Modern Art in America

By Martha Candler Cheney | Go to book overview

DEFINITIONS

IN A time of transition in art, as elsewhere, the lack of an accepted vocabulary is one of the greatest causes of confusion. Everyone must choose his own terms and take the consequences. The pages which follow define some of the terms that are used in this book, as they are understood by the author to have become generalized in the process by which post-Impressionist theory has merged into contemporary practice in the New World and given its particular character to American modern art.

Design . According to the dictionary, design is the adaptation of means to end. "Design," says Professor De Witt Parker of the University of Michigan, "is not something to be appreciated by mere intellectual analysis, but a very definite and positive feeling of wholeness and belonging-togetherness."

Design is generally accepted by modern painters and sculptors as representing the formal arrangement of line, plane, volume, color, and texture--of all the elements that are at the artist's disposal for his particular kind of art production.

The process of design consists in the artist's abstracting the expressive components of his subject, as he observes or imagines it, and of devising for these a new construction that is organic and abstract.

The result of successful design is communication: the artist provides an apprehensible plastic character for an image from his world of inner realities. Design in modern painting or sculpture implies fixed principles of abstract order, as in architecture or music. Beauty is one of its effortless effects if, as the British writer Eric Newton

-177-

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Modern Art in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1. the Beginning of American Modernism 6
  • 2. Backgrounds in European Art 20
  • 3. American Backgrounds 35
  • 4. New Directions After 1913 53
  • 5. the Spirit of Research and Significant Form 72
  • 6. Significant Vision 90
  • 8. the Painters Discover America 120
  • 9. Regionalism in a Broadening View 138
  • 10. Sculpture 151
  • 11. the Meaning of Modernism: A Summary 164
  • Definitions 177
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 183
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