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C O N to C O N Z



concatenation - A series of linked or interconnected things or events.

Also see arrangement, balance, collection, compare, composition, join, juxtaposition, order, periodicity, and sequence.



concave, concavity - To be concave is to have a surface or boundary that curves or bulges inward, as does the inner surface of a hemisphere. Concavity is the state of being concave. (A tip to assist in remembering: caves and cavities go in, while convexities go out.)

An example of an image in which concavity is an issue:



see thumbnail to leftMaurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972), Convex and Concave, 1955, lithograph, 28 x 33.5 cm. See ambiguity and optical illusion.


Also see alar groove, convex, ear, gibbous, mortise, and niche.




concentric - Two or more shapes or forms having the same point at their center. see thumbnail to rightThese three circles are concentric. Concentric contrasts with eccentric: literally, not having the same center, and figuratively, departing from the typical or established norm or pattern.

Examples of art involving concentric arrangements:



see thumbnail to leftKenneth Noland (American, 1924-), Gift, 1961-2, acrylic on canvas, 182.9 x 182.9 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See Color Field painting.





see thumbnail to rightKenneth Noland, Drought, 1962, acrylic on canvas, 176.5 x 176.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London.






see thumbnail to leftFrank Stella, Double Gray Scramble, 1973, screenprint, composition: 23 3/8 x 43 1/8 inches (59.4 x 109.5 cm); sheet: 29 x 50 3/4 inches (73 x 128.9 cm); edition: 100; publisher and printer: Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles; collection Museum of Modern Art, NY. Squares can be concentric too.




see thumbnail to rightRichard Long (English, 1945-), Small White Pebble Circles, 1987, marble pebbles, 4.0 x 200.0 x 200.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London. Long made this piece on a floor with rocks he had collected while walking. See earth art.



concept - An idea, thought, or notion conceived through mental activity. The words concept and conception are applied to mental formulations on a broad scale.

Quotes about concept:

Also see conceptual, conceptual art, creativity, fantasy, interdisciplinary, knowledge, meaning, and memory.



conceptual - In general, referring to concept or conception. In reference to art, imagery which departs from perceptual accuracy to present a mental formulation of the object, rather than its appearance alone. As examples, the rigidly formal art of ancient Egypt may be viewed as conceptual, whereas the Realism of Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877) is perceptual. Nevertheless, it should not be thought that perceptual art is really without ideas (or ideology), however.

Also see conceptual art and program.



conceptual art or Conceptual Art







concrete poetry - Poetry in which layout and typography play visual roles.



see thumbnail to rightJo Daviess, (American, contemporary), Corn, 1967. Daviess describes Corn as an example of a "letter-form pixie" and a "word-projection."


Edwin Morgan (American), "Archives", 1960s, from anthology of concretism, edited by Eugene Wildman, Swallow Press, Chicago, 1969.


Timm Uhlrich (American), "to keep silent", 1960s, from anthology of concretism, edited by Eugene Wildman, Swallow Press, Chicago, 1969.

Also see text.



concretion - In the work of Surrealist Jean (or Hans) Arp (French, 1887-1966), sculptural form characterized by twisting and growing effects.

Also see amorphous, biomorphic, and organic.



condensation - Water that turns from vapor in the air to liquid on the surface of objects when the air becomes saturated with water vapor because of cooling or the adition of more moisture. Climate control during exhibition, storage, and shipping can prevent such condensation from damaging artworks.

Also see art conservation and silica gel.



condensed type - In typography, a narrow version of regular type.

An example:



see thumbnail to rightTriple Gothic Condensed





condition - The physical state of an artwork. This may refer to a contract provision or stipulation. One or more condition photographs may clearly document all defects, flaws, and physical conditions of an object.

Also see art conservation, climate control, and museum.



cone [first sense], conical - A three-dimensional shape having a surface formed by a straight line (the side length) passing through a fixed point and moving along a circular curve. It usually refers to a right circular cone — a cone in which the side length remains a constant length. The volume of a right circular cone equals one-third of pi (3.14159) times radius squared times height. Its surface area (including circular side) equals pi times radius times the sum of radius plus side length. Lateral area (not including circular side) equals pi times radius times side length.

