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Travelling images

The introduction expands on the rationale, aim and layout of the book. It also the develops the core concepts of the book, such as image, art world, borderlands, and image ecology. The notion ‘art world’ emphasizes that the distinctions between art and non-art are constructed by diverse agents and institutions. Moreover the term ‘borderlands’ is used to defy the idea that there is a definite demarcation or border between what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the art world. The term image ecology serves as a metaphor for a desire to understand the interrelationships of things such as the nature of change, adaption and community and as a way to locate how and why images operate in certain ‘environments’ or systems of meaning. Finally the introduction posits the book in the long tradition of image studies and also in recent development within media studies, particularly studies on mediatization and media archaeology.

in Travelling images
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Chapter 3 investigates the printed magazine as a site where the world of art and fashion merged in the 1980s. Since the early 1990s fashion photographs have migrated effortlessly between the art field and the commercial field, between being considered as personal works or assignments limited by the ideas and wants of designers, brands and fashion publications. As pointed out by several scholars a crucial part of this development was the new aesthetics that emerged in the 1990s which challenged traditional notions of fashion as glamorous depictions of garments, a style labelled ‘trash realism’, ’radical fashion’ or ’post fashion’. However, as the chapter shows, an equally important material basis for this development was the emergence of new fora in the 1980s. Later on, in the 1990s and early 2000s several magazines that straddled art, style culture and high fashion appeared, such as Purple Prose, Tank, 032C and Sleek. This chapter trace the beginnings of these transgressions through a close examination of the two magazines i-D and Artforum, which from different positions and with different strategies served as an active interface between art and fashion in the 1980s.

in Travelling images

Chapter 2 considers the introduction of modernist aesthetics in Sweden in the early 1930s in the image communities of marketing and visual art. The main focus is the Stockholm Exhibition held in 1930 in which marketing and advertising played an integral part in the presentation of modern architecture, design and visual art. The exhibition area hosted the first large presentation of modernist visual art in Sweden and was simultanoeusly a decisive event for the introduction of modernist window displays. From the late 1920s and onwards window displays were clearly being influenced by avant-garde modernist art such as cubism, futurism and constructivism. This is evident in the designs themselves but it was also spelled out in professional journals and handbooks. In the commercial context pure marketing rationales and arguments were linked to the modernist aesthetic.The modernist design in window displays was not unique to Sweden around 1930. However, this is an instructive case as the reception of modernist images differed widely between the two image communities. Within marketing aesthetics the Stockholm exhibition marks the breakthrough for modernism. But simultaneously, the art field was very resistant to modernist aesthetics and the Art Concret exhibition proved to be a complete fiasco.

in Travelling images
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Looking across the borderlands of art, media and visual culture

Travelling images critically examines the migrations and transformations of images as they travel between different image communities. It consists of four case studies covering the period 1870–2010 and includes photocollages, window displays, fashion imagery and contemporary art projects. Through these four close-ups it seeks to reveal the mechanisms, nature and character of these migration processes, and the agents behind them, as well as the sites where they have taken place. The overall aim of this book is thus to understand the mechanisms of interfacing events in the borderlands of the art world. Two key arguments are developed in the book, reflected by its title Travelling images. First, the notion of travel and focus on movements and transformations signal an emphasis on the similarities between cultural artefacts and living beings. The book considers ‘the social biography’ and ‘ecology’ of images, but also, on a more profound level, the biography and ecology of the notion of art. In doing so, it merges perspectives from art history and image studies with media studies. Consequently, it combines a focus on the individual case, typical for art history and material culture studies with a focus on processes and systems, on continuities and ruptures, and alternate histories inspired by media archaeology and cultural historical media studies. Second, the central concept of image is in this book used to designate both visual conventions, patterns or contents and tangible visual images. Thus it simultaneously consider of content and materiality.

