15th Century to early 16th Century was the climax of the Renaissance period. This period saw creative genius burst forth in Florence and Rome – technically superb, grand composition and vivid imagination. Harmony and balance were the order of the day. Artists from this period remain household names in the 21st Century. Just mention two of them and there is without a doubt that High Renaissance was a high point in the history of art – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Impressionism – This art movement started in France in late 19th Century. Its name is sometimes attributed to Monet’s Impression: Sunrise (1872). Through the use of light and colors, the overall impression of a scene is captured and conveyed to viewers. Other famous Impressionist artists were Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Paul Signac.
Jewish – The Jews are one of the oldest race in the history of mankind and their art dated back to the Middle Ages. As one of the oldest religions in the world, Judaism had much influence on other religions, especially Christianity. One can still see Jewish influence on Christian art today.
Kinetic Art – A modern art form started in the second half of the 20th Century. As the word ‘kinetic’ implies, movement is involved in the display of creative work. The movement could be driven by a motor, water or air. It could also be interactive in that movement could be started by the audience pressing a button. Kinetic Art is a logical manifestation of the huge technological leap that mankind has taken in the last 100 years or so.
Lacquer Painting – A traditional Vietnamese art form. Lacquer comes from various types of trees in the form of sap. It is mixed with natural or artificial dyes to produce different colors and the painting is done on a wooden board. Eggshell, gold flakes and silver flakes are also utilized, to produce the white, yellow and shiny texture that is common in lacquer art work.
Modern Art – Like Contemporary Art, a general term to describe the period from the late 19th Century to late 20th Century. It serves more as an indication of the time period rather than the style of the art.
Modernism – Lasted from about 1890 to 1940, Modernism represented a departure from traditional forms of expression. The audience was required to observe a piece of art work in some depth, and knowing the artist and deciphering his intention was part of the experience. Paul Cezanne is widely accepted as the ‘Father of Modernism’.
Naive Art – The art of artists who have not undergone any formal training in an art academy or art college. A naive art piece might go against traditional convention in terms of colors, pattern and composition. Naive Art has enjoyed a fair degree of international success and influence since early 20th Century. Representative Naive artists included Henri Rousseau and Grandma Moses. The latter was so called as she started painting at 75, when she couldn’t continue with her needle work because of arthritis!
Oil Paint – The traditional medium for painting, oil had been in use since the 15th Century in Europe, or perhaps even earlier. It became popular in the 16th Century, especially in Venice, where a water-resistant medium was needed. A major drawback is that oil can take days or even weeks to dry.
Pastel – A drawing medium made from a mixture of grounded pigment and water-based binder, in the form of dried paste.
Pop Art – A phenomenon of the 1950s and 1960s, Pop Art is a direct descendant of Dada. It mocks the established order of the art world. By turning common items into object of art, it denigrates the snob value of conventional art form. The most famous pop artist has got to be Andy Warhol, a name familiar even to most laymen.
Porcelain Painting – Porcelain painting requires a high degree of skill and craftsmanship because any wrong stroke can be impossible to correct without defacing the final art work. Plates, cups, bowls, etc., can all be used as the canvas for the artist.
Realism – The subject is depicted in the most accurate and detailed manner as possible by the artist. Imagination and the artist’s interpretation of the subject are sacrificed to achieve a bare painting. Some notable Realist artists were Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier and Jean-Francois Millet.
Renaissance – Please refer to Early Renaissance and High Renaissance.
Romanticism – This art movement started in the late 18th Century as a rejection of Realism. The artist’s emotion and imagination were expressed through the painting. William Blake, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable were some of the well known Romantic artists.
Rubens (c. 1577-1640) – The preeminent painter in the 17th Century, Peter Paul Rubens was a master of Baroque art. Although he gained the rank of master in Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1598, the major influences in his life were yet to occur: the vivid colors of Titian in 1600; the greatness of Michaelangelo and Raphael, etc. In his latter years, Rubens focused his creative energy on portraits, genre scenes and landscapes.
Surrealism – Both a literary and art movement, it had its roots in the Dada movement. Surrealism aimed to express the visions and perceptions of dream, unshackled from both reason and convention. Artists that were representative of Surrealism included Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
Symbolism – Originated in France in the late 19th Century, it was both a continuation of Romanticism and a reaction to Impressionism, which started at about the same time. By infusing mystical symbols into art, it took the first step towards Abstraction.
Titian (c. 1485-1576) – One of the greatest of the Venetian School, if not THE greatest, Titian was famed for his portraits as well as creating masterpieces with religious and mythological themes that were full of colors and movement.
Unpolished Lacquer Painting – Nguyen Thi Mai’s unique take on the traditional Vietnamese art form. Leaving the top and final layer unpolished, Mai takes away the sheen and gloss that is so typical of most Vietnamese lacquer art. This gives Mai’s paintings an antiquated and subtle look that is rarely found elsewhere.
Victorian – Rather than referring to any particular style, Victorian was a recognition of the monarch on the throne then – Queen Victoria. Paintings of this period varies from Classicism, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Impressionism to Post-Impressionism.
Vietnam – The birth place of Nguyen Thi Mai.
Vietnamese Silk Painting – Vietnamese silk painting is known for its softness and elegance, with the color and texture of the silk itself becoming the background. Vietnamese silk paintings usually depict landscape, exotic scenery, or daily lives. Since silk absorbs and dilutes the ink easily, any error by the artist is irreversible.
Vincent van Gogh (c. 1853-1890) – Van Gogh was Known for his bold composition and use of colors. He was briefly enrolled at the ‘cole des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp but soon he left for France as he felt constraint by the art institute. In France, he came into contact with the works of Monet and other French Impressionists. Enrolling in the renown Fernand Cormon Workshop, Van Gogh developed his own unique style of light and colors. It was in Arles that Van Gogh painted his famed Sunflower series. Later in his life, he was afflicted with a form of epilepsy. Unable to recover from his illness, he committed suicide on 27th July, 1890.
Watercolor – In prehistoric times, primitive men used pigments mixed with water to paint on the wall of caves. In more recent times, both the Chinese and Japanese used water color to paint on silk or fine hand made paper. Watercolor is an unpredictable medium and a fine artist learns to take advantage of this unpredictability. The finest works in this medium are all very spontaneous in nature.