Related link:

Also see arc, circle, the second sense of "cone", coning, cylinder, ellipse, hyperbola, parabola, polyhedron, pyrometric cones, and sphere.



cone [second sense] - Physically essential to enabling sight, the photoreceptors on the retina of the eye which are responsive to color and in bright conditions. see thumbnail to rightIn this illustration, the cones and rods are the pink forms shown embedded in the anterior of the retina's surface. The cones are the thicker, conical forms, among the more uniformly thin rods.

Also see afterimage, binocular vision, colorblind, the first sense of "cone", gestalt, Op Art, ophthalmology, optical, optical mixing, perception, and peripheral vision.



confection - Something sweet tasting and finely made from many ingredients; most likely a candy. Often, metaphorically, a piece of fine craftsmanship — an example might be a piece of architecture or furniture, or a porcelain figurine, even a painting — but both sugary and finely crafted. Curiously, the speaker's intent may well be either complimentary or derogatory, but is unlikely to be neutral.

Also see bad art, bibelot, bric-a-brac, femmage, gewgaw, kitsch, and tchotchke.



configuration - Arrangement of parts or elements of a shape, a form, or of a figure, especially the pattern formed by the arrangement of parts within a form. In the terminology of psychology, Gestalt.



conflation - A fusion or combination of elements into a composite whole.

Also see assemblage, collage, composition, construction, montage, pasteup, and pastiche.



conflict - A state of tension, within or between figures, ideas, or interests; discord, a clash, or struggle. In narrative analysis, the opposition of forces that motivates or shapes the action of the narrative.



conglobe and conglobate - To form into a compact spherical mass -- a ball. Both "conglobe and "conglobate" came to English from the Latin verb "conglobare" about the 16th century. The word "glob" is a relative too. "Glob" might have originated as a blend of "globe" and "blob."

(pr. kahn-BLOHB or kən-GLOHB and kahn-GLOH-bayt or kən-GLOH-bayt)

Also see spheroid.




congruity - See incongruity.



coning - When a mass of clay is worked on a potter's wheel, it is coned by repeatedly drawing it up into a conical shape and then flattening it down to center it on the wheel and shape the mass. In addition, the first part of this process is known as coning up, the second as coning down.



connoisseur - A person, amateur or professional, who through experience, has become highly sensitive to beauty in art. One who professes to know about such matters. A rarely used synonym is iconophile. Many postmodernists find the idea of any connoisseur repugnant.

(pr. kah-nə-SəR)

Artists' pictures of connoisseurs:




see thumbnail to rightPieter Bruegel (Netherlandish,1525?-1569), Artist and Connoisseur, 1565, pen and ink on paper, 25 x 22 cm, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna. See Northern Renaissance and self-portrait.





see thumbnail to leftJames Gillray (English, 1757-1815), A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper, c. 1795, stipple engraving. Gillray expresses his disdain for England's King George III by pushing this caricature of him toward the grotesque. Samuel Cooper (English, 1609-1672) was one of the leading miniaturists of the 17th century, and was patronized by Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. Cromwell, Lord Chief Protector of England (1599-1658), had commissioned Cooper to paint the portrait miniature this royal connoisseur is seen examining.

see thumbnail to rightThe portrait was famously realistic, capturing the thinning Cromwell literally "warts and all."

Gillray's engraving was produced shortly after the American and French revolutions, when King George III had grown unpopular. Gillray implies that this king could suffer a fate similar to that of King Charles I: beheaded by Cromwell's supporters in 1649.



see thumbnail to leftHonoré-Victorin Daumier (French, 1808-1879), The Connoisseur, c. 1860-65, pen and ink, wash, watercolor, lithographic crayon, and gouache over black chalk, wove paper; sheet: 17 1/4 x 14 inches (43.8 x 35.5cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See caricature, drawing , and Realism.






see thumbnail to rightJohn Sloan (American , 1871-1951), Connoisseurs of Prints, 1905, etching, image 12.7 x 17.6 cm, printer, Peter J. Platt, Museum of Modern Art, NY. See the Eight.






see thumbnail to leftNorman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978), The Connoisseur, 1961, oil on canvas, commissioned to be reproduced on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, January 13, 1962. See illustration and narrative art, and Realism.



Also see audience, bin, collector, dilettante, patron, and viewer.



connotation - A thought or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing which goes beyond denotations, or literal meanings. Any figurative meaning, emotional baggage, or conventional associations attaching to words and things. Connotations may be universal, restricted to a group (for instance, a nationality, income level or gender), or personal. The usefulness of the latter category is questionable, since it is quite possible for an individual viewer to read into a work personal connotations which are not shared by a general audience.

