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David Kinmont

(b Paris, Oct 18, 1859; d Paris, Jan 3, 1941).

French philosopher. The son of a Polish Jewish musician, he took his baccalauréat at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris and entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1878. He gained his Licencié ès Lettres in 1879 and during 1881–8 taught in secondary schools at Angers, Clermont Ferrand and Paris. The publication of one of his two doctoral theses, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (Paris, 1889), brought him public recognition. It was followed in 1896 by Matière et mémoire.

Bergson was concerned with the problem of expression, and he attempted to resist the linguistic snares that he associated with conceptual thinking, arguing instead for an organic philosophy. He was aware of the inadequacies of the mechanistic determinism of 19th-century scientism, especially as presented in the English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s First Principles (London, 1862). Bergson saw reality as a constant state of dynamic flux in which past, present and future formed a single continuum. The question of time was all important to him, and he insisted that the time of consciousness existed on multiple interrelated levels. The fusion of these heterogeneous instants comprised a duration. This was not purely quantitative measurable time, but time as it is experienced by human consciousness. To Bergson, duration meant memory, and memory was synonymous with consciousness, an unending flow rather than a succession of discrete instants....

Article

Julia Robinson

Term first formally used by the American artist Allan Kaprow for his 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, presented in early October 1959 at the Reuben Gallery, New York City, as the inaugurating event for that space. (Informal “happening-like” experiments had been presented by Kaprow in April 1958 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and at the Reuben Gallery in a pre-opening piece called Intermission [June 1959].) Through 1960, the artists pioneering the Happenings form were: Kaprow, Robert Whitman (b 1935), Claes Oldenburg, Simone Forti, Red Grooms, Al Hansen and Jim Dine. Happenings appeared at experimental downtown spaces such as Groom’s “Delancey Street Museum” (his studio on the lower East Side), the Judson Church (on Washington Square) and the Reuben Gallery, as well as in New Jersey, at George Segal’s farm, and on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where Kaprow was teaching and Whitman was a student. According to Whitman, when Kaprow named ...

Article

Simon Banks

(b Leipzig, May 22, 1813; d Venice, Feb 13, 1883).

German composer and writer. Though his writings are not primarily concerned with the visual arts, they contain interesting general aesthetic theories. In his crucial essay Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849) Wagner made the first use of the term Gesamtkunstwerk . In this work he called for a unification of all the arts in a manner that had not been experienced since the days of ancient Greece, and his main preoccupation was with the interrelationship of words and music. For Wagner art was a natural, necessary product of uncorrupted man and as much a product of the unconscious as the conscious mind. He divided art into two broad categories: the human arts, which derive directly from man, and, on the other hand, those arts that are created by man from the materials of nature. With regard to the former, which are generated by bodily motion and rhythm, he spoke of the ‘three purely human arts’ of music, poetry and dance. The latter category contains the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting, to all of which he ascribed a merely secondary role. Their proper task is to be found in support of drama. Thus architecture was to provide the necessary stage-set for the artwork of the future, sculpture should be employed in the service of architecture, and landscape painting should be used to create a natural backdrop in stage scenery. Under the influence of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, Wagner later modified his theories, and in ...