M to M A O




m or m. - Abbreviation for meter.


a picture of machicolation

machicolation - In the architecture of castles, an opening in the floor of an overhanging gallery through which defenders dropped stones and boiling liquids on attackers.

(pr. mə-CHI-kə-LAY-shən)

Also see arms & armor, crenelation, Middle Ages, and tower.



macramé - Long cords knotted to form a pattern. This is an old craft revived to great popularity in the 1960s and 1970s.

(pr. MAK-rə-MAY)



maculate - Spotted; stained; blotched. Or, defiled; impure. The opposite of immaculate.

(pr. MAK-yə-lət)

Also see ablaq, brindled, cleaning art, clean up, dot, maculate, pattern, piebald, punctate, and variegated.



madder lake - A particular red pigment produced with the synthetic coal-tar dye, alizarin.

Related resource:







madrasa - In Islamic tradition, a combined school and mosque.

(pr. mə-DRAH-sə)



magazine - A periodical, a publication typically printed on paper, containing a collection of articles, pictures, or other features. In architecture, a room or building designed for storage.

Also see mass media and tear sheet.




magenta - A color also known as fuchsia and hot pink; a moderate to vivid purplish red or pink, named after the town of spheres of cyan, magenta, yellow, and blackMagenta, in northwest Italy. Magenta is one of the four colors in the four color process for reproduction color in print called CMYK. The CMYK process creates the color spectrum using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

(pr. mə-JEN-tə)



magic lantern - A precursor to the modern slide projector, an optical instrument having either a way to use sunlight or a candle (and later an oil lamp, "oxy-hydrogen limelight," or "arclight") and a lens through which an image painted or printed on a glass plate was projected and enlarged. Early in the 15th century an Italian named Giovanni de Fontana described a lantern to which a picture was attached in such a way that it would project the picture onto a wall. The first magic lanterns to employ lenses were developed in the mid-17th century. Historians disagree about who was the first to invent the device. It appears to have been the product of a number of small improvements. By the early 19th century numerous itinerant projectionists traveled around Europe with magic lanterns and collections of slides, putting on shows wherever they could draw a paying audience. Multiple projectors allowed for the dissolving of one image into another. Some slides boasted special effects. Some had extra layers that could be moved across each other. One of these, very popular with children, was see thumbnail to leftThe Rat-Swallower. One rat after another could be made to appear to jump into the open mouth of a sleeping man! A narrative sequence could be presented, such as the one created in England about 1812 to tell the story a battle between a British warship and a French one. A narrator told the audience how it happened while the pictures were projected, ending on an image of the French ship in flames. (Remind you of the 2003 movie Master and Commander?) In the middle of the 19th century, with the invention of photography and the availability of magic lanterns for use in one's home, the number of magic lantern slides produced increased tremendously. Commercially available sets of slides often featured photographs of famous places and celebrities, or actors performing allegories. The popularity of magic lanterns ended with the invention of cinematography at the end of the 19th century.

Related links:

Also see camera lucida, camera obscura, theater, zoetrope, and zoopraxiscope.



Magna - A line of painting products made by Bocour Artists Colors, 552 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019. Magna Plastic Colors are permanent pigments ground in an acrylic resin with solvents and plasticizer. They are miscible with turpentine as well as mineral spirits. They dry rapidly, leaving a mat finish. Magna Varnish is a transparent isolating varnish for use with Magna Plastic Colors and also useful as an isolating varnish in oil painting and some complex techniques. Without its use the Magna colors are too readily picked up by additional coats.



Barnett Newman (American, 1905-1970), The Name II, 1950, Magna and oil on canvas, 104 x 94 1/2 inches (2.642 x 2.400 m), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. [Unfortunately, I can't tell you which parts of these pictures Newman and Lichtenstein painted with Magna. - M.D.] See Minimalism and zip.






see thumbnail to leftRoy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Stepping Out, 1978, oil and Magna on canvas, 86 x 70 inches (218.4 x 177.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See module and Pop Art.




magnitude - Greatness in size or significance.

Also see colossus, colossal, depth, diameter, direction, height, length, measure, and width.



magnum opus - Latin for a great work. Although a masterpiece is a work that demonstrates mastery, a magnum opus is the greatest work in the entire life of an artist, architect, filmmaker, or a writer. Many regard Mona Lisa (La Joconde) as Leonardo's magnum opus.

Also see aesthetics, assessment, craftsmanship, goal, motivation, nuance, posterity, quality, standards, success, and virtuosity.



mahlstick - Also called a bridge, a long wooden stick used by painters as a tool to support and steady the hand that holds the brush, conserving the arm's strength, and protecting the painting's surface. Traditionally the end of the mahlstick that is placed on or near the work is wrapped in leather.

(pr. MAHL-stik)

Also spelled maulstick.








see thumbnail to rightAdriaen van Ostade (Dutch, 1610-1685), detail of The Artist's Workshop, oil on canvas. The painter holds a mahlstick so that its end rests near the edge of the picture, supporting and steadying the hand applying paint. See beret, easel, palette, and studio.





main case - Mother mold.



majolica or maiolica - A type of earthenware which originated during the Renaissance. It is coated with a tin glaze which produces the effect of a rich, enameled surface. Majolica is often lustered. Although the name majolica is derived from Majorca (an island east of Spain from which Italy imported early specimens from Islamic Spain), the name is often reserved for Italian examples.