Also see art criticism, blot, judgment, negative, and positive.



consciousness - The state of being conscious or aware, which includes a sense of one's personal or collective identity, especially the complex of attitudes, beliefs, and sensitivities held by or considered characteristic of an individual or a group, especially at a given moment (as opposed to "mind" which is the sum of past conscious moments). Many twentieth century thinkers, both in philosophy and in the medical sciences, describe consciousness on a materialist model as a byproduct of synaptic exchanges (whether described in chemical, electrical, or neurological terms). Also used to refer to a special awareness or sensitivity to a concern, an issue, or a situation.

Also see attention, context, epistemology, gestalt, knowledge, meaning, perception, phenomenology, and seeing.




conservation - See art conservation.



consign and consignment - To consign is to transfer something, a work of art or an antique for instance, to a merchant so that it will be sold. In advance of the transferance, the terms of the consignment must be agreed upon — time period, price, fee paid to merchant, etc. The person or entity consigning something is known as the consignee; the person or entity to which it is consigned is the consignor (also spelled consigner).


Also see commodity, gallery, and market value (or monetary worth).



consistency - Agreement among things or parts. Compatibility between related aspects. Continuously similar in certain respects. Also, degree or texture of density, firmness or viscosity.

In order to visualize the meaning of consistency in the first sense, consider an image with deliberately inconsistent aspects:

Maurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972), Other World, 1947, color wood engraving and woodcut printed in black, red-brown, and green, printed from three blocks; image 12 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches (31.8 x 26.1 cm), sheet 39.2 x 32.9 cm. Depending upon which of this room's three windows we look out, we find our point of view is completely different entirely inconsistent with each of the others! See optical illusion.

Quotes about consistency and inconsistency:

Also see absurd, compare, filter, harmony, incongruity, Mohs Scale of Hardness, and pastiche.



construct and construction - To construct is to form by assembling or combining parts; to build. Construction is either the act of constructing or the structure resulting from it. Although it frequently refers to architecture, a construction may also be a sculpture made by joining together various components of various materials or of the same substance.

Examples of works described as constructions:


Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887-1948; in Norway 1937-40; in England 1940-48), Revolving (Das Kreisen), 1919, relief construction of wood, metal, cord, cardboard, wool, wire, leather, and oil on canvas, 48 3/8 x 35 inches (122.7 x 88.7 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. Someone at the Museum of Modern Art describes this as a "relief construction," and this may be more appropriate than calling it a collage. Is it more a construction because its components are joined by nails and wire than by adhesives? From this photo of it, Revolving greatly resembles what might just as appropriately be described as a collage. If these terms overlap, how much do they?!





see thumbnail to rightGustav Klucis (aka Kluzis) (Russian, born Latvia, 1895 - c. 1944), Maquette for Radio-Announcer, 1922, construction of painted cardboard, paper, wood, thread, and metal brads, 45 3/4 x 14 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches (106.1 x 36.8 x 36.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See Constructivism, maquette, and Russian art.





see thumbnail to leftJoseph Cornell (American, 1903-1972), Central Park Carrousel, in Memoriam. 1950, shadow box construction with wood, mirror, wire netting, and paper, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 6 3/4" (51.4 x 36.8 x 17.1 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See sculpture and Surrealism.


Also see assemblage sculpture, bricolage, cement, collage, concrete, Constructivism, hammers, join, mortar, nail, steel.



construction paper - A fairly stiff paper available in various colors, and useful for tempera painting, collage, and paper sculpture. Its colors typically fade easily.

Also see butcher paper, lightfast, permanent, permanent pigment, and tooth.



