The process by which a work of art is digitised – the preliminary stage of the creation of an isogram. LITO uses the Lucida scanner invented by British engineer Adam Lowe. The scanner projects a beam not unlike a barcode onto the surface of a painting. The beam records ever detail of the three-dimensional surface – the texture, the impasto, the cracks in the varnish, right down to brushmarks and thumbprints left by the artist.


Art Deco

A decorative style that takes its name from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs, held in Paris in 1925 (though the style evolved earlier). Art Deco is characterised by streamlined clean geometric shapes, bold and stylised depictions of objects. The Art Deco aesthetic was applied in the 1920s and 1930s to everything from architecture (the Chrysler building in New York is very Deco) to domestic crockery (such as the triangular cups and teapots of Clarice Cliff). The Oscar statuette designed in 1927–28 is a good example of the Deco aesthetic, which also revelled in the use of expensive or striking materials (gold and jade, gems and steel) That makes it a fitting style for jewellery. In painting, perhaps the most obviously Deco painter is Tamara de Lempicka, with her sleek and beautiful cars, and women and the almost metallic gleam of her painting technique.


Avant-garde is a term borrowed from military terminology, where it meant a scouting party that reconnoitered ahead of a large attacking force. In art and culture, the term is used to describe any group that pushes the boundaries of artistic experimentation and acceptability. Avant-garde artists are often trying to challenge the idea of what art is or can be – and so are frequently told by the more staid establishment that what they are doing is not art at all. This happened to the Impressionists, to the abstract expressionists, and to the first conceptual artists. Usually, in the end, the establishment catches up and embraces the avant-garde – then the cycle of outrage and acceptance starts again.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism is – like surrealism – an attempt to convey the intricacies of the unconscious mind through paint. This means that the process itself is important: the abstract expressionists gloried in the act of painting. Jackson Pollock’s action paintings, in which he splashed and dripped and dribbled paint on large canvases, have an air of creative chaos, and they look like neural nets. But the works of Mark Rothko, with their large patches of serene color, are also typically and gloriously abstract-expressionist. Other key artists are Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell. All of them are expressing something without trying to tell us something – and they do it with intensity and energy. In that sense, their work could be said to be more akin to, say, symphonic music than to figurative painting.


Abstraction is the idea that paintings need not – or should not – be representations of objects in the real world. Abstract art says that form and colour and shape have meaning and beauty of their own, and are sufficient to make a work of art. A painting need only be a painting; it does not have to be a painting of something. Abstraction has in a sense always existed in art – the geometric patterns as used in Greek pottery or Islamic tiles are abstract. But the philosophy of abstraction as a mode of art really arose in the second decade of the twentieth century. Wassily Kandinsky is usually credited as the first abstract artist, and one of its most eloquent advocates. His Picture with a Circle (1911) is often cited as a the first genuinely abstract painting in the western canon.

Authors’ rights

Authors’ rights are often confused with copyright, but they are not quite the same thing. Author’s rights means that the person who created a work is entitled to be identified as its author, because the work is an expression of their own personality and world view. It follows that authors’ rights are not generally transferrable to another person. Copyright is the right to reproduce and/or profit from a work. These rights generally belong to the author in the first instance, but they can also be sold on, which means that copyright can belong to people and entities other than the original author (or his/her estate). LITO respects both authors’ rights and copyright in all its commercial activity.



Brushwork, it is often said, is the handwriting of an artist. All painters wield the brush differently – making long or short strokes, dabbing or stippling, loading the brush with more or less paint. The individual handling of the brush provide one means establishing whether a painting is the work of a particular artist: If the brushwork isn’t consistent, then it’s not a true match. Every element of an artist’s brushwork is present in a Lito reproduction, because it is a 3-D print. This is the very thing that makes a Lito reproduction unique.


Baroque is an artistic style of the 18th century. It is characterised by rich and exuberant ornamentation – marble and gold, carved bouquets of flowers, clever use of light and dark, and unabashed overflow of religious emotion. It grew out of the resurgence of Roman Catholic confidence that was a consequence of the Counter-Reformation. And it does work best in churches, where the hosts of sculpted saints and cherubim and the painted Biblical crowd scenes work together to make the onlooker feel that the universe is teeming with the agents of God, filled to the brim his enveloping love.