(pr. mi:-AH-lə-kə)

Faience and Delftware have been made in imitation of majolica.

Also see antimony.



majuscule - A capital letter; literally a large letter. "Majuscule" looks like the complement to "minuscule," and the resemblance is no coincidence. "Minuscule" appeared in the early 18th century as a word for certain ancient and medieval writing styles which had "small forms." Eventually, "miniscule" came to be used for any lowercase letter, and gradually acquired a more general adjectival use for anything very small. "Majuscule" is the counterpart to "minuscule" when it comes to letters, but it never developed a broader sense (despite the fact that its Latin ancestor "majusculus" has the broad meaning "rather large"). The adjective "majuscule" also exists (as does "majuscular"). Not surprisingly, the adjective shares the noun's specificity, referring only to large letters or to a style using such letters.

(pr. MA-jə-skyool or mə-JUS-kyool)



see thumbnail to rightFrench, from Works of Saint Augustin, detail of a page from a manuscript on vellum in ten volumes, c. 1134. Library of Troyes, France. The Library calls it manuscript 40. A large, decorated "D" majuscule begins the text: "DOMINO ILLUSTRI ET MERITO PRESTANTISSIMO FILIO VOLUSIANO AUGUSTINUS EPISCOPUS." (very loosely: "The Lord is seen as He deserves to be, as on the speediest wings by Bishop Augustin, His child." [email your version!]) This entire text is comprised of majuscule letters, albeit none as colossal as the first one. Click the link at the title to see more of this page, which includes a section of miniscule letters.

Also see incunabulum, lowercase, miniature, minuscule, size, and uppercase.




makeup - See cosmetic.


makimono - A Japanese horizontal scroll.

(pr. MAH-kee-MOH-noh)

Also see Japanese art and kakemono.




malachite - A green mineral used in jewelry, intarsia, and as a pigment. Illustrated are some polished pieces, mared by malachite's typical multigreen patterning, and about half of their actual size. Chemically it is green copper carbonate, CuCO3 Cu(OH)2.



see thumbnail to rightPolished pieces of malachite, averag length 2 inches.



see thumbnail to leftAmerican, Faux Malachite, oil on gessoed wood panel. See faux and marbling.


Related resource:

Also see azurite and faux.



malanggan - Intricately carved Melanesian ceremonial sculptures — some call them masks — were made for elaborate rituals, some to memorialize the dead, some for a boy's initiation / circumcision rituals, and some, on a smaller scale, for other events. Different clans have owned different designs, and any artist commissioned to make a malanggan could work only designs owned by the patron's clan. Chicago's Field Museum says "Malanggan carvings took months to make, but after guests had viewed them, the carvings were burned or left to rot, breaking the connection with dangerous supernatural forces called into them when they were made."

Also see primitive.



malleable - Capable of being shaped or formed, whether by hand or with tools; plastic, pliable, pliant, ductile. Materials especially considered malleable are moist clay, modeling clay, polymer clay, warm wax, and molten glass and metals.


a picture of a mallet

mallet - A wooden hammer used to apply WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!force to chisels in wood carving.

Also see ballpein hammer, bush hammer, and claw hammer.




Manchu - A Chinese dynasty (also called Ching and Qing) which lasted 1644-1911.

Also see Chinese art.



mandala - Any of various radial geometric designs symbolic of the universe, traditionally used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation.

(pr. MAN-də-lə, MUN-də-lə)




see thumbnail to leftBorobudurone of the most magnificent Buddhist shrines in the world -- was built at the end of the 9th century by the Hindu kings of the Sailendra dynasty. Borobudur is located 42 kms west of Yogyakarta, on the island of Java in Indonesia. see thumbnail to rightThe plan for this stupa is a schematized representation of the cosmos, a mandala. After visiting its lower terraces decorated with bas-relief, pilgrims attain the shrine's crowning stupa, which symbolizes the Absolute. Also see plan and representation.



see thumbnail to rightChina, Mandala, 1279-1368, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), silk, 33 x 33 inches (83.82 x 83.82 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Chinese art, tapestry, and textile.



see thumbnail to leftChina, Mandala, 1330-1332, Yüan dynasty, c. 1330-32, silk, metallic thread, 96 5/8 x 82 1/4 inches (245.4 x 208.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Bodhisattva.




see thumbnail to rightTibet, Mandala of a Goddess, 16th-17th century, opaque watercolor on cotton, 22 x 18 1/4 inches (51.0 x 46.0 cm), Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA.




see thumbnail to leftdetail: Marian Bantjes (Canadian, contemporary), Mandala, 2004, pattern produced with computer graphic software. If you visit Ms Bantjes' site, be sure to peruse her other patterns and paintings.


Related link:

Also see curve, kaleidoscope, radial, and tondo.



mandapa - In Hindu architecture, an assembly hall, which is part of a temple.

