Praeger Picture Encyclopedia of Art: A Comprehensive Survey of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Crafts, Their Methods, Styles and Technical Terms, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day

By Frederick A Praeger | Go to book overview

AALTO, ALVAR (born 1898). A master designer of extremely functional (and extremely imaginative) buildings, Aalto, who is the foremost of modern Finnish architects, is responsible for many modern houses, factories, and public buildings in his native country and in Europe, the most notable of which are the library at Viipuri and an apartment house in Berlin. He first achieved fame as the designer of wooden buildings, but gradually he began combining wood with brick and with glass, copper and cement, thereby achieving a result which seems to spring naturally from the Finnish culture and which is superbly functional. He has also been a pioneer in evolving functional plywood furniture.

ABSTRACT ART. The name, perhaps not altogether apt, given to the type of art that has more or less turned away from the representation of nature. Since 1910 there have been paintings and sculptures which do not evoke reality as it appears in nature but aim at creating a visual experience by means of form, line or colour only. The term 'abstract art' is misleading because every work of art is in a sense an abstract of nature, i.e. it reproduces only one essential aspect of it, whereas in abstract art nature has no place at all. For this reason there have been attempts to substitute other designations, such as non-figurative, non-representational or non-naturalistic art. Abstract works of art may take reality as a starting point and transform it into abstraction or they may begin by using a non-representational (e.g. geometric) subject. Both approaches have been known in art since its earliest beginnings -- in the field of ornament. But modern abstract art is distinguished from purely decorative art by superior intellectual aims, which are not satisfied with mere decoration. (For origins and types of abstract art see also pp. 454-6.)

ABSTRACT-EXPRESSIONISM is the term applied to one of the newest schools of art whose influence has become world-wide. Its American proponents, who descend from Kandinsky (and whose work is diametrically opposed to the precision and balance of Mondrian), include Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Marc Tobey, and numerous other contemporary painters, many of them living in New York City. Their style, which is a combination of the non- objectivity of abstractionism and of the personal viewpoint of expressionism -- both of these being fused by this school to arrive at a new vision -- is characterized by a vivid explosion of seemingly disjointed, unrelated, and often non-representational forms which are intended to convey emotion or symbolic meaning to the spectator.

ALBRIGHT, IVAN LE LORRAINE (born 1897). One of the most unusual of modern American painters, Albright, who was born in Chicago and still lives there, is famous for his canvases of bloated, horribly-veined human beings and of macabre still-lifes, all of these being executed with infinite patience and detail. Two characteristic paintings are: 'Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida' (in which a bulbous and rotted old woman looks at her reflection in a mirror) and 'That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do' (the entire canvas being filled by a funeral wreath hanging on a grotesque doorway).

ARCHIPENKO, ALEXANDER. Sculptor. Born in Russia in 1887, he left Moscow and Kiev as early as 1908 to settle in Paris. He was the first to apply abstraction to sculpture. His favourite subject was the female figure which he simplified drastically, exaggerating its proportions until it was barely representational. After a period in Berlin ( 1920-1923) he settled in the United States where he is still active to-day. (Ill. 292)

ARP, JEAN. Alsatian. Born in 1887, Arp is one of the most versatile and interesting personalities in the world of art to-day. He is known as a painter, graphic artist, sculptor and poet (in French and German). In 1916 he was the moving force behind Dadaism (q. v.) which he logically carried over into Surrealism (q. v.). His art found its true expression in an abstract formal language employing elementary symbols reminiscent of primitive hieroglyphs. He produced woodcuts, collages (some together with his wife Sophie Tüuber who died in 1943) and, above all, abstract sculptures. Notable among these is a bronze sculpture with the poetic title 'The Shepherd of the Clouds'. Both his origin and his work make Arp the most significant intermediary between contemporary German and French art. (Ill. 297)

ART NOUVEAU. A movement that originated in 1895 to counter the derivative conventions of 19thcentury art. In Germany it derived its name Jugendstil from the magazine Die Jugend which proclaimed its ideas, but it became known in most other countries as Art Nouveau. It had its real origins in England under the lead of William Morris and others; in Germany its leaders were Otto Eckmann, August Endell, Hermann Obrist and Bruno Paul. Concerned at first with the use of new stylistic motifs based on abstract and plant ornaments ( Beardsley), after 1905 the adherents of the movement brought a new objectivity to architecture ( Voysey, Mackintosh) and design, thus becoming pioneers of the modern idiom. Though Art Nouveau fell into disrepute with the advent of massproduced goods mainly as a result of commercial exploitation of many of the designs, there has of late been a revival of interest in the work of these artists who are now considered not only to have influenced the design of architecture and furniture but also to have brought certain ideas of importance to modern painting and sculpture. (Ill. 72, 264, 265)

BALLA, GIACOMO (born 1871). Italian painter and one of the founders of Futurism (q. v.) whose importance has only recently been recognised once again. His realization of the aims of this movement, to represent successive stages of action, was perhaps the most logical and artistic ('Centrifugal Force'), especially as shown in pictures painted between 1913 and 1916.

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Praeger Picture Encyclopedia of Art: A Comprehensive Survey of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Crafts, Their Methods, Styles and Technical Terms, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Contents 5
  • Art -- Its Nature, Forms and History 7
  • The Art of Antiquity 101
  • Medieval Art 173
  • Baroque and Rococo 318
  • Art in the Modern Age 348
  • From Neo-Classicism to the Impressionists 381
  • Art in the Modern Age 436
  • Art in the Modern Age 465
  • Art outside Europe 516
  • Art outside Europe 550
  • Index 565
  • List of Colour Plates 581
  • Monochrome Illustrations: Museums and Galleries 584
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