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Arttowngifts Glossary
Welcome to the online glossary. Here, you will find definitions of terms and phrases frequently used in the world of art, decorating, crafts and photography. The glossary contains more than 1,000 terms related to the products you will find here at

Using the Glossary
You can search the glossary for a particular word or browse the glossary at your leisure using the index at the left. To begin browsing the glossary, click on a letter of the alphabet. Below you will find a discussion of the definition of art.

This online glossary is open to user submissions. We welcome any contributions of new terms or clarifications of current terms. If you wish to make a correction, add an entry, or give feedback, please use the form located to the right to add your content.

Defining Art

Artistic expression takes many forms: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, music, literature, and architecture are the most widely recognized forms. However, since the advent of modernism and the technological revolution, new forms have emerged. These include photography, film, video art, installation art, conceptual art, performance art, community arts, land art, fashion, comics, computer art, anime, and, most recently, video games. Within each form, a wide range of genres may exist. For instance, a painting may be a still life, a portrait, or a landscape and may deal with historical or domestic subjects. In addition, a work of art may be representational or abstract. All Art basically classifies into two essential components form and content.

Form relates to three basic means:

  1. The various elements of art
  2. The basic design principles
  3. The actual, tangible and physical materials used by the artist
Content is highly idea-based and also consists of three essential elements:
  1. What the artist wants to portray
  2. What actually does get portrayed
  3. How individuals react to actual and intended messages
Characteristics of art

Below are some generally accepted characteristics of art.

  1. encourages an intuitive understanding rather than a rational understanding, as, for example, with an article in a scientific journal;
  2. created with the intention of evoking such an understanding, or an attempt at such an understanding, in the audience;
  3. created with no other purpose or function other than to be itself (a radical, "pure art" definition);
  4. elusive, in that the work may communicate on many different levels of appreciation;
  5. in relation to the above, the piece may offer itself to many different interpretations, or, though it superficially depicts a mundane event or object, invites reflection upon elevated themes;
  6. demonstrates a high level of ability or fluency within a medium;
  7. conferral of a particularly appealing or aesthetically satisfying structure or form upon an original set of unrelated, passive constituents
If we go by this definition, then form is essentially concrete. It can also be fairly and easily described in terms of its form no matter which kind of piece of art is being appraised. How the various elements of form are being used:
  1. Color
  2. Value
  3. Space
  4. Line
Next comes, the analysis of the principles of design used in the art-piece:

  1. Balance
  2. Contrast
  3. Emphasis
  4. Proportion
Having understood the component of form, content gets a little trickier. Space in addition to the above elements the component of content also includes the various ways in which various forces such as religion, politics, or society influence a piece of art in general. It is all these factors that collectively make up the content component of art.

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