HumanitiesWeb.org - Glossary definition: Subject Matter Subject Matter
The literal, visible image in a work of art, as distinguished from its content, which includes the connotative, symbolic, and suggestive aspects of the image.
In the period 6500-5500 B.C., a farming society emerged in northern Mesopotamia and Syria which shared a common culture and produced pottery that is among the finest ever made in the Near East.
The subject matter of still life paintings is determined by the objects that are portrayed in the paintings. Discover some of the natural still life objects that appear in famous still life paintings throughout history! ...
The tavern scenes and everyday life:
These form the crux of Brouwer's work and gained him popularity in the Netherlands and Flanders. He would frequent the taverns wherever he stayed not only for his own pleasures but also for inspiration.
subject matter - As opposed to content, the subject matter is the subject of the artwork, e.g., still life. The theme of Vanitas (popular a few centuries ago) of vanity, death, universal fate, etc., used in the still life, can be considered the content.
The visual or narrative focus of a work of art.
Édouard Vuillard. Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist. 1893
André Masson. Automatic Drawing. 1924
Andy Warhol. Double Elvis. 1963
 Subject matter
The center part shows the village of Saint-Rémy under a swirling sky, in a view from the asylum towards north.
That which is represented in a work of art. (In a portrait, the subject is the person depicted; in a landscape, the subject is the actual scene; in abstract art, the subject may only exist in the artist's mind.)
Subject matter often used in Rococo art such as light hearted frivolity of the upper classes was fashionable once again. This style favored interpretations of Greek, Roman and Renaissance themes. Imagery often centered around Biblical stories, Arthurian legends and mythology.
The subject matter of the ceiling is the doctrine of Humankind's need for Salvation as offered by God in Jesus through the Church.
The subject matter of Bruegel's compositions covers an impressively wide range.
The subject matter of ukiyo-e, "pictures of the floating world", first appeared in screens and hanging scrolls, but in the later seventeenth century was taken up by woodblock printers.
"The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really." - Lucian Freud.
"I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." - Lucian Freud.
"With a subject matter as broad as life itself, the arts easily relate to aspects of almost everything else that is taught."
Charles Fowler ...
Even if the subject matter of the Fauve painting is often traditional (for example, a portrait, a nude, a landscape or an interior), the Fauve colors were something different. The Fauve colors seemed bright and unnatural, even assaulting to the eye.
"In hauling subject matter into an area of aesthetic discourse that mimicked the issues abstraction had raised, the artists were clearly as ambitious as any other "fine" artist with designs on history.
3. informal subject matter
practiced between approximately 1864 and 1917 in France.
visual vocabulary ...
portrait: subject matter category in which the main purpose of the art work is to communicate a likeness of an individual or group of individuals.
positive space: the primary subject matter in a work of art, as opposed to the background or unoccupied spaces.
As a result, the subject matter between Pollock's art and the art of Native America becomes similar.
iconography - the subject matter in works of art; specific and/or traditional symbolic representations or elements associated with the subject or themes of works of art.
innovation - bringing into being something new; an original (creative) way of depicting subjects or themes.
For the picture's subject matter Cassatt may have drawn upon Edouard Manet's Boating (1874, Metropolitan Museum of Art), a painting that she greatly admired.
Popular still life subject matter includes things we eat and the utensils with which we cook and eat them. Flower arrangements are high in popularity as well. One may also see the odd musical instrument, sheet music, book, candle, form of weaponry or, on (thankfully) rare occasions, human skull.
Characterized in architecture by round arches, large domes, and extensive use of mosaic; characterized in painting by formal design, frontal and stylized figures, and a rich use of color, especially gold, in generally religious subject matter.
calligraphy The art of beautiful writing.
Ashcan School A group of New York realist artists at the beginning of the twentieth century who rejected the formal subject matter of the academy and focused on gritty urban scenes and ordinary, even ugly, aspects of life.
Panorama A broad, sweeping view of subject matter. Commonly used in landscape, seascape, and cityscape photography, panoramic images have a greatly enlarged lateral field. Panoramic cameras, wide-angle lenses, or ordinary cameras can be used to produce a panoramic photograph.
Abstract work with no recognizable subject matter is called non-objective art.
ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS: a group of New York artists of the 1940's-50's, including Jackson Pollock. They made abstract works meant to express their feelings.
Both the subject matter and the handling of it were new and unusual. Perov advisedly chose to paint the reality plain and even filthy. Perov's Easter Procession in a Village marked the beginning of a new period leading to Repin's Religious Procession in the Province of Kursk.
Tempera technique rediscovered by Károly Patkó resulted in previously dark tones fading into light ones and more colourful pictures, subject matters were taken from everyday life. The real change is best demonstrated in "Promenade Concert" by Vilmos Aba-Novák.
What is the subject matter? See if Religious events or icons or Greek and Roman myths play a large role in the painting.
Does the painting show perspective? Are people and places shown in three dimensions (not flat)? If yes, you might be looking at a Renaissance painting.
The Eight are remembered as a group, despite the fact that their work was very diverse in terms of style and subject matter-only five of the artists (Henri, Sloan, Glackens, Shinn, and Luks) painted the gritty urban scenes that characterized the Ashcan School.
