Nature and the American Vision: Glossary

Relevant vocabulary for the feature exhibition, including important words that will be appropriate for gallery discussions

Atmospheric perspective (a.k.a. aerial perspective) – The creation or illusion of depth in a painting or drawing through color to simulate the effect of the atmosphere on objects seen at a distance. Objects that far away will have less contrast and less saturation.

Contrast – The difference between elements in an artwork.

Composition – The plan, placement or arrangement of elements of art in a work.

Hudson River School – A group of American landscape painters of the mid-nineteenth century, who took a romantic approach to depicting the Hudson River Valley, and of the Catskill, Berkshire, and White Mountains, as well as lands further west. As the American frontier moved westward, the Hudson River painters’ views of this expanding territory found an enthusiastic audience. Their pictures were often brashly theatrical, embracing moral or literary associations.

Linear Perspective – Relates to the mathematical system of creating objects that are created three-dimensionally on a two-dimensional surface. It is called “linear” perspective because objects and figures and space are re-created in a realistic manner through the use of intersecting lines drawn horizontally and vertically. There are three types of linear perspective. They include one point perspective, two-point perspective, and three-point perspective. All of the perspectives include a horizon line and a stationary point (the position of the observer).

Movement – How we get around in a work of art.

Naturalism – Treatment of forms, colors, space, etc. as they appear or might appear in nature.

Realism – The realistic and natural representation of people, places and/or things in a work of art.

Romantic – Art movement and style that flourished in the early nineteenth century. It emphasized the emotions painted in a bold and dramatic manner.

Sublime – A concept, thing or state of exceptional and awe-inspiring beauty and moral or intellectual expression – a goal to which many nineteenth century artists aspired in their artworks.

Hudson River Valley – An area comprised of the valley of the Hudson River and adjacent communities in the New York state.

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