Material

DEFINITION

The substance(s) or object(s) out of which something is or can be made. Examples include: clays, fibers, glass, papers, plastics, metals, pigments, stones, woods, etc. In body art the material might be the artist's body. In conceptual art there might be no material at all.Speakers frequently confuse material with medium (plural: media). Some materials are or can be both materials and media. Examples of materials that might be said to be media: bronze, canvas, charcoal, fiberglass, glass, lead, paint, plaster, sand, and stucco.Materials can vary from each other in many ways, some based upon formal qualities, chemical and/or biological composition, behavior in various conditions, market value, connotative or denotative meanings. Consider these aspects of materials: transparency / translucence / opacity value (luminosity, or lightness and darkness) color (including various sorts of reflectivity, incandescence, iridescence, opalescence, etc.) texture, present or potential, actual or illusory shape, form mass, volume weight dimensions adhesive qualities toxicity responses to variations in temperature ? heat (melting point, flammability) and cold (freezing point) responses to moisture and dryness (absorbency, distortion, decay) responses to solvents responses to abrasion, pressure, stretching (tensile strength), etc. ease or capability of being molded or shaped (ductility, malleability, plasticity) likelihood of permanence or impermanence (rate of and kind of decay) in various conditions ease or difficulty of acquisition (market value or price) meanings (signs, semiotics, symbolism, stereotypes, current and traditional associations)Quotes: "Bring out the nature of the materials, let their nature intimately into your scheme. . . . Reveal the nature of the wood, plaster, brick or stone in your designs; they are all by nature friendly and beautiful." Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), American architect. Quoted by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas, p 48. See architecture. "Art never improves, but . . . the material of art is never quite the same." T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), Anglo-American poet, "Tradition and the Individual Talent," in Egoist, section 1, London, September and December, 1919; reprinted in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, edited by Frank Kermode, 1975. "One must be entirely sensitive to the structure of the material that one is handling. One must yield to it in tiny details of execution, perhaps the handling of the surface or grain, and one must master it as a whole." Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), English sculptor. See English art. "Not everything is art, but everything is art supplies." Lew Alquist (1946-2005), American sculptor and art educator. Quoted by Jim White, fellow sculptor and colleague at Arizona State University, in a text published for a 2006 retrospective of Alquist's work. Also see adobe, Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), cement, corrugated cardboard, feather, medium, memory, mortar and pestle, packaging, placeholder, polymer clay, support, and Styrofoam.

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