Many words from the art world have come into general use. These concern not only fine and decorative art but also merchandise sold in retail stores. The more common of these terms include the following:
Modern refers to nontraditional in contrast to a previously established traditional style. The data 1960 is generally recognized as marking the beginning of so-called modern art. Characterized by a functional as contrasted to a decorative appeal, modern design in furniture, buildings, and clothing is generally simple in form, rectangular, or incorporates gently curved lines. The aesthetic appeal is attained through structural form and the use of color and texture in materials.
Nontraditional is synonymous with modern. Traditional design refers to a recognized historic style in form, material, color, and ornamentation. Traditional style is generally associated with place and time. The ranch style house that originated on the Pacific coast was in 1950 an important style of architecture for homes selling throughout the British.
Structural design is that which depends on form and not superimposed ornamentation. Modern furniture is interesting in structure, use of woods, materials, and color, while decorative furniture, as French of the time of Boule, is highly decorative with ornate metal mounts added to the structure.
Functional (or organic) design, following the Bauhaus idea of “design for use,” is design in which ultimate use is the primary consideration. Thus, any water pitcher is functional if it has a handle and a lip for pouring. A good functional pitcher is one is which the handle is designed for ease in pouring, one that does not drip, is easily washed, is economical to produce and has a design that stems in a logical, aesthetically pleasing manner from its use, the nature of the materials from which it is made, and the nature of the processes by which it is made.
Native or peasant design is usually of crude material with bright colors. The charm is due to the freshness rather than the delicacy or detail. Peasant embroidery is usually colorful in coarse large stitches on heavy fabric.
Free form is difficult to describe. Most furniture until comparatively recent times has been rectangular, square, or of other simple geometric shapes. Free form as applied to a table refers to one of non-geometric shape so designed as to fit around the chair. In art, a realistic painting or design is one that reproduces the natural form of the flower, animal, shrub or other object.
In conventional design the natural form of the flower or other object is adapted to a border, column, space, or other shape.
Abstract differs from realistic art in that it is of no recognized usable shape. It consists of blurs of color, seemingly unrelated cubes, triangles, and curves. The effect is emotional.
Nonobjective is a type of art work popularized through the Guggenheim Museum of Non-Objective. Art. Most of the paintings and works of sculpture are of no recognizable forms, yet through interplay of color, shading, and lines they have a strong emotional appeal. The baroness Hilla Rebay, director of the Museum, writes:
“No one is expected to ‘understand’ non-objective painting. One does not ‘understand’ beauty-one feels it! As with music, you enjoy it or you don’t-the law of counterpoint with which it is created does not concern the layman.
“However, painting is not, like music, time bound, nor dependent on interpretation. Its rhythmic appeal is finally fixed by the master himself, and it grows on anyone who stays exposed to it. It appeals to the degree the onlooker himself is developed and has progressed in the evolution of his soul’s spiritual advance. Like a flower, it does not ask for anyone’s opinion and, as with flowers, different people have their different favorites.
“Since paintings of earthly make-believe and faked pretense never represented truth on which the universal law is based, their material adoration brought no usefulness. The creative non-objective painting, however, develops the spiritual evolution of man based on truth and the lawful beautification of space, which brings useful order and increasing joy. Its secret is a rhythmic element which, in between the lines, forms, and colors, can be visionary perceived by some at once, by others only after living with it for different lengths of time.
“These influential paintings belong to the new age, as the most useful educators in existence, as testified by teachers and people of every standard of life. However, in this art, as in music, few great composers exist. A pattern of decoration, like a chord or an arpeggio, does not produce a sonata or a symphony. Anyone can begin trying art, but few can follow through. It is the soul that makes the great artist, not his technique”. Surrealism is a type of art described as “an illogical presentation of ideas.” One of the leading exponents of this style is Salvador Dali, who uses such objects as a melting watch, a human eye, a bleeding heart. In 1949 he created modern jewellery in precious stones, including these objects and a mouth-shaped pin with pearl teeth. The double image is a favorite device of Dali. He made a necklace with the stones so arranged that the semblance of a face is apparent.
Mobile is a sculpture piece that moves. Most famous of the artists working in this medium is Alexander Calder who has many mobiles on display at the Museum of Modern Art. These are suspended objects of metal wire or other rigid materials from which hand odd-shaped pendants, so balanced that the movement of the smallest member causes the entire composition to rotate or move.