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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 lingua franca of medieval Islamic literary culture, but different and distinct literatures emerged in regions where Persian and Turkish prevailed, particularly in the period after c. 1250. It seems therefore somewhat naive to imagine that a single aesthetic—however deeply based in the shared heritage of the Koran and Islamic thought—could have pertained throughout Islamic literary—or visual—culture from the shores of the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and from the steppes of Central Asia to the Sahel of Africa.

Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1954–)...

Article

Howard Caygill

(b Königsberg, Feb 2, 1700; d Leipzig, Dec 12, 1766).

German philosopher. He was the first of the philosophers influenced by Johann Christian von Wolff (1679–1754) to establish a place in Wolff’s system for the fine arts. He attended the universities of Königsberg and Leipzig in the early 1720s, where he wrote theses on Wolffian topics. In 1730 he published his enormously influential Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst. This essay brings together traditional poetics, the theory of taste and Wolffian philosophy. Although he employed the traditional framework of commenting on Horace’s Ars poetica, Gottsched focused on the relation between taste and perfection: perfection is rational, the unity of a manifold, but may be ‘obscurely perceived’ by taste. His relaxation of the stern rationalism of Wolff was insufficient for the Zurich critics Bodmer and Breitinger, generating a controversy that rumbled on into the 1750s. It was also unacceptable to the later generation of romantic aestheticians, notably Goethe, who found his compromise between the rules of art and the demands of taste still too restrictive....

Article

Howard Caygill

(b Königsberg [Kaliningrad], Aug 27, 1730; d Münster, June 21, 1788).

German philosopher and theologian. After travels that included sojourns in London and Riga, he based himself in his native city from 1759, occupying minor posts and acting as a Christian gadfly to the German Enlightenment. He separated himself from Kant with the esoteric Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759), which spurned the philosophy and recondite style of the Enlightenment. His differences were further developed in the first, and perhaps most influential riposte to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the Metacritik über den Purismum der Vernunft (1784), which questions how it is possible to criticize reason without assuming its validity, and claims that reason was already abstracted from language.

A similar argument informs Hamann’s main work in the philosophy of art, the ‘Aesthetica in Nuce’, one of the Kreuzzuge des Philologen (1762). This essay, subtitled ‘a rhapsody in cabbalistic prose’, attacks the abstract theories of imitation proposed by German ...

Article

Icon  

Richard Temple

[Gr. eikon: ‘image’]

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, and Post-Byzantine art, §II, 1). The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. All this was bound up with the complex questions of Christology that exercised the best minds of the period. Whole communities and nations were divided into Orthodox and heretics over the problem of defining the two natures of Christ, the relationship between his humanity and his divinity. The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy)....

Article

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

The destruction of images, particularly for religious reasons. The word is also used more broadly, however, to refer to the suppression of, or simple opposition to, images, whatever the motivation. The study of iconoclasm brings to light general issues concerning the nature and value of imagery, especially in relation to religious doctrines, while historically the nature of those doctrines themselves has determined the role played by iconoclasm within them.

See also Censorship.

Iconoclasm may take a number of forms and may be directed against a range of imagery. In its most fundamental form it may involve the total destruction of all images, but other forms might involve the destruction only of anthropomorphic images, or of all images of God, or again of all anthropomorphic images of God. Another form is the destruction of a devotional image that has ‘failed’, such as the Chinese practice of flogging local earth deities during periods of drought or famine, while other somewhat marginal forms might include the ritual destruction of images, for example during certain ...

Article

Willem F. Lash

Terms that refer broadly to the study of subjects and themes in works of art. Iconology, which is based on the results of iconography, is the more wide-ranging and comprehensive. One of the principal concerns of iconography is the discovery of symbolic and allegorical meanings in a work of art (see Symbol and Allegory). This article is concerned with Western culture and takes its examples primarily from northern European art. However, the principles involved can also be applied mutatis mutandis to the art of other cultures (see under separate country surveys).

Historically, the terms ‘iconography’ and ‘iconology’ have often been used loosely and interchangeably. However, a distinction between the two can be made: in the modern sense iconography involves the collection, classification and analysis of data, from which the theme or subject of a work of art is deduced. Iconology, on the other hand, starting from the results of iconography, attempts to explain the very basis for the existence of a work of art and its entire ...

Article

Sebastian Gardner

Term applied primarily to sets of beliefs that are explicitly held by social groups, are general in scope and have practical implications for participation in social life. The topic of these beliefs need not itself be social; religious beliefs as much as economic theories may be ideological. The term has, however, fallen into loose usage in sociology and other quarters, and there is much debate as to the correct understanding of the concept. This article gives a general definition of ideology and an outline of the ideological analysis of art with particular reference to Marxist theory.

By no means every socially accepted set of beliefs with practical implications counts as an ideology. The following are plausible, although not universally agreed, conditions for a set of beliefs to qualify as an ideology: (1) the set of beliefs demands explanation in terms of its social causes and effects on social relations rather than what (if anything) makes it true; (2) the social effects of the beliefs are more important in perpetuating them than the reasons advanced in their support; (3) the set of beliefs has come into existence because it promotes the interests of a particular social group or at least (in the case of an ascendent class) has the potential for doing so. It follows that ideological analysis is distinct from, and more complex than, the sociology of knowledge. Ideological analysis locates beliefs in their social or historical context and indicates homologies between patterns of beliefs and social structures, but at the same time it contests their justification. Ideological critique seeks to expose illusions and install true beliefs, thereby undoing social alienation and contributing to human emancipation. In ...

Article

Kenneth Bendiner

Art-historical term applied to a category of subject-matter referring to the depiction of the Near East by Western artists, particularly in the 19th century.

Images of the life, history and topography of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and sometimes modern Greece, the Crimea, Albania and the Sudan constitute the field of Orientalism. Although almost any biblical subject in Western art would rank as an Orientalist image by this definition, most such works dating before the 19th century fail to present any specifically Near Eastern details or atmosphere and are not Orientalist. Artists need not have journeyed to the Near East to be labelled Orientalist, but their works must have some suggestion of topographic or ethnographic accuracy.

Orientalism was essentially a 19th-century phenomenon, a facet of Romanticism. However, before Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, Gentile Bellini painted Ottoman subjects, Veronese represented some figures in Turkish costume, ...

Article

John Marenbon

(b Roccasecca, c. 1225; d Fossanova, 7 March 1274; can 18 July 1323; fd formerly 7 March; since 1970, 28 Jan). Italian saint and theologian. He studied at Monte Cassino and the University of Naples, and then in 1244 he joined the Dominicans. In 1256, after further study under Albert the Great (1200–80) in Paris and Cologne, he became a Master of Theology. For the rest of his life he worked in Paris and in Italy. His contemporaries and immediate successors regarded him as a very important theologian, but it was not until the 16th century that he came to be thought pre-eminent among Catholic systematic thinkers. He produced two major works, the Summa contra Gentiles and the Summa theologiae, and the latter was unfinished at his death. Although his voluminous writings contain only a few remarks on the concept of beauty, many 19th- and 20th-century commentators have tried to gather a Thomist ...