Constructivism or constructivism - A modern art movement developed in 1917 by the Russian sculptor Vladimir Tatlin (1880-1938). The aim was to construct abstract sculpture suitable for an industrialized society, and the work pioneered the use of modern technology and materials such as wood, glass, plastics and steel. Constructivism was introduced to Western Europe by Antoine Pevsner in Paris, and his brother Naum Gabo in Germany. The principles of Constructivism were highly influential in twentieth century Western art, although for political reasons its influence in Russia ended by 1921.





see thumbnail to rightAntoine Pevsner (French, born Russia, 1886-1962), Maquette of a Monument Symbolising the Liberation of the Spirit, 1952, bronze, 18 x 18 x 11 1/2 inches (4.6 x 4.6 x 29.5 cm), Tate Gallery, London. See wire.





see thumbnail to leftNaum Gabo (worked in Germany, England, and USA, born Russia, 1890-1977), Head of a Woman, c. 1917-20 (after a work of 1916), celluloid and metal, 24 1/2 x 19 1/4 x 14 inches (62.2 x 48.9 x 35.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.





see thumbnail to rightNaum Gabo, Head No. 2, 1916, enlarged version 1964, Cor-ten steel, 175.3 x 134.0 x 122.6 cm, Tate Gallery, London.





see thumbnail to leftNaum Gabo, Model for 'Constructed Torso', 1917, reassembled 1981, cardboard, 39.5 x 29.0 x 16.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See model.





see thumbnail to rightNaum Gabo, Model for 'Column', 1920-21, cellulose nitrate, 14.3 x 9.5 x 9.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London.




see thumbnail to leftNaum Gabo, Construction in Space: Diagonal, 1921-5, reassembled 1986, glass, metal and celluloid, 61.0 x 16.3 x 16.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London.




see thumbnail to rightNaum Gabo, Construction: Stone with a Collar, 1933-6, stone, cellulose acetate, slate and brass, 37.0 x 72.0 x 55.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London.




see thumbnail to leftNaum Gabo, Construction in Space with Crystalline Centre, 1938-40, perspex and celluloid, 32.4 x 47.0 x 22.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London.







see thumbnail to rightGustav Klutsis (aka Kluzis) (Russian, born Latvia, 1895 - c. 1944), Maquette for Radio-Announcer, 1922, construction of painted cardboard, paper, wood, thread, and metal brads, 45 3/4 x 14 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches (106.1 x 36.8 x 36.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See maquette and Russian art.




contact print - A photograph made by placing a negative in direct contact with the emulsion on a sheet of photographic paper.



conté crayon and Conté Crayon



contemporary - Current, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time.

Also see modern, new media, posterity, and postmodern.



content - What a work of art is about; its subject matter. Content should not be confused with form (a work's physical characteristics) or context (a work's environment — time, place, audience, etc.), although each of these effect each other, and a work's total significance. On the other hand, some feel that content is the meaning of a work beyond its subject matter — denotations — that it consists also of its connotations, levels of meaning which are not obviously apparent. Content has three levels of complexity. The first includes literal iconography; straightforward subjects and imagery, describable facts, actions, and/or poses. The second includes the basic genres, figurative meanings like those afforded by conventional signs and symbols, basic tropes, and/or performance qualities. The third represents the effect on the subject of form and context.

(pr. KAHN-tent)

Quote about content:

Related link:

Also see allegory, interesting, and narrative art.



context - The varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the color of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone.

When you look at a painting in the nave of a church, with stained glass windows and prayer candles and parishioners kneeling in the pews, it's quite unlike viewing that painting in a museum, where it is surrounded by informative wall texts, strolling visitors, a café and a gift shop. Go a step further, and imagine the same painting on a postcard that you take away, removing it to yet another container. When you see this painting reproduced on a T-shirt or mouse-pad, and think about how far it has traveled from its original context. Bertolt Brecht said of art that has been reproduced and transformed into a commodity: " will no longer stir any memory of the thing it once designated." Also see art history and art criticism.





continuous-line - See contour drawing.



contour - The outline and other visible edges of a mass, figure or object.




see thumbnail to rightJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780-1867), Madame Edmond Cavé (Marie-Elisabeth Blavot, 1810-), c. 1831-34, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 7/8 inches (40.6 x 32.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. The area of darkness (shadow?) Ingres painted beside Mme. Cavé's profile emphasizes its contour.

About contour:

Also see contour drawing, contour lines, volume, and wireframe.



contour drawing - Drawing in which contour lines are used to represent subject matter. A contour drawing has a three-dimensional quality, indicating the thickness as well as height and width of the forms it describes. Making a contour drawing with a continuous line is a classic drawing exercise (sometimes modified as a "blind continuous-line contour"): with eyes fixed on the contours of the model or object, drawing the contour very slowly with a steady, continuous line, without lifting the drawing tool or looking at the paper. There are other variations on this method.






see thumbnail to rightHenri Gaudier-Brzeska (English, born France, 1891-1915), A Wolf, 1913, drawing on paper, 24.8 x 34.3 cm, Tate Gallery, London.





see thumbnail to leftJames Thurber (American, 1894-1961), All Right, Have It Your Way — You Heard a Seal Bark, c. 1937, pen and ink on paper.


