Glossary of Art Terms - B


Bauhaus is the common term for the Staatliches Bauhaus, an art and architecture school in Germany that operated from 1919 to 1933, and for its approach to design that it publicized and taught. The most natural meaning for its name (related to the German verb for "build") is Architecture House. Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture, and one of the most important currents of the New Objectivity. The Bauhaus art school had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design and typography.

The Bauhaus art school existed in three German cities (Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932, Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors (Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1927, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 to 1933). The changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors, and politics. When the school moved from Weimar to Dessau, for instance, although it had been an important revenue source, the pottery shop was discontinued. When Mies took over the school in 1930, he transformed it into a private school, and would not allow any supporters of Hannes Meyer to attend it.


Elaborate and formal architectural style characterized by symmetry and an abundance of sculptured ornamentation. The Beux Arts School in Paris focused on the traditonal aspects of Academic painting.


Wax from honeycombs, used as a medium in modeling, in encaustic painting, in wax varnishes, in etching grounds, as a resist in batik, and other techniques and media. 


The ingredient in the paint which adheres the pigment particles to one another and to the ground. It creates uniform consistency, solidity, and cohesion.

Biomorphic Art

Abstract art whose shapes resemble living organisms. The shapes are rounded and graceful appearing and have the contours of plants and animals rather than hard-lined geometric forms. Surrealist Yves Tanguy often used Biomorphic shapes in his paintings.

Bloomsbury Group

KEY DATES: 1904 The Bloomsbury group was basically a group of like minded friends with a 'common attitude to life', many of whom had first met at Trinity College, Cambridge at the turn of the century.

From 1904 onwards they met regularly at the Gordon Square home of Thoby Stephen in Bloomsbury, London. Thoby and his sisters, Vanessa and Virginia, (later to become Bell and Woolf), and brother Adrian hosted 'at homes' when they and their friends indulged in free conversations about art, literature and philosophy. 'Bloomsbury' has become synonymous with both literary and artistic styles, as well as with economic theory and psychology. The group included Clive Bell, John Maynard Keynes, Desmond McCarthy, Leonard Woolf and Saxon Sydney Turner. Bloomsbury writers included some of the great names of the 20th century; E.M.Forster, the critic and biographer Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf.

The Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant were greatly influenced by the Post Impressionists and their painting celebrates the sensuous beauty of everyday domestic surroundings.

British Museum

British Museum founded in 1753.The BM holds in trust for the nation and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. Housed in one of Britain's architectural landmarks, the collection is one of the finest in existence, spanning two million years of human history. Access to the collections is free.


Italian term meaning workshop or studio and referencing a place where an aspiring Italian artist learns from a master artist. The term also pertains to a workshop where assistants help a painter or sculptor execute a work that bears the signature of the supervising artist---the Master. During the Italian Renaissance, about 30 "botteghe" were in Florence, and one of the more famous was overseen by Leonardo Da Vinci. Source: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques".

British Impressionism

It could be said that the first Impressionist was JMW Turner with his 'Rain,Steam and Speed' back in 1844. However Britain's Impressionist movement really took off with the arrival of the American James Mcneill Whistler in the early 1860s, leading to artists such as Sickert, Scott, Steer and Roussel. The movement was futher established with the formation of the New English Art Club in 1886.

British Surrealism

British surrealism aspired to be a radical art movement, founded in 1936 by Paul Nash (1889-1946) Eileen Agar (1899-1991) Emmy Bridgwater (1906-1999) David Gascoyne (1916-2001) Humphrey Jennings (1907-1950) Conroy Maddox (1912-2005) ELT Mesens (1903-1971) Roland Penrose (1900-1984) Toni del Renzio (1915-2007) Julian Trevelyan (1910-1988) John Tunnard (1900-1971) Simon Watson Taylor (1923-2005) They were to merge with their French counterparts in 1947, Surrealism was born in Paris in 1922 when André Breton gathered a group of artists, poets and writers who wanted to free creativity from the restraints of reason by exploring the unconscious mind. To do this, they developed an interest in recording dreams, automatic writing (streams of unconnected words), word games and artworks which juxtaposed unusual objects.


Bronze is any of a broad range of copper alloys, usually with tin as the main additive.It is strong and tough and is often favoured by Artists for Sculpture. It was particularly significant in antiquity, giving its name to the Bronze Age.