50 terms

AP Art History Key Terms

From the AP Art History Crash Course book, a list of 50 terms that are most asked about on the AP exam with visual examples.
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Pylon
A pair of truncated, pyramidal towers flanking the entrance to an Egyptian temple.
Ex: The Temple of Horus at Edfu
Hypostyle
A hall with a roof supported by a row of columns
Ex: Temple of Amon-Re at Karnak
Hierarchical Scale
The representation of more important figures as larger than less important ones.
Ex: Victory Stele of Narim-sin
Register
One of a series of rows in a pictorial narrative.
Ex: Standard of Ur, Palette of King Narmer
Repousee
A technique in which a relief is formed on the front by hammering a metal plate from the back.
Ex. Funerary masks discovered at Mycenae
Corbeled Vault
A vault formed by the piling of stone blocks in horizontal courses, cantilevered inward until the two walls meet in an arch.
Ex: Lion's Gate at Mycenae, Treasury of Atreus
Kouros
An Archaic Greek statue of a standing nude male.
Kore
An Archaic Ancient Greek statue of a standing, draped female.
Caryatid
A column carved to represent a woman.
Ex: The Erechtheum caryatid porch
Pediment
In Classical Architecture the triangular section of a temple roof often decorated with sculpture
Entablature
In Classical architecture the part of a building above the columns and below the roof. The entablature of a Classical temple includes the architrave, frieze and cornice.
Contrapposto
The relaxed natural pose or "weight shift" first introduced in Greek sculpture in 480 BCE. First used in Kritios Boy, contrapposto separates Classical from Archaic Greek statuary.
Frieze
In Classical architecture a frieze is a continuous horizontal band of sculptural decoration.
Ex: Ionic frieze in the Parthenon depicting the Panathenaic Procession (not pictured)
Mosaic
Images composed of small pieces of colored glass or stone. The Romans often used mosaics to decorate their floors.
Ex: The Alexander Mosaic, which shows Alexander the Great pursuing Darius III at the Battle of Issus (not pictured)
Voussoir
A wedge-shaped block used in the construction of a true arch. The central voussoir, which sets the arch, is called the keystone.
Pendentive
The concave triangular section of a vault that forms the transition between a square or polygonal space and the circular base of a dome
Ex: Hagia Sophia - pendentives enabled the Byzantine architects to construct the dome
Iconoclasm
A movement in the Byzantine empire that favored banning and destroying images. The destroyers of images were known as iconoclasts.
Encaustic
A painting technique in which pigment is mixed with wax and applied to the surface while hot. Sixth and seventh century Byzantine artists used encaustic to create panel paintings. Jasper Johns used encaustic in his famous painting Flag.
Enamel
A technique in which powdered glass is applied to a metal surface in a decorative design.
Mihrab
A semicircular niche set into the quibla wall of a mosque, at the point nearest to Mecca, toward which the congregation faces to pray
Westwork
The facade and towers at the western end of a medieval church, principally in Germany.
Ambulatory
The passageway around the apse and choir of a church. The ambulatory was originally a feature of Romanesque churches that developed in connection with their use as pilgrimage centers.
Tympanum
The lunette-shaped space above the portals of Romanesque and Gothic churches.
Ex: Chartres Cathedral
Clerestory
A row of windows in the upper part of a wall.
Barrel Vault
A vault is a roof or ceiling. A barrel vault is in effect a deep arch or an uninterrupted series of arches. Roman architects used barrel vaults in the construction of the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla. Barrel Vaults are one of the characteristic features of Romanesque churches.
Groin Vault
A groin vault is formed at the point at which two barrel vaults intersect at right angles. Groin vaults are one of the characteristic features of Gothic cathedrals.
Crypt
A vaulted space usually located under the apse. Since a crypt is wholly or partially underground, it is not found in the nave elevation of a church.
Vellum
Calfskin prepared as a surface for writing or painting.
Ex: The Lindisfarne Gospels use tempera on vellum, calendar pictures of Les Tres Riches Heures use ink on vellum.
Diptych
A two-paneled painting or altarpiece.
Ex: The Melun Diptych by Jean Fouquet (not pictured)
Triptych
A three-paneled painting or altarpiece.
Ex: The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, Merode Altarpiece by Robert Campin, Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo Van der Goes
Predella
The painted or sculpted lower portion of an altarpiece that relates to the subjects of the upper portion
Chiaroscuro
In drawing or painting, the treatment and use of light and dark, especially by gradations of light that produce the effect of modeling.
Ex: Tribute Money by Masaccio
Cartoon
In painting, a full-size preliminary drawing from which a painting is made.
Ex: Da Vinci's Virgin and Child with Sainte Anne and the Infant Saint John
Ecorche
A figure painted or sculpted to show the muscles of the body as if without skin.
Ex: Battle of the Ten Nudes by Pollaiuolo (engraving)
Orthogonal
A line imagined to be behing and perpendicular to the picture plane. The orthogonals in a painting appear to recede toward a vanishing point.
Ex: Perugino's Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom
Intaglio
A graphic technique in which the design is incised, or scratched, on a metal plate, either manually (engraving) or chemically (etching). The incised lines of the design take the ink, making this the reverse of the woodcut technique.
Impasto
When an artist applies thick layers of oil paint.
Ex: Rembrant and Van Gogh
Japonisme
The French fascination with all things Japanese. Japonisme emerged in the second half of the 19th century. THe Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were particularly impressed with the use of bold contour lines, flat areas of color and cropped edges in Japanese woodblock prints.
Avant-Garde
Late 19th and 20th century artists whose work emphasized innovation and challenged established conventions.
Bauhaus
A school of architecture in Germany in the 1920s under the leadership of Walter Gropius
Readymade
An ordinary object that, when artists give it a new context and title, is transformed into an art object. Readymades were important features of the Dada and Surrealism movements of the early 20th century.
Ex: Marcel Duchamp's Fountain
Cantilever
A beam or structure that is anchored at one end and projects horizontally beyond its vertical support.
Ex: Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright dramatically uses cantilevers
Biomorphic
An adjective used to describe forms that resemble or suggest shapes found in nature. Biomorphs are therefore not abstract shapes.
Assemblage
An artwork constructed from already existing objects.
Ex: Tropical Garden by Louise Nevelson
Photomontage
A composition made by pasting together pictures or parts of pictures, especially photographs. Also called a photocollage. Hannah Hoch and Romare Bearden created noteworthy examples of photomontages.
Stupa
A large, mound-shaped Buddhist shrine
Pagoda
A multistoried Chinese tower, usually associated with a Buddhist temple, having a multiplicity of projecting eaves.
Pueblo
A communal multistoried dwelling made of stone or adobe brick by the Native Americans of the Southwest.
Ex: The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde
Mudra
In Buddhist and Hindu iconography, a stylized and symbolic hand gesture.
Ukiyo-E
Japanese "pictures of the floating world." A style of Japanese genre painting that influenced 19th century western art.
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