Organized in 1980 by ten equine artists, the goal is to maintain standards of excellence within the subject matter and "to promote the academic representation of the equine form in drawing, painting and sculpture.
Changes in Content or Subject Matter in the Fine Arts
In an effort to enable themselves and their audience to perceive their messages in a new way, artists seek to find new ways to present their ideas.
These represented the subject matter of the secular 'arts' syllabus of the Middle Ages; first the preparatory trivium - grammar, rhetoric and dialectic, then the basis of a philosophical training, the quadrivium, comprising arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.
This is a French 19th-century term used in an art-historical context to describe a type of subject matter for painting. Such pictures were collected in the Netherlands in the 17th century and many artists specialized in their production.
Edouard Manet was among the very first artists of the nineteenth century to move away from classic subject matter. Manet´s interest was in modern life and modern subjects In this way he was among those artists who helped to move the arts from ´Classic Realism´ to ´Impressions of a modern world´.
It was inevitable that the upheval described above would also affect our subject matter. One of the major benefits of this new milieu of learning and enquiry was the spreading of literacy, i.e. the ability of not only to be able to read but also to write.
In Cubism the subject matter is broken up, analyzed, and reassembled in an abstracted form. Picasso and Braque initiated the movement when they followed the advice of Paul Cézanne, who in 1904 said artists should treat nature "in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone.
Characterized by elegant and refined yet playful subject matters, Boucher's style became the epitome of the court of Louis XV. His style consisted of delicate colors and gentle forms painted within a frivolous subject matter.
Up until the Impressionists, history had been the accepted source of subject matter for paintings, but Impressionists looked instead to the many subjects in life around them.
Although they are sometimes called the New York realists, because a critic who did not appreciate their choice of subject matter -- alleys, tenements, and slum dwellers -- gave the artists involved in this art movement a more colorful name that's more popularly used: the "Ashcan School.
A cubist artist broke down a subject matter into geometric designs and shapes, and then reorganized and overlapped the elements. Commonplace objects such as tables and bottles were painted from various points of view, making them look distorted and fragmented.
Organizers did not espouse any specific style or subject matter of art, but had the common goal of casting aside restrictions they regarded as inhibiting.
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).
Photorealists began with the camera as a device for recording the naked truth of their subject matter on film. Then they used a technical, if not scientific, methodology for painting the image captured on film. Observers could then react to the pure truth produced in the systematic process.
"Here, not only did Pollock move away from a reliance on traditional figuration and subject matter, but he broke free from the standard use of drawing and painting implements, usually abandoning their direct contact with the surface.
Nor did they like the subject matters, which they felt to be artificial. Instead they admired the work of the artists of the fifteenth century, with their careful brushwork, serious subjects and bright, fresh colors. These artists began to sign their work with the initials: P.R.B.
Although his palette and subject matter changed when he entered (1904) what is called his "rose period," during which he painted harlequins and circus performers in a lighter and warmer color scheme, ...
abstract. Artwork in which the subject matter is stated in a brief, simplified manner. Little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically, and objects are often simplified or distorted.
additive. Refers to the process of joining a series of parts together to create a sculpture.
Still Life - A painting or other two-dimensional work in which the subject matter is an arrangement of objects - fruit, flowers, tableware, pottery, and so forth - brought together for their pleasing contrasts of shape, color, and texture.
The Ashcan School was more revolutionary in its subject matter rather than its style. The Ash Can school artists sought to paint "real life" and urban reality. These artists believed what was real and true in life was what was beautiful and what constituted "art.
Realism: A style of painting which depicts subject matter (form, color, space) as it appears in actuality or ordinary visual experience without distortion or stylization.
Remarque: A sketch or watercolor, usually handmade by the artist, which may accompany a special fine art edition.
Also, the Minimalism movement expressed that subject matter did not have to be commercial and frivolous, it could be strong and structured and still create an appeal toward the viewer.
Still life: Any work whose subject matter is inanimate objects.
Study: A comprehensive drawing of a subject or details of a subject that can be used for reference while painting.
Support: The surface on which a painting is made: canvas, paper, wood, parchment, metal, etc.
The message conveyed by a work of art - its subject matter and whatever the artist hopes to convey by that subject matter.
A line that creates a boundary separating an area of space or object from the space around it.
The term derives from the Dutch 'stilleven', which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter.
The term used to describe film directors (and on rare occasions producers or writers) who are considered to have a distinctive, recognizable style, because they repeatedly return to the same subject matter, habitually address a particular psychological or moral theme, ...
An early 20th-century school of painting and sculpture in which the subject matter is portrayed by geometric forms without realistic detail, stressing abstract form at the expense of other pictorial elements largely by use of intersecting often transparent cubes and cones.
Art which is innovative and producing new ideas and subject matter. First appeared in France during nineteenth century and is usually credited to Henri de Saint-Simon.
Dealing as it did with pure form more than with any type of narrative or subject matter, Precisionism gradually evolved towards Abstraction, and faded away as an important influence.
