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Article

Christina Lodder

revised by Benjamin Benus

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....

Article

Meghan E. Grossman

Fashion photography is the use of photography to communicate the latest trends in clothing. It 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, 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, primarily disseminating the styles of high fashion in Paris, Milan, or New York to the rest of the world.

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 catalog, 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....

Article

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....

Article

Richard Lorenz

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 (...

Article

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...

Article

Montage  

Tom Williams

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 ...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

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 ...

Article

Hope Kingsley

revised by Dennis Reed

[Pictorial photography]

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. ...

Article

Monica McTighe

(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 ...