Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory

Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory

Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory

Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory

Synopsis

Defining over 400 terms and phrases that have recently entered discourse on the visual arts, this is the first reference book specializing in explaining and applying theoretical terminology in contemporary art. Since the early 1970s, the vocabulary used to discuss visual art has expanded radically, leaving many teachers, students, artists, and critics without the accurate definitions necessary for fruitful discourse on contemporary culture. This glossary not only serves as a dictionary but as a guide to current theory and criticism of visual art and culture. Terms can be accessed alphabetically or thematically; the significant cross referencing makes this an easy dictionary to use.

Excerpt

Since the early 1970s the vocabulary used to discuss visual art has expanded radically. Many teachers, students, artists, and critics have suddenly found themselves drowning in a sea of jargon that seems to have descended suddenly from outer space. A straightforward guide to specialized language is sorely needed. Without such a guide, readers of contemporary art history, theory, and criticism often choose either to spend a few years "playing catch-up," or to dismiss an important and fruitful discourse on contemporary culture.

This glossary is intended to be a guide into the frontier of current theory and criticism of visual art and culture. It includes over four hundred terms or phrases that have recently entered the discourse on the visual arts. Many of the terms in this glossary are not especially new to the art world. In fact, some terms have been widely used in discussions on the visual arts or in other cultural contexts for many years, but have been adapted for use in the contemporary art world with specific or specialized applications. Where possible and appropriate, we attempt to cite or demonstrate the application of theoretical terms and phrases to works of art or some aspect of visual culture. In doing so, we hope to clarify both the specific definitions and the general connotations of many of the entries and to avoid the repetition or synthesis of many glossaries that specialize in contemporary literary theory.

While there are a number of dictionaries and glossaries covering the terminology in the fields of literary criticism, philosophy, and related areas, no such reference book exists for the visual arts. Robert Atkins' Artspeak and Artspoke come closest to our glossary, but Atkins concentrates on artistic production in the visual arts--artistic movements, styles, and names--and falls short, in our opinion, in his explanations of more theoretical terminology. While our glos-

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