Art Language and Terminology

Action Plan

It is imperative to develop your understanding of art terminology throughout the two years of this course. As you come across relevant words, add them to our ‘artterminology’ wiki at the address below.

Remember – together we are smarter than any individual in the room (blog).

The references below will help you develop this glossary of terms.


Bosomworth, D 1995, The Encyclopedia of Patterns and Motifs: A collection of 5000 designs from cultures around the world, Studio Editions Ltd, London.

Cooper, J 1978, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, Thames & Hudson, Hampshire.

Doty, W (ed.), Mythosphere: A journal for image, myth and symbol, four issues per volume, Craftsman House, G+B Arts International, Fine Arts Press, NSW.

Greenhaigh, M & Duro, P 1992, Essential Art History, Bloomsbury, London.

Hall, J 1979, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, J. Murray, London.

Kleinert, S & Neale, M 2000, Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McCulloch, A 1994, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Allen & Unwin, NSW.

Osborne, H, Farr, D & Chilvers, I (eds) 1997, Oxford Dictionary of Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Osborne, H (ed.) 1975, The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts, Oxford University Press, London.

Osborne, H (ed.) 1981, Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Read, H. (ed.) 1991, The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists, revised edition, Thames & Hudson, London.

Thomas, A 1994, Illustrated Dictionary of Narrative Painting, John Murray and the National Gallery, London.

Turner, J (ed.) 1996, The Dictionary of Art, Grove, New York. 34 volumes of the most comprehensive and up-to-date historical and critical information.

World Library of Art, Thames & Hudson.

The various titles in this expanding series cover the range of art book subjects. Volumes are devoted to periods, movements, styles, artforms and individual artists, architects, craftspeople and designers.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Artlex – art dictionary

Online glossary with definitions and links to artists and works.

Glossary of Words for Art

Art terminology