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Art Glossary
Art Glossary Terms: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

TermDescription

Val Saint Lambert

A Belgian crystal glassware manufacturer known for Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces, it was founded in 1826. The company, founded by M. Kemlin, has become official glassware supplier to King Albert II of Belgium. Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Val_Saint_Lambert

Value/Hue

An art term, it refers to degrees of lightness of hues of colors, varying from nature's colors of pure black to pure white. Darker colors are darker in hue. Many artists, striving for realist depiction, use their palette's to mix colors to create values that approximate nature's 'true' colors. Source: Robert Atkins, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms"

Vancouver School of Art/The Vancouver School

An informal group of Canadian photo artists, it resulted in artwork often referred to as photo-conceptualism. Themes focused on complex social issues, and greater national and international recognition of Canadian artists was the motivating force. Involved were Ken Lum, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Roy Arden, and Vikky Alexander. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_School

Vanderpoel Art Association

Founded in 1913 by friends of John H. Vanderpoel, the Association is a memorial to this long-time teacher at the Chicago Art Institute. Members amassed a collection of over 600 works, many of them by Vanderpoel,but also paintings and sculptures by other artists including Rowena Abdy, Gustave Baumann, Grace Betts, Nicholas Brewer, Mary Cassatt, Emma Richardson Cherry, Jessie Benton Evans, Daniel Chester French, Albert Krehbiel, Pauline Palmer, Maxfield Parrish, Clyde Singer, Theodore Steele, Marion Wachtel and Grant Wood. The collection was first housed in Vanderpoel School at Ridge Park Field House, 96th and Longwood Drive, in Chicago. In 1969, most of the collection was moved to the Beverly Art Center building in Ridge Park, a suburb of Chicago. Source: "The Visual Delights of the Vanderpoel Art Collection", Brochure of the Association, Courtesy Sidney C. Hamper, President, 2004.

Vanishing Point

In linear perspective, it is the point on the horizon line where parallel lines appear to meet. It is also a trick of the eye; an example would be the appearance that railroad tracks appear to be increasingly closer together as they recede. Many artists consider the creation of vanishing points when doing the preliminary planning for their artwork. However, other artists beginning with Hudson River School painter, Thomas Cole, deliberately defy the concept. Cole's early 19th-Century canvases were shocking because they had eye-catching activity in many parts of the canvases, which was a violation of the European landscape-painting requirement of having a Vanishing Point. Sources: Robert Atkins, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms". James Flexner, "History of American Painting", V. III, p. 38-39.

Varnish

"A solution of resin in a volatile solvent that, brushed or sprayed on a surface, dries to a hard, glossy, and usually transparent film, which serves as a protective coating; also the coating itself." (Mayer) An effective varnish protects paint surfaces from dampness and atmospheric dirt without altering the coloration. It should also be easy to remove for cleaning or restoration. Some varnishes are made with colors, but these are recommended for industrial use only and not for artwork. Varnishes manufactured in the late 20th-century are considered by some professionals to be much more desirable for long-range use than previously-used varnishes that caused yellowing with age and dirt and led to crackling because of the oil paint being unable to "breathe". Sources: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; Kimberley Reynolds and Richard Seddon, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms".

Veduta

An Italian word for view, it is used in fine art as a description of a large-scale painting of a vista, usually a cityscape. Artists associated with the term include Johannes Vermeer with his "View of Delft" and Giovanni Pannini, who became noted for his "vedutas" of classical ruins. Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veduta

Vehicle

Liquid in which pigments are dispersed so that paint can be mixed and spread. The Vehicle is that which carries the color, binds it together and causes it to adhere to a surface. Source: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"

Vellum

See Parchment/Vellum

Vellum Paper

Originally a term for high quality paper made from lamb or calf skin and primarily used for calligraphy and manuscript illumination. However, Vellum in this definition is seldom used by contemporary calligraphers, but the term is used by makers of heavy, durable paper. Sources: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; Kimberley Reynolds and Richard Seddon, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms" (LPD)

Venice Biennale

An art exhibition begun in 1895, it is held every two years in Venice, Italy as a world-wide event to exchange ideas on the latest trends and movements in the art world---an Olympics for art! Nation states, not individuals, are invited to participate, and the exhibition site is in the Giardini di Castello. A committee from each participating country runs the Biennale, and each country has artist representatives. In 2011, Kazuyo Sejima became the first woman Director of the Biennale. The American government chooses professionals from a single museum each time to oversee the American pavilion and to select the exhibiting artists. Artists who have represented the United States include Isamu Noguchi, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Philip Guston, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Nevelson, Red Grooms, Robert Colescott, Byron Burford and Susan Rothenberg. Sources: Peter Duus, "The Life of Isamu Noguchi"; "National Museum of Women in the Arts" magazine, Fall, 2010; AskART database

Vermilion

A brilliant, pure light red pigment, opaque and heavy that works well with oil paint. Vermilion has been in use from early times in China and appeared in Europe about the 8th Century. It has proven durable and permanent, especially when not covered with a protective coating such as varnish. In the 1920s, Vermilion was replaced in popularity by light Cadmium Red because of the tendency of Vermilion to turn dark in spots. Source: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques".

