AskDefine | Define oeuvre

Dictionary Definition

oeuvre n : the total output of a writer or artist (or a substantial part of it); "he studied the entire Wagnerian oeuvre"; "Picasso's work can be divided into periods" [syn: work, body of work]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From œuvre, from the Latin opus.


  • /œ'vrə/


  1. A work of art.
  2. The complete body of an artist's work.


work of art
complete body of works

Extensive Definition

In fine art, a work of art (or artwork or work) is a creation, such as a song, book, film, video game, print, sculpture or a painting, that has been made in order to be a thing of beauty in itself or a symbolic statement of meaning, rather than having a practical function.
Since modernism, the field of fine art has expanded to include photography (and fine art photography in particular), film (and art film in particular), performance art, conceptual art, and video art.
What is perceived as a work of art differs between cultures and eras and by the meaning of the term '"art" itself. Up until the 1970s, for example, art critics and the general public tended to exclude applied arts from works of art.
To establish whether a work is a work of art, the concepts of artistic merit and literary merit are regularly invoked.
A work of art might also be called an objet d'art, a French phrase that literally translates to "art object" and means something with perceived artistic value.
Among practitioners of contemporary art, various new media objects such as the DVD, the web page, and other interactive media have been treated as art objects; such treatment frequently involves a formalist (or "medium-specific") analysis. The formal analysis of computerized media has yielded such art movements as internet art and algorithmic art. The purpose of "new media objects" is not to replace traditional media, but to challenge old media.


Among artists and scientists during the Renaissance, the prevailing belief held that the study of the male form was in itself a study of God, and they placed value on sculpture of the male form as one of the highest works of art.


The oeuvre is all of an artist's works, or an individual piece. The French term œuvre derives from Latin opus (“a work”).
oeuvre in German: Kunstwerk
oeuvre in Spanish: Obra de arte
oeuvre in French: Œuvre d'art
oeuvre in Italian: Disegno
oeuvre in Dutch: Kunstwerk
oeuvre in Japanese: 作品
oeuvre in Norwegian: Disegno
oeuvre in Russian: Шедевр
oeuvre in Finnish: Taideteos
oeuvre in Chinese: 作品
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