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Beautiful disorder, exception to the rule

The development of a new design aesthetic

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Anca I. Lasc

In the last chapter, the book returns to the work of architects. It argues that architects’ engagement with popular journals helped shape new interior decorating styles by examining the projects undertaken by architect Alexandre Sandier and sponsored by the popular journal the Revue Illustrée. The chapter ultimately claims that imagination and theming played a most important role in the development of the profession of interior designer as well as in the formulation of new decorative styles such as Art Nouveau. These two developments are inextricably linked and cannot be understood in separation from each other.

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Travelling images

Looking across the borderlands of art, media and visual culture

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Anna Dahlgren

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.

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Anna Dahlgren

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.

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Anna Dahlgren

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.

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Introduction

Travelling images

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Anna Dahlgren

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.

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Anna Dahlgren

Chapter 4 explores how mass media, in the form of daily press, professional journals and television, represented and interpreted contemporary art that was deemed as illegal acts. In consequence, it considers how media discourses intervened and acted in such artistic and legal processes. At the centre of this study are artworks made by three Swedish artists between 1967 and 2009 which were simultaneously considered as both artistic statements and real illegal deeds. These artworks and the ensuing media debates are illuminating examples of how the notion of art is continuously negotiated and interpreted very differently by various agents in diverse contexts. This chapter, therefore, expands its focus beyond the typical agents of the art world such as curators, critics and art historians to include statements and writing by representatives of politics, media, entertainment, law and the general public. Being controversial acts, these artworks were open to multiple interpretations and fed smoothly into the logic of the media system. Accordingly, the artists and their artworks were described as breaking news in the standard vocabulary of the press. In addition, they all elicited extensive media discussions on the definition of art.

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Series:

Anna Dahlgren

Chapter 1 considers the mechanisms of breaks and continuities in the history of photocollage with regard to gender, genre and locations of display. Collage is commonly celebrated as a twentieth-century art form invented by Dada artists in the 1910s. Yet there was already a vibrant culture of making photocollages in Victorian Britain. From an art historical perspective this can be interpreted as an expression of typical modernist amnesia. The default stance of the early twentieth century’s avant-garde was to be radically, ground-breakingly new and different from any historical precursors. However, there is, when turning to the illustrated press, also a trajectory of continuity and withholding of traditions in the history of photocollage. This chapter has two parts. The first includes a critical investigation of the writings on the history of photocollage between the 1970s and 2010s, focusing on the arguments and rationales of forgetting and retrieving those nineteenth-century forerunners. It includes examples of amnesia and recognition and revaluation. The second is a close study of a number of images that appear in Victorian albums produced between 1870 and 1900 and their contemporary counterparts in the visual culture of illustrated journals and books.

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Introduction

A new apology for the builder

Conor Lucey

Borrowing its title from the notorious seventeenth-century speculative builder Nicholas Barbon’s seminal work on free market economics, published in 1685, the introduction offers a new apology for a much-maligned member of the architectural community: the building artisan. Taking the form of a discursive chapter in its own right, it weaves together a critical literature review with an extended analysis of the artisan’s place within architectural, design and cultural histories. Topics include the adverse effect of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century criticisms of the building community on modern scholarship; distinctions between intellectual and manual labour in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; and the systemic problems arising from a new literature devoted to British Atlantic world studies.

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Designing houses

The façade and the architecture of street and square

Conor Lucey

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).

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Decorating houses

Style, taste and the business of decoration

Conor Lucey

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.