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Article

Michelle P. Brown

(b Brighton, July 16, 1867; d Kew, May 1, 1962).

English museum curator and collector. He was the son of a coal merchant and in 1884 joined the family firm, where he remained until the end of 1891. He had early on been attracted by the aesthetics and politics of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and had met and assisted such figures as John Ruskin, William Morris and Octavia Hill (1838–1912). His role as secretary to the Kelmscott Press (1892–8) fostered a particular love of books. From 1900 to 1904 he was in partnership with the process-engraver Sir Emery Walker (1851–1933). As a private collector of printed books and manuscripts and as director (1908–37) of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cockerell was responsible for developing this area of study, as well as other aspects of medieval and Renaissance art. In 1908 he organized the first major exhibition of illuminated manuscripts at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, also editing the catalogue. He subsequently published a number of scholarly works. As both a curator and a collector of manuscripts he did much to influence British bibliophily, ranking alongside the bibliophiles Eric Millar and Henry Yates Thompson (...

Article

Robert Cumming

Act of assembling groups of objects. Any account of collecting works of art has to cover a very wide field of enquiry. Its history is often obscure and complicated, and many issues such as aesthetics, finance, psychology, and indeed the definition of the phenomenon must also be considered, including how culturally widespread collecting is. It can be identified in most of the great civilizations throughout history, from China and Japan to the Islamic and Western worlds, and in each instance there are many features in common. Although some of the general points made in this article apply to all forms of collecting, it concentrates on the example provided by the West. Collecting in other civilizations is discussed under the appropriate geographic or cultural headings. There are also sections discussing collecting in most modern country surveys.

In any discussion of collecting, one of the first problems to be dealt with is that of evidence: what did a particular collection contain, when, and where? Most collections, however painstakingly built up, are dispersed after the death of the collector, sometimes in spite of the conditions of a bequest. The important collection of paintings and sculpture of ...

Article

Jenefer Robinson

(b Cartmel Fell, nr Kendal, Feb 22, 1889; d Coniston, Jan 9, 1943).

English philosopher, son of W. G. Collingwood. His most important contribution to philosophical aesthetics is The Principles of Art (1938; a radical reworking of themes from his earlier Outlines of a Philosophy of Art, 1925), in which he defended the thesis, derived from Benedetto Croce, that art is expression in the sense that it is an imaginative activity whereby we become conscious of our emotions. In Collingwood’s idealist metaphysics, the primary level of experience is ‘feeling’, or sensations together with their (positive or negative) emotional ‘charge’. Examples of feeling would be when we sense colours, sounds, hot and cold etc as peaceful, terrifying, painful and so on. The objects of sensation (sensa), of which we are only dimly aware, are in perpetual flux, but a particular sensum can be brought to consciousness by the imagination after it has vanished from immediate experience. Once fixed in consciousness, it is ready to be interpreted by the intellect. Consciousness is thus the basis of all ‘higher’ intellectual activity....

Article

Colour  

Geoffrey Newman, Amy McNair, B. N. Goswamy, Jonathan M. Bloom, Sheila S. Blair, Moyo Okediji, and Claudia Brittenham

Term for the range of differences in light that the eye can register; it is most commonly used for those differences dependent on the wavelength of light within the electromagnetic spectrum (see Light). Besides such differences of ‘hue’, colour may also be described scientifically in terms of the amount of light perceived (‘brightness’, as opposed to dark) and in terms of the amount of a distinct hue (‘saturation’, as opposed to the colourlessness of white or black). This article surveys interpretations and schemes of colour in diverse cultures, beginning with the Western traditions of painting and writing alongside which the scientific definitions of colour have evolved. Further scientific aspects are treated in Colour interaction, Perception, Pigment and Dye, while the development of Western theory and pictorial rendition of natural colour (‘colour perspective’ or ‘aerial perspective’) is also examined in Science and art, §2, (iii), and Perspective, §III.

Geoffrey Newman...

Article

Whitney Davis

Term referring broadly to a study of information that implies a communicative act between two or more parties. The methodological and theoretical foundations of modern communication science lie in psychophysics as well as in information theory and are applied to linguistics as well as to visual studies. Art history and criticism—the foundations of which lie in aesthetics, hermeneutics and semiology—intersect with communication science through the analysis of such artefacts as paintings and sculptures. Of increasing interest to art theorists in the late 20th century, however, are such media as maps, ideographic writing, traffic marking systems or visual displays of technical data, traditionally dealt with by visual communication science but with implications for art theory arising from questions concerning technique, style, meaning and context.

