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Margaret Moore Booker

(b Butrimonys, Alytus County, Lithuania, June 26, 1865; d Settignano, Italy, Oct 6, 1959).

American art historian, critic, and connoisseur. Berenson was perhaps the single most influential art historian in the USA for much of the 20th century. As the leading scholar and authority on Italian Renaissance art, his opinion greatly influenced American art museums and collectors, whom he guided in the purchase of many important works of art. His pupils and disciples became the curators of many of the world’s great museums. His dealings with art galleries also made him a highly controversial figure.

Born to Albert and Julia Valvrojenski in Lithuania, Berenson immigrated to Boston, MA, with his family in 1875, at which time his surname was changed to Berenson. Later called ‘BB’ by friends and family, he dropped the ‘h’ from his first name around 1915. Jewish by birth, he converted to Christianity and was baptized in 1885. He attended Boston Latin School, Boston University, and finally Harvard University, where he studied under Charles Eliot Norton and received a BA in ...

Article

James Smalls

The Black Arts Movement spans the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Inherently and overtly political in content, it was an artistic, cultural and literary movement in America promoted to advance African American “social engagement.” In a 1968 essay titled “The Black Arts Movement,” African American scholar Larry Neal (1937–81) proclaimed it as the “artistic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept.” The use of the term “Black Power” originated in 1966 with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) civil rights workers Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks. Quickly adopted in the North, Black Power was associated with a militant advocacy of armed self-defense, separation from “racist American domination” and pride in and assertion of the goodness and beauty of “Blackness.”

In addition to “Black Power,” the slogan “Black is Beautiful” also became part of the Black Arts Movement and the Black Cultural Movement (also known as Black Aesthetics). The aim of these maxims was to counter and dispel the widespread notion throughout Western cultures that black people’s natural features, such as skin color, facial characteristics and hair, were inherently ugly. The central purpose was to subvert decades of anti-black rhetoric and “to make African Americans totally and irreversibly proud of their racial and cultural heritage.” Black Arts Movement cultural theorists and artists reasoned that promotion of a black aesthetic was mandatory to help the African American community perceive itself as not only beautiful, but also as proud of the legacy of African American achievement, self-determinacy and self-identification with all black peoples throughout the African diaspora. The tone was militant and separatist, not conciliatory and assimilationist, and resulted in a call for a revolutionary art that spoke to a definable black aesthetic. In ...

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

Ken Carpenter

(b Bronx, NY, Jan 16, 1909; d New York, NY, May 7, 1994).

American critic. He studied at the Art Students League in New York (1924–5) and obtained his BA from Syracuse University (1930). He began his writing career while working as a clerk for US Customs, with frequent contributions to Partisan Review on politics, literature, and art. From 1940 to 1943 he was an editor of that journal and from 1942 to 1949 was a regular art critic for Nation. Greenberg came to prominence as the most articulate early proponent of such Abstract Expressionist painters as Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb, and Hans Hofmann, and of the sculptor David Smith. Greenberg’s exhibition, Post Painterly Abstraction (1964), championed a second generation of American and Canadian abstract painters such as Jack Bush, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski. He defined their work in Heinrich Wölfflin’s stylistic terms of ‘openness’ and linear clarity, arguing it was ‘fresh’ as the equally linear-style Pop art was not. In one of his last important articles, ‘Counter-avant-garde’ (...

Article

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 1947) also produced many works of visual art, dance, and music. The term invokes a rebirth of African American creativity. Some scholars argue that the renaissance refers to ancient African cultures in Egypt, Kush, and Meroë, while others say that the rebirth dates to the 1890s when writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar were active, although few notable works of literature by African Americans date between W. E. B. DuBois’s ...

Article

Richard Guy Wilson

Term applied to the concept of the machine as a source of beauty, a concept particularly important in the development of art and design in Europe and North America in the 20th century. It can be argued, however, that the origins of the machine aesthetic lie in the 19th century, although few 19th-century architects, designers or writers were willing to think of machines as in themselves potential sources of beauty. Such writers as John Ruskin stressed instead the close affinity between organic forms, especially in decorative ornament, and aesthetic pleasure; a wide range of ‘modern’ machines from locomotives to kitchen implements continued therefore to be heavily ornamented. Moreover, the introduction of Mass production techniques, with industrial design replacing craftsmanship, was largely seen as incompatible with individual artistry and therefore aesthetic worth. In the 20th century, however, historians and polemicists of the Modern Movement, including Nikolaus Pevsner, Lewis Mumford, Sigfried Giedion and ...

Article

Benjamin Flowers

Term for the diverse body of social theory based on the work of the German socialist and political economist Karl Marx (1818–83) and his collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–95). Although commonly associated with political movements, Marxism also had an important impact on cultural production. Marxism continues to influence both the creation of art and architecture in the USA, and perhaps more importantly in this geographic and social context, its reception.

Marx, a voluminous thinker and writer, did not leave behind a major body of work addressing art. It was the project of many of those who came after Marx to articulate how Marxism, as a mode of social analysis, could shed light on the processes of artistic production and the interpretation of its significance. While Marx was confident that art was one of the ‘ideological forms’ through which class conflict took place, he also recognized that artistic development in societies did not depend exclusively on the form of social organization. The task for the heirs of the Marxist tradition was to determine how his insights into the ways capitalism revolutionized social relations, economic conditions, and political reality offered new approaches to understanding the labours of art and architecture....

Article

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Legal doctrine concerning authors’ rights that protects a creator’s personal, as opposed to economic, interests. These protections include the creator’s right to appropriate attribution and the right to have the integrity of one’s work properly maintained (see also Art legislation).

The law governing authors’ rights in the USA reflects an incomplete understanding of the motivations for human artistry. Copyright law, the body of law governing authors’ rights, rewards economic incentives almost exclusively. From the beginning, American copyright law has been designed to calibrate the ideal level of economic incentive to promote creativity. With the exception of a narrow form of protection for certain types of visual art, copyright law in America does not provide authors with legal protection such as the right to have their works attributed to them, or the right to have their works maintained and presented in a manner consistent with their artistic vision. These rights are known, respectively, as the right of attribution and the right of integrity and they are part of the larger doctrine of moral rights law....

Article

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

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

[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

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, ...