Art Absolutly Terminology

Art Terminology


Intaglio - The process of incising a design beneath the surface of hard metal or stone. Plates are inked only in the etched depressions on the plates and then the plate surface is wiped clean. The ink is then transferred onto the paper through an etching press. The printing is done with a plate bearing an image in intaglio and includes all metal-plate etching and engraving processes. The reverse of this process is known as relief printing.

Planographic - The process to print impressions from a smooth surface rather than from creating incised or relief areas on the plate. The term was devised to describe lithography.

Relief - All printing processes in which the non-printing areas of the block or plate are carved, engraved, or etched away. Inks are applied onto the protected surface and transferred onto the paper. The reverse process is known as intaglio printing.


Engraving - Printing technique in which an intaglio image is produced by cutting a metal plate or box directly with a sharp engraving tool. The incised lines are inked and printed with heavy pressure.

Etching - Printing technique in which a metal plate is first covered with an acid-resistant material, then worked with an etching needle to create an intaglio image. The exposed met-al is eaten away in an acid bath, creating depressed lines that are later inked for printing. This technique was thought re-, have been developed by Daniel Hopfer (1493-1536). Etching surpassed engraving as the most popular graphic art during the active years of Rembrandt and Hercules Segher in the 17th century,and it remains one of the most versatile and subtle printing techniques today.

Iris or Giclée - A computerized reproduction technique in which the image and topology are generated from a digital file and printed by a special ink let printer, using ink, acrylic or oil paints. Giclée printing offers one of the highest degree of accuracy and richness of color available in any reproduction techniques.

Lithography - Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that- ink sticks only to the design
areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Mir6.

Offset Lithography - A special photo-mechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto papers. Offset lithography is very well adapted to color printing.

Serigraphy (Silkscreen)- A printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly on to a piece of`paper or canvas through a stencil creating an image on a screen of silk or other fine fabric with an impermeable substance. Serigraphy differs from most other printing in that its color areas are paint films rather than printing-ink stains.

Woodcut - Printing technique in which the printing surface has been carved from a block of wood. The traditional wood block is seasoned hardwood such as apple, beech, or sycamore. A modern trend, however, is to use more inexpensive and easily attainable soft woods such as pine. Woodcut is one of the oldest forms of printing. It was first used by the Chinese in the 12''' century and later in Europe toward the end of the 14th century.


Acid-free Paper or Canvas - Paper or canvas treated to neutralize its natural acidity in order to protect fine are: and photographic prints from discoloration and deterioration.

Canvas Transfer - Art reproduction on canvas which is created by a process such as serigraphy, photomechanical, or giclee printing. Some processes can even recreate the texture, brush strokes, and aged appearance of the original work of art.

Limited edition - Set of identical prints numbered in succession and signed by the artist. The total number of prints is fixed or "limited" by the artist who supervises the printing hlm(her)self. All additional prints have been destroyed.

Montage (Collage) - An artwork comprising of portions of various existing images such as from photographs or prints, and arranged so that they join, overlap, or blend to create a new image.

Multiple Originals - A set of identical fine prints in which the artist personally conceived the image, created the master plates, and executed or supervised the entire printing process. Example: etching.

Multiple Reproductions - A set of identical fine prints reproducing the image of an original artwork created by a non-printing process. Example: serigraph of an oil on canvas.

Open Edition - A series of prints or objects in an art edition that has an unlimited number of copies. Original print - One-of-a-kind print in which the artist personally conceived the image, created the master plates, and executed the entire printing process.

Provenance - Record of ownership for a work of art, ideally from the time it- left the artist's studio to its present location, thus creating an unbroken ownership history.

Remarque - Small sketch in the margin of an art print or additional enhancements by the artist on some or all of the final prints within an edition.

Restrike - Additional prints made from a master plate, block, lithograph stone, etc. after the original edition has been exhausted.


Proofs are prints authorized by the artist in addition to the limited signed and numbered edition. The total size of an art edition consists of the signed and numbered prints plus all outstanding proofs. If a set of proofs consists of more than one print, numbers are inscribed to indicate the number of the prints within the total number of the particular type of proof, (e,g., AP 5/20 means the fifth print in a set of 20 identical. prints authorized as artist's proofs). Proofs are generally signed by the artist as validation of the prints.

Artist's proof - Print intended for the artist's personal use. It is a common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist's proofs, although this figure can be higher. The artist's proof is sometimes referred to by its French name, epreuve d'artist (abbreviated E.A.). Artist's proofs can be distinguished by the abbreviation AP or E.A., commonly on the lower left corner of the work.

Hors d'Commerce Proof - Print identical to the edition print intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries. Hers d'Commerce (abbreviated H.C.) proofs may or may not be signed by the artist.

Printer's proof - Print retained by the printer as a reference. Artists often sign these prints as a gesture of appreciation.


2nd ed - Second edition: prints of the same image as the original edition but altered in some way (as in change of color, paper, or printing process).

AP - Artist's proof.

E.A. - (French, epreuve d'artist) An artist's proof.

Lith. or Lithe - "Lithographed By". Usually follows the name of the printer of the lithograph.

PP - Printer's proof.


Abstract - A 20th century style of painting in which non-representational lines, colors, shapes, and forms replace accurate visual depiction of objects, landscape, and figures. The subject is often stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms so that it becomes unrecognizable. Intangible subjects such as thoughts, emotions, and time are often expressed in abstract art form.

Cubism - An art style developed in 1908 by Picasso and Braque whereby the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of pictorial space. In contrast to traditional painting styles where the perspective of subjects is fixed and complete, cubist work can portray the subject from multiple perspectives.

Expressionism - An art movement of the early 20th century in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion was replaced by the artist's emotional connection to the subject. These paintings are often abstract, the subject matter distorted in color and form to emphasize and express the intense emotion of the artist.

Impressionism - An art movement founded in France in the last third of the 19th century. Impressionist artists sought to break up light into its component-colors and render its ephemeral play on various objects. The artist's vision was intensely centered on light and the ways it transforms the visible world. This style of painting is characterized by short brush strokes of bright colors used to recreate visual impressions of the subject and to capture the light, climate and atmosphere of the subject: at a specific moment in time. The chosen colors represent light- which is broken down into its spectrum components and re-combined by the eyes into another color when viewed at a distance (an optical mixture). The term was first used in 1874 by a journalist ridiculing a landscape by Monet called Impressionist-Sunrise.

Pop Art - A style of art which seeks its inspiration from commercial art and items of mass culture (such as comic strips, popular foods and brand name packaging). Pop art was first developed in New York City in the late 1950's and soon became the dominant avant-garde art form in the United States.

Realism - A style of painting which depicts subject matter (form, color, space) as it appears in actuality or ordinary visual experience without distortion or stylization.

Romanticism - An art style which emphasizes the personal, emotional and dramatic through the use of exotic, literary, or historical subject matter.

Surrealism - An art style developed in Europe in the 1920s, characterized by using the subconscious as a source of creativity to liberate pictorial subjects and ideas. Surrealist paintings often depict unexpected or irrational objects in an atmosphere of fantasy, creating a dream-like scenario.

Symbolism - An art style developed in the late 19th century characterized by the incorporation of symbols and ideas, usually spiritual or mystical in nature, which represent the inner life of people. Traditional modeled, pictorial depictions are replaced or contrasted by flat mosaic-like surfaces decoratively embellished with figures and design elements.