Tag Archives: art

Alhambra

“(fr Arab kal’-at hamra, “the red castle”) A citadel and palace at Granada, Spain, built by Moorish kings in the 13th century. The buildings stand on a plateau some thirty-five acres in area and are surrounded by a reddish brick wall. Considered one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in Spain, the palace consists largely of two rectangular courts, the Court of the Pool or Myrtles and the Court of the Lions, and their adjoining chambers. The latter court contains a famous central fountain, consisting of an alabaster basin supported by twelve lions of white marble. While he was an attache at the American legation in Madrid in 1829, Washington Irving spend much time in the Alhambra and wrote a well-known volume of sketches and tales called Legends of the Alhambra (1832, 1852). An admirer of Moorish civilization, he wrote about the clashes between the Spaniards and the Moors.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Kitsch

“Kitsch: A strict dictionary definition describes kitsch as a ‘something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.’ By the 1960s, pop artists were ushering in changed attitudes as they appropriated these once-denigrated mass-produced objects for use in their works. Contemporary artists like Jeff Koons continue to walk a fine line between the good taste of bad taste and outright bad taste.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Art Nouveau

“Primarily a movement in decoration and applied design at the end of the 19th century. Its influence spread through Europe and pervaded painting, architecture, and, ultimately, even music and literature before fading with the advent of World War I. Occurring in reaction to the eclecticism of the 19th century, art nouveau was hailed as totally original and unprecedented. Central to the aesthetic was organic fluidity, evoked by the plantlike or serpentine curves that are its hallmark. In Germany art nouveau was called Jugendstil (‘youth style’), after the journal Jugend (1896); other contemporary reviews reflecting the trend and its shaping influences were Pan (1895-1900), Beardsley’s Yellow Book (1894) and Ver Sacrum (1898), the organ of the Vienna Secession. In painting, the works of Klimt and the Belgian Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) are exemplary, but numerous other artists were caught up in the movement. The ornate Spanish buildings of Antonio Gaudi and the Paris Metro stations of Hector Guimard (1867-1942) are the most famous architectural manifestations. The posters of Theophile Steinlen (1852-1923), the stage designs of Leon Bakst (1866-1924), the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, and the glassware of Louis Tiffany are all outstanding decorative applications of art nouveau. Ultimately, the movement deteriorated to a trite and superficial fashion, but its influence continues to be seen in surviving artifacts and occasional revivals of art nouveau decoration.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Lancet Window

“Lancet Window: A tall and narrow window which comes to an acute point at its head. Commonly used in the 13th century.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Biblia Pauperum

“Literally, Bible of the poor. Book, either manuscript or printed, of the late Middle Ages containing juxtaposed scenes from the Old and New Testaments.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Les Fauves

“(Fr., the wild beasts) Originally a contemptuous appellation for a group of French post-impressionist painters who exhibited their work at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. They were so called because of their use of strident color, violent distortions, and broad, bold brushwork. Their leader was Henri Matisse; others were Georges Rouault, Maurice Vlaminck, Andre Derain, and Raoul Dufy.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Guernica

“A painting (1937), perhaps the most famous of the 20th century, painted by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in 1937 in horrified protest at a notorious atrocity in the Spanish Civil War. On 27 April 1937, bombers of the German Kondor Legion, in support of Franco’s nationalists, destroyed the ancient Basque capital of Guernica, causing many civilian casualties. Picasso’s stark monochromatic painting has become a symbol of the barbarity of modern warfare. There is a (probably apocryphal) story that while Picasso was living in Paris in the Second World War, a Gestapo office visited his studio. Looking at the canvas of Guernica, the Nazi asked, ‘Did you do that?’ ‘No,’ Picasso replied, ‘you did.'”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.