A digital database or ledger in which financial transactions or ownership of assets can be recorded. The records are all decentralized – they are not held on any one computer – making them secure by design. That means that Lito clients always have access to complete and totally reliable information about each picture that they have purchased.



A woven cloth, usually made of linen, and used for painting. The warp and weft of the canvas provides a surface that oil paint can cling to, but it must first be treated with a layer of pigment called a ‘ground’. Canvases stretched on a wooden frame are light and portable – much more so than the wooden boards that were used in the Middle Ages. It is no exaggeration to say that small, pre-prepared canvases are one of the things that made it possible to paint outdoors. Hence the practice of en plein air landscape painting and, ultimately, Impressionism.


Classicism can mean a style of art that looks to Greek and Roman models for inspiration, and uses those cool-headed motifs and tropes to create an air of order and (in the case of architecture) civic grandeur. More generally Classicism implies a belief that artistic creation is governed by a set of useful rules and objective conventions that artists should adhere to. The artistic ‘academies’ and salons of the 18th century were set up to police and enforce those rules – which inevitably led generations of artists to protest and revolt against what they saw as a dogmatic philosophy of creativity.

Contemporary art

The art of now, especially if the art is in some way experimental or daring. All art was contemporary once, of course. So, for art-historical purposes the term contemporary art is often used to mean art made after about 1970 up to the present. Others make an arbitrary start-line at the year 2000. It could be argued that art is contemporary if the artist is still alive and active. Contemporary art is not the same thing as modern art, which is a term used to cover the preceding century or so.

Certificate of authenticity

A certificate of authenticity is a document attesting that a work of art is what it claims to be. The certificate will include the name of the artist, the date of completion of the work, and all the known provenances. It might also state when and where the work has been exhibited.

Conceptual Art

Conceptual art proposes that the essence of an artwork is the idea behind it, the questions it poses, rather than the object that results. There need not even be an end-product, and if there is, then its significance is that it serves as a record, as evidence of the artistic thought process. So when, say, Chinese artist He Xiangyu boils down a swimming pool full of Coca Cola, the important thing is the meaning of the act, not the sticky residue that remains in collections and museums. It could be said that all Conceptual Art poses the question: what is art and what are its limits? It follows that Conceptual Art is enormously diverse, embracing Christo’s wrapped buildings, Marina Abramovic’s provocative performance pieces, Damien Hirst’s pickled sheep and sharks, Tracey Emin’s bed, as well as much land art, found art, and minimalist art.


The legal right to use or reproduce a work of art. Lito has obtained copyright from all parties and partners with a stake in the works it reproduces: the artists themselves where appropriate, artist’s estates, owners of the works when they are in private collections.


Cubism was a radically new answer to the age-old artistic conundrum: how do you render three-dimensional objects on a flat two-dimensional canvas. Braque and Picasso, working at the beginning of the 20th century, abandoned the attempt to depict people or objects from a single standpoint. Instead they painted the idea of the object, seen in the round from every angle at once, the different glimpses and facets overlapping and melding into each other, the whole still somehow recognisable, though transformed almost beyond recognition. That was Cubism. It was a leap forward of utter genius, it revolutionised art, and we are still today working through its consequences for the way we apprehend and experience the world.



An image created using the process invented by Louis Daguerre. Introduced in 1839, it was the first practicable way to create photographs. It was completely overtaken by 1860, but in the meantime some historically important images were made using the daguerreotype method, among them the first known portrait of Abraham Lincoln. As for Louis Daguerre himself, he holds an honorable place in the history of photography and printing.


A short-lived, rebellious art movement that emerged from the trauma and destruction of the First World War. The Dadaists rejected traditional modes of artistic expression and claimed to have no interest in beauty or craftsmanship. When they made pictures, they used cheap and handy techniques such as collage and photomontage (methods that required more skill and judgment than perhaps they let on). The aim was to shock, to shake the public and the establishment out of its complacency, and to question the limits of artistic expression. This same aim was shared by later movements, such as the practitioners of Conceptual Art, who borrowed the Dadaists fondness for ‘found objects’.

Digital certificate

A Lito digital certificate is a document stored on a microchip and embedded invisibly in each cloned painting. It contains all the information about the original work that a buyer would expect to find in a certificate of authenticity. In addition, it gives information concerning the rights of reproduction obtained by Lito from the relevant rightsholders. Also present are the metadata and the smart contracts relating to the work. For the security and peace of mind of Lito’s clients, all this information and data is stored and updated on the blockchain.


