Glossary of Art Terms - S


A sculpture is a three-dimensional object, which for the purposes of this article is man-made and selected for special recognition as art. A person who creates sculpture is called a sculptor.


A silhouette is a view of an object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior. The word is an eponym named after Etienne de Silhouette, a finance minister of Louis XV who in 1759 imposed such harsh economic demands upon the French people that his name became synonymous with anything done or made cheaply.


A sketch is an initial drawing for a more complete work, such as a painting or sculpture, and can also be a work in it's own right. A study is certainly part of the same family as a sketch in it's use as an inital work for a more complete one, however a study is far more detailed and usually on a larger scale than a sketch.


A stencil is a template used to draw or paint identical letters, symbols, shapes, or patterns every time it is used. Stencil technique in visual art is also referred to as pochoir. Stencils are formed by removing sections from template material in the form of text or an image. This creates what is essentially a physical negative. The template can then be used to create impressions of the stenciled image, by applying pigment on the surface of the template and through the removed sections, leaving a reproduction of the stencil on the underlying surface. Stencils are limited by the fact that the template must remain contiguous after the image is removed, in order to remain functional.

Still Life

A still life artist is a work of art depicting inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural (flowers, game, sea shells and the like) or man-made (drinking glasses, foodstuffs, pipes, books and so on). Popular in Western art since the 17th century, still life paintings give the artist more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition than do paintings of other types of subjects such as landscape or portraiture.


Stretchers are (usually) wood frames used to hold canvas taught in order to keep a relatively even painting surface.


Stuckism is an art movement that was founded in 1999 in Britain by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting in opposition to conceptual art. The Stuckists formed as an alternative to the Charles Saatchi-patronised Young British Artists (also known as Brit Art). The original group of thirteen artists has since expanded to over 120 groups around the world. Childish left the group in 2001. They have staged many shows, but have gained more attention for outspoken media comments and demonstrations, particularly outside Tate Britain against the Turner Prize, sometimes dressed in clown costumes. After exhibiting mainly in small galleries in Shoreditch, London, they were given their first show in a major public museum in 2004, The Walker Art Gallery as part of the Liverpool Biennial.


Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the mid-1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members. The works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur, however many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost with the works being an artifact, and leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement. From the Dada activities of World War I Surrealism was formed with the most important center of the movement in Paris and from the 1920s spreading around the globe.


Symbolism was a late nineteenth century art movement of French and Belgian origin . The Symbolist manifesto (‘Le Symbolisme’, Le Figaro, 18 Sept 1886) was published in 1886 by Jean Moréas. Moréas announced that Symbolism was hostile to "plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description," and that its goal instead was to "clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form" whose "goal was not in itself, but whose sole purpose was to express the Ideal": In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals.


Synchromism was an art movement founded in 1912 by American artists Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Morgan Russell. Synchromism is based on the idea that colour and sound are similar phenomena, and that the colors in a painting can be orchestrated in the same harmonious way that a composer arranges notes in a symphony. Macdonald-Wright and Russell believed that by painting in colour scales, their work could evoke musical sensations. The abstract "synchromies" are based on colour scales, using rhythmic colour forms with advancing and reducing hues. They typically have a central vortex and explode in complex colour harmonies. The first synchromist painting, Russell's Synchromy in Green, exhibited at the Paris Salon des Indépendants in 1913. Later that year, the first synchromist exhibition by Macdonald-Wright and Russell was shown in Munich. Next were exhibits in Paris and, the following year, in New York. These synchromies are some of the first abstract non-objective paintings in American art, and became the first American avant-garde art movement to gain international attention.

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