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Term used to describe a movement of the 1870s and 1880s that manifested itself in the fine and decorative arts and architecture in Britain and subsequently in the USA. Reacting to what was seen as evidence of philistinism in art and design, it was characterized by the cult of the beautiful and an emphasis on the sheer pleasure to be derived from it. In painting there was a belief in the autonomy of art, the concept of Art for Art’s Sake, which originated in France as a literary movement and was introduced into Britain around 1860.

The Aesthetic Movement was championed by the writers and critics Walter Pater, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. In keeping with Pater’s theories, the artists associated with it painted pictures without narrative or significant subject-matter. Dante Gabriel Rossetti took his inspiration from Venetian art because of its emphasis on colour and the decorative. This resulted in a number of half-length paintings of female figures, such as the ...

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Adam M. Thomas

(b Minden, Jan 15, 1902; d Austin, TX, Dec 8, 1985).

American painter of German birth. Kelpe moved to Hannover to study art and architecture in 1919. In the early 1920s he was exposed to the leading abstract trends in European modernism, including Suprematism and Constructivism. Kelpe developed an abstract painting vocabulary characterized by geometric order, hard edges, overlapping planes, and interpenetrating shapes before immigrating to the United States in 1925. He eventually settled in Chicago, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1932 at the Little Gallery. In the late 1920s Kelpe applied found objects to his paintings, as exemplified by Construction with Lock and Key (1927; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn). He abandoned such constructions by the early 1930s in favor of integrating in paint recognizable gears, wheels and machine parts into his abstract compositions. Machine Elements (1934; Newark, NJ, Mus.), with its stacked semi-abstract machine and factory forms, is representative of his work during the period. Kelpe worked for the Public Works of Art Project in ...