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Julia Kryshevich

Art Vocabulary: Discover the Art World from A to Z

If you started feeling like missing our column, here we are to proceed it. The letter T directly relates to ART (being its final character). Take it or leave it, T is the second most popular letter in the English alphabet (around 9,000 English words, including it), so get ready to meet new arT definiTions! 

Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy (January 5, 1900 – January 15, 1955)
Born in the French-American family of a retired navy captain in Paris, Yves Tanguy was introduced to the world of arts through his friend, writer Jacques Prévert. Before joining the Surrealist group in 1925, young Yves did some sketching in cafes along with trying different jobs. The Surrealist group was led by the famous André Breton — the emerging artists (Tanguy among them) quickly developed the movement, shocking the public by numerous bizarre exhibitions. However, it wasn’t plain and easy from the start — one of the early screenings of Buñuel and Dali's L'Age d'Or was sabotaged by some radicals who broke into the lobby of the cinema where the premiere was held and destroyed the works by Tanguy, Man Ray, Juan Miró and their fellows. But the surrealists were filled with determination to spread their art — and Yves Tanguy was a faithful member of the movement. Married twice, having had a love affair with the famous art dealer Peggy Guggenheim, finally receiving U.S. Citizenship in 1948, the artist never gave up surrealistic painting (at least, for a long period). Someone new to the world of art would say Tanguy’s paintings are as surrealistic as Dali’s artworks are, but there is a great difference between them. Having seen Giorgio de Chirico works in 1923, Yves Tanguy stayed inspired by the artistic manner of the former for the rest of his life. For this reason, Tanguy’s paintings have less to do with reality (so dreamlike and imaginary they look) than other surrealists’ works do. 

Tachisme 
The name of the movement derived from the French word ‘tache’ which means a stain. Tachisme was popular in the 40s and the 50s as a part of the larger Art Informel movement that praised a free usually gestural form of the artist's expression, based on intuitive feeling. Whereas Art Informel was highly influenced by the surrealist doctrine of automatism and thus proclaimed the absence of any concept in a painting, Tachisme was more about a relaxed art procedure, considered to be a mere improvisation. Ideologically close to American abstract art, Tachisme wasn’t that radical and desperate, but it still remained a reaction to cubism and geometrical forms of abstraction. Curious that the name tachisme was officially coined by the French critics Charles Estienne and Pierre Guéguen in 1951, though the word had been used earlier to express impressionist and fauve techniques. 

Tropicalia
A Brazilian artistic movement that hardly lasted for a year, but left a significant mark both in the cultural and political life of the country. Finding its expression in different art forms such as film, theatre and poetry, Tropicalia movement is best known for its music part on the world scale. Marked by the so-called art installation of the famous Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica (1967), Tropicalia swept the everyday life of the citizens coming as an outcry against the severe governmental regime. Tropicalists identified the movement as a field for reflection on social history, getting to the roots of the national culture, then reconsidering the heritage in the terms of reality. Such bright Tropicalia representatives as band Os Mutantes, music artist Gilbert Gill, singer Gal Costa, songwriter Tom Ze and many others, mixed traditional Brazilian bossa nova and Portuguese fado with commonly popular psychedelic pop and rock music, coming up with some authentic compositions. To confront the repressing power of the authorities, Tropicalia activists referred to Manifesto Antropófago written by the Brazilian modernist poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928. Manifesto promoted the idea of Brazil ‘cannibalizing’ other cultures, thus not giving in  European postcolonial cultural domination, which tropicalists willingly implemented into their practices. However, the increasing artistic activity of the movement caused the expanding of their political position (which was becoming more radical) — that couldn’t have been left disregarded by the powers. Tropicalia shows were finally forbidden to be performed in public in 1968, many members were exiled from Brazil. However, the impact Tropicalia had on life and mind of people (let alone, the history of music) can’t be overstated. 

Vladimir Tatlin (December 16, 1885 – May 31, 1953) 
Whatever revolutionary the art of avant-garde may seem, it’s artist Vladimir Tatlin who was a true rule-breaker. Leaving his home at the age of 13, he tried to earn a living working as a cabin boy. Sea voyages might have inspired the future artist, so that he entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture on returning to Moscow. However, his rebellious nature didn’t rest — hardly accepting any father figures and respecting his tutors (who included such famous Russian painters as Konstantin Korovin and Valentin Serov), young Tatlin was expelled from the School literally for poor performance and bad behavior. His second attempt to graduate from an art college took place in Penza but failed as well. For better or worse, nothing could prevent Vladimir Tatlin from making art. Meeting Mikhail Larionov in Moscow influenced his further artistic activity — Tatlin joined the well-known associations Knave of Diamonds in 1911 and Donkey’s Tail in 1912 — while seeing Picasso’s works in Paris presumably affected the artistic manner of Tatlin for his whole lifetime. However, Vladimir Tatlin wasn’t only a rebel, but a natural innovator — he sensed the upcoming wind of change in social life and implemented those alterations into arts. According to Tatlin, material, volume, and design became the new basis for any fine arts. Apart from painting, Vladimir Tatlin like many his contemporaries tried (and was successful in) clothes and theatre design, architecture, drama, teaching. Constructivism embodied social and cultural revolution which also matched the political one. Tatlin was excited about all that and just dived into performing his own groundbreaking creations — corner counter reliefs and planes further called Letatlin. The apex of Tatlin’s artistic creativity, the Monument to the Third International or Tatlin’s Tower made a splash at the World’s Fair in Paris (1925) but failed to impress the national powers. Soviet artists were supposed to move forwards to social realism, while Tatlin opposed it. For this reason, the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1932 was the one and only — his final 20 years of life Vladimir Tatlin worked as a book designer stepping aside from ideological struggles that conquered the realm of art. 

Tempera 
Painting medium popular until 1500 AD when oil painting was discovered. Thanks to its consistency, binder egg yolk and colour pigments, tempera provided endurance for the painting and dried soon. Presumably Egyptians were the first to use tempera while making Sarcophagi decorations and mummy portraits, however, some ancient Indian rock-cut temples were also created with the help of tempera. Shrines and icons are a perfect example of this painting medium applied, but it doesn’t end there. Having faded into obscurity in the late Middle ages, tempera was first revived by the Pre-Raphaelites in the 19th century. Like following the lead, many 20th century artists (expressionists, surrealists, and magic realists among them) referred to the medium. Today tempera is still being used in the artistic practices.