The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Pablo Picasso
2. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas
3. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Oscar Wilde
4. To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. Schumann
5. The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Walt Whitman

October 05, 2017

1. Course one: An overview on the peculiarities of the discourse about art

The members of the (artistic) discourse community share a number of features:
  • a set of common public goals
  • mechanisms of intercommunication
  • mechanisms to provide information and feedback
  • GENRES - which are specific to the common goals
  • specific lexis
  • discourse expertise in the specific field
TASK 1: Can you exemplify these common features: e.g. What common goals do artists have? Which are the mechanisms through which they communicate among themselves?
Art and communication : visual + verbal/linguistic

Visual communication: facilitated by such features as : theme, subject-matter, elements of design, principles of design/composition, iconography (signs, symbols).

Task 2: give some examples of how the artist may communicate a specific thing through one or more of the above features of the plastic discourse.

Linguistic/verbal communication: 

The artistic discourse community employs its own discourse, characterized by certain features:

  • specific vocabulary (the specific lexis)

- everyday words placed in a new, art-specific context (e.g. brush, installation, ground, glazing, etc)
- words from science and technology (e.g. de-gas; alkydic resin)
-word-formation (e.g. water-colour, aqua-tint, body colour, aquamarine, etc)
- borrowings (from French: e.g.frottage, sanguine, gouache, and Italian: e.g. sfumato, chiaroscuro, sgraffitto, etc )
- specific phrases (e.g. still life, life size, colour field, nonobjective art, found object, ready made, etc)
- trademarks/tradenames (e.g. a Picasso, a Chanel, an Impressionist, etc)

  •  specific morphology, syntax, semnatics, rhetoric (not extremely different from the general use, yet presenting a number  of peculiarities; see Artspeak and IAE = International Art English)
  •  specific GENRES

NOMENCLATURES = hierarchical arrangement of the terminology of an area of study ; they are probably the most important characteristic of any specific vocabulary.

subject-matter identifiable objects, stories, events; "what is depicted?"
  • representational/abstract/non-representational=nonobjective art
  • meaning=content
  • title
  • iconography + iconology
formal elements:
  • line (e.g. dominant/subordinate, smooth/jerky/brusque/jagged)
  • shape (e.g. geometric/biomorphic)
  • light/dark (value,key)
  • mass
  • volume
  • colour, hue, value, intensity/saturation/purity; primary/secondary/intermediate/analogous/monochromes/warm/cool
  • space (overlapped shapes, foreshortening, size, linear=geometric perspective + vanishing point/atmospheric=aerial perspective/realistic space/analogical,abstract space; three/bi-dimensional space
  • texture
  • time and motion
  • sound and smell
principles of design:
  • balance (symmetrical/approximately simmetrical/asymmetrical balance)
  • focal point
  • dominance
  • economy
  • rhythm
  • scale, proportion ("the golden section")
  • unity/variety
  • open/closed composition

purposes of art (functions that artworks may fulfill - in religious rituals, commemorating, assertion of power, honouring a person, recording an event, etc)

processes and materials/media
  • drawing (e.g. in silverpoint, in pastels, etc)
  • painting (e.g. in acrylics, oil paint, etc)
  • printmaking (relief/intaglio processes/engraving/drypoint/aquatint, etc)
  • sculpture (additive/subtractive; modelling, casting, assemblages, etc)


  • conceptual, representational, illusionistic, naturalistic, realistic, idealistic, abstract, non-representational;
  • Classsical/Romantic/Baroque/Impressionistic/Expressionistic, etc
GENRES     = classes of communicative events (spoken, or written) which share communicative  purposes

The genres that we will be studying are:
  • the critical essay (the formal analysis, the expository essay, the compare and contrast essay, the argumentative essay);
  • the essay examination;
  • the research paper
  • the art review
  • the artnews
  • the artist's statement
  • the artist's blog
  • the artist's home page/web site
  • the exhibition catalogue

NOTE: for more detailed information and a deeper insight, please consult  the following books (in the UAD library) by Anda-Elena Cretiu: An ESP Perspective on Art-Related Discourse, EZway Books, LLC, Las Vegas,NV, 2004, chapter3- An overview on the peculiarities of the discourse about art, pp.71-100; the 1000 terms dictionary at the end may also be of some help + Art Terms - English-Romanian/ Romanian-English Dictionary, CCS, 2015. You may as well consider  Discourse and Communication in Visual Arts, CCS, 2014 (pp. 9-68) and 249-259

DEADLINE: October 22, 24 hrs.

Please bring comments under each section you may have something to add to. You are encouraged to come up with some new examples for each section.

2. Manet's "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe"

The above link is to a kind of summary of the material we have watched; however, it may help you remember some things in order to comment on the watched documentary.

Task: comment on how Manet managed to break all the rules by creating this work.

Deadline: October 22