Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER THREE
 

POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM,

AND ART NOUVEAU


PAINTING

SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

ARCHITECTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

PHOTOGRAPHY

 


PHOTOGRAPHY
 

Documentary Photography

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the press played a leading role in the social movement that brought the harsh realities of poverty to the public's attention. The camera became an important instrument of reform through the photodocumentary, which tells the story of people's lives in a pictorial essay. It responded to the same conditions that had stirred Courbet, and its factual reportage likewise fell within the Realist tradition. Before then, photographers had been content to present the romanticized image of the poor like those in genre paintings of the day. The first photodocumentary was John Thomson's illustrated sociological study Street Life in London, published in 1877. To get his pictures, he had to pose his figures.



RIIS.

The invention of gunpowder flash ten years later allowed Jacob Riis
(1849-1914) to rely for the most part on the element of surprise. Riis was a police reporter in New York City, where he learned at first hand about the crime-infested slums and their appalling living conditions. He kept up a steady campaign of illustrated newspaper exposes, books, and lectures which in some cases led to major revisions of the city's housing codes and labor laws. His photographs' unflinching realism has lost none of its force. Certainly it would be difficult to imagine a more nightmarish scene than Bandits' Roost (fig. 1027). With good reason we sense a pervasive air of danger in the eerie light. The notorious gangs of New York City's Lower East Side sought their victims by night, killing them without hesitation. The motionless figures seem to look us over with the practiced casualness of hunters coldly sizing up potential prey.
 


1027. Jacob Riis. Bandits' Roost, . 1888.
Gelatin-silver print. Museum of the City of New York




Pictorialism

The raw subject matter and realism of documentary photography had little impact on art and were shunned by most other photographers as well. England, through such organizations as the Photographic Society of London, founded in 1853, became the leader of the movement to convince doubting critics that photography, by imitating painting and printmaking, could indeed be art. To Victorian England, beauty above all meant art with a high moral purpose or noble sentiment, preferably in a classical style.



REJLANDER.

The Two Paths of Life
(fig.
1028) by Oscar Rejlander (1818-1875) fulfills these ends by presenting an allegory clearly descended from Hogarth's Rake's Progress series (figs. 839 and 840). This tour de force, almost three feet wide, combines 30 negatives through composite printing: a young man (in two images) is choosing between the paths of virtue or of vice, the latter represented by a half-dozen nudes. The picture created a sensation in 1857 and Queen Victoria herself purchased a print. Rejlander, however, never enjoyed the same success again. He was the most adventurous photographer of his time and soon turned to other subjects less in keeping with prevailing taste.
 


1028. Oscar Rejlander. The Two Paths of Life. 1857. George Eastman House, Rochester, New York




ROBINSON.

The mantle of art photography fell to Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901), who became the most famous photographer in the world. He established his reputation with Fading Away (fig. 1029), which appeared a year after Rejlander's The Two Paths of Life. With six lines from Shelley's "Queen Mab" printed below on the mat, it is typical of Robinson's sentimental scenes. Like The Two Paths of Life, it is a photomontage, but of only five negatives, and the scene is as carefully staged as any Victorian melodrama. At first Robinson made detailed drawings of his scenes before photographing the individual components. He later renounced multiple-negative photography, but still contrived to imitate contemporary genre painting in his pictures. When treating elevated subject matter he continued to distinguish between fact and truth, which to him was a mixture of the real and the artificial.


1029.
Henry Peach Robinson. Fading Away. 1858.
Combination print. Royal Photographic Society, London




CAMERON .

The photographer who pursued ideal beauty with the greatest passion was Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879). An intimate of leading poets, scientists, and artists, she took up photography at the age of 48 when she was given a camera. She went on to create a remarkable body of work. In her own day Cameron was known for her allegorical and narrative pictures, but now she is remembered primarily for her portraits of the men who shaped Victorian England. Many of her finest photographs, however, are of the women who were married to her closest friends. An early study of the actress Ellen Terry (fig. 1030) has the lyricism and grace of the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic that shaped Cameron's style (compare fig. 961).


1030. Julia Margaret Cameron. Portrait of Ellen Terry. 1863.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.



Naturalistic Photography



EMERSON.

The cudgel against art photography was taken up by Peter Henry Emerson
(1856-1936), who became the bitter enemy of Robinson. Emerson espoused what he called Naturalistic Photography, based on scientific principles and Constable's landscapes. Nevertheless, he too contrasted realism with truth, defining truth in terms of sentiment, aesthetics, and the selective arrangement of nature. Using a single negative, Emerson composed his scenes with the greatest care, producing results that were sometimes similar to Robinson's, though of course he never acknowledged this. Most of Emerson's work was devoted to scenes of rural and coastal life which are not far removed from early documentary photographs.

In his best prints, nature predominates. He was a master at distributing tonal masses across a scene, and his photographs (fig. 1031) are equivalent to fine English landscape paintings of the period. Although the effect is rarely apparent in his work, Emerson advocated putting the lens slightly out of focus, in the belief that the eye sees sharply only the central area of a scene. When he gave up this idea a few years later, he decided that photography was indeed science instead of art because it was machine-made, not personal.


