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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 ...



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 ...


Richard Brilliant

The word decadence has been used in the Western world to mark an evident decline in society, culture and art from some perceived ‘higher’ or better state of being or form. The German historian Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) explained decadence phenomenologically as the final stage of a historical cycle, when the pursuit of material comfort exhausts the creative forces of society; Freud found a prime source of human suffering in ‘the disposition to decay of our bodies’, and others have put forward the concept of decadence to oppose the idea of continuous progress in civilization. The term also indicates the wilful rejection of contemporary social and artistic norms by rebellious individuals or groups seeking to bring attention to themselves or to their causes. Such rejection can be retrogressive; the Arts and Crafts Movement sought to reverse the apparent decline in the arts caused by the Industrial Revolution by going back to the ‘purer’ work of the individual artisan. Decadence can, however, have a positive connotation, pointing to the breakup of an old society or style out of which something new emerges, or to the rejection of a society in order to regenerate it with fresh spiritual values and creative vigour. In its typical application to society, literature and the fine arts, decadence is usually pejorative, implying a negative moral judgement. Such usage marks the hostile response to change, to uncertainty, to the loss of ideals and ultimately to death. This article examines three notable and distinct patterns in art culture that exemplify this emotional response to decay....


Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

French term derived from the Italian grottesco, describing a type of European ornament composed of small, loosely connected motifs, including scrollwork, architectural elements, whimsical human figures and fantastic beasts, often organized vertically around a central axis.

Grotesque ornament was inspired by the archaeological discovery at the end of the 15th century, of the ...


Theresa Leininger-Miller

Resurgence in black culture, also called the New Negro Movement, which took place in the 1920s and early 1930s, primarily in Harlem, a neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan, but also in major cities throughout the USA, such as Chicago, Detroit, St Louis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, DC, as well as in the Caribbean and in Paris. Better known as a literary movement because of the publication of twenty-six novels, ten volumes of poetry, five Broadway plays and countless essays and short stories, the Harlem Renaissance (a term that historian John Hope Franklin coined in ...


Michael Podro and Margaret Barlow

German art historian, active in the USA. He wrote primarily on late medieval and Renaissance art in northern Europe and Italy, mostly, but by no means exclusively, on painting.

Panofsky’s doctoral dissertation (1915) was on the relation of Dürer’s theory of art to that in Renaissance Italy; in ...


Graham Reynolds

English statesman, soldier, poet and writer. He was the son of Sir Henry Sidney, who served three terms as Lord Deputy of Ireland. While still in his teens, Philip Sidney travelled for three years in Europe, witnessing the St Bartholomew’s Eve massacre of Protestants in Paris in ...


Jaynie Anderson

German art historian active in Germany, the USA, and England. His work transcends the conventional categories of academic specialization, combining philosophical and aesthetic insight with a sensitive eye and an exceptional range of historical and literary learning. He studied Classics, philosophy, and art history in Berlin, Freiburg, and Vienna, obtaining his DPhil in ...


Janet Southorn

British art historian and writer of German birth. The son of Henry Wittkower and Gertrude Ansbach, he had British citizenship through his British-born father. He studied at the universities of Munich and Berlin, where under the supervision of Adolf Goldschmidt he obtained his doctorate with a dissertation on the 15th-century Veronese artist Domenico Morone. In ...


Michael Podro

Swiss art historian . Starting as a student of philosophy he turned to art history under the influence of Jakob Burckhardt’s teaching at Basle. However, unlike Burckhardt, he was concerned not with detailed historical inquiry but with discovering general principles for interpreting the visual character of works. What he saw as requiring interpretation was, first, how the subject-matter of painting and sculpture took its particular forms in works of art and how building materials and structures took on meaningful forms in architecture, and, second, the way such modes or formulation changed through history. He wrote almost exclusively on Renaissance and Baroque art....