Also see contour, outline drawing, perception, and wireframe.



contour lines - Lines that surround and define the edges of a subject, giving it shape and volume. These should not be confused with a form's outlines.

Strong contour lines can be found in these examples:



see thumbnail to rightHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901), Madame Thadée Natanson (Misia Godebska, 1872-1950) at the Theater, 1895, gouache on cardboard, 24 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches (62.2 x 74.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Post-Impressionism.





Paul Klee (Swiss, born Germany, 1879-1940), Or The Mocker Mocked (Oder der verspottete Spötter), 1930, oil on canvas, 17 x 20 5/8 inches (43.2 x 52.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. Also see Bauhaus and Swiss art.


About contour lines:

Also see contour, outline drawing, and wireframe.






contrast - A large difference between two things; for example, hot and cold, green and red, light and shadow. Closely related to emphasis, a principle of design, this term refers to a way of juxtaposing elements of art to stress the differences between them. Thus, a painting might have bright color which contrast with dark colors, or angular shapes which contrast with curvaceous shapes. Used in this way, contrast can excite, emphasize and direct attention to points of interest.

Contrast came to English from the Latin word contrastare, formed by combining contra meaning against with stare meaning to stand.

When paired with compare, as in "compare and contrast," "compare" emphasizes similarities while "contrast" emphasizes differences.

Related link:


Also see choose, coherence, incoherence, counterpoint, definition, dissonance, incongruity, irony, and juxtaposition.



contrast key - Refers to a level of contrast in an artwork or in a color scheme. A high contrast key is distinct. A low contrast key is obscure.

Also see chroma key, temperature key, tonal key, and value key.



contre jour - French for back lighting.



contrived - When referring to a work of art, one that has been created in a labored way, not spontaneously, with dexterity but little inspiration. Brought into being as a trick or in an obvious way, especially in its content, intent, and / or process.



convention - General agreement on or acceptance of certain customs; a standard attitude, interpretation, or practice (procedure, technique, iconography, etc.).

Also see theater, UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.



conversation piece or conversation galante - A portrait of a group of earnest people. "Conversation galante" is the original and French form of this term, often equivalent to or a variant of the fête galante, made popular by Watteau.





see thumbnail to rightPeter Angellis (English, born Flanders, 1685-1734), Conversation Piece, c. 1715-20, oil on canvas, support 93.7 x 79.7 cm, Tate Britain, London.





see thumbnail to leftNicolas Lancret (French, 1690-1743), Conversation Galante, before 1719, oil on canvas, relined, 68.3 x 53.5 cm, Wallace Collection, London.





see thumbnail to rightJean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806), The Musical Contest (Conversation galante dans un parc L'amoureux couronne), c. 1754-5, oil on canvas, relined, 62 x 74 cm, Wallace Collection, London.





see thumbnail to leftNiclas Lafrensen (Swedish, 1737-18), Conversation Galante, c. 1785, gray wash, body- and watercolor on buff paper, 16.9 x 11.9 cm, Wallace Collection, London.




convex - Having a surface or boundary that curves or bulges outward, as does the exterior of a sphere, or a balloon. see thumbnail to right

Convexity is the state of being convex.






see thumbnail to leftJan van Eyck (Dutch, died 1441), The Arnolfini Marriage [aka Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife], 1434, oil on wood panel, 81.8 x 59.7 cm, National Gallery, London. see thumbnail to rightA convex mirror hangs on the wall behind the bride and groom. In this mirror is a reflection of the scene in the room. The frame of the mirror contains ten rondels which are scenes from the life of Christ. See Dutch art, frame, mirror, and symbol.







see thumbnail to leftCaravaggio (Italian, 1571/73 - 1610), Medusa, oil on a circular convex leather shield, diameter 55.5 cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence. See Baroque, Caravaggisti, mythology, and snake.


Also see boss, concave, fish-eye lens, and gibbous.






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