The process of recording an image in computer-readable form. The Lito process minutely process all three dimensions of a painting, not just the two-dimensional image but the topography of the painted surface. This digital record is then fed to specially designed and constructed 3-D printers that render the painting in silicon and map the painting to that surface. The result is a cloned painting that is all but indistinguishable from the original.



In art, an edition is a set of identical or very similar artworks made by some repeatable process – silk-screening, lithography, monotype – and then produced in a limited number of copies. The copies may not be entirely the same: small differences creep in when the works are made singly, as in serigraphy, or the artist may choose to introduce an element of variance. To guarantee the authenticity of the edition, each separate picture is usually signed by the artist and numbered. So a not such as 47/100 means that 100 copies were made, of which this is the 47th in the sequence.


Etching is one of many methods of printing pictures by making marks on a metal plate. It is a particularly useful method for artists, because it is not necessary to incise the image laboriously into a hard surface. In etching, the plate is covered in wax, and the artist makes the image by scratching away parts of the wax with a pencil or other pointed tool. That allows for a great deal of fluidity and spontaneity – as when drawing on paper The metal plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed area of metal, creating an recessed area which can be filled with ink and printed in a press.


Figurative art

Figurative art, also called representational art, is art that portrays things in the real world. Figurative art need not portray the world realistically: the kaleidoscopic, multi-faceted portraits of Picasso are figurative in the broadest sense. Most western art was figurative up until the world-shattering invention of abstraction. But that is not to say that there is a clear distinction between the two. Many artists, such as Miro, have produced work that appears abstract at first glance, but somehow hint at real-world objects. Art can semi-abstract, or partly figurative, or sit at any point between the extremes.


‘Les Fauves’, the ‘wild beasts’, is a term that was applied to a group of French artists who exhibited together at the Paris autumn salon of 1905. Nominally headed by Matisse, they were never really an ‘ism’, more an incidental group of artists with a shared aesthetic that included bright garish hues; flat bold shapes for objects. It was this loud and unexpected assault on the eye of the beholder that led a critic to dub the artists wild. To a modern eye, the work – especially Matisse’s – holds no threat or danger. It ebullient, fresh, joyful and wonderfully colourful.



An opaque water-based paint. Gouache is not translucent, like watercolor, and it dries to a matt finish. It is easier to handle than oil paint, and so is sometimes used by artists for making studies on paper before making embarking on a work in oils on canvas. It is also known as ‘poster paint’.



A 3D clone of a work of art, produced by means of LITO’s proprietary technology. To the untrained eye – and to many expert ones – an isogram is indistinguishable from the original work of art. It is itself a work of art, and also a feat of digital engineering.


Impressionism is recognised as the first modern art movement and has been enormously influential and popular down the decades. It’s great innovation was to move away from the dogged depiction of things, and instead to render the effects of light on the surface of things (including water), the visual ‘impression’ that objects in the world make on the eye. One could say that the aim was to paint light itself. As so often happens with bold new movements, the Impressionists were widely derided for what seemed their sloppy use of paint, the absence of outline, their disrespect for tradition, their choice of subjects. It is now impossible to imagine the history of art without them. Monet’s late works, painted when his eyesight was failing, are so Impressionistic that they are in effect abstractions avant la lettre– as the critic Alfred Barr pointed out in a famous essay.


Intaglio is the ancient decorative technique of incising metal or some other hard material. It could be used to add a pattern to the blade of a sword, or to create a design or a gemstone. After the invention of printing, it was quickly realised by pioneers such as Martin Schongauer that intaglio could be adapted to the goal of printing pictures in books. For intaglio printing, ink was first spread over a flat engraving, which was then wiped clean so that the ink remained present in the recessed incisions only. A sheet of wet paper was pressed hard onto the plate and – and the ink transferred cleanly. The technique achieved new heights of artistic perfection in the works of Albrecht Dürer.


The uneven surface of a paining – usually an oil painting – that results when the paint is laid on thickly. A heavily impasto painting can provide an onlooker with much information about how the painting was done – the tools used the direction and rapidity of the brushstrokes, and by extension the actual state of mind of the artist. It follows that impasto is one of the elements of an artwork that gives it emotional force, which is why a three-dimensional clone of a painting is so much more impactful than a paper print.



