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Article

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 (see Abstraction).

In the late 19th century, and particularly in Symbolist art and literature, attention was refocused from the object to the emotions aroused in the observer in such a way that suggestion and evocation took priority over direct description and explicit analogy. In France especially this tradition contributed to the increased interest in the formal values of paintings, independent of their descriptive function, that prepared the way for abstraction. In his article ‘Définition du néo-traditionnisme’, published in L’Art et critique...

Article

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 Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of colour to De Kooning family, §1’s violent handling of the figure. They were linked by a concern with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content. Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in the sculpture of David Smith, Ibram Lassaw and others, the photography of Aaron Siskind and the painting of Mark Tobey, as well as in the work of less renowned artists such as ...

Article

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 Auguste Herbin (president), Georges Vantongerloo (vice-president), Hans Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Georges Valmier and František Kupka.

Membership of Abstraction-Création was in principle open to all abstract artists, but the dominant tendency within the group was towards the geometric formality championed by Theo van Doesburg and by other artists associated with De Stijl. Works such as Jean Hélion’s Ile-de-France (1935; London, Tate), which came to typify the group’s stance, owed more to the post-war ‘rappel à l’ordre’ interpreted by the Purists in terms of a ‘classic’ and ‘architectonic’ ordering of art, design and architecture, than to the biomorphic abstraction derived from Surrealism. During its brief existence the group published annual ...

Article

Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 1472).

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 Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since....

Article

Baroque  

Gauvin Bailey and Jillian Lanthier

Term used to describe one of the first genuinely global styles of art and architecture in the Western canon, extending from its birthplace in Bologna and Rome to places as far-flung as France, Sweden, Russia, Latin America, colonial Asia (Goa, Macao), and Africa (Mozambique, Angola), even manifesting itself in hybrid forms in non-European cultures such as Qing China (the Yuanming yuan pleasure gardens of the Qianlong Emperor) or Ottoman Turkey (in a style often called Türk Barok). The Baroque also embraced a very wide variety of art forms, from the more traditional art historical media of painting, sculpture, and architecture to public spectacles, fireworks, gardens, and objects of everyday use, often combining multiple media into a single object or space in a way that blurred traditional disciplinary boundaries. More so than the Renaissance and Mannerist stylistic movements which preceded it, Baroque was a style of the people as well as one of élites, and scholars are only recently beginning to explore the rich material culture of the Baroque, from chapbooks (Italy) and votive paintings (central Europe and Latin America) to farm furniture (Sweden) and portable oratories (Brazil). Although its precise chronological boundaries will probably always be a matter of dispute, the Baroque era roughly covers the period from the 1580s to the early 18th century when, in places such as France and Portugal, the ...

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

Article

Richard Shone

Name applied to a group of friends, mainly writers and artists, who lived in or near the central London district of Bloomsbury from 1904 to the late 1930s. They were united by family ties and marriage rather than by any doctrine or philosophy, though several male members of the group had been affected by G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica (Cambridge, 1903) when they had attended the University of Cambridge. Moore emphasized the value of personal relationships and the contemplation of beautiful objects, promoting reason above social morality as an instrument of good within society. This anti-utilitarian position coloured the group’s early history. It influenced the thinking of, for example, the biographer and critic Lytton Strachey (1880–1932) and the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) and confirmed the position of conscientious objection maintained by some members of the group in World War I. Before 1910, literature and philosophy dominated Bloomsbury; thereafter it also came to be associated with painting, the decorative arts and the promotion of ...

Article

Judith Wechsler, Patricia Coronel, Michael Coronel, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom and E. Michael Whittington

Type of art in which the characteristic features of the human figure are exaggerated for amusement or criticism. The term caricatura (from It. caricare: ‘to load or change’) was probably invented by Annibale Carracci. It appeared in print, possibly for the first time, in a preface by Giovanni Atanasio Mosini (a pseudonym for Monsignor Giovanni Massani, house master to Pope Urban VII) to Agucchi’s Trattato (1646) and two years later by Bernini.

Caricature appears as an art form throughout the world. Of all its international forms, however, the Western tradition has probably been studied the most, and this article therefore concentrates on this aspect; besides the overview in §2 below, further references to caricature elsewhere may appear within country and regional survey articles of the ancient world and of Asian and African art.

In Western art there are essentially two traditions of caricature. The first derives from Italy, where caricature was seen as primarily a humorous, exaggerated portrait. In northern Europe, especially in 18th-century ...

