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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

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

Casey Haskins

(b Burlington, VT, Oct 20, 1859; d New York, June 1, 1952).

American philosopher, educator, and author. Dewey taught at the University of Michigan (1884–94), Ann Arbor, the University of Chicago (1894–1904), and Columbia University (1904–30), New York. A major presence in American intellectual life during much of the 20th century, aside from his role in developing a philosophical view known as American Pragmatism, Dewey is best known for his advocacy of progressive education. He founded the Chicago Laboratory School with Jane Addams, was a founder of the New School for Social Research, and was an advisory council member for Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Dewey was a prolific author of popular articles and scholarly books, including Democracy and Education (1916), Human Nature and Conduct (1922), The Quest for Certainty (1929), Experience and Nature (1925), and Art as Experience (1934), widely considered the most influential work in 20th-century philosophical aesthetics by an American author....

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

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

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

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

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....