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Glossary of Art Terms: 'N'

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A style in which an artist intends to represent a subject as it appears in the natural world - precisely and objectively - as opposed to being represented in a stylized or intellectually manipulated manner. Although naturalism is often used interchangeably with the term realism, there is a difference between them. The realism of Gustave Courbet is more interested in the honest and blunt depiction of subjects and situations, while the naturalism of Ernest Meissonier is more a visually accurate depiction of subjects, which in other hands might well have been depicted ideally. See also Realism and Photo-Realism.


A French art style and movement that originated as a reaction to the Baroque in the mid-eighteenth century, and continued into the middle of the nineteenth century. It sought to revive the ideals of ancient Greek and Roman art. Neoclassic artists used classical forms to express their ideas about courage, sacrifice, and love of country.

Nonobjective Art

Art which does not represent or intend to represent any natural or actual object, figure, or scene. It is distinctly different than Abstract Art in that rather than being abstracted from reality, Nonobjective art is developed using forms not drawn from the visible world. Wassily Kandinsky is credited as being the first to have created purely Nonobjective Art. Some consider Nonobjective Art to be a natural progression and just a step beyond Abstract Art. Other popular terms used are Nonrepresentational Art and Nonfigurative Art.