Article

Christina Lodder

revised by Benjamin Benus

Avant-garde tendency in 20th-century painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture, with associated developments in literature, theatre and film. The term was first coined by artists in Russia in early 1921 and achieved wide international currency in the 1920s. Russian Constructivism refers specifically to a group of artists who sought to move beyond the autonomous art object, extending the formal language of abstract art into practical design work. This development was prompted by the utopian climate following the October Revolution of 1917, which led artists to seek to create a new visual environment, embodying the social needs and values of the new Communist order. The concept of International Constructivism defines a broader current in European art, most vital from around 1922 until the end of the 1920s, that was centred primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. International Constructivists were inspired by the Russian example, both artistically and politically. They continued, however, to work in the traditional artistic media of painting and sculpture, while also experimenting with film and photography and recognizing the potential of the new formal language for utilitarian design. The term Constructivism has frequently been used since the 1920s, in a looser fashion, to evoke a continuing tradition of geometric abstract art that is ‘constructed’ from autonomous visual elements such as lines and planes, and characterized by such qualities as precision, impersonality, a clear formal order, simplicity and economy of organization and the use of contemporary materials such as plastic and metal....

Article

Cubism  

Christopher Green and John Musgrove

Term derived from a reference made to ‘geometric schemas and cubes’ by the critic Louis Vauxcelles in describing paintings exhibited in Paris by Georges Braque in November 1908; it is more generally applied not only to work of this period by Braque and Pablo Picasso but also to a range of art produced in France during the later 1900s, the 1910s and the early 1920s and to variants developed in other countries. Although the term is not specifically applied to a style of architecture except in former Czechoslovakia (see Czech Cubism), architects did share painters’ formal concerns regarding the conventions of representation and the dissolution of three-dimensional form (see §II). Cubism cannot definitively be called either a style, the art of a specific group or even a movement. It embraces widely disparate work; it applies to artists in different milieux; and it produced no agreed manifesto. Yet, despite the difficulties of definition, it has been called the first and the most influential of all movements in 20th-century art....

Article

Drawing  

Beverley Schreiber Jacoby and Marjorie Shelley

Term that refers both to the act of marking lines on a surface and to the product of such manual work. Whether it is summary or complete, a drawing is defined less by its degree of finish or support than by its media and formal vocabulary. Manipulating line, form, value, and texture, with an emphasis on line and value rather than colour, drawing has been employed since ancient times for both aesthetic and practical purposes. The language of drawing has been used to record, outline, and document images that the draughtsman has observed, imagined, recalled from memory, or copied.

There are several qualities unique to drawing that distinguish it from other art forms. It has always been considered among the most intimate and personal of all the arts. Since the early Renaissance, a drawn sketch was central to the process of artistic creation as thoughts and images were first rendered into graphic form. Although ‘first idea’ sketches represent only one aspect of the creative process (...

Article

Francis M. Naumann

(b Blainville, Normandy, July 28, 1887; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Oct 2, 1968).

French painter, sculptor and writer, active also in the USA. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance—from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism—but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era....

Article

Vojtěch Lahoda

[Cz. Osma.]

Group of Bohemian painters established in 1906 with the aim of making colour the dominant element in their art. The members, all graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, were Emil Filla, Friedrich Feigl (1884–1965), Antonín Procházka, Willy Nowak (1886–1977), Otokar Kubín, Max Horb (1882–1907), Bohumil Kubišta and Emil Artur Pittermann-Longen (1885–1936). Filla, Feigl and Procházka had undertaken further study journeys in Europe, which had opened up their artistic horizons and convinced them of the need for innovation in Czech art. At their initial meetings, held at a Prague coffee-house, the Union, they planned to publish their own magazine and put on an exhibition in the prestigious Topič salon in Prague. Eventually they succeeded in renting a shop in Králodvorská Street, Prague, where a hastily organized exhibition was opened on 18 April 1907, with a catalogue consisting of a sheet of paper headed ...

Article

Paul Vogt and Ita Heinze-Greenberg

International movement in art and architecture, which flourished between c. 1905 and c. 1920, especially in Germany. It also extended to literature, music, dance and theatre. The term was originally applied more widely to various avant-garde movements: for example it was adopted as an alternative to the use of ‘Post-Impressionism’ by Roger Fry in exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912. It was also used contemporaneously in Scandinavia and Germany, being gradually confined to the specific groups of artists and architects to which it is now applied.

