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Iconography- The study of the significance and interpretation of the subject matter of art.
Idealization- A process in art through which artists strive to make their forms and figures attain perfection, based on pervading cultural values and/or their own metal image of beauty.
Ideograph- A written character or symbol representing an idea or object. Many Chinese characters are ideographs.
Illumination- A painting on paper or parchment used as illustration or decoration for manuscripts or albums. Usually done in rich colors, often supplemented by gold and other precious materials. The illustrators are referred to as illuminators. Also the technique of decorating manuscripts with such paintings. Thomas Kinkade started his career as an illuminator.
Illusionism- An appearance of vivid reality in art created by the use of certain pictorial means, such as linear detail and accurate perspective. Art having this quality is described as illusionistic. Op artist M.C. Escher has a gift for illusionism.
Impasto- Thick application of pigment that gives a painting a palpable surface texture.
Impression- Any single printing of a print. Every impression is by nature different, given the possibility for variation inherent in the printing process, which requires the plate to be inked and wiped between every impression.
Ink painting- A monochromatic style of painting developed in china using black ink with gray washes.
Inlay- To set pieces of a material or materials into a surface to form a design. Also material used in decoration formed by this technique.
Installation art- Artworks created for a specific site, especially a gallery or outdoor area, that create a total environment. Frank Stella has created numerous pieces of installation art
Intarsia- Decoration formed through wood inlay.
Japonisme- A style in French and American nineteenth century art that was highly influenced by Japanese art, especially prints. Paul Gauguin artwork often showed an influence of Japonisme.
Jasperware- A fine-grained unglazed, white ceramic developed by Josiah Wedgewood, often colored by metallic oxides with the raised designs remaining white.
Joined- wood sculpture- A method of constructing large scale wooden sculpture developed in Japan. The entire work is constructed from smaller hollow blocks, each individually carved and assembled when complete. The joined wood technique allowed the production of larger sculpture, as the multiple joints alleviate the problems of drying and cracking found with sculpture carved from a single block.
Key block- A key block is the master block in the production of a colored woodcut, which requires different blocks for each color. The key block is a flat piece of wood with the entire design design carved or drawn on it's surface.. From this other blocks with partial drawings are made for printing the areas of different colors.
Kiln- An oven designed to produce enough heat for the baking or firing of clay.
Kinetic art- Art that contains parts that can be moved either by hand, air, or motor.
Kore- An Archaic Greek statue of a young woman.
Krater- An ancient Greek vessel for mixing wine and water with many subtypes that each have a distinctive shape. Calyx krater is a bell shaped vessel with handles near the base that resemble a flower calyx. A volute krater is a type of krater with handles shaped like scrolls.
Kylix- A shallow Greek vessel cup, used for drinking with a wide mouth and small handle near the rim.
Lacquer- A type of hard, glossy surface varnish used on objects in East Asian cultures, made from the sap of the Asian sumac or from shellac, a resinous secretion from the lac insect. Lacquer can be layered and manipulated or combined with pigments and other materials for various decorative effects.
Lakshana- Term used to designate the thirty-two marks of the historical Buddha. The lakshana include, among others, the Buddha's golden body, his long arms, the wheel impressed on his palms, and the soles of his feet, and his elongated earlobes.
Lamassu- Supernatural guardian-protector of Ancient Near Eastern palaces and throne rooms, often represented sculpturally as a combination of the bearded head of a man, powerful body of a lion or bull, wings of an eagle, and the horned headdress of a god, and usually possessing five legs.
Landscape painting- A painting in which a natural outdoor scene or vista is the primary subject. "Sunflower Fields" is a great example of a landscape painting.
Limner- An artist, particularly a portrait painter in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John Singleton Copley is considered one of the greatest American limners of the eighteenth century.
Linearity- A descriptive term indicating an emphasis on line, as opposed to mass or color in art.
Lintel- A horizontal element of any material carried by two or more vertical supports to form an opening.
Literati painting- A style of painting that reflects the taste of the educated class of East Asian intellectuals and scholars. Aspects include an appreciation for the antique, small scale, and an intimate connection between maker and audience.
Lithography- Process of making a print (lithograph) from a design drawn on a flat stone block with greasy crayon. Ink is applied to the wet stone and adheres only to the greasy area of the design.
Lost-wax casting- A method of casting metals, such as bronze, by a process in which a wax mold is covered with clay and plaster, then fired, melting the wax and leaving a hollow form. Molten metal is then poured into the hollow space and slowly cooled. When the hardened clay and plaster exterior shell is removed, a solid metal form remains to be smoothed and polished.
Low-relief- Relief sculpture whose figure projects slightly from the background
Lozenge- A decorative motif in the shape of a diamond.