That visual art is essentially or always communication has not been accepted by many philosophers of the arts. Certainly all art objects, like all other sorts of object, transmit information of many kinds to a perceiver able to pick it up, either innately or through learning. Nevertheless, art can be made in the absence of well-defined codes of communication or of any actual or possible audience for it; in such situations it can still possess a distinctive style or be expressive, figurative, decorative etc. Communication is based on transmissions of information (Cherry), but the information-bearing and communicative dimensions of art are not the same thing. Whereas bearing information is a universal ‘property’ of art objects, communication is a function of only some art objects in some contexts. Unfortunately, historical and critical analysis has often confused or elided these two dimensions....

Article

Mick Hartney and Jeffrey Martin

Term formerly used to describe any work of art in which a computer was used to make either the work itself or the decisions that determined its form. Computers became so widely used, however, that in the late 20th century the term was applied mainly to work that emphasized the computer’s role. It can cover artworks that use computers or other digital technology not only for their creation but for their display or distribution. It can also include interactive works, installation art and art created for the internet.

Mick Hartney, revised by Jeffrey Martin

Such calculating tools as the abacus have existed for millennia, and artists have frequently invented mathematical systems to help them to make pictures. The Golden section and Leon Battista Alberti’s formulae for rendering perspective were devices that aspired to fuse realism with idealism in art, while Leonardo da Vinci devoted much time to applying mathematical principles to image-making. After centuries of speculations by writers, and following experiments in the 19th century, computers began their exponential development in the aftermath of World War II, when new weapon-guidance systems were adapted for peaceful applications, and the term ‘cybernetics’ was given currency by Norbert Wiener. After the war, ‘mainframe’ computers, which first used vacuum tubes and later transistors and silicon chips, became widespread in their application. Their prohibitive size and cost, however, restricted their use to government agencies, major corporations, universities and other large institutions. It was at these institutions that early attempts at using computers to create simple geometric visual images were carried out. Artists exploited computers’ ability to execute mathematical formulations or ‘algorithms’ from ...

Article

David Craven

[idea art; information art]

Term applied to work produced from the mid-1960s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas. Although Henry Flynt of the Fluxus group had designated his performance pieces ‘concept art’ as early as 1961 and Edward Kienholz had begun to devise ‘concept tableaux’ in 1963, the term first achieved public prominence in defining a distinct art form in an article published by Sol LeWitt in 1967. Only loosely definable as a movement, it emerged more or less simultaneously in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia and had repercussions on more conventional spheres of artistic production spawning artists’ books as a separate category and contributing substantially to the acceptance of photographs, musical scores, architectural drawings, and performance art on an equal footing with painting and sculpture. Moreover, conceptual art helped spawn the move towards multimedia installations that emerged to such prominence from the 1980s....

Article

Arthur Pontynen and Julia K. Murray

Set of beliefs, morals and social values based on the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (Chin. Kongzi; c. 551–479 bc). Although the following article relates solely to the influence of Confucian thought on art in China, Confucianism and its various subsequent revivals also had a great influence on developments elsewhere in East and South-east Asia (see Japan, §II, 5; Korea, §I, 4; and Vietnam, Socialist Republic of, §I, 3).

Arthur Pontynen

Confucius was a native of Qufu (modern Shandong Province), the capital of the state of Lu at the time of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (771–256 bc). Tradition relates that he did not hold any official post until he was 56; even then he wandered between the minor states, arousing controversy with his ideas, until he realized that his true aptitude lay in teaching and philosophy. The Lunyu (‘Analects’), compiled by his pupils some decades after his death, is the most reliable source for his doctrines. Its primary concern is good society based on good government and harmonious human relations, obtained not by coercion or oppression but by virtue and moral example....

