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Anna Rowland

(b Südern-Linden, Nov 11, 1888; d Zurich, May 25, 1967).

Swiss painter, textile designer, teacher, writer and theorist. He trained first as a primary school teacher in Berne (1904–6), where he became familiar with progressive educational and psychoanalytical ideas. He was, however, interested in art and music, and in 1909 he decided to become a painter. He enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva but was so disappointed that he returned to teacher training in Berne. He read widely and developed an interest in religion and mystic philosophy. After qualifying he returned to Geneva and greatly enjoyed the course on the geometric elements of art run by the Swiss painter Eugène Gilliard (1861–1921). After travelling in Europe, in 1913 Itten went to Stuttgart to study at the academy of Adolf Hölzel, a pioneer of abstraction who was also convinced of the importance of automatism in art. Greatly impressed, Itten absorbed his teaching on colour and contrast and his analyses of Old Masters paintings. Encouraged by Hölzel, he made abstract collages incorporating torn paper and cloth....

Article

Vivian Endicott Barnett

[Vassily; Wassily] (Vasil’yevich)

(b Moscow, Dec 4, 1866; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Dec 13, 1944).

Russian painter, printmaker, stage designer, decorative artist and theorist. A central figure in the development of 20th-century art and specifically in the transition from representational to abstract art, Kandinsky worked in a wide variety of media and was an important teacher and theoretician. He worked mainly outside Russia, but his Russian heritage continued to be an important factor in his development.

Kandinsky grew up in Odessa and from 1886 to 1893 studied economics, ethnography and law in Moscow, where he wrote a dissertation on the legality of labourers’ wages. He married his cousin Anya Shemyakina in 1892 (divorced 1911). In 1896 Kandinsky decided to become an artist and went to Munich. There he studied from 1896 to 1898 at the art school of Anton Ažbe, where he met Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin, and then in 1900 at the Akademie with Franz von Stuck. The following year he was a co-founder of the ...

Article

Ann Temkin

(b Münchenbuchsee, nr Berne, Dec 18, 1879; d Muralto, nr Locarno, June 29, 1940).

Swiss painter, draughtsman, printmaker, teacher, and writer. Klee’s work forms a major contribution to the history of 20th-century art. He is associated most commonly with the Bauhaus school in Weimar and Dessau. He is regarded as a major theoretician among modern artists and as a master of humour and mystery. In much of his work, he aspired to achieve a naive and untutored quality, but his art is also among the most cerebral of any of the 20th century (e.g. Disturbance, 1934; Turin, Gal. A. Mod.). Klee’s wide-ranging intellectual curiosity is evident in an art profoundly informed by structures and themes drawn from music, nature, and poetry.

Klee was brought up in Berne, where his father was a music teacher. As a boy, he displayed great talent both as a violinist and as a draughtsman. On leaving school he decided to study art in Munich, first with ...

Article

Terence A. Senter

(b Bácsborsod, Mohol Puszta, Hungary, July 20, 1895; d Chicago, Nov 24, 1946).

American painter, sculptor, photographer, designer, film maker, theorist, and teacher, of Hungarian birth. Moholy-Nagy’s importance in the 20th century is based as much on his theories as on his practical work. His ideologies related to the relationship between space, time, and light, and the interaction of man with these forces. His great achievement was that he applied his mystical outlook to highly practical enterprises and always recognized the purpose behind his creativity.

Moholy-Nagy’s ambition developed when he exchanged village life for the city of Szeged after his father left his family. Academically outstanding, Moholy-Nagy read law for a year at Budapest University before joining the artillery in World War I. Influential praise for his war sketches converted his aspiration from literature to art. His Expressionist style, social conscience, and investigation of light paralleled trends in the Hungarian avant-garde, from ...