A genteel life in trade

This chapter presents a cultural history of the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century building tradesman in Britain, Ireland and North America, focusing on his social identity and professional class; the textual and visual representations of the building trades in contemporary print culture; degrees of social and professional mobility; and the means by which the builder promoted and self-fashioned as an arbiter of architectural taste. Of particular importance here is how the reputations of tradesman were characterized in social and architectural discourse at a time when concerns were raised about the quality of speculatively built urban domestic architecture (in terms of aesthetics and sound construction), a discourse predicated on the emerging architectural profession and its corresponding demand for authority over all aspects of design and building. Taken together, the themes of this chapter provide the cultural backdrop for an examination of the artisan’s relationship to house design, to interior decoration and to real estate advertising.

in Building reputations
Architecture and the artisan, 1750– 1830

This book advances an innovative look at a well-known, if arguably often misunderstood, historic building typology: the eighteenth-century brick terraced (or row) house. Created for the upper tier of the social spectrum, these houses were largely designed and built by what is customarily regarded as the lower tier of the architectural hierarchy; that is, by artisan communities of bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers and related tradesmen. From London and Dublin to Boston and Philadelphia, these houses collectively formed the streets and squares that became the links and pivots of ‘enlightened’ city plans, and remain central to their respective historic and cultural identities. But while the scenographic quality of Bath and the stuccoed interiors of Dublin have long enjoyed critical approbation, the ‘typical’ house is understood less in terms of design and more in terms of production: consequently, historians have emphasized the commercial motivations of this artisan class at the expense of how they satisfied the demands of an elite, and taste-conscious, real estate market. Drawing on extensive primary source material, from property deeds and architectural drawings to trade cards and newspaper advertising, this book rehabilitates the status of the house builder by examining his negotiation of both the manual and intellectual dimensions of the building process. For the first time, Building reputations considers the artisan as both a figure of building production and an agent of architectural taste.

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Advertising and the property market

Having examined the building and decorating of the urban house, this chapter explores how the artisan approached marketing and selling real estate. As the first sustained analysis of property advertising in the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Atlantic world, this chapter first considers how regional variations and social demographics (aristocratic audiences in London and Dublin compared with merchant audiences in Boston and Philadelphia) dictated the form and content of property notices, reflecting on issues such as location, quality of structural and decorative finish, convenience and decorum. But while house building and house selling were principally economic activities, representing the motivating force for building mechanics to enter the real estate market, the evidence from property advertisements reveals that builders were cognizant of the semantics of advertising rhetoric and employed a vocabulary that emulated that of auctioneers, luxury goods manufacturers and other polite retailers.

in Building reputations
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The builder rehabilitated?
in Building reputations
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Style, taste and the business of decoration

Reflecting on the separation of house building and house decorating in the historiography of the eighteenth-century town house, this chapter explores the role of the building artisan in determining the form and appearance of the urban domestic interior. Of particular importance here is the business of decoration: the impact of decorators, such as decorative plasterers and timber joiners, as speculative builders and property developers; and the standardization of interior decoration in the form of pre-fabricated ornament. Key topics include the dissemination of architectural tastes through the agency of immigrant artisan populations; the role of books and magazines in shaping vocabularies of decorative taste; and the creative adaptation from printed sources. Focusing on the artisan’s negotiation and interpretation of the neoclassical (or ‘Adam’) style, this chapter also considers how degrees of separation from the source of that ornamental language fostered distinct dialects in towns and cities across Britain, Ireland and North America. Collectively, the topics of chapter make a case for the artisan as a key agent of fashionable taste in elite real estate markets.

in Building reputations
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The façade and the architecture of street and square

This chapter builds on a rich and complex history of the eighteenth-century urban house in the cities of Britain, Ireland and North America. Shifting emphasis away from construction, economic competence and labour organization – the predominant focus of academic studies devoted to this class of building producer – it investigates the artisan’s engagement with the processes and aesthetics of architectural design. With prominence given to the design of the house façade, topics include the emerging standardization in building construction; building regulations and the varying degrees of control exercised by landowners and city councils; and the responsibility of design to the urban milieu, specifically the requisite (ideal) interface between private concern (house) and public obligation (street). With reference to artisanal education through apprenticeship and builders’ academies, and the role of pattern books and drawing portfolios, this chapter argues that building tradesmen were concerned as much with making design (architecture) as with making profits (building).

in Building reputations