In this art dictionary like no other, The Art History Babes (the hosts behind the prolific podcast) break down the elitist world of art with definitions of over 300 essential art terms.
Art speak is infamously alienating, strange, and confusing as hell. Think stereotypical, stylish art dealers who describe art as 'derivative' and 'dynamic' – or stuffy auction houses filled with portraits of dead white people called 'Old Masters'. What do these words mean? Where did they come from? And how can you actually use them?
Spanning art history, iconic movements, peculiar words, and pretentious phrases – after reading this book, you'll be able to lay down that art jargon with the best of them. From avant-garde to oeuvre, the Harlem Renaissance to New Objectivity, museum fatigue to memento mori – the Babes use their whip-smart humor, on-point knowledge, and a heavy dose of candor to explain even the most complex ideas in bite-sized definitions, as in:
ACTION PAINTING (n.) – If Jackie Chan had buckets of paint strapped to his arms and legs in Rush Hour 2, and there just happened to be a blank canvas nearby, you would end up with action painting. […]
IMPASTO (n.) – Have you ever gotten up close to a painting, looked at it, and thought: “Those brushstrokes are sensual as hell.”? That’s how I feel about impasto, a painting style that involves applying thick, textured strokes of paint using a brush or palette knife or other tool of your choice. […]
UKIYO-E (n.) – Beautiful ladies, kabuki actors, epic landscapes, sumo wrestlers, people navigating city streets, and sex stuff! These are some of the common subjects of ukiyo-e art produced in Japan during the Edo period (1603–1868.) […]
With illustrations from Carmen Casado – The Honest Art Dictionary is a valuable starter pack for those new to the study of art history, those re-exploring the discipline, or those simply interested in impressing their friends during a trip to the local art museum.
"A tidy, helpful and informative guide to what can be a Tower of Babel of art jargon."
― Waterbury Republican American
About the Author
The Art History Babes (Corrie, Ginny, Natalie and Jennifer) are the team behind the Art History Babes podcast. An approachable source for art history, the podcast is informed by academics but shares and critiques aspects of the art world, expanding on them in ways that are often colloquial and entertaining.The podcast reached over 500,000 downloads in 2019 and the collective have also appeared on podcasts such as Art Matters, Art Bros and Art and Cocktails – and have collaborated with the likes of LA Art Show, SOFA Chicago and Museum Hack.