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Article

Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 1472).

Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since....

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Annie Scottez-De Wambrechies

(b Valenciennes, April 7, 1810; d Paris, 1890).

French sculptor and writer . At an early age he showed a talent for drawing and enrolled at the Académie in Valenciennes under the sculptor Léonce de Fieuzal (1768–1844). In 1830 he received a scholarship from the city of Valenciennes to study in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the atelier of David d’Angers. In 1835 he first exhibited at the Salon and continued to show there regularly until 1884 without, however, receiving many awards. He mainly exhibited portrait busts of figures from various historical periods (e.g. Antoine Watteau, 1846; Paris, Louvre) and he received important official commissions for the decoration of public buildings in Paris. Portrait busts by him are found in the foyer of the Opéra (Jean-François Le Sueur, 1852), the Institution des Sourds-Muets (Abbé Sicard, 1852) and the vestibule of the library of the Institut de France (Etienne de Condillac...

Article

Isabel Mateo Gómez

(b ?Toledo; d 1595).

Spanish painter, miniaturist, sculptor, architect and writer. He belongs to the Toledan school of the second half of the 16th century. The son of the painter Lorenzo de Ávila, he developed a Mannerist style that is smooth and delicate and derives from his father’s and from that of Juan Correa de Vivar and of Francisco Comontes (d 1565). He worked as painter to Toledo Cathedral from 1565 to 1581 and was painter (Pintor del Rey) to Philip II from 1583. He acted frequently as a valuer for the work of other artists.

Between 1563 and 1564, in collaboration with Luis de Velasco, Hernando de Ávila painted the retable of the church of Miraflores (Madrid Province) with the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin (untraced); these are probably among his earliest works. He was commissioned to paint the retables of St John the Baptist and the ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

M. N. Sokolov

(Mikhailovich)

(b Moscow, June 10, 1925; d Feb 29, 2012).

Russian painter, sculptor, theorist and teacher. He attended the Surikov Institute of Art in Moscow (1942–7), where he completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies; his teachers there were Aristarkh Lentulov, Pavel Kuznetsov and Lev Bruni. He obtained a doctorate in art history and was a specialist in the historiography of Russian art. In 1948 he established an independent studio, which was unique for its time and which provided the base for the New Realist movement, a kind of monumental tachism. Over several years approximately 600 artists and architects passed through the studio. In 1962 he organized one of the first public exhibitions of avant-garde art in Moscow. Displayed at the Central Exhibition Hall (Manezh), it was wildly slandered by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the moment that proved most symptomatic of the end of a period of political thaw. From 1964 artists of the New Realist movement worked at Belyutin’s dacha at Abramtsevo, north of Moscow; unofficial exhibitions of their work were held there annually. In ...

Article

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Ester Coen

(b Reggio Calabria, Oct 19, 1882; d Sorte, Verona, Aug 17, 1916).

Italian sculptor, painter, printmaker and writer. As one of the principal figures of Futurism, he helped shape the movement’s revolutionary aesthetic as a theorist as well as through his art. In spite of the brevity of his life, his concern with dynamism of form and with the breakdown of solid mass in his sculpture continued to influence other artists long after his death.

Boccioni spent his childhood years in Forlì, Genoa and Padua, then finished his studies in Catania and began to involve himself with literature. In 1899 he moved to Rome, where he developed a passionate interest in painting and frequented the Scuola Libera del Nudo. In Rome he met Gino Severini, with whom he made visits to the studio of Giacomo Balla, who taught them the basic principles of the divisionist technique and encouraged them to experiment with the application of colour in small overlapping brushstrokes. Inspired by his own pictorial experiments, Balla also urged them to develop a compositional method using angles and foreshortening analogous to photographic techniques. It was Balla who first introduced them to the use of complementary colours, which Boccioni later expressed in increasingly dramatic and violent ways, and it was Balla who instilled in him the love of landscape and nature that remained a constant feature of all his painting. In his first years of activity, closely following his master’s teaching, Boccioni produced oil paintings, sketches, pastels, studies in tempera and advertising posters....

Article

Brian Austen

(Hicks)

(b ?Sheffield, 1785; d Port of Spain, Trinidad, Nov 1846).

English sculptor, designer and architect. In 1810 he exhibited at the first Liverpool Academy Exhibition and showed models and drawings there in 1811, 1812 and 1814. These included designs for the restoration of the screen in Sefton church, Merseyside, and for a chimney-piece for Speke Hall, Liverpool, and two drawings of Joseph Ridgway’s house at Ridgmont, Horwich, Lancs. Bridgens designed furniture and furnishings in Gothic and Elizabethan styles for George Bullock. In 1814 he moved to London with Bullock, using his address at 4 Tenterden Street, Hanover Square, and prepared designs for Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster (1789–1836) for improvements to Battle Abbey, E. Sussex, and similarly for Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford House, at Melrose on the Borders. Two chair designs for Battle Abbey were published in Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts in September 1817, and Bridgens was also involved in the design of chairs supplied to Abbotsford House in ...

Article

Kenneth G. Hay

(b Buntingford, Herts, April 28, 1913; d Berkhamsted, Herts, Oct 23, 1981).

