Style (visual arts)  

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Style (visual arts) In the visual arts, style refers to the aspects of the visual appearance of a work of art that relate it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school" or art movement. This may involve all the elements and principles of art, and other factors, often very difficult to analyse precisely.

By changing the way they paint, apply colour, texture, perspective, or the way they see shapes and ideas, the artist establishes a certain set of "rules". If other artists see the rules as valid for themselves they might also apply these characteristics. The works of art then take on that specific "style". An artist may give the style a name such as "Expressionism", or a name may be applied later, as in the case of "abstract art".

'Style' may be individual to the artist and his "followers", or shared by a wider group such as an actual group that the artist was consciously involved with or a category described and named by art historians. The word 'style' in the latter sense has fallen out of favour in academic discussions about contemporary art, though it continues to be used in popular contexts and discussing the art of earlier periods.

The exercise of connoisseurship is largely a matter of subjective impressions that are hard to analyse, but also a matter of knowing details of technique and the "hand" of different artists. Giovanni Morelli (1816 – 1891) pioneered the systematic study of the scrutiny of diagnostic minor details that revealed artists' scarcely conscious shorthand and conventions for portraying, for example, ears or hands, in Western old master paintings. His techniques were adopted by Bernard Berenson and others, and have been applied to sculpture and many other types of art, for example by Sir John Beazley to Attic vase painting.

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