I have seen artwork used as a mass noun, as in:

Look at all of the artwork, it's beautiful!

As well as:

Look at all of the artworks, they're beautiful!

Per my understanding, there's no need to pluralize a mass noun, so I'm unclear as to which sentence is correct.

  • artwork is a mass noun. – Matt E. Эллен Oct 3 '13 at 17:56
  • Example: President Francois Hollande's Socialist government moved on Thursday to halt a push to extend a wealth tax to artworks... (CNBC) – GEdgar Oct 3 '13 at 18:03
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    @MattЭллен Yes. And also, a countable. – Kris Oct 4 '13 at 13:25
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    Though technically a General Reference considering there are dictionary entries that answer the question adequately, I would like to leave this post open because there are evidently some who are not entirely familiar. – Kris Oct 4 '13 at 13:28
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    Can someone post how the OP should have looked this up? I just tried the list of general references. I don't have an OED subscription, the second item isn't really a dictionary, and the first one I was able to access didn't seem to indicate whether its terms are mass nouns. If we want posters to learn how to check these first, I think we need to do more to teach them how to check first (Currently we provide 24 places they should check.) – Jaydles Oct 4 '13 at 16:09

Don't people do a fair amount of research before offering an answer they feel might be correct? At least go through all the major online dictionaries.

Merriam-Webster licenses both count and non-count senses (I've merged some of the sections):

a painting, sculpture, photograph, etc., that is created to be beautiful or to express an important idea or feeling : an artistic work

... 1a : an artistic production an 8-foot metal artwork


: drawings, photographs, etc., that are included in books, magazines, and other printed materials

... The walls of the restaurant are decorated in original artwork.

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Artwork is a mass noun, but it denotes two different types of mass.

In example 1, it denotes the mass of work that has gone into creating a single piece of art, so the comment is actually indicating one should look at the work that has gone into creating said art. This makes sense, because one can see the results of said work, and it is presumed that it is representative of that effort.

Artwork also means "a collection of art", because it refers to all of the work that went into creating it, so looking at a gallery of art, one could say "look at all that artwork!" and be correct.

For further definitions of Artwork: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/artwork

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The first sentence is correct.

"Artwork" is a mass noun:

"Look at all the beautiful artwork"


"Look at the beautiful example of artwork."

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