Guilty as charged. Sometimes art is so good it leaves you speechless, and you instantly fall back on a handful of go-to phrases. We’ve all been there, so when we came across a recent post by TheArtGorgeous listing 3 overused descriptions that the art world should stop using, we started to brainstorm alternatives. Here are the culprits and some possible replacements:

  1. Iconic

    This one hit us hard, but we get it. It’s starting to lose its shine. We don’t think the word should be thrown away—just saved for special occasions. When you need a stand-in to describe a work of art, try these:

    Classic – if it is an acknowledged masterpiece
    Innovative – if it brings something new to the table
    Pivotal – if you think it’s about to shake up the art world

  2. Museum-quality

    There are a lot of museums out there. Even a single collection like the Met’s ranges from oil paintings to ancient swords. So, while calling something museum-quality allows for interpretation, it also doesn’t say much about the art in question. Instead, think about why you believe it belongs in a museum. Perhaps the work is:

    Monumental – if it’s a big canvas, or a big statement
    Quintessential – if this is the best example of the artist’s style
    Consequential – if it marks, or creates, an important moment

  3. Haunting

    Like “museum-quality,” we’ll admit haunting* doesn’t really say much. It gives a sense of how the art makes you feel, but the following options really paint a picture:

    Somber – if the subject matter or palette is dark and serious
    Bone-chilling – if the work is frightening, and be sure to say why!
    Memorable – if you won’t forget this piece anytime soon

    *Unless, of course, you meant the art is haunted…in which case, enough said.

We’d love to hear about other overused descriptions you think could use a break!