Painting, Decorative

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Painting, Decorative


a representational or nonrepresentational painting on an architectural element or an article of applied art.

Decorative painting is important in architecture, where it is used to embellish both the exterior and interior of a building. The composition may correspond to the architectural structure of the building, accentuating various elements of design, or—on the contrary—may tend to hide the architectonics (for example, a tapestry-like painting covers all the architectural elements evenly). The painting is applied directly to a wall, arch, or some other part of the building, or it is executed on a canvas that is later attached to the wall or ceiling. The most commonly used mediums are fresco, tempera, glue paints, and—to a lesser extent—oil paints. Since the late 19th century silicate paints have been popular. Grisaille was especially popular in classicist decorative painting of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Another type of decorative painting is the embellishment of textiles and various household articles made from clay, wood, metal, and glass. In folk art decorative painting is often an independent branch of art or local crafts. Decorative painters often develop their own means of artistic expression in an attempt to imitate other, usually more costly, materials and other, usually more labor-intensive, techniques. The artists bring out or disguise the plastic properties of the material and often emphasize the function of the object, specifying its relationship with the interior or material environment as a whole.


Bakushinskii, A. V. Rospis’ po derevu, bereste i pap’e-mashe. Moscow, 1933.
Alekseev, S. S. Dekorativnaia zhivopis’. Moscow, 1949.
Russkoe dekorativnoe iskusstvo, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1962–65.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Eschewing what she calls "traditional art historical documentation," editor Holly Edwards, herself a historian of Islamic art, shows how Orientalist painting, decorative arts, advertising, and movies shaped and were shaped by broader cultural currents (x).