Lito is the both the name of our company and the name of our products. We are in the business of making unbelievably accurate and detailed digital maps of great works of art. These maps can then be used to create 3D physical copies of the works, which are sold in limited editions through our website and other channels. The same data can be used to create NFTs, the new digital art form that has disrupted the art market over the past two years, and that continues to transfigure and remake the art world. LITO is in the vanguard of this fundamental change, as it offers two entirely new ways for clients to own and enjoy art.


Any painting of an outdoor scene, especially if the depiction of nature and geography is to the fore – hills, trees, horizons. City scenes – spires, castles, skyscrapers – are a subgenre of landscape. Some landscapes have a human presence – in the early days they always did. Brueghel’s Hunters in the Snow is one of the first landscapes in the Western tradition and a particularly beautiful one. It is an interesting fact that the landscapes people find most attractive contains everything a Neolithic human would have found necessary to survival: pasture, water, woodland, animals. In a narrow technical sense, the word ‘landscape’ is used to define a picture that is wider than it is tall; a picture that is taller than it is wide is termed ‘portrait’.


Lithography is means of reproducing pictures without the need to cut into a sheet of metal or other material. In its first form, lithography involved an artist drawing straight onto a slab of limestone with greasy crayons. The drawing was fixed chemically, and the stone wetted. When a greasy ink was applied it adhered to the drawing but not to the wet stone. Prints could then be taken from the stone in a printing press. The method grew more sophisticated over the decades. In the 1830s, color lithography became possible, and other materials rather than limestone were introduced for the base. The ‘poster’ in all its variety is a genre born of lithography. In the hands of a master such as Toulouse-Lautrec, a poster can be great art.



A masterpiece – or Meisterwerk or chef d’oeuvre – is a work generally considered to be one of an artist’s best. Most artists produce very few masterpieces. As a rule of thumb, one might say that masterpieces constitute less than five percent – the top five percent – of any artist’s output. Which actual works are the masterpieces is a matter of opinion or consensus. They masterpieces are not necessarily the best-known works. So, for example the Mona Lisa is more famous than Lady with an Ermine, but Lady with an Ermine is a much more magical painting.

Mixed media

A catch-all term used to describe a work that uses more than one ‘medium’ (a medium being a kind of paint such as oils or gouache or watercolour, or a sculptural material such as wood or plaster or marble). When artists stick scraps of newspaper on canvas, as the Cubists liked to do; or when a conceptual artist such as Tracey Emin embroiders a tent, that is mixed media. A snowman with eyes of coal and a carrot nose is absolutely a mixed-media work of art.

Modern art

In art-historical parlance, art produced from around 1860 or so up until around 1970, after which art is deemed contemporary. Those parameters are slightly fluid and arbitrary, and they are not just a matter of dates. The term modern art (like contemporary) implies a certain spirit of experimentation and adventure. So Van Gogh is a modern artist, and so are the Impressionists and pre-Raphaelites. Artist such as say, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, working in a more respectable academic tradition, are harder to classify as modern even though they fit inside the temporal frame.


Metaverse is a term used to describe immersive, virtual spaces where people can interact. It is widely seen as the next big step in the evolution of the internet. Instead of looking at a screen, people will enter built digital spaces (perhaps in the form of an avatar) where they can attend a concert with friends, try on new clothes, explore museums or entire cities, conduct business … At present the metaverse is in its infancy. As it grows larger and more sophisticated, it will transform people’s online experiences, and perhaps their whole concept of reality.


Multiples are identical artworks produced in a series. A set of multiples amounts to an edition. Usually, each separate artwork is signed and numbered by the artist. Copies produced before the official print run are termed ‘artist’s proofs’ and, if they go on sale, are marked A/P. Lito’s isograms are a new kind of multiple. They could be called be termed ‘multiple paintings’, stunningly accurate three-dimensional copies of one-off artworks. Like traditional multiples, each one is numbered – not in pencil on paper, but by means of an inbuilt digital chip and a traceable record in the blockchain.