Chronological Listing of Precisionists
Use ctrl-F (PC) or command-F (Mac) to search for a name ...
Iconography- The study of the significance and interpretation of the subject matter of art.
Idealization- A process in art through which artists strive to make their forms and figures attain perfection, based on pervading cultural values and/or their own metal image of beauty.
Art whose subject matter contains recognizable images from real life.
A principle of design. Rhythm involves the repetition of elements to create the illusion of movement.
Exclusive art lesson from ArtGraphica, showing how to draw portraits in a painterly fashion. The subject matter is taken from an oil painting by Swedish artist, Anders Zorn, and drawn using charcoal and panpastel. It is executed on Strathmore 500 paper.
Anders Zorn Portrait Drawing ...
symbolism A painting movement that flourished in France in the 1880s and 1890s in which subject matter was suggested rather than directly presented. It featured decorative, stylized, and evocative images.
For more information try a book or magazine search
This kind of print was in high demand from about the sixteenth century forward, often used in artists’ studios as inspiration or to ensure consistency in representations of certain subject matter, such as religious or biblical scenes.
Realism a style of art in which the subject matter is portrayed as it appears in actuality and without distortion or stylization ...
The subject matter is frequently banal and without particular interest; the true subject of a photorealist work is the way in which we interpret photographs and paintings in order to create an internal representation of the scene depicted.
1) A set of three paintings or bas reliefs, related in subject matter and connected side by side. The two outside half-panels (called wings) may be closed over the central panel. 2) A set of three prints that make one complete image.
Bust: A sculpture, the subject matter of which 's a portrait of the head and shoulders of a figure.
But, there is another more interesting question beyond this: Why was Manet exploring new subject matter, new painterly values and spatial relationships? He produced a modernist painting, but why did he produce such a work?
Style. Characteristics in the handling of the media and the treatment of the subject matter that identify a work of art as belonging to a particular artist, culture, genre, art movement, etc.
Having an emphasis on highly structured visual relationships rather than on subject matter or non-visual content.
The shape or proportions of a picture plane.
Style using subconscious mental activity as it's subject matter, characterized by dreamlike, hallucinatory imagery. (Early 20th c.) See artists: Miro, Dali, Magritte and Ernst.
I have always worked in series, preferring to explore any given subject matter in depth. Since my main interest is the state of mankind, I have explored that subject both directly and indirectly throughout my long involvement with art.
If there was one artist who personified Pop Art it was Andy Warhol. He originally worked as a 'commercial artist' and his subject matter was derived from the imagery of mass-culture: advertising, comics, newspapers, TV and the movies. ...
Abstract art An art form which is not dependent upon a fundamentally naturalistic approach to the subject matter for the expression of form, space and color.
Artwork that contains political subject matter, takes a stand on an issue, or addresses a public concern.
The term "genre" is also used for the various categories of subject matter in the traditional academic hierarchy, in descending order of importance: history, megalography, mythology, religion, portraiture, genre (see the first sense above), landscape, still-life and vernacular.
Chinese painting can be divided into three main types according to subject matter.
Braque and Pablo Picasso were soon after dubbed Cubists, and their innovative approach to pictorial space and subject matter exercised vast influence on modern painting.
I will try to make sense of some of the more important points that you may want to understand. In attempting to do this in an abbreviated form I am simplifying a large amount of subject matter, ...
ABSTRACT ART. This general term refers to works executed in accordance with the principle that lines, forms and colors possess aesthetic values which may be arranged into pleasing COMPOSITIONS devoid of normal subject matter. The principle is very old and can be traced back to Plato.
Post-Impressionism : Post-impressionism was both an extension of impressionism and a rejection of its limitations. Post-impressionists continued using vivid colours, thick application of paint, distinctive brushstrokes and real-life subject matter, ...
And for the new to be possible, old movements must be altogether adandoned, or in the case of Picasso's Cubism, deconstructed. In these paintings, for example, familair subject matter is taken apart, laid out, and thus seen from an entirely new perspective.
Further Information ...
changes its appearance by leaving out details, simplifying or rearranging its parts to express his or her idea or feeling. Abstraction can occur in varying degrees, perhaps to the extent where you may not recognize the subject in the final product. Abstract work with no recognizable subject matter ...
There is no doubt that he thought much of himself, as he titled his autobiography "Diary of a Genius". Despite his shameless self-promotion, the meticulous draftsmanship and realistic detail of his paintings ranks him as a master, whose subject matter makes him a great modern painter.
Expressionism - Expressionism is an art in which the emotions of an artist are paramount and take precedence over a rational or true to life rendering of subject matter ...more info
Eye Level - Eye level is a term used in linear perspective where it is the same as the horizon line ...
Consider the Campbell's Soup Cans labels, by Andy Warhol. Even the labeling on the shipping carton containing retail items has been used as subject matter in pop art. Consider Warhol's Campbell's Tomato Juice Box 1964, or his Brillo Soap Box sculptures.
genre painting A realistic style of painting in which everyday life forms the subject matter, as distinguished from religious or historical painting. Back to Top
- H -
highlight On a represented form, a point of most intense light.
See also: Painting, Movement, Renaissance, Expression, Sculpture