Expressionism in the fine arts developed from the Symbolist and expressive trends in European art at the end of the 19th century. The period of ‘classical Expressionism’ began in 1905, with the foundation of the group Brücke, Die, and ended c. 1920. Although in part an artistic reaction both to academic art and to Impressionism, the movement should be understood as a form of ‘new ...

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

Article

Frances Spalding

(Eliot)

(b London, Dec 14, 1866; d London, Sept 9, 1934).

English theorist, critic and painter. He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, and King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied natural sciences. He was descended on both sides of his family from seven generations of Quakers, but he abandoned Christian beliefs on reaching adulthood. The legacy of Quakerism, however, continued to influence the direction of his career in his willingness to stand apart from mass opinion and from established authority, and in his distrust of all display.

On leaving Cambridge, he trained as a painter, first under Francis Bate (1853–1950), then for two months at the Académie Julian in Paris. He regarded the activity of painting as central to his life and continued to paint and exhibit throughout his career. Although critical opinion has never been high, his art stands out consistently for its intellectual clarity of construction. However, Fry also soon established a reputation as a scholar of Italian art. He made his first visit to Italy in ...

Article

Amanda du Preez

Term used to indicate the complex visual matrix incorporating the one who looks as well as the one who is looked at. This means the one who imposes the gaze and the one who is the object of the gaze are both implicated in the construction of the gaze. The concept was addressed initially by Sigmund Freud’s concept of scopophilia (‘pleasure in looking’ or voyeurism) and later in Jacques Lacan’s formulation of the mirror stage and its role in identity formation. Lacan formulated the complex role of the gaze in constructing the relation between interior self and exterior world as two kinds of subjects—not only as a powerful subject gazing at the world but also as a lacking, objectified subject encountering the gaze outside himself. For the most part the link between the gaze and power is entrenched in theories on the gaze, since the directed gaze of the powerful subject has the ability to subjugate and even petrify its objects as exemplified in the terrifying gaze of Medusa in Greek mythology. The construction of the gaze happens within an asymmetry of power. In recent times, the gaze has become a trope within visual culture for the critical analysis of several entwined ideas concerning class, race, ethnography, sex, gender, religion, embodiment, ideology, power, and visuality. In this article the powerful directed gaze is analysed through the categories of the clinical gaze, colonial gaze, touristic gaze, and the male gaze. Finally, theorizing possibilities of going beyond the gaze are considered....

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

In painting, the attempt to make images that seemingly share or extend the three-dimensional space in which the spectator stands. The term is also applied in sculpture, for a presentation of figures that attempts in some way to make them seem alive, and occasionally in architecture, for a presentation of structures that attempts in some way to enhance their dimensions. It was coined by Franz Wickhoff in 1895 and has been used by modernist writers to characterize all methodical attempts to represent, or ‘give the illusion of’, the visible world. But in current usage it generally denotes work where the intention is that something should seem not so much represented as substantially present.

Such intentions are widespread in sculpture, in work ranging from the statues of ancient Greece—often originally polychromed—to Mme Tussaud’s wax museum, set up in 1835. The use of the term for a distinct developing tradition is, however, mainly confined to European painting. In painting, three-dimensional illusions tend to lose their hold when the surface, seen closely, yields an identical image to each eye, thus showing its lack of depth: still more so when the spectator moves and the relation of the represented planes fails to change. As a result, illusionist painting falls largely within certain limits of presentation or of imagery. It may be shown to one eye only, in a ‘peepshow’, or be kept at a distance from the spectator, for instance on a high ceiling, where the two eyes can no longer confidently judge depth. For imagery, the painter may represent a flat surface from which planes jut and recede to a slight depth—the range of effects properly known as ...

Article

Grace Seiberling

Term generally applied to a movement in art in France in the late 19th century. The movement gave rise to such ancillaries as American Impressionism. The primary use of the term Impressionist is for a group of French painters who worked between around 1860 and 1900, especially to describe their works of the later 1860s to mid-1880s. These artists include Frédéric Bazille, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot (see fig.), Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, as well as Mary Cassatt, Gustave Caillebotte (who was also an important early collector), Eva Gonzalès, Armand Guillaumin and Stanislas Lépine. The movement was anti-academic in its formal aspects and involved the establishment of venues other than the official Salon for showing and selling paintings.

The term was first used to characterize the group in response to the first exhibition of independent artists in 1874. Louis Leroy and other hostile critics seized on the title of a painting by ...