I first encountered the Latin-derived term horror vacui several years ago while researching outsider art from the first half of the twentieth century. Simply put, horror vacui is the fear, or abhorrence, of empty space. In the past hundred years, this term has been used in discussions of interior design (for instance, Mario Praz's critique of Victorian-era design) and artwork in which a two- or three-dimensional space is filled with detail or objects. The presence of horror vacui in visual art can stem from an artist's overwhelming compulsion (perhaps related to mental illness) to leave no space vacant or from a conscious aesthetic decision to forgo negative space.
In this section of the blog we’ll be attempting to define different types of terms as they relate to art and creative expression. Our definitions will be rooted in what’s generally accepted among art world peers, but infused with our personal observations. And, in the art world, just as in the “real” world, terms have double meaning. “Value”, for example, a common term, refers to the lightness or darkness of a color, or it can express what the art itself is worth. For our first term, however, I hope to define “art,” a daunting task to be sure!