1031. Peter Henry Emerson. Haymaking in the Norfolk Broads.
. 1890.
Platinum print.
Societe Francaise de Photographie, Paris



Photo-Secession

The issue of whether photography could be art came to a head in the early 1890s with the Secession movement, which was spearheaded in 1893 by the founding in London of the Linked Ring, a rival group to the renamed Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. Stimulated by Emerson's ideas, the Secessionists sought a pictorialism independent of science and technology. They steered a course between academicism and naturalism by imitating every form of late Romantic art that did not involve narrative. Equally antithetical to their aims were Realist and Post-Impressionist painting, then at their zenith. In the group's approach to photography as Art for Art's Sake, the Secession had the most in common with Whistler's aestheticism.



KASEBIER.

To resolve the dilemma between art and mechanics, the Secessionists tried to make their photographs look as much like paintings as possible. Rather than resorting to composite or multiple images, however, they exercised total control over the printing process, chiefly by adding special materials to their printing paper to create different effects. Pigmented gum brushed on coarse drawing paper yielded a warm-toned, highly textured print that in its way approximated Impressionist painting. Paper impregnated with platinum salts was especially popular among the Secessionists for the clear grays in their prints. Their subtlety and depth lend a remarkable ethereality to The Magic Crystal (fig. 1032) by Gertrude Kasebier  (1854-1934), in which spiritual forces are almost visibly sweeping across the photograph.


1032. Gertrude Kasebier.
The Magic Crystal.
. 1904.
Platinum print.
Royal Photographic Society, Bath





STEICHEN

Through Kasebier and Alfred Stieglitz, the Linked Ring had close ties with America, where Stieglitz opened his Photo-Secession gallery in New York in 1905. Among his proteges was the young Edward Steichen  (1879-1973), whose photograph of Rodin in his sculpture studio (fig. 1033) is without doubt the finest achievement of the entire Photo-Secession movement. The head in profile contemplating The Thinker expresses the essence of the confrontation between the sculptor and his work of art. His brooding introspection hides the inner turmoil evoked by the ghostlike monument to Victor Hugo which rises dramatically like a genius in the background. Not since The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (fig. 650), who was Rodin's ideal, have we seen a more telling use of space or an image that penetrates the mystery of creativity so deeply.

The Photo-Secession movement achieved its goal of gaining wide recognition for photography as an art form, but by 1907 its artifices were regarded as stilted. Though the movement lasted for a few more years, it was becoming clear that the future of photography did not lie in the imitation of painting, for painting was then being drastically reformed by modernists. Yet the legacy of the Photo-Secession was valuable, its limitations notwithstanding, for it taught photographers much about the control of composition and the response to light.
 


1033. Edward Steichen.
Rodin with His Sculptures "Victor Hugo" and the
" Thinker."

1902. Gum print. The Art Institute of Chicago.



Motion Photography
 

MUYBRIDGE

An entirely new direction was charted by Eadweard Muybridge
(1830-1904), father of motion photography. He wedded two different technologies, devising a set of cameras capable of photographing action at successive points. Photography had grown from such marriages. Another instance had occurred earlier when Nadar used a hot-air balloon to take aerial shots of Paris (fig. 941). After some trial efforts, Muybridge managed in 1877 to get a set of pictures of a trotting horse which forever changed artistic depictions of the horse in movement. Of the 100,000 photographs he devoted to the study of animal and human locomotion, the most astonishing were those taken from several vantage points at once (fig. 1034). The idea was surely in the air, for the art of the period occasionally shows similar experiments, but Muybridge's photographs must nevertheless have come as a revelation to artists. The simultaneous views present an entirely new treatment of motion across time and space that challenges the imagination. Like a complex visual puzzle, they can be combined in any number of ways that are endlessly fascinating.

Muybridge left it to others to pursue these possibilities further. Much of his later work was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with the support of Eakins, then the head of the Academy of the Fine Arts. Eakins was already adept at using a camera, and it provided the subjects for several of his paintings; soon his interest in science led him to take up motion photography. Unlike Muybridge's succession of static images, Eakins' multiple exposures show sequential motion on one plate. In the end, photography for Eakins was simply a means of depicting figures more realistically.


1034. Eadweard Muybridge. Female Semi-Nude in Motion, from Human and Animal Locomotion,
vol. 2, pi. 271. 1887.
George Eastman House, Rochester, New York





MAREY.

It was Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) who developed motion photography into an art. A noted French physiologist, Marey, like Muybridge, with whom he was in direct contact, saw the camera as a tool for demonstrating the mechanics of bodily movement, but he soon began to use it so creatively that his photographs have a perfection not equaled for another 60 years (compare fig. 1237). Indeed, his multiple exposure of a man walking (fig. 1035a, b) satisfies both scientific and aesthetic truth in a way that Emerson and the Secessionists never imagined.

The photographs of Muybridge and Marey convey a peculiarly modern sense of dynamics reflecting the new tempo of life in the machine age. However, because the gap was then so great between scientific fact on the one hand and visual perception and artistic representation on the other, their far-reaching aesthetic implications were to be realized only by the Futurists.


1035 a, b. Etienne-Jules Marey.
Man in Black Suit with White Stripes Down Arms and Legs, Walking in Front of a Black Wall.

c.
1884. Chronophotograph

 
 

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