English sculptor, draughtsman, architect and writer. After training as an architect from 1933 to 1936, he taught at the Architectural Association in London and practised as an architect as Cotterell Butler until 1939; among the buildings designed by him were two houses at Bushey (1935) and Great Munden, Herts (1939), as well as the clock-tower of Slough Town Hall (1936), designed while working for C. H. James & Bywaters & Roland Pierce (for illustrations, see exh. cat., p. 9). From 1941 to the end of World War II he worked as a blacksmith in Iping, West Sussex, as a conscientious objector; from 1946 until 1950 he worked as a technical editor for the Architectural Press, acted as consultant to various firms, including Ove Arup and Partners, and attended life-classes at Chelsea School of Art.

Butler began to sculpt in 1944, without having had any formal training, and held his first one-man show at the Hanover Gallery, London, in ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Marjorie Trusted

(b Galicia [probably the region of Noya], 1704–11; d Madrid, Aug 25, 1775).

Spanish sculptor, teacher, critic and scholar. He was seminal in introducing the Neo-classical style to Spain and has been justly called the prototype of the academic artist (Bédat). The 14 years he spent in Italy (1733–47) studying ancient art and the work of such artists as Alessandro Algardi and Gianlorenzo Bernini were central to his career. De Castro’s earliest training was under Diego de Sande and then Miguel de Romay in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia). From 1724 to 1726 he worked in Lisbon, afterwards moving to Seville, where he entered the workshop of Pedro Duque Cornejo. He went to Rome in 1733, but no sculpture by de Castro is known to have survived from his stay in the city. He first joined Giuseppe Rusconi’s workshop and later that of Filippo della Valle. He also made contact with influential artists such as Anton Raphael Mengs. In 1739 he won first prize for sculpture at the Accademia di S Luca in Rome and as a result was given an annual allowance by ...

Article

Alessandro Nova

(b Florence, Nov 3, 1500; d Florence, Feb 13, 1571).

Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for Francis I (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig. below) and the bronze statue of Perseus (Florence, Loggia Lanzi). His Vita is among the most compelling autobiographies written by an artist and is generally considered to be an important work of Italian literature.

Cellini came from a middle-class Florentine family. His grandfather Andrea was a mason and his father Giovanni Cellini (1451–1528), who married Elisabetta Granacci in 1480, was a well-educated and expert carpenter who built the scaffolding put up to allow Leonardo da Vinci to paint the Battle of Anghiari (destr.) and who was a member of the committee responsible for choosing the site for Michelangelo’s statue of ...

Article

(b Brussels, bapt Feb 6, 1667; d Antwerp, early 1735).

Flemish sculptor, draughtsman and writer. He entered the Antwerp workshop of Peeter Verbrugghen the elder in 1682–3 and remained there after the latter’s death in 1686, collaborating with his son Peeter the younger. De Cock joined the Antwerp Guild in 1688–9 and, following the death of Verbrugghen the younger in 1691, he became an independent master. In 1692 de Cock worked under the direction of Jacob Romans (1640–1716) decorating the Prinsenhof (destr.) of the palace in Breda for King William III, Stadholder of the Netherlands: there he executed a series of busts of the Princes of Orange, including those of Prince Philip William and Prince Maurice (both terracotta, 1692–8; Amsterdam, Rijksmus.). By 1697–8 de Cock had returned to Antwerp, where he established a large workshop of assistants, who helped produce his vast oeuvre of sacred and profane subjects, on both a small and monumental scale. As well as being influenced by the later Antwerp school of the Verbrugghen family, he admired antique art and the sculpture of François Duquesnoy....

Article

David Summers

Term used in modern writing about art for the posture of a sculpted figure standing at rest with weight shifted on to one leg. Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (c. 440 bc; copy, Minneapolis, MN, Inst. A.; for illustration see Polykleitos) is an early example of this posture, which displays the human body as a self-contained static system, in balance in the pose itself but visibly arrested and therefore implying past and future movement. Contrapposto, like acanthus ornament and wet drapery, became a signature of the Greek Classical style (see Greece, ancient, §IV, 2, (iii), (b)) and its influence. The formula appears in innumerable Greek and Roman figures as well as in Far Eastern art and in medieval ‘renascences’, finally to be revived and developed as part of the Neo-classicism of the Italian Renaissance.

The modern term retains only a fraction of its earlier meanings. The word ‘contrapposto’ is not simply the past participle of the Italian word meaning ‘to counterpose’; it is more properly a translation of the Latin ...

Article

Francesco Paolo Fiore and Pietro C. Marani

(Pollaiolo) [Francesco di Giorgio]

(b Siena, bapt Sept 23, 1439; d Siena, bur Nov 29, 1501).

Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before 1475, by the 1480s and 1490s he was among the leading architects in Italy. He was particularly renowned for his work as a military architect, notably for his involvement in the development of the Bastion, which formed the basis of post-medieval fortifications (see Military architecture & fortification, §III, 2(ii) and 4(ii)). His subsequent palace and church architecture was influential in spreading the Urbino style, which he renewed with reference to the architecture of Leon Battista Alberti but giving emphasis to the purism of smooth surfaces. His theoretical works, which include the first important Western writings on military engineering, were not published until modern times but were keenly studied in manuscript, by Leonardo da Vinci among others; they foreshadowed a number of developments that came to fruition in the 16th century (...