A development of Impressionism in which the business of painting was subjected to a kind of rational, scientific investigation of light and colour. Georges Seurat was the leader of the movement. His pointillist paintings use dots of pure pigment which, when viewed from the correct distance, dissolve into a carefully constructed scene, full of chromatic complexity. From the vantage point of the 21st century, his works seem to anticipate the pixelated computer screen, and to prefigure what we now know about the function of light receptors in the visual cortex.

Naïve art

A kind of painting characterized by a child-like vision, an absence of scientific perspective, and uncomplicated techniques. The naivety is usually a conscious choice on the part of the artist, not the result of any actual lack of sophistication. The jungles and animals painted by Henri Rousseau – perhaps the best-known naïve artist – are highly accomplished works of art. Frida Kahlo, who is sometimes classed as a naïve artist – was consciously drawing on the Mexican folk tradition of ‘ex voto’ paintings. LS Lowry’s two-dimensional ‘matchstick men’ look like a plea for honest simplicity, as do the rustic portraits and table scenes works of Niko Pirosmani. ‘I am not an artist,’ said Lowry (though he was, of course), ‘I am a man who paints.’


The acronym NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’. ‘Fungible’ is an economists’ term that means interchangeable. Money is fungible: if you borrow $100 in cash, you don’t need to pay the debt using the same banknotes: any dollar bills will do. A non-fungible asset, on the other hand, is a unique, one-off item. If you borrow someone’s car, you have to give them back the same car – not just any car – because individual cars are non-fungible. So a non-fungible token is a way of establishing the unique proprietorship and the one-off nature of a digital work of art (or other digital asset). The NFT is not the work of art itself, but a kind of certificate of ownership – like the deeds to a house. NFTs are securely stored and recorded in digital form on a blockchain – which is like putting the deeds in a safety-deposit box in a bank.


Oil paint

Paint in which the medium for the pigment is an oil, traditionally linseed oil. Many of the world’s greatest masterpieces are oil paintings. Oils are enormously versatile and durable, and so lend themselves to paintings that are large or a long time in the making. One of the first painters to master oils was van Eyck – and he is sometimes even credited with inventing them. Renaissance masters such as Titian took oil painting to new heights of virtuosity and expressiveness. Because the pigment is thick, like a paste, oil paintings often have a characteristically bumpy surface, all the more so since the process of painting with oils often involves building up layer after layer of depth and detail. Acrylic paints are a modern alternative to oils, much used by contemporary artists.

Old Master

A term usually used to bracket the European painters of the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries – in particular the very best of those painters. The expression is sometimes also applied to Renaissance painters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The vagueness of the term (and its implicit sexism) means that it is of limited art-historical value. But it is a handy way of bracketing ‘pre-modern’ European fine art and is widely used by galleries and auction houses.

Off-set printing

Off-set printing is an elaboration of the lithographic process. Invented late in the nineteenth century, it involves transferring (offsetting) the image from a metal plate onto a rubber blanket before retransferring it to paper or textile or some other surface such as aluminum. Modern off-set printing is a highly complex process that is now in competition with digital printing. The older method is still seen as superior in many ways. Off-set printing is economical when large quantities are involved (nearly all newspapers are produced that way), and visually the results are held to be richer and warmer and more aesthetically pleasing than the digital alternative, in much the way that vinyl is considered a step above CDs or MP3 files.



The term ‘phygital’ is a combination of the words ‘physical’ and ‘digital’. It is used to describe the blurring of boundaries between real-world and online experiences. This can take many forms: customers may choose to explore a virtual shop online before buying a physical object from that shop. Patrons in a restaurant may use their own phones to view a menu and order the food that is then brought to their table. A fridge that alerts its owners that they are low on milk (and adds it to their shopping list) is operating phygitally – as is a watch that tells its wearer his blood-sugar is low. The future is sure to be increasing phygital – as immersive, integrated digital interactions become ever more deeply embedded in people’s everyday activities.

Pop Art

An Anglo-American art movement that borrowed images from popular culture – packaging and advertising, billboards, pin-ups, cheap magazines – and turned them into ironic, often light-hearted works of art. The movement was partly a reaction to the ponderous nature of some Abstract Expressionism – and it reintroduced recognisable objects into post-war art along with some wit and wonder. Warhol’s celebrations of soup cans and soapboxes are archetypal Pop Art works as are Lichtenstein’s blow-ups of comic strips, carefully painted to imitate the four-colour dots of the mass printing process. Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns used found imagery – American flags, traffic signs, photographs of the Kennedys – in a way that appears more thoughtful, critical and political than the work of most other Pop Artists.


