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Negative space- Empty or open space within or bounded by the forms of a painting, sculpture, or architectural design.
Niello- A metal technique in which a black sulfur alloy is rubbed into fine lines engraved into a metal, usually gold or silver. When heated, the alloy becomes fused with the surrounding metal and provides contrasting detail.
Nishiki-e- A multicolored and ornate Japanese print.
Nocturne- A night scene in painting, usually lit by artificial illumination.
Nonrepresentational art- Abstract art that does not attempt to reproduce the appearance of objects, figures, or scenes in the natural world. Also called nonobjective art.
Odalisque- From the Turkish term for a woman in a harem. Usually represented as a reclining female nude shown among the accouterments of an exotic, luxurious environment by nineteenth and twentieth century European artists.
Oil painting- Any painting executed with the pigments floating into a medium of oil. oil paint has particular properties that allow for greater ease of working (among others a slow drying time, which allows for corrections and a great range of relative opaqueness of paint layers, which permits a high degree of detail and luminescence).
Olpe- Any Greek vase or jug without a spout.
Orant- The representation of a standing figure praying with outstretched and upraised arms.
Orthogonal- Any line running back into the representational space of a picture perpendicular to the imagined picture plane. in linear perspective, all orthogonals converge at a single vanishing point in the picture and are the basis of the grid that maps out the internal space of the image. An orthogonal plan is any plan for a building or city that is based exclusively on right angles, such as the grid plan of many modern cities.
Over painting- A final layer of paint applied over a dry underlayer.
Ovoid- An adjective describing a rounded oval object or shape. Also a characteristic form in Native American art, consisting of a rectangle with bent sides and rounded corners.
Painterly- Describing a style of painting that emphasizes the techniques and surface effects of brushwork.
Palette- A hand held support used by artists for the storage and mixing of paint during the process of painting. Also the choice of a range of colors made by an artist in a particular work or typical of his or her style.
Palmette- A fan shaped ornament with radiating leaves.
Panel painting- Any painting executed on a wood support. The wood is usually planed to provide a smooth surface. A panel can consist of several boards joined together, normally covered with gesso.
Paris Salon- The annual display of art by French artists in Paris during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Established in the seventeenth century as a venue to show the artwork of members of the French Academy, the Salon and it's judges established the accepted official art style of the time. Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Pierre Renoir, all exhibited at the Paris Salon.
Passage- In painting, passage refers to any particular work, often those where painterly brushwork or color changes exist. Also a term used to describe Paul CÚzannes technique of blending adjacent shapes.
Pastel- Dry pigment, chalk and gum in stick or crayon form. Also a work of art made with pastels.
Performance Art- An artwork based on a live, sometimes theatrical, performance by the artist.
Perspective- A system for representing three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. "Art Shelf" is a great example of perspective style.
Petrography- A prehistoric drawing or painting on rock, also called petro glyph
Pictograph- A highly stylized depiction serving as a symbol for a person or object. Writing using such symbols is called pictographic.
Picturesque- A term describing the taste for the familiar, the pleasant, and the pretty, popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century in Europe. When contrasted with the sublime, the picturesque stood for all that was ordinary but pleasant.
Piece-mold casting- A casting technique in which the mold consists of several sections that are connected during the pouring of molten metal, usually bronze. After the cast form has hardened, the pieces of the mold are disassembled, leaving the completed object. Because it is made in pieces, the mold can be reused.
Pieta- Italian for pity. A devotional subject in Christian religious art. After the Crucifixion, the body of Jesus was laid across the lap of his grieving mother, Mary. When others are present the subject is called the Lamentation.
Pigment- A substance that gives color to a material.
Polychrome- The multicolored painted decoration applied to any part of a building, sculpture, or piece of furniture.
Popular Culture- the elements of culture(arts) that are accepted by and appeal to the general public. Popular culture has been associated with something cheap, fleeting and accessible to all. Andy Warhol used pop culture icons to create his pop art.
Potsherd- A broken piece of ceramic ware.
Primary colors- Blue, red, and yellow- the three colors from which all other colors are derived.
Primitivism- The borrowing of subjects or forms, usually from non-Western or prehistoric sources by Western artists. Originally practiced by Western artists as an attempt to infuse their work with the naturalistic and expressive qualities attributed to other cultures, especially colonized cultures, primitivism also borrowed from the art of children and the insane. (Thorton Dial's work)
Prix de Rome- A prestigious scholarship offered by the French Academy at the time of the establishment of it's Roman branch in 1666. The scholarship allowed the winner of the prize to study in Rome for three to five years at the expense of the state. Originally intended only for painters and sculptors, the prize was later expanded to include printmaker, architects, and musicians.
Provenance- The history of ownership of a work of art from the time of it's creation to the present.
Pseudo-kufic- Term describing designs intended to resemble the script of the Arabic language.
Punchwork- Decorative designs that are stamped onto a surface, such as metal or leather, using a punch.
Putto- A plump naked little boy, often winged. In classical art called a cupid, in Christian art a cherub.