(pr. man-DAH-pə)



mandated art curriculum - The curriculum or guidelines an art educator is required to follow by a school district or state government. Some school districts have their own curriculum or guidelines, while others follow state guidelines.



mandorla - A gloriole or glory when it surrounds the entire figure of God, Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint with a large oval of radiant light . Mandorla is the Italian word for almond. When it surrounds the head only, it is called a halo or nimbus. It indicates divinity or holiness.

(pr. man-DOR-lə)




see thumbnail to rightUnknown Artist of the School of the Laguna Santero, Our Lady of Guadalupe, late 18th or early 19th century, food, gesso, water-based paint and gold leaf, 26 1/2 x 15 3/8 inches, Spanish Colonial Arts Society in Santa Fe, NM. Scholars believe that an anonymous artist working in what is now New Mexico at the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth century was responsible for a large body of similar work. They have named this unknown artist the Laguna Santero, after a large altar screen in the church at Laguna Pueblo, which they believe he painted.




see thumbnail to leftUnknown artist, Our Lady of Guadelupe, early 20th century?, lithograph.




see thumbnail to rightYolanda López (American, 1942-), Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe, 1978, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 24 inches, collection of the artist. See Chicana art.

Also see Gothic, Middle Ages, and votive.





manganese dioxide -


see thumbnail to rightEnglish, London, Tile, 1750, ceramic, delftware, manganese glaze, 4 15/16 x 5 1/16 x 5/16 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


POISONOUS!Resources concerning manganese dioxide:

See tile.



maniera greca - A formal Byzantine style that dominated Italian painting in the tweflth and thirteenth centuries. It's characterized by shallow space and linear flatness.

(pr. man-YAY-rə GREH-kə)



manifesto - A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions. Although usually of a political nature, there is a history in art, especially in modernism during the first half of the twentieth century, of the spokesmen of various avant-garde movements publishing manifestos which declare their theories, motivations and direction, stimulating support for them or reactions against them. These movements have included Futurism, Rayonism, and Surrealism. To see an important example, read The First Surrealist Manifesto, 1924. (There is also a PDF version that's better for printing.)



maniplate, manipulation - To manipulate is to change or model by careful use of the hands; to manage shapes and forms in a space, less by additive or subtractive techniques than by moving things around.


Related resource:

Also see aggregate, application, contrived, craftsmanship, emboss, fold, glaze, image manipulation, impasto, manual skill, modeling, pinch, plasticity, puppet, spontaneity, and temperature.


photo of a dress displayed on a mannequin


mannequin - A life-size full or see thumbnail to leftpartial representation of the human figure. Mannequins are often used for the fitting or exhibiting of clothes. May also refer to see thumbnail to righta jointed model of a human figure used by artists, especially for use with drapery. This term is derived from an old Dutch word for little person, mannekijn. It was absorbed into English usage at about the same time that English speakers took from the Dutch words the words "easel" and "landscape."

(pr. MAN-nə-kən)

Examples of art in which mannequins appear:




see thumbnail to rightGiorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888-1978), The Painter's Family, 1926, oil on canvas, 146.4 x 114.9 cm, Tate Gallery, London. Mannequins were a pre-World War I motif for de Chirico. Here, several years after that war, he reimages mannequins as members of a painter's family. The grouping is reminiscent of traditional depictions of the Holy Family. The figures simultaneously evoke a classical past and an anxiety about the state of contemporary art. See Metaphysical Painting.



see thumbnail to leftAbelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948-), The Metropolitan Opera: Costume Shop Mannequins, 2005, photograph of various sizes of mannequins used by costume makers.


Also see costume, Dutch art, model, nude, placeholder, puppet, and sculpture.







mantel or mantelpiece - The outer wall and casing of a fireplace or furnace. Sometimes simply called a mantel. Also called a chimneypiece or a fireplace surround. Easily confused with mantle.





see thumbnail to leftAugustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907) and John La Farge (American, 1835-1910), Mantelpiece, 1882, Metropolitan Museum of Art.




see thumbnail to rightJohn S. Bradstreet (American), Grueby Faience Company, Fireplace Surround, 1902, 64 7/8 x 84 3/8 inches, Minneapolis Institute of arts, MN. See faience and Prairie style.



"Balthus" Balthasar Klossowski (French, 1908-2001), Figure in Front of a Mantel, 1955, oil on canvas, 75 x 64 1/2 inches (190.5 x 163.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See French art.


Also see architecture, decorative arts, and furniture.



mantle - A sleeveless protective outer garment or cloak. Easily confused with mantel or mantelpiece.

Also see chiton, costume, fibula, and himation.



manual skill - Dexterity. Educators refer to manual skill as well developed fine motor or small muscle control.

Also see craftsmanship, manipulate, and talent.



manufacture - To fabricate or process from raw materials, especially by means of a large scale industrial operation. And, either the act of manufacturing or the manufactured product itself.

Also see Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), collectible, commercial art, commodity, interdisciplinary, paint-by-number, and Velcro ®



manuscript - See book, bookbinding, duodecimo, folio, illumination, incunabulum, lettering, octavo, quarto, rotulus, sextodecimo, signature, text, tricesimo-segundo, typography, and vicesimo-quarto.







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