Any artistic depiction of a person – usually a painting, but a carved bust is also a form of portrait. The portrait painter usually required the willing cooperation of the sitter, and the resulting work is usually expected to be a recognisable likeness – but these are not absolute requirements. It is possible to appreciate a portrait – say, one of Picasso’s depictions of his lovers – without having any idea who is portrayed. One of the ironies of portrait painting is that the sitter was often a person of high importance, and usually commissioned the painting to underline that fact, but their identity is easily forgotten by art history, which is much more interested in the identity of the lowly artist.


A term used to cover the important artists who emerged from or reacted to Impressionism: Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec. The term was coined by the English critic Roger Fry, when he exhibited the artists together in London. As so often, the exhibition caused outrage, and became a succes de scandale. It’s hard now to appreciate what so upset visitors to the exhibition, but what is apparent is that the post-Impressionist, while having little in common with each other stylistically, form a bridge between Impressionism and the radical experimentalism of the Cubists.


The wooden board on which artists mix their paints before applying it to the canvas or paper. By extension, an artist’s palette is the range of colours that he or she uses habitually, or has deployed in a specific painting.


Perspective in western art grew out of the realization, as understood by Brunelleschi, that parallel lines appear to converge on a single point, known as the vanishing point. That insight provided a simple mathematical principle for constructing paintings that have the appearance of depth, and in which more distant objects could be painted at the correct scale. Perspective made a new kind of painting possible, but not all artists or traditions embraced it. Naïve art often skews or ignores perspective, and perspective is alien to the Byzantine tradition of icon painting, for example.


In art a print is any picture that derives from an inked impression of some kind. Woodcuts, engravings, etchings, lithographs, stencils and silkscreens are all forms of print, though the methodology and the degree of technological sophistication vary widely. A Lito isogram could be described as a new form of print, a fresh invention in the long tradition of artists’ editions. Unlike most other form of reproduction, it does not depend on the original having been conceived as a multiple work. Any painting can be cloned using TICC technology, which reproduces not just the painted image but every topographic detail of the surface of the work.


Rights of reproduction

Rights of reproduction are the rights held by rightsholders to authorise the reproduction of an original work of art in another support/medium in the context of legal copies, limited editions, etc. The right of reproduction is one of the prerogatives of copyright along with the right of representation. Lito has obtained rights of reproduction in all the artworks that it sells on its website and through other channels. Lito shares its profits with all copyright holders, artists, artists’ estates.


Rococo could be described a scaled-down, less serious, more secular development of Baroque, a gentle reaction to its perceived excesses. It is mostly a decorative phenomenon, consisting of vegetal curves in the shapes of Cs or Ss, shapes like shells and natural forms, used to embellish ceramics and furnishings. In art, Rococo is best expressed in the idyllic scenes painted by Watteau with their perfect landscapes designed for promenading, their swings and their sweet courting couples.


The Renaissance is the revival of art and profusion of new artistic ideas that began in Italy in the 14th century, spreading throughout Europe over the next 200 years. Central to the Renaissance is a renewed interest in classical ideas and models. That meant architecture based on Greek and Roman antecedents, and a revived interest in subjects such as anatomy – which is key to the right depiction of the human body. In art, subject matter for paintings expanded beyond the Biblical and devotional to encompass classical myth and more secular subjects. There was a growing understanding of the ineluctable connections between art and scientific knowledge ¬ one outcome of which was the development of perspective in painting. Leonardo da Vinci was the supreme Renaissance man, congenitally interested in everything. Other Renaissance geniuses are Michelangelo and Raphael, Titian and Botticelli.


Romanticism is an artistic movement – actually a philosophy of life ¬ that flourished at the beginning of the 19th century. It is based on the primacy of the individual and the individual’s feelings, which is the artist’s job to explore and express. Artists can do this because they are especially eloquent, and sensitive to their own humanity. Romanticism placed a high value on the individual human virtues – heroism, suffering well borne, passion and compassion. Romanticism is sometimes seen as the antithesis of Classicism with its cold rules. It fizzled out by the middle of the century, though it could be argued that there are Romantics, or people with Romantic temperament, in every generation of artists.


