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Anna Moszynska

Term applied in its strictest sense to forms of 20th-century Western art that reject representation and have no starting- or finishing-point in nature. As distinct from processes of abstraction from nature or from objects (a recurring tendency across many cultures and periods that can be traced as far back as Palaeolithic cave painting), abstract art as a conscious aesthetic based on assumptions of self-sufficiency is a wholly modern phenomenon (...

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David Anfam

Term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, very narrowly, as Action painting, although it was first coined in relation to the work of Vasily Kandinsky in 1929. The works of the generation of artists active in New York from the 1940s and regarded as Abstract Expressionists resist definition as a cohesive style; they range from ...

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Nelson Goodman

Term used in an art context in several ways: in general for processes of imagemaking in which only some of the visual elements usually ascribed to ‘the natural world’ are extracted (i.e. ‘to abstract’), and also for the description of certain works that fall only partially, if at all, into what is commonly understood to be representational. Differing ideas and manifestations of abstraction appeared in artists’ works in the successive modern movements of the 20th century (...

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International group of painters and sculptors, founded in Paris in February 1931 and active until 1936. It succeeded another short-lived group, Cercle et Carré, which had been formed in 1929 with similar intentions of promoting and exhibiting abstract art. Its full official title was Abstraction-Création: Art non-figuratif. The founding committee included ...

Article

Frank Felsenstein

English writer and politician. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Queen’s College, Oxford, receiving his MA in 1693. Between 1699 and 1703 he travelled on the Continent; in his Remarks upon Several Parts of Italy (1705) he noted that Italy was ‘the great school of Musick and Painting’, and a primary purpose of his tour was ‘to compare the natural face of the country with the Landskips the [classical] Poets have given us of it’. His ...

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Kendall L. Walton, Martha C. Nussbaum, John Marenbon, François Quiviger and Jenefer Robinson

Branch of Western philosophy concerned primarily with the arts, especially the fine arts, although it often treats the concepts of natural beauty and appreciation of nature as well. The notion of fine art and that of a corresponding branch of philosophy are of relatively recent origin, dating from the 18th century, although historical antecedents of many of the particular issues now recognized as belonging to aesthetics go back to antiquity. The present usage of the term stems from its adoption in ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy concerned primarily with the arts, with concepts of natural beauty and the appreciation of nature. Whereas an important body of literature has been written about Classical and medieval European concepts of beauty, relatively little has been composed about the subject in Islamic art, although historians of literature have dealt extensively with aesthetic concepts in their studies of classical Arabic. Arabic was undoubtedly the ...

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Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of ...

Article

Martha C. Nussbaum

(b Stagira, 384 bc; d Khalkis, 322 bc). Ancient Greek philosopher. Born to a physician at the Macedonian court, Aristotle travelled to Athens in his 18th year to study philosophy at Plato’s Academy. He remained for nearly twenty years until Plato’s death in ...

Article

Anneke E. Wijnbeek

American psychologist and writer of German birth. He studied with Gestalt psychologists at the University of Berlin in the 1920s. His secondary studies in art history and musicology, together with Gestalt psychology, were the basis for his subsequent research into the mechanisms of perception. During the 1930s he studied film, finding in the silent film’s unadorned method of reproduction an artistic interpretation of perceptible reality. He wrote film reviews and published the book ...