art terms

  • Diamond Dust

    Diamond dust is a glittering material that can be applied to paper and ink in the silkscreen printing process to create a textured and luminous finish. 

    Diamond dust is a professional and versatile material that is sourced from specialist manufacturers. It is available in multiple sizes of grain, from a fine diamond dust which is similar in size to salt or sugar, to big coarse flakes (half a centimetre). It is also available in numerous colours but printers most commonly use clear diamond dust which can be applied on top of coloured ink to create a kaleidoscopic sparkle. 

    Silkscreen printing is a technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. Prints can be created using multiple layers of stencils, each apply a separate colour. To apply diamond dust to a print, instead of ink being transferred through the stencil archival art glue is applied. Printers have only minutes to work before this glue dries. They must apply the chosen grade of diamond dust to the glued surface and tap off any excess. The diamond dust is an exceptionally hardwearing material, and applied to paper with archival glue it is a surprisingly durable and enduring artistic medium.

    Read our editorial featuring Diamond Dust:

  • Calligram

    A calligram is a word or piece of text in which the design and layout of the letters creates a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves. The typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged to visually express the meaning or theme of the text. A calligram is thus a combination of poetry and visual art. 

    Calligrams can be found in many cultures and civilizations throughout history,. This form of art is particularly revered in the Islamic world. In Islam, visually representing divinity is forbidden, so calligrams are used to adorn religious and sacred texts.

    One of the most famous examples of a calligram is encompassed within the work of French poet Guillaume Appolinaire. He was a famous calligram writer and the author of a book of poems called ‘Calligrammes’. His Modernist masterpiece poem written in the form of the Eiffel Tower is arguably the most famous example of a calligram. 

    Several contemporary artists at artrepublic are exploring and employing calligrams. Screen Prince creates portraits of famous musicians from the lyrics of their iconic songs. The lyrics are cleverly designed to visually bring his subjects to life. Mike Edwards is also a pioneer of Typographic art, using calligrams to create ‘readable’ visual portraits. 

  • Vanitas

    Vanitas art is an intriguing and macabre genre which features objects rich in morbid symbolism in order to produce in the viewer’s mind an acute awareness of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death. Skulls, hourglasses, extinguished candles, insects and rotting fruit, are amongst the common motifs that refer to the evanescence of existence.

    It is a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands and Northern Europe in the mid to late 17th century. Vanitas themes originated from medieval funerary art and evolved from simple pictures of skulls that were frequently painted on the reverse of portraits during the late Renaissance. Following devastating outbreaks of the Black Death in Europe, art became increasingly focused upon death and decay.

    The origins of the term date back to the Latin biblical aphorism ‘vantias vanitatum omnia vanitas’ (Ecclesiates 1:2), ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity’. In this sense of the word vanity means both ‘empty’ and ‘frivolous’ and refers to the meaningless of earthly life. 

  • Lenticular

    Lenticular is an adjective often relating to lenses. Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenticular lenses are used to produce images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles.

    The technique uses several images which are sliced into strips and interlaced together. A plastic sheet containing a set amount of linear prism-like lenses is then placed on top, perfectly aligned with the images for the 3-dimensional effect to work. 

    Depending on where the viewer is standing, each lens acts as a magnifying glass to enlarge and display a different portion of the image. The combination of many lenses working together with many interlaced images creates a three-dimensional horizontal image plane when the viewer looks at the image from a different angle from left to right. This is because each eye views the print from a slightly different angle and sees a different image with different perspective views of the subject, giving the 3D stereoscopic effect.

  • Hand Finished

  • Figurative

    Figurative in its broadest sense refer to art that depicts an image from the real world. In particular it refers to art with the human or animal figure as its subject.  Since the advent of modern art figurative art has also been used as an opposite of abstract art.

    The representation of the human and animal form goes right back to the origins of art its self and can be found in the early cave paintings found in Germany and France.  Continuing through antiquity we can see that the figure continues in art even if as in the Egyptian hieroglyphs it is a stylised form. The more lifelike sculptures of classical art still covey in their composition deep held social and political concepts, as well as representing the figure.