Realism is the artistic attempt to depict things as they actually are – and this can mean almost anything. In art, Realism sometimes means a kind of social awareness, a refusal to turn away from what is squalid or unpleasant to contemplate. Photo-realism is the technical attempt to paint with the same verisimilitude as a photograph – and has created some stunning art. The real problem with the idea of realism as an artistic concept is that a picture is always a picture, not the thing in the picture – a point that Magritte made once and for all when he painted a very convincing pipe and added the legend: ‘This is not a pipe.’


The raised surface of a painting, formed by the layers and agglomerations of paint (the’ impasto’). In sculpture, a bas-relief or a low-relief is an image carved on flat surface in such a way that the picture stands out. That is, the image is not cut into the surface to form a hollow; in a carved relief, the surface is cut away. In a Lito isogram, the relief of the painting is present because the reproduction is derived from a 3-D scan of the original. This is what makes a Lito reproduction qualitatively different from an old-fashioned lithographic print.

Religious art

In the Western tradition, religious art consists of dramatic scenes from the Bible stories – the Annunciation, the Crucifixion, the slaughter of the Innocents – or else scenes from the lives of the saints: martyrdoms, miracles, angelic visions. There are various sub-sets such as the genre of Christ Blessing, which is close in conception to the devotional icons of the Greek and Russian church. Other cultures – from China to ancient Greece – have their own religious art. And Tibetan Buddhism had its round, jam-packed mandalas. What all of these have in common is that they are visual representations of a known mythology, a way of telling stories in pictures – either for a rich and pious elite, or for the illiterate masses who could not apprehend spiritual truth any other way.


Still life

Any painting of an inanimate object, or collection of objects. Still life is a longstanding artistic genre, going back to the Old Masters, who used still-life painting to showcase their total mastery of light and form. Carravaggio, for example, could lend huge drama to a table strewn with figs and pumpkins. This is a genre that can be constantly be reimagined and reinvented. Sunflowers, Van Gogh’s symphony in yellow, is probably the most famous still life in the world today (and flowers have always been a popular subject). The Cubists were fond of still lifes – perhaps because the genre allowed them to experiment with the depiction of fragmentary facets of things – violins, glass bowls, newspapers, pieces of fruit. Some artists, such as Giorgio Morandi, are happy to paint the same austere collection of bottles and vases over and over again, and so create minimalist variations on the still-life theme.


An art movement founded by Andre Breton in 1924. It aimed to liberate the artistic process from reason and conscious input, in the same way that Freud’s psychoanalytic techniques bypassed the constructs of the mind and so tapped into the unconscious. That meant at first using automatic techniques and creating fantastical assemblages of found objects – sugar cubes in bird cages as the Dadaists had previously done. But Surrealism realised its potential in the obsessive, technically astounding painting of artists such as Dali and Magritte. Dali’s works seemed to come straight from some fevered dream or nightmare; Magritte’s works look like subtle unsettling visual jokes shared with – or played on– the viewer.


Silk-screening, or serigraphy, is a form of stenciling in which a succession of colors are forced through a screen, parts of which are masked to create the design. The pigment reaches the paper only where the screen is unmasked. It is a method closely associated with Pop Art, and with Andy Warhol in particular. It’s very repeatability was part of its appeal: silk-screening turned making art into a process like a factory production lenience the design has been made, any technically competent person can do the screening. This allowed Warhol’s works to function both a commentary on modern capitalism and to be a very lucrative art form for Warhol himself. Another master of the serigraphy was Warhol’s contemporary Corita Kent, a Californian nun, who made silkscreens full of borrowed advertising slogans which she invested with joy and wit and spiritual meaning.



TICC stands for ‘topographic image capture and cloning’. It is that acronym used to describe the technological process by which Lito isograms are made. An original painting is scanned and photographed inch by inch. The data gathered are then fed to a 3-D printer which makes perfect copies of the original. Those new clones, called isograms, are both collectable artworks and beautiful pieces of digital engineering.



A form of paint that is soluble in water. Applied in washes, the whiteness of the supporting paper shows through, and this creative use of dilution allows for some highly atmospheric effects. Watercolour suited to the rendering of sky, clouds, water, nature generally. This, and the easy portability of all the tools of the watercolourist, have made watercolours the go-to medium of the outdoor painter, especially in the English tradition.