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Michael Podro

(b Hannover, March 30, 1892; d Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1968).

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 1923 he and Fritz Saxl published a study of Dürer’s engraving Melencolia I. In 1926 he became the first professor of art history at the new university of Hamburg, where he was closely involved with Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945), the professor of philosophy, and with Saxl and Aby Warburg at the Bibliothek Warburg. Panofsky’s name is often narrowly associated with the search for the subject-matter of paintings through reference to traditional imagery and literature. However, his writing always involved a much more ambitious and coherent mode of critical interpretation: he sought consistently to place individual works of art in relation to what he took to be an underlying aspect of the human situation, the reciprocity between ‘objectivity’—our receptive relation to the external world—and ‘subjectivity’—the constructive activity of our thought....

Article

Popular culture, including both pre-industrial craft and folk art and industrialized mass culture, has had a major impact on the course of American art. Prior to the mid-19th century, the scarcity of professionally trained artists meant that many individuals freely crossed the line between folk and “high” art. The early 19th-century sculptor William Rush, for instance, was trained as a carpenter and began his career carving ships’ figureheads but went on to become a co-founder of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the leading sculptor in Philadelphia, working in a style that blended the artisanal tradition with Baroque and Neo-classical influences.

Folk art continued to be produced into the 20th century, most famously in the work of Grandma Moses, but as America underwent rapid industrialization in the first decades of the 20th century, mass culture replaced folk art and the craft tradition as the focus of artists’ attention.

One of the first movements to respond to popular culture in the 20th century was the ...

Article

(b Buffalo, NY, Dec 24, 1913; d New York, Aug 30, 1967).

American painter and writer. He was renowned for his work as an abstract painter and for his influence on Minimalism; he also wrote and lectured throughout his life, using these forms to deal with matters he felt were best left out of painting. He set his date of birth in the context of a personal, cultural, and political chronology, describing it as having taken place nine months after the Armory Show had ended, on the eve of Europe’s entry into World War I and during the year in which Kazimir Malevich painted the first geometric abstract painting. Extensive travel throughout the world fed his encyclopedic interests.

Reinhardt studied (1931–5) literature and then art history under Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University, New York, where he gained a broad-based arts education; also under Schapiro’s influence he became involved in what were then considered radical campus politics. Reinhardt was editor of the humorous campus publication ...

Article

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Jenefer Robinson

[Jorge (Augustín Nicolás Ruiz de)]

(b Madrid, Dec 16, 1863; d Rome, Sept 26, 1952).

Spanish philosopher and writer, active in the USA. He grew up in Boston, MA, attended Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, as an undergraduate and taught there from 1889 to 1912. He then retired to Europe, living in England, Paris, and finally Rome. His most famous work in aesthetics is an early book, The Sense of Beauty (1896), in which he repudiates the Hegelian idealism then current in England and America and gives a psychological analysis of the beautiful, based on ‘scientific’ neo-empiricist principles. Beauty is defined as ‘pleasure objectified’ (p. 33). We call objects beautiful when we take pleasure in the experience of them, and this pleasure appears to us to be a quality of the objects themselves. Three sources of beauty are distinguished: beauty of materials (sensuous elements such as colours or sounds), beauty of form (combinations of sensuous elements as in symmetry), and beauty of expression (our associations with an object). Expression occurs when the experienced object suggests to our imagination some other object or event: these two terms ‘lie together in the mind, and their union constitutes expression’ (p. 121). For expression to be an element of beauty, the association must give pleasure experienced as a quality of the object. Santayana argued that even when what is suggested has negative value, as in tragedy, it is transformed into positive value when united in expression with a beautiful object....

Article

[Meir]

(b Siauliai, Lithuania, Sept 23, 1904; d New York, March 3, 1996).

American art historian, critic, and teacher of Lithuanian birth. An archetypal Jewish émigré, he arrived in the USA at the age of three. In 1920 he entered Columbia College, New York, where, having concluded that he would never succeed as a practising artist, he studied languages, mathematics, literature, anthropology, philosophy, and art history. He received his BA in art history and philosophy in 1924. His doctoral dissertation, on the early 12th-century cloister and portal of the abbey of St Pierre, Moissac, in south-western France, was accepted by Columbia in 1929. Two years later part of his dissertation was published in the Art Bulletin, from which time Schapiro was widely acknowledged as a scholar of Romanesque sculpture. However, his interests were always more wide-ranging, and from an early age he was committed to the ‘deep connections of art with the totality of culture’. He was equally renowned for his knowledge of 19th- and early 20th-century art, as well as for his friendships with contemporary artists. He was also one of the first art historians influenced by literary criticism, leading to his publication in ...

Article

Monica McTighe

(b New York City, Jan 16, 1933; d New York City, Dec 28, 2004).

American writer and critic. Born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City, she was raised in Arizona and California. She entered college at the age of 15 and received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1951. She earned MA degrees in English and Philosophy from Harvard University in 1954 and 1955, respectively. In the late 1950s she attended Oxford University for a year. Sontag married sociologist Philip Rieff in 1951 with whom she had a son. After their divorce she settled in New York City. Sontag was a noted cultural critic and public intellectual. Although best known for her essays, especially ‘Notes on Camp’ published in Partisan Review in 1964, she also wrote books of non-fiction, novels, and plays, and directed theatre productions and films.

Sontag’s On Photography (1977) earned her a reputation as an influential critic of photography. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award in ...

Article

Mark Alan Hewitt

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 25, 1925).

American architect. The only child of an Italian–American greengrocer, he was raised in Philadelphia and attended the élite Episcopal Academy in Merion, PA. Entering Princeton University in 1944, he graduated summa cum laude in architecture in 1947, and earned a MFA degree in 1950. Venturi served his apprenticeship in the offices of Oskar Stonorov, Eero Saarinen, and Louis I. Kahn, before winning the Rome Prize in 1954. Upon his return from Rome he began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, and opened his own architectural office in 1957.

Venturi immediately began to separate himself from the predominant functionalist philosophy associated with the Harvard Bauhaus and the sterile steel and glass aesthetic of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ’s Chicago school. His first book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), argued that the “messy vitality” of the contemporary environment demanded buildings that embraced complexity and ambiguity, and embodied “the difficult whole.” This book, and two controversial early buildings—the Vanna Venturi (Mother’s) House (...

Article

Jaynie Anderson

(b Berlin, May 14, 1900; d London, Sept 12, 1971).

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 1922 in Hamburg under Erwin Panofsky with a thesis on the relation between aesthetic appreciation and historical scholarship. The neo-Kantian influence of Ernst Cassirer in Hamburg was soon superseded by the pragmatism of Charles S. Pierce, which he encountered while teaching philosophy at North Carolina (1925–7). On his return to Hamburg as research assistant at the Bibliothek Warburg, this pragmatism was infused with Aby Warburg’s concept of cultural history, interest in the psychological potency of images, and fascination with significant detail. The close relationship between the two men is documented in Warburg’s diaries. After submitting his anti-Kantian treatise, ...

Article

Tirza Latimer and Harriet Riches

Since the medium’s inception, women have been attracted to photography’s ability to narrate the past and to construct the future, as well as its relative freedom from the historical conventions of the fine arts. In Europe and North America, and later in parts of Central and South America and Asia, the evolution of the new technology across the 19th century coincided with feminist challenges to prevailing gender relations. From the 1850s women of the upper and middle classes experimented with photography as a tool of documentation and a space of self-expression, while photographic studios employed working-class women to assist in a variety of tasks. As innovations such as the dry-plate process (1870s) and the Kodak camera (...