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....
revised by Benjamin Benus
Meghan E. Grossman
Fashion photography is the use of photography to communicate the latest trends in clothing. It has a long and distinctive history in Europe and the USA, and is now practised around the world. Fashion photography acts as a representation of popular taste and is created to serve a commercial industry, yet it has also served as an avenue for change, pushing the boundaries of acceptability with innovations in style, technique, and the portrayal of fashion. Fashion photography was a democratizing force in the acceptance of photography in the West, as it brought the new form of expression to an audience of every social level, rich or poor, urban or suburban. Via mass media, photography serves to relate changes in fashion over long distances and many cultures, globally disseminating the styles of high fashion.
Fashion photography as it exists today falls into three main categories: editorial, advertising, and documentary. In the first category, photographs are commissioned by a publication to provide the ‘news’ in fashion to its audience. These photographs are intended to feature the best designs of the current season, without monetary compensation from the companies whose products are included. Editorial photographs are often tied together by theme or narrative, to create a coherent multi-page spread featuring several different designs. Advertising photographs are commissioned by the design house, manufacturer, or retailer to feature a product or brand identity. The company pays for the space in which the advertising photograph appears. Finally, fashion design companies often commission photographers to document their collections; these photographs can be used in-house for documentary purposes or published in the form of a catalogue, which serves as additional advertising. Depending on the purpose of the assignment, the photographer may choose to feature the clothes on a model, or hide fashion pieces amongst a jumble of unrelated objects. The goal of the photographer is to elevate the clothing to its highest status, the ‘fashion object’, through visual cues, lighting, composition, and creativity. Photography has served to add prestige to fashionable clothes since its introduction....
Amanda du Preez
Term used to indicate the complex visual matrix incorporating the one who looks as well as the one who is looked at. This means the one who imposes the gaze and the one who is the object of the gaze are both implicated in the construction of the gaze. The concept was addressed initially by Sigmund Freud’s concept of scopophilia (‘pleasure in looking’ or voyeurism) and later in Jacques Lacan’s formulation of the mirror stage and its role in identity formation. Lacan formulated the complex role of the gaze in constructing the relation between interior self and exterior world as two kinds of subjects—not only as a powerful subject gazing at the world but also as a lacking, objectified subject encountering the gaze outside himself. For the most part the link between the gaze and power is entrenched in theories on the gaze, since the directed gaze of the powerful subject has the ability to subjugate and even petrify its objects as exemplified in the terrifying gaze of Medusa in Greek mythology. The construction of the gaze happens within an asymmetry of power. In recent times, the gaze has become a trope within visual culture for the critical analysis of several entwined ideas concerning class, race, ethnography, sex, gender, religion, embodiment, ideology, power, and visuality. In this article the powerful directed gaze is analysed through the categories of the clinical gaze, colonial gaze, touristic gaze, and the male gaze. Finally, theorizing possibilities of going beyond the gaze are considered....
American group of photographers, active 1932–5. It was a loose association of San Francisco Bay Area photographers who articulated and promoted a modern movement in photographic aesthetics. The group was formed in August 1932 by photographers who shared an interest in pure and unmanipulated photography as a means of creative expression. It derived its name from the smallest possible aperture setting on a camera, the use of which resulted in the greatest and sharpest depth of field, producing an image with foreground and background clearly focused. The original membership consisted of Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards (1883–1958), Sonya Noskowiak (1900–75), Henry Swift (1891–1960), Willard Van Dyke (1906–86), and Edward Weston. The emphasis on clarity was partly a reaction against the lingering Pictorial photography in West Coast photography, exemplified by the work of William Mortensen (1897–1965) and Anne Brigman (...
J. P. Ward and Gerald W. R. Ward
Mary Warner Marien
Angela H. Moor and Ian L. Moor
John R. Neeson
Installation art is a hybrid of visual art practices including photography, film, video, digital imagery, sound, light, performance, happenings, sculpture, architecture, and painted and drawn surfaces. An installation is essentially site specific, three-dimensional, and completed by the interaction of the observer/participant in real time and space. The point of contention with any definition concerns the site specificity, ephemerality, and consequently ‘collectability’ of the work itself. One view has it that the category installation is presupposed on the transitory and impermanent, the second that an installation can be collected and re-exhibited as a conventional work of art.
In either case installation had its genesis in the environments and happenings devised by artists in the 1950s in New York and Europe (Nouveau Réalisme in France, Arte Povera in Italy). These in turn had antecedents in the architectural/sculptural inventions such as the various Proun rooms of El Lissitzky and the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters...