    During the renaissance artist such as Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticeli sought to capture the true human form with a more scientific and photographic quality. Modern figurative art includes a wide variety of artist and movements including Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

  • Naïve

    Naïve art refers to the work of someone with no formal art school education. It is characterised by a simple unsophisticated childlike composition and execution. It is valued by modern artists for its purity, simplicity and its opposition to the traditional art system.

    Naïve art does not obey what are seen as the formal qualities of painting in particular the rules of the perspective. Objects in Naïve art can appear flattened onto the surface of the canvas and their size may not be acurate to that of real life, or proportional to things around them.

    Naïve artists include Henri Rousseau who held down a full time job throughout his painting career and the St Ives fisherman Alfred Wallis who painted on any objects he found in his house. Other artists who’s work in considered Naïve are L. S. Lowry and Edward Hicks.

    Naïve art is now represented in art galleries worldwide. It is also linked to primitive art which again sees modern artists such as Pablo Picasso adopting the styles of so called primitive art or folk art that does not have the same history or rules as the western art world. Art produced by classically trained artists but in a naïve style is sometimes referred to as faux Naïve art.

    View all our Naive prints

  • Young British Artists (YBA)

    The YBA's or Young British Artists emerged in the late 1980’s. It began around a series of artist led exhibitions an in particular the Freeze exhibition in 1988 organised by Damien Hirst while he was still studying at Goldsmiths collage. It was then supported by Charles Saatchi who collected the work of YBA’s and showcased it in shows such as the Sensation exhibition in 1997.

    The YBA’s were noted at the start for the use of shock tactics, throwaway materials, wild-living, and gained a huge amount of media attention in the 1990’s. Their work re-vitalised the British art scene and lead to more artist-curator lead exhibitions and artists embracing and becoming more involved in the commercial aspect s of their work.

    The core of artists associated with the YBA movement all graduated from Goldsmiths Collage London and it is said that Michael Craig Martin one of the tutors there at the time had fostered this new way of working. 

    The YBA label proved to be a powerful brand and marketing tool, but it concealed huge diversity between the artists involved. Now many of the artists involved such as Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin have become part of the art establishment they were striking out against when they started. Although maturing into different artists the YBA’s are held together by their shared emergence in the art world of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Other YBA’s include Marc Quinn, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, Rachel Whiteread and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

  • Street Art

    Street art is any art developed in public spaces. The term can include traditional graffiti art work, as well as, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations. 

    Whereas traditional graffiti artists have primarily used free-hand aerosol paints to produce their works with ‘tagging’ and text-based subject, street art encompasses many other media, techniques and subject matter including: LED art, mosaic tiling (e.g. Space Invader), murals, stencil art (e.g. Hutch and Blek Le Rat), sticker art, street installations (e.g K-GUY), wheatpasting (e.g. Faile and Prefab77), woodblocking, video projection, and yarn bombing.

    Street artists will often work in studios, hold gallery exhibitions or work in other creative areas: they are not anti-art, they simply enjoy the freedom of working in public without having to worry about what other people think. Many well-known artists started their careers working in a way that we would now consider to be Street Art, for example, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger.

    View all our street art prints including many signed limited editions

  • Modern Art

    Modern Art or Modernism is the loose term given to the succession of styles and movements in art and architecture which dominated Western culture from 19th Century up until the 1960’s. Movements associated with Modern art include Impressionism, Cubism, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Futurism, Pop Art and Op Art. 

    Modern Art rejects the past as a model for the art of the present and is characterised by constant innovation. Modern Art grew out of the Impressionist's rejection of the 'imitation of life' school of art. Their emphasis on the act of painting, on the paint itself, can be seen in the Expressionist and Cubist art of the turn-of-the-century.  Modern art was also often driven by various social and political agendas. These were often utopian, and modernism was in general associated with ideal visions of human life and society and a belief in progress.

    From the 1970’s artists and movements began to react against Modernism and post-modernism was formed.

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