Article

Roberta Ferrazza

(b Cremona, Oct 8, 1878; d Rome, Oct 11, 1937).

Italian sculptor. He showed early evidence of a natural talent for drawing and sculpture and at the age of 12 he left school and worked first as a cartoon-maker for a silk-weaver, and later as assistant to a marble-carver. After his apprenticeship he began to work independently as an artisan, restoring balustrades, columns and statues for churches and palaces in Cremona and neighbouring cities. He also carved statues for cemeteries, garden fountains and fireplaces, mainly in the 15th-century Lombard style. In 1900 he moved to Parma, where he continued to work as a stone-carver, also producing imitations of 15th-century low reliefs and busts. In 1916 his talent for imitation was discovered by two Roman antiquarians, Alfredo Fasoli and Alfredo Pallesi, who persuaded him to work exclusively for them in return for a modest salary. Dossena was a versatile artist, working in various styles from the Etruscan to the Renaissance, and using such materials as terracotta, marble, wood and bronze. His works were sold without his knowledge on the art market, where they were admired by authoritative critics. They were attributed to such artists as Giovanni Pisano (i), Donatello, il Vecchietta, Mino da Fiesole and even Simone Martini, and were bought for huge sums by museums and collectors all over Europe and the USA. In ...

Article

Karen Kurczynski

The use of organic abstract form in sculpture evoking the gendered body through an emphasis on process and materials. Lucy Lippard coined the term for an article in Art International which formed the basis for an exhibition at Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1966. Eccentric abstraction signaled the onset of Post-minimalism. The exhibition included Alice Adams (b 1930), Louise Bourgeois, Lindsey Decker (1923–96), Eva Hesse, Gary Kuehn (b 1939), Jean Linder (b 1938), Bruce Nauman, Don Potts (b 1936), Keith Sonnier, and Frank Lincoln Viner (b 1937). Lippard defined eccentric abstraction as an exploration of sensuous experience, evoking intuitively some of the psychological themes explored by Surrealism but without Surrealism’s literary allusions and literal imagery. Instead of Surrealist-inspired assemblage, the accumulation of recognizable objects, eccentric abstraction explored the formal and material properties of nonobjective art. It drew on Minimalist themes of presenting a single, whole, unified form, the emphasis on phenomenological experience to create meaning, and the withdrawal of personal expression in favor of exploration of the material properties of contemporary industrial materials. Unlike in Minimalism, however, the materials favored by these artists, such as felt, latex, vinyl, rubber, or fiberglass, tended to evoke bodily properties such as softness, inflation, and droopiness. This work also drew on Pop art’s irreverence for established artistic methods and experiments with soft sculpture and materials previously considered kitsch or vulgar. Lippard referred to eccentric abstraction as a “non-sculptural style,” closer to abstract painting than to sculpture in part because of its active investigation of color, but producing three-dimensional objects which broke down the form–content dichotomy....

Article

Annamaria Szőke

(b Budapest, July 4, 1928; d Budapest, May 22, 1986).

Hungarian architect, sculptor, conceptual and performance artist, teacher, theorist and film maker. He came from a Jewish–Christian family, many of whom were killed during World War II. In 1947 he began training as a sculptor at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest, but he left and continued his studies in the studio of Dezső Birman Bokros (1889–1965), before training as an architect from 1947 to 1951 at the Technical University in Budapest. During the 1950s and early 1960s he worked as an architect and began experimenting with painting and graphic art, as well as writing poems and short stories. During this period he became acquainted with such artists as Dezső Korniss, László Latner and, most importantly, Béla Kondor and Sándor Altorjai (1933–79), with whom he began a lifelong friendship. In 1959 and 1963 he also enrolled at the Budapest College of Theatre and Film Arts but was advised to leave both times....

Article

Peter Webb

Term applied to art with a sexual content, and especially to art that celebrates human sexuality. It is derived from eros, the Greek word for human, physical love for another person (as opposed to agape, the spiritual, unselfish love for a god). The imagery of erotic art may be either explicitly or implicitly sexual, instances of the latter being more common in many cultures because of such factors as codes of behaviour, prudery, and censorship. The majority of sexually explicit works of art in the Western world have been produced as part of an overall desire to express the totality of human experience: very few artists have made eroticism their only motivation. In many other societies and cultures, however, sex has provided a far more evident source of inspiration.

All ancient cultures sought to humanize and sexualize their universe by ‘projecting’ their emotions and activities on to the spiritual powers thought to control nature. A basic concern of many ancient religions was the ritual promotion of fertility in humanity and its food supply. Sexual magic was also widely used as a defence against malignant forces, and sexuality permeated the beliefs and rites marking the human life-cycle. Thus the myths, rituals, and arts of ancient cultures, and of many continuing traditions rooted in them, express a wide variety of sexual themes. Erotic images are among the earliest surviving indications of human culture in the ...