[Ger.: ‘pretentious trash’; Ger. dialect kitschen: ‘to smear’; verkitschen: ‘to sentimentalize’, ‘to cheapen’]
Term used to identify spurious imitations of genuine artistic creations in the fine and applied arts, architecture, literature, fashion, photography, the theatre, cinema, and music. Kitsch is sometimes used to refer to virtually any form of popular art or mass entertainment, especially when sentimental, but, although many popular art forms are cheap and somewhat crude, they are at least direct and unpretentious. On the other hand, a persistent theme in the history of the usage of ‘kitsch’, going back to the word’s mid-European origins, is pretentiousness, especially in reference to objects that simulate whatever is conventionally viewed as high art. As Hauser (1974) remarked, kitsch differs from merely popular forms in its insistence on being taken seriously as art or as expressing ‘civilized’ taste. Kitsch can thus be defined as a kind of pseudo, parasitic art, whose essential function is to flatter, soothe, and reassure its viewer and consumer. In his essay ‘Of the Standard of Taste’ (...
Term that refers to the technique of organizing various images into a single composition in both film and visual art. It is also frequently applied to musical and literary works that emphasize fragmentation and paratactic construction. In film, the term typically refers to the organization of individual shots to create a larger structure or narrative. This technique was developed most systematically by the film makers of the 1920s Russian avant-garde such as Sergey Eisenstein (1898–1948), Lev Kuleshov (1899–1970), and Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893–1953). In visual art, the term refers to the juxtaposition of disparate images in Collage and particularly Photomontage. Although this use of montage has a number of historical precursors, it was developed primarily in the 1910s and 1920s by artists associated with Dada, Surrealism, and Russian Constructivism such as George Grosz, John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, and Aleksandr Rodchenko. During the period after World War II, the technique became an increasingly routine practice in both advertising and the fine arts. In the late 20th century it has been most associated with the work of such figures as ...
Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.
Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...
J. P. Ward, Mary Warner Marien and Gerald W. R. Ward
Term used to describe the technique of producing an image by the action of light on a chemically prepared material. Although used privately as early as 1833, it was not until the public discussion of the first processes in 1839 that the term popularly attributed to John Herschel came to be used in its present general sense.
See also Conservation for photographs
J. P. Ward, revised by Gerald W. R. Ward
The process for producing these was introduced by Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in 1851. It soon became the most widely used means of producing photographic prints in the 19th century, until c. 1895 (e.g. Devil’s Canyon, Geysers, Looking Down by Carleton E. Watkins, 1868–70). Paper was coated with salted albumen derived from egg white and sensitized with silver nitrate before use. The print was made by placing this sensitized paper in a printing frame beneath a negative and exposing it to daylight until an image appeared. When fixed, the image was a red-brown colour with yellow highlights. From the mid-1860s lightly tinted albumen paper became popular as a means of masking or disguising the yellow highlights, which many photographers found objectionable. Most albumen prints were gold toned to the rich purple-brown image colour often described as ...
Throughout its history, photography has been linked to theoretical debates in the fields of philosophy, anthropology, art, and science. These debates tell us about the relation between appearance and truth, about the objectivity versus subjectivity of the photographic image, and most generally about the nature of the photographic medium. Photography requires the ability to think critically about representation. This requirement is not unique to the medium, but it may be that the ubiquity of photographs within the modern world makes it a privileged site for wide-ranging debates about images, modes of address, structures of intention, and the ethics of interpretation.
The mid-19th-century invention of photography was shaped by a theoretical discourse that extended back to antiquity and the Renaissance. It provided the medium’s inventors with a descriptive language for their achievements. Before John Herschel’s term ‘photography’ became standard, the phrases used to denote the medium evince ideas already established in texts on nature, optics, and philosophy. ...
revised by Dennis Reed
Photographic style that began around 1890 and continued until at least World War II, in which photographers sought to convey subjective emotions rather than depict objective reality. Pictorialism became the first international movement of photography, with artists predominantly working in the USA, Europe and Asia. Pictorialists modelled their photographs after fine art, and they embraced a variety of artistic influences, including Symbolist literature and art, Impressionist and Pre-Raphaelite painting, Art Nouveau and Japonisme. Their works were generally characterized by picturesque subjects rendered in soft focus, with an emphasis on tone rather than line and detail. They employed exotic printing techniques or drew onto their prints, lending a handmade quality to their work and thus demonstrating its technical and aesthetic skill. At the heart of the Pictorialist movement were two primary tenets: a desire to create beauty and the aspiration to establish photography as an art form.
The subjective versus objective nature of photography was argued before and during the Pictorialist movement. ...
(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 ...
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 (...