Article

Enrico Castelnuovo, Jaynie Anderson, Stephen B. Little, Christine M. E. Guth, S. N. Chaturvedi, and Anna Tummers

Term given to the technique or art of recognizing works of art. In the Western world this particularly involves the evaluation, distinction, and appreciation of the work’s quality and, above all, the ability to determine the time and place of its execution and, as far as possible, the identity of the artist. A lack of signatures, precise documentation, and other information concerning most figurative works has meant that the establishment and development of criteria and classification and thus the practice of attribution have been highly dependent on the development of collecting and of an art market. Connoisseurship is not an exclusively Western phenomenon, however: it has evolved alongside the development of collections of art in such countries as China, where the role of the connoisseur was established as early as the Bronze Age.

Enrico Castelnuovo

In the earliest literature on the history and appreciation of art, dating to Classical times and then the Renaissance (...

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

Tapati Guha-Thakurta

(b Colombo, Aug 22, 1877; d Needham, MA, Sept 9, 1947).

Anglo-Sinhalese writer and curator, active also in India and the USA. More than those of any other scholar of Indian art, culture and aesthetics, Coomaraswamy’s vision and views have dominated and moulded the current understanding of Indian art. He began his career at the start of the 20th century as a champion of an aesthetic revaluation of Indian art. His powerful defence of Indian art and Eastern aesthetics was motivated, on the one hand, by a cultural nationalism that resented the intrusion of British colonial rule in India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and, on the other hand, by a utopian ideal of a medieval village civilization that rejected the materialism of the modern, industrial West. This ideal of an alternative socio-cultural order, discovered in traditional Sri Lanka and India, generated in time a more specific quest for an alternative aesthetic of Indian art. From the active mission of the cultural regeneration of Asia, Coomaraswamy retreated, with age, into the more aloof world of iconography, Eastern religions and metaphysics....

Article

(b London, Feb 26, 1670/1; d Naples, Feb 15, 1713).

English philosopher, aesthetician and patron. Shaftesbury has been described as the first great aesthetician that England produced, and his writings were both original and influential. His education was entrusted to the philosopher John Locke, who had him instructed in Greek and Latin from an early age. So quickly and thoroughly did he learn these languages that by the age of 11 he could read and discuss the Classics, an interest he was always to maintain. During his three years of travel in Holland, France and Italy he learnt French and developed his taste for modern and Classical sculpture, architecture, painting and music. He served in Parliament for three years and succeeded to the earldom and a seat in the House of Lords in 1699. Shaftesbury’s interest in art and aesthetics developed considerably in his final years, after he moved to Naples for his health in 1711.

Shaftesbury’s dialogues, letters and miscellany do not form a systematic doctrine, for he despised philosophical systems; rather they stand as elegantly composed and passionate topical essays. His posthumously published treatises on art, ...

Article

Maria Elena Buszek

Interest in the subject of ‘craft’ in the contemporary art world grew at the start of the 21st century, as artists with conceptually oriented studio practices increasingly turned to media and processes associated with handicrafts or decorative arts, such as knitting, stitching, weaving, pottery, glass-blowing, and woodworking. In this so-called ‘information age’ the sensuous, tactile ‘information’ of craft media spoke of a direct connection to an endangered humanity, or at least to a humanity being rapidly reconfigured in a technologically saturated world. Many artists returned to old-fashioned, handmade materials, images, and objects seeking balance in a high-tech world. Others were drawn to the familiarity of utilitarian media such as cloth, ceramics, glass, or wood, which are often invisible due to their ubiquity in our everyday lives; they made work that directs audiences’ attention to the extraordinary potential of these seemingly ordinary craft materials and techniques. In all cases, these artists entered into a dialogue over the distinctions between ‘art’ and ‘craft’ that have been debated since the early modern era....

Article

Robert M. Craig

Early 20th-century American manifestation of the late 19th-century international Arts and Crafts Movement and similarly grounded on the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris. The Craftsman Movement married Ruskin’s concept of an architectural morality with Morris’s ideal of art as quintessentially “doing a right thing well,” and called for artists to embrace the idea that the worth of an object is inherent in the pleasure in its making. Led in America by furniture maker Gustav(e) Stickley, the movement preached honesty in materials, elimination and simplification in design (as a reflection of a simpler life), and an integration of art and beauty into domestic life. A non-elitist craft of building embodying values of handiwork and “pleasure in labor” would result in a democratic architecture of good character available to the Everyman.

