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  • Artistic license

    Artistic license


    • Artistic license (also known as artistic licence, art license, historical license, dramatic license, poetic license, narrative license, licentia poetica, or simply license) is a colloquial term, sometimes an euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist in the name of art.

      The artistic license may also refer to the ability of an artist to apply smaller distortions, such as a poet ignoring some of the minor requirements of grammar for poetic effect. For example, Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears" from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar would technically require the word "and" before "countrymen", but the conjunction "and" is omitted to preserve the rhythm of iambic pentameter (the resulting conjunction is called an asyndetic tricolon). Conversely, on the next line, the end of "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" has an extra syllable because omitting the word "him" would make the sentence unclear, but adding a syllable at the end would not disrupt the meter. Both of these are examples of artistic license.

      Another example of artistic license is the way in which stylized images of an object (for instance in a painting or an animated movie) are different from their real life counterparts, but are still intended to be interpreted by the viewer as representing the same thing. This can mean the omission of details, or the simplification of shapes and color shades, even to the point that the image is nothing more than a pictogram. It can also mean the addition of non-existing details, or exaggeration of shapes and colous, as in fantasy art or a caricature.

      Certain stylizations have become fixed conventions in art; an agreement between artist and viewer that is understood and undebated. A striking example is how in simple cartoon drawings monochromatic white parts on a dark colored surface are immediately recognized by most viewers to represent the reflection of light on a smooth or wet surface.



      • Entirely at the artist's discretion
      • Intended to be tolerated by the viewer (cf. "willing suspension of disbelief")
      • Useful for filling in gaps, whether they be factual, compositional, historical or other gaps
      • Used consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally or in tandem
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