Vernissage/Varnishing Day

The French word for Varnishing Day, which was a frequently used term in the 19th Century for private openings or previews of artwork. At these events the artists would gather with an audience a day prior to the Exhibition opening, such as the Paris Salons, to varnish their works so that a select few could see the application of the finishing touches. However, neither the term nor the tradition has been commonly used since the 19th century. Varnishing Day has been replaced by "Openings" or "Previews". Sources: Artlex.com with permission of Michael Delahunt; Kimberley Reynolds and Richard Seddon, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms" (LPD)

Verso

The second or backside of any work on paper, or canvas. Artists at times may create sketches or even complete paintings on the reverse side of a work, making it a double-sided painting. Verso is the opposite term to the word Recto. A title or signature may be inscribed ‘on verso’ on a piece, or on the stretchers on the reverse side of a work. ‘Verso inscription’ refers to information on the back of a painting, either on the canvas, the stretcher bars, or on the frame. Multiple-line verso inscriptions are common, as are stamps and other marks, especially on the frame. Source: Artlex.com; International Federation of Libraries website; Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary; and website of glass artist Dave Archer. (LPD)

Vertical

A line from top to bottom or bottom to top. Upright.

Vesper George School of Art

A Boston art school, incorporated in 1924 in the Back Bay section of the city near the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, it operated until 1983. The School was named for Vesper Lincoln George (1865-1934), plein-air painter in Massachusetts and outspoken advocate for arts education. Curriculum focus was on commercial art and fundamentals such as drawing, design, color and varied mediums, and by 1930, the school had 18 instructors. Alumni include John Nesta, Bill Everett, John Terelak and Robert McCloskey. Source: Vesper George School Catalogue; vespergeorge.dobsonarts.com/VGUCatalog.pdf; AskART biography of Vesper George.

Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award

Given for outstanding artistic achievement by Canadian mid-career artists, they are worth $15,000 each. From their inception in 1971 through 2003 (no awards in 2004) they have been awarded annually to 3 or 4 visual artists or musicians per year. In 2005, a 7 category system was introduced to recognize the disciplines – Dance, Inter-Arts [circus art], Media Arts, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing and Publishing. Since that time 7 awards, one in each discipline, have been granted every year. Source: Canada Council for the Arts – http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/nw127246951630625000.htm. Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke, Art Collector and Historian, West Vancouver, British Columbia

Victoria Sketch Club, Canada

A Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia art society, it was founded in 1909 and is still in operation (2011). The Victoria Sketch Club included Emily Carr as a charter member and through the years has been joined by some other very well-known Canadian west coast artists including Thomas Fripp, Max Maynard, Ina Campbell Uhthoff, Jack Shadbolt, Colin Graham and Ted Harrison. It began with the name the Island Arts Club, and has had a few other names over the years including the Island Arts and Crafts Society, and The Sketch Club; however its objectives have remained the same which are to foster and encourage the work of its members through exhibitions and regular activities involving drawing outdoors and from live models. Source: The Victoria Sketch Club. Contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

Video Art

Originating in 1965 with Korean born Naim June Paik, it is a technology medium of capturing live events and turning them into visual, often television-type, presentations that are incorporated with Performance Art and Installations. Paik started by making tapes on a portable Sony camera and showing them a few hours later at Cafe a Go Go in New York City's Greenwich Village. An example of Video Art is "Aransas" by Frank Gillette, which is a six-monitor video installation of the swampy landscape of Aransas, a county in Texas. Other Video Artists include Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler and Rebecca Horn. Sources: Robert Atkins, "ART SPEAK"; AskART dabase; (LPD)

Vienna Academy of Fine Arts

See Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Vienna Secession

Formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists, it was also known as the Union of Austrian Artists. Gustav Klimpt was the first president, and other members included Otto Wagner, Josef Engelhart, Egon Schiele, Max Fabiani, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser. The group was not linked by a style, but only by commitment to non-conservatism and the motto: "To every age its art and to art its freedom." Source: Carl Schorske, "Gustav Klimt: Painting and the Crisis of the Liberal Ego," Cited on Wikipedia; AskART biographies

Vignette

As an art term, it refers to a painting or photograph devoid of defined borders and with edges that shade off or merge into the background. In architecture, a vignette is a trail of grape designs, vine leaves and/or tendrils used on the capital of columns, and in book printing it is a decoration on the title page or tailpiece. Source: Ralph Mayer, "a Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"

