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Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Moroccan, 20th century, male.

Born 1924, near Marrakech.

Painter. Figures.

Symbolism.

The absence of figurative representation in much traditional Islamic art is less the result of a religious ban than a symptom of the religion's symbolic relationship with the world. Drissi's painting is characterised by this ambiguity: in painting figures in given situations, he nevertheless strips them of their bodily appearance, creating strictly hieratic shapes cloaked either in a burnous or a djellaba, featureless faces, and oppressive, empty surrounds where the living are never far from the grave....