Stickley designed and manufactured furniture, and published designs for houses as appropriate settings for his honest and straightforward oak tables and chairs and built-in bookcases. He illustrated his work and point of view in ...

Article

Colin Lyas

(b Pescasséroli, Abruzzi, Feb 25, 1866; d Naples, Nov 20, 1952).

Italian historian, critic, philosopher and statesman. He began his intellectual career as a historian, and his concern for whether history is an art or a science led him to inquire into the nature of art and to produce, in 1902, his first major work in aesthetics, Estetica come scienza dell’espressione e linguistica generale. Here he distinguished between the ‘intuitive’ knowledge of things in their concrete particularity and the ‘logical’ knowledge of general concepts. Croce proposed that human beings passively receive bombardments of sensory stimuli and, using the faculty of intuition, produce from them objects he called ‘intuitions’ or ‘representations’, which give a particular form to otherwise unintelligible stimuli. A painter, using this faculty of intuition or representation, gives the otherwise inchoate welter of stimuli produced by, for example, a moonlit countryside, the particular form of a painting, which is an intuition or representation of that countryside. Intuiting the scene involves giving articulate expression to the otherwise incoherent mass of stimuli received on such occasions, and so intuition and expression are identical. All uses of language to express thoughts and feelings, as well as the visual arts or music, are acts of intuition, which master the flood of sensations to which we are continually subjected....

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

Dada  

Dawn Ades and Matthew Gale

Artistic and literary movement launched in Zurich in 1916 but shared by independent groups in New York, Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere. The Dadaists channelled their revulsion at World War I into an indictment of the nationalist and materialist values that had brought it about. They were united not by a common style but by a rejection of conventions in art and thought, seeking through their unorthodox techniques, performances, and provocations to shock society into self-awareness. The name Dada itself was typical of the movement’s anti-rationalism. Various members of the Zurich group are credited with the invention of the name; according to one account it was selected by the insertion of a knife into a dictionary and was retained for its multilingual, childish, and nonsensical connotations. The Zurich group was formed around the poets Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, and Richard Huelsenbeck, and the painters Hans Arp, Marcel Janco, and ...

Article

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....

Article

Stephen Bann

(b El-biar, Algiers, July 15, 1930; d Paris, Oct 9, 2004).

French philosopher. In 1967 he published De la grammatologie and L’Ecriture et la différence. Subsequently he became identified with Deconstruction, a process of critical analysis whose effects have been widespread in the English-speaking world (see also Post-structuralism). Although ‘deconstructionist’ criticism has been largely confined to literary studies, Derrida’s contribution to the analysis and understanding of the visual arts is potentially almost as great. The strength of his approach derives from a decision to examine the historical and philosophical origins of the distinctions that are customarily made between different types of sign: between linguistic and visual signs, and between the messages of speech and writing. For Derrida, the dialogues of Plato display an explicit hierarchisation of spoken and written language: as in the myth of the origins of writing recounted in Plato’s Phaedrus. Written language is regarded as a mere secondary substitute for the presence and plenitude of the human voice, and Socrates described writing as a ‘dead word’, implying that it has no status except as an inadequate representation of a prior act of speech. Derrida, by contrast, has insisted on the condition of written language, as a ‘trace’ or network of traces recorded in the act of writing, rather than as a record of a prior event. It is easy to see the relevance of this notion to the theory and practice of ...

Article

Design  

Penny Sparke

Term derived from the Italian disegno and the French dessin, both meaning ‘a drawing’; from the 20th century, it has been used in a wider sense to describe the aesthetic and functional characteristics of an object. It has become increasingly identified with product design for industry (see Industrial design and Mass production) and is seen as an essential part of the process of making, marketing, and selling mass-produced goods. This article covers the history and concept of design in Western Europe and the USA since 1800.

Design in its contemporary sense emerged from the social, economic, technological, and ideological conditions that transformed Western society at the time of the Industrial Revolution, i.e. the late 18th century and early 19th in Britain, and a little later in the rest of Europe and the USA. The move from craft to mass production through the reorganization of labour and the use of machines resulted in a breakdown of the traditional process of the manufacture of goods: the design process became separated from the making stage. This fundamental separation, which meant that a product had to be planned in its entirety before it could be made, gave birth to the modern meaning of design and, subsequently, to the profession of designer....