GLOSSARY OF ART TERMS

Art Terms Beginning with S

  • By Jacqui Thomas
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Art Terms Beginning with S

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SALON

Originally the name of the official art exhibitions organised by the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture) and its successor the Academy of Fine Arts (Académie des Beaux Arts).

Satire

A genre of visual art that uses humor, irony, ridicule, or caricature to expose or criticise someone or something.

Scale

The ratio between the size of an object and its model or representation.

Scene

A setting for or a part of a story or narrative.

Scoring

A technique used in preparation for joining two pieces of clay together using a series of incised lines; A process for indentation for paper sculpture and folding.

SCREENPRINTing / silk screening

A type of stencil printing using a screen made from fabric (silk or synthetic) stretched tightly over a frame. The creator exposes an image onto a photoemulsion on the screen creating the stencil through which ink is squeegeed to form an image on paper or fabric.

Sculptor

An artist who creates a three-dimensional work of art using any of a variety of means and materials, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, moulding clay or wax, or assembling materials.

SCULPTURE

Three-dimensional art made by one of four basic processes: carving, modelling, casting, constructing.

SECESSION

The breaking away of younger and more radical artists from an existing academy or art group to form a new grouping. 

Secondary colour

A colour made by mixing at least two primary colours.

Self-portrait

A representation made by oneself of oneself.

SERIAL ART

Art that adheres to a strict set of rules to determine its composition or to determine a series of compositions.

Setting

The context or environment in which a situation occurs.

Shade

A hue mixed with black to create darker values.

Shape

The form or condition in which an object exists or appears.

Shutter

A mechanical device for controlling the aperture, or opening, in a camera through which light passes to the film or plate. 

SIMULACRUM

A term from Greek Platonic philosophy that meant a copy of a copy of an ideal form.

Site-specific

Describes a work of art designed for a particular location.

Sketch

A rough or unfinished version of any creative work often made to assist in the completion of a more finished work; To make a rough drawing or painting.

Social construct

A concept or practice that doesn’t exist innately in the world but is instead created by society.

SOCIAL REALISM

Refers to any realist painting that also carries a clearly discernible social or political comment.

SOLARISATION

A technique that involves exposing a partially developed photograph to light, before continuing processing, creating halo-like effects.

Solvent

A substance capable of dissolving another material.

Stain

A paint thinned by a considerable amount of solvent. Stains are absorbed into the canvas, rather than remaining on its surface.

STILL LIFE

A principal genres of Western art where the subject matter is anything that does not move or is dead.

Steampunk

A style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with technological features inspired by science fiction.

Stencil

An impervious material perforated with letters, shapes, or patterns through which a substance passes through to a surface.

Stereotype

Standardised and oversimplified assumptions about specific social groups.

STREET ART

Similar to graffiti art in that it is created in public locations and is usually unsanctioned, but it covers a wider range of media and is more connected with graphic design.

Street photography

A type of photography that captures subjects in candid moments in public places.

Style

A distinctive or characteristic manner of expression.

Stylised

To represent in or make conform to a particular style.

Subconscious

The division of the mind containing all thoughts, memories, impulses, desires, feelings, etc., that are not subject to a person’s perception or control but that often affect conscious thoughts and behaviour.

Subject matter

The visual or narrative focus of a work of art.

Sublime

Awe-inspiring or worthy of reverence. In philosophy, literature, and the arts, the sublime refers to a quality of greatness that is beyond all calculation.

Suburban

Relating to or characteristic of an area, usually residential, on the outskirts of a city.

Suprematism

A name devised by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich in 1915 to describe a style of painting characterised by basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colours.

SURREALISM

A 20th century literary, philosophical and artistic movement that explored the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary.

Sustainable

Relating to a system or resource use that maintains its own viability by allowing for continual reuse, rather than depletion.

Symbol

A form, sign, or emblem that represents something else, often something immaterial, such as an idea or emotion.

SYMBOLISM

A late nineteenth-century movement that advocated the expression of an idea over the realistic description of the natural world.

SYNAESTHESIA

A neurological condition in which the stimulation of a sense,like hearing or touch, leads involuntarily to the triggering of another sense, like sight or smell.

Synthetic

Produced by chemical synthesis, rather than of natural origin; prepared or made artificially.

SYNTHETISM

A term associated with the style of symbolic representation adopted by Paul Gauguin and his followers in the 1880s defined by flat areas of colour and bold outlines.

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