Villa Ball

The home of American sculptor Thomas Ball (1819-1911) in Florence, Italy, it was on a hill outside the city wall on the south side of the Arno River. The land, purchased in 1868, was near the Porta Romana along the Viale Poggio Imperiale and had a sweeping view of the city of Florence. Adjacent was property purchased at the same time by sculptor Hiram Powers, (1805-1873) close friend of Ball. The Powers family was large and occupied several villas, but Thomas Ball, with only a wife and one child, built one villa that was large, two stories and had his studio of seven rooms and enough space for another sculptor. Behind this structure was a small, two-story house and a separate studio, where his staff could live and work. In a letter from Powers when Ball was in America during the building, Powers wrote that he had looked at the construction progress at Balls and marveled at the size. "I could hardly imagine what you, your wife, and little 'tow head' are to do with all this room---you will be like mice in the great cave of Kentucky." (120). During the building, Thomas Ball went to America and bought many seeds and plants for his property and for Powers. The finished villa had a large garden with the studio rooms and offices on the first floor and the second floor as living quarters. A large lower level had the kitchen and storage areas, and in the back was a small two-story garden house with greenhouse of tropical plants and exotic birds. This structure was often used for entertaining and housing guests. Many of the rooms had Pompeii-style designs, and the studio had sculpture ranging from portrait busts to large allegorical statues. Villa Ball became the destination for many American visitors including singer Jenny Lind; authors Louisa May Alcott, Henry W. Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson; composer Richard Wagner; capitalist John D. Rockefeller; and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Sculptors Daniel Chester French and William Couper, who married Thomas Ball's daughter, spent long periods of time in residence at Villa Ball. Frank Duveneck occupied studio space to complete a memorial sculpture for his wife's gravesite in Florence at Allori Cemetery. The Ball-Couper family left Villa Ball in 1897 and rented out the property, which remained in the family until 1919. New owner, Signora Fenci, converted the Villa into a Pensione named Villa Albertina. In 1956, a businessman bought it and leased the land to the city of Florence for a school, which preserved the original buildings. In 1986, it was restored to a private home. Source: Greta Elena Couper, "An American Sculptor on the Grand Tour"

Vineland Art School

Founded by Thomas Braidwood on his home property in Vineland, New Jersey in the early 1870s, its curriculum was focused on industrial arts and included painting and drawing. Braidwood served as a teacher as did his daughter, Beatrice Braidwood. AskART biography of Braidwood, courtesy of Kate Nearpass Ogden.

Visionary Art

A term applied to contemporary folk artists, especially when it is based on religious or dream themes where the artist experiences visions or voices. Included among American artists would be Sister Gertrude Morgan and Minnie Evans. Source: Chuck and Jan Rosenak, "Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collector's Guide"

Vitreography

A term whose literal meaning is 'writing on glass', it is a printmaking technique of fixing images on glass plates, inking them and printing them on paper. The founder of this process was glass artist Harvey Littleton in a cold-working techniques seminar he taught in the summer of 1974. Connor Everts, a visiting artist who observed Littleton's pioneering method, coined the term. Vitreography proved to be such fertile ground for Littleton’s inquisitive nature that at the end of 1981 he hired a full time master printer and encouraged glass artists who visited his studio to try their hands at making prints. Over the years Littleton has invited many other artists, painters and printmakers, as well as glass artists and sculptors, to create vitreographs at Littleton Studios. Sources: Littleton Studios; AskART biography of Littleton; Annex Galleries

Vitrolite

An opaque pigmented marble-like glass, it has often been used for Art Deco tiling and facades for its slick and shiny surface. Pilkington Brothers manufactured it in the United Kingdom and then it was made by the Vitrolite Company and Libbey-Owens-Ford in the United States. It was made available in various colors and blacks and whites and has been used in sculpture such as in work by Dan Dailey and buildings such as the Woolworth Building by architect Gilbert Cass. Source: 'Vitreaous Marble', Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitreous_marble

Volcano School

Non-native Hawaiian artists "who painted dramatic nocturnal scenes of Hawaii's erupting volcanoes." Most frequently subjects were volcanoes on the Island of Hawaii, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Jules Tavernier is the biggest name associated with the 'school', and other painters were Constance Cumming, Charles Furneaux, David Hitchcock, Titian Ramsey Peale, Joseph Strong, Lionel Walden and William Twigg-Smith. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano_School

Volume

Similar to mass, a three-dimensional form implying bulk, density, and weight; but also a void or empty, enclosed space.

Vorticism

An offshoot of Cubism, it was a brief early 20th century art and poetry movement based in London and ended by World War I. BLAST was its publication with manifesto, a rejection of realist images for an abstract method of directing the "viewer's eye to the center of the canvas with an array of bold lines and harsh colors." Alvin Coburn and Jacob Epstein were participants. Source: wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorticis

Vortographs/Vortoscope

Related to Vorticism (see Glossary), these were abstract pictures or photographs taken through a triangular tunnel of mirrors called a Vortoscope. Source: AskART biography of Alvin Coburn; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAPcoburn.htm

Vose Galleries

America's oldest family owned gallery, it is in Boston but was founded in 1841 by Joseph Vose in Providence, Rhode Island. By 1860, his son, Seth, was selling paintings by Hudson River School painters including Bierstadt, Heade, and Inness, and was the first to bring Tonalist paintings from France to America. In 1962, Robert Vose, Jr. moved the gallery to a brownstone on Newbury Street in Boston, and shifted the focus to deceased American artists of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Source: Editor, 'America's Oldest Family-Owned Gallery', "Fine Art Connoisseur", December 2006.
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