Glossary

Avant-garde

noun. / ˌaväntˈɡärd /

1). In French, avant-garde means the “advanced guard” or “vanguard.” 

2). In English, the term describes something that is innovative, experimental, or radical.

3). In art, it refers to artists who see themselves at the cutting edge of creative expression. Many important movements in art history were avant-garde: Expressionism, Surrealism, and Cubism. Many contemporary artists see themselves as part of the modern-day avant-garde.


Abstract Art

noun. / ˈabˌstrakt ärt /

1). Abstract art achieves its effects without directly referencing anything in the real world. Instead, it uses the formal elements of art: line, shape, form, color, space, texture, value and composition.


Action Painting

noun. / ˈakSH(ə)n ˈpān(t)iNG /

1). Action painting is a spontaneous painting style that involves dripping, splashing and smearing paint directly onto the canvas. Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner pioneered action painting.


Attribute

noun and verb. / əˈtriˌbyo͞ot /

1). An attribute is a symbol associated with a specific person, like a saint, that is used to identify them in art.

2). When experts attribute a work of art to an artist, they certify that it is likely made by that artist -- likely but not definitely. Attribution is a step below authentication in certainty.


Authenticity

noun. / ˌôTHenˈtisədē /

1). In the art market, authenticity is everything. You have to trust that you’re buying the real thing, so it is important to keep “certificates of authenticity” and other documents that prove a work of art is genuine. Some people train their whole lives to understand an artist’s market. These “connoisseurs” can help you determine the authenticity of a work of art.

2). Everywhere else, authenticity is a myth. Museums present certain objects as “authentic” representations of culture. But in reality, culture is more complicated than that. It resists being labeled “authentic” or “inauthentic.”