Art Vocabulary: Discover the Art World from A to Z

Art Vocabulary: Discover the Art World from A to Z

Did you ever notice that O is a frequent example of an interjection letter? Good God, wow, oh — the row is to be continued. However, the Art Vocabulary can’t do without O. Find some evidence below.

Yoko Ono (b. 1933) a remarkable person who might be best known for her romantic relationship with The Beatles singer John Lennon. If you want to learn more about their couple, read our latest article on the Most Inspiring Duos in Art, including John and Yoko. Now it’s time we talked of the latter as an artist. Born in Japan in 1933, Yoko moved with her family to New York to receive art education in 1953 and quickly became engaged into the local art environment. The young artist took part in Fluxus activities, rubbed shoulders with Neo-Dada painters and even enjoyed the mentorship of John Cage. One of her first art projects was setting a painting on fire. Returning to Japan three years later, Yoko Ono met Anthony Cox, an American film producer, a marriage to whom was short but effective — it tangibly pumped her career in arts. However, meeting John Lennon when visiting London in the 60s turned out to be a life-changing occurrence for Yoko. The couple realized their famous ‘Bed-In for Peace’ Performance in 1969, spending the whole day in bed, making love, not war (actually, they did nothing at all). Apart from this, Lennon and Yoko produced music: first, Yoko wrote lyrics for Lennon’s songs, later she performed her solo albums. The other thing you should certainly know about Ono’s biography is her ‘Cut the Piece Performance, debuted in Kyoto, in 1964, which inspired numerous interpretations worldwide.

Oil painting — a kind of a painting and a process as well by which drying oil is used. Different kinds of oils such as linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil and safflower oil, used jointly or separate, are suitable for the artistic process. Oil painting is believed to have been discovered by Buddhists between the 5th and 10th centuries. However, it wasn’t until the late Middle Ages that oil paint gained popularity among Europeans and even became the main medium for creating works. Due to its endurance and artistic quality, oil paint was soon recognized as a great substitute for previously used tempera. Today the popularity of oil painting in artistic circles hasn’t dropped a bit, though there are a few other popular mediums such as pencils, water colours, brushes and pastels, each of them obviously having its merits and shortcomings.

Op art (not to be confused with pop art) — abstract art which so-called special effect is based upon optical illusions the work produces. Op art works usually consist of patterns, e.g. geometric shapes, figures and its combinations that look like moving or construct impossible visions. The first traces of op art could be found in the works of neo-impressionists, cubists, futurists and dadaists — indeed, modernists loved shocking public and spared nor mediums, neither concepts to achieve the goal. All the movements mentioned above influenced op art to some extent but it’s the Bauhaus, German constructivism movement of the 20s, that played a key role in op art formation with its ‘Form Follows Function’ philosophy, analytical and highly rational approach. Officially, op art movement emerged in 1964 as Time Magazine coined the term op art in the review to Julian Stanczak’s ‘Optical Paintings’ Exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery. To be exact, initially it sounded like opt art but soon the awkward T dropped out. Remarkably, op art is often associated with black-and-white colours though it’s not necessary. For example, Bridget Riley (whom we included in the 15 Female Artists That Rocked The Art World article off late) started creating colourful op art works in 1965. Op art painters that often used color such as Victor Vasarely, Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuszkiewicz even followed The Theory of Colour and tried different color interactions. Besides, op art is a good way to test one’s fatigue level. If the image that you can on the painting moves or vibrates actively, that means you certainly need a good rest!

Meret Oppenheim (1913 – 1985)Surrealist and Feminist artist of German-Swiss routes who gained world recognition in the 20th century. Born in Berlin in 1913, Meret spent her childhood in Switzerland, where she was successfully introduced to art circles from the early age. Meret learnt the very basics of arts and found more about some intersecting fields such as, for instance, Carl Jung’s analytical approach, whose Animus-Anima theory had a great impact on her art in future. Having adopted Jung’s concept of androgynous creativity, Oppenheim spoke against the feminine art producing gender-neutral works (as she saw it) and implying radically feminist ideas for that time. Continuing the studies in Paris in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière enabled Meret to expand her circle with new flamboyant figures from the world of arts such as Hans Arp and Alberto Giacometti. Meret Oppenheim chose Surrealism to work and create in as she found it were the only art movement, free of prejudice and open for research. Later her passion cooled down as the artist tried different techniques, including those of Dada, however, it was Surrealists society that really approved of Oppenheim’s artistic practice and supported her. Posing for Man Ray’s famous photograph series ‘Le Violon d’Ingres’ (1924) and ‘Erotique voilée’ (1933), Oppenheim was quickly considered as the Muse of Surrealism. Probably the most famous artist’s work is Object or Breakfast in Fur (1936). A set of a teacup, saucer and spoon all covered with fur suggests various interpretations such as utensils liberation of its practical function (reversed ‘Form Follows Function’ principle) and erotization of the hairy object (feminist issues raised). The Object was a pure success — director of MoMA Alfred Barr immediately requested to acquire the art work that’s how Meret Oppenheim became the first female artist to have her work in MoMa’s collection.

Helio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) — Brazilian visual artist and sculptor, bright representative of the Neo-Concrete Movement. Born in an intelligent family in Rio de Janeiro, Helio received proper art education in Washington and returned to Brazil to start his career as an artist. Studying under Brazilian painter Ivan Sepra, young Oiticica joined Grupo Frente in the mid-50s that praised Concrete art and elaborated the movement. By the way, what is Concrete art and why does it enjoy such an odd name? Concrete art is another name for geometrical abstraction. The definition evolved because of De Stijl initiator Theo van Doesburg who preferred to say ‘concrete’ instead of ‘abstract’ to describe the kind of arts which, to his mind, wasn’t abstract at all. Back to Oiticica, as a Frente member, he experimented much with geometric forms as well as with different colours, giving preference to a brighter palette. A few years later Helio Oiticica together with his associates established Neo-Concretism that was less objective and more human-centred than the previous movement. Manifesto neoconcreto was signed in March 1959 which didn’t prevent the group from falling apart in 1961. However, not the length of those artistic practices but it’s essence were of critical importance for Oiticica’s career. Indeed, ex (neo)concretists had something to offer to the rapidly developing world of conceptual art on the ‘mainland’ — Europe and the USA. Oiticica came up with interactive sculptures called Bólides and Parangolés in the 60s, he also made huge Penetráveis installations that were fully accessible for viewers examination. Today the artist is considered to be a co-founder of Tropicalia movement — an artistic fusion of traditional Brazilian culture and foreign avant-garde practices. As you can see, Helio Oiticica not only was an outstanding Brazilian artist who influenced the native artistic landscape but also contributed greatly to the development of international movements such as conceptualism and kinetic art.

Text /Julia Kryshevich/


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