GLOSSARY OF ART TERMS

Art Terms Beginning with D

  • By Jacqui Thomas
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Art Terms Beginning with D

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Dada

An art and literary movement formed during the First World War in Zurich in reaction to the horrors and foolishness of the war. The art, poetry and performance produced by dada artists was often satirical and nonsensical.

Daguerreotype

A photographic technique invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839, using a silver or silver-coated-copper plate to develop an image in a camera obscura. The image is a unique, direct positive image that cannot produce copies, formed when the light-sensitive plate is exposed to light through a camera lens. 

De Stijl

Meaning ‘the style’ in Dutch is based on a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals.

DECADENCE

An extreme manifestation of symbolism which appeared towards the end of the 19th century and emphasised the spiritual, the morbid and the erotic.

DECALCOMANIA

A blotting process where paint is squeezed between two surfaces squishing the paint into patterns that the artist has little control over and often creating a mirror image. It was a method of printmaking that surrealists used to mess about with back in the 1930s. Read more about if by Dave Whatt

DÉCOLLAGE

A French word meaning to unstick was a movement that involved making art from posters ripped from walls.

DECONSTRUCTION

A form of criticism first used by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s which claims that there is not one single intrinsic meaning to be found in a work, but rather many often conflicting meanings.

Decorative Arts

A term used to describe the design and aesthetics of functional objects with an emphasis on unique and hand-crafted forms often available in limited quantity.

DEGENERATE ART

An English translation of the German phrase Entartete Kunst which was the label the National Socialist (Nazi) party applied to art they did not approve of in an attempt to bring art under their control.

Design

From the Italian word meaning ‘drawing’ which also implies planning and composing.

Design brief

A written record describing the elements and scope of a design project.

Designer

A person who conceives and gives form to objects used in everyday life.

DIGITAL ART

A term used to describe art that is made or presented using digital technology.

Diptych

A work of art consisting of two painted or carved panels.

Direct positive

A photographic term referring to a positive image made directly by exposure to light and development without the use of a negative. 

DOCUMENTARY ART

A term associated with the artists who documented the harsh realities of British life during the Depression in the 1930s.

Documentary photography

A genre of photography that provides a straight forward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events, and is often used in reportage.

Draftsman

A person who draws plans or designs, often of structures / buildings or a person who draws skillfully, especially an artist.

Drawing

A technique by which images are created on a surface using pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements primarily to make lines but also tonal areas, washes and other non-linear marks.

Drypoint

A type of intaglio printmaking process that involves using an abrasive or sharp-pointed tool to scratch lines into the surface of a metal plate. The term may also refer to the process or to the tool used.

Ductile

The ability to alter a material’s shape under tensile stress, such as stretching or pulling.

DYE DESTRUCTION PRINT

Also known as a Cibachrome print or Ilfochrome print is a print made using a photographic printing process in which colour dyes embedded in the paper are selectively bleached away to form a full-colour image.

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