Art of the 20th Century

A Revolution in the Arts



Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map







(Encyclopaedia Britannica)


The term modern art has come to denote the innovating and even revolutionary developments in Western painting and the other visual arts since the second half of the 19th century. It embraces a wide variety of movements, styles, theories, and attitudes, the modernity of which resides in a common tendency to repudiate past conventions and precedents in subject matter, mode of depiction, and painting technique alike. Not all the painting of this period has made such a departure; representational work, for example, has continued to appear, particularly in connection with official exhibiting societies. Nevertheless, the idea that some current types of painting are more properly of their time than are others, and for that reason are more interesting or important, applies with particular force to the painting of the last 150 years.

By the mid-19th century, painting was no longer basically in service to either the church or the court but rather was patronized by the upper and middle classes of an increasingly materialistic and secularized Western society. This society was undergoing rapid change because of the growth of science and technology, industrialization, urbanization, and the fundamental questioning of received religious dogmas. Painters were thus confronted with the need to reject traditional, historical, or academic forms and conventions in an effort to create an art that would better reflect the changed social, material, and intellectual conditions of emerging modern life. Another important, if indirect, stimulus to change was the development from the early 19th century on of photography and other photomechanical techniques, which freed (or deprived) painting and drawing of their hitherto cardinal roles as the only available means of accurately depicting the visual world. These manually executed arts were thus no longer obliged to serve as the means of recording and disseminating information as they once had been and were eventually freed to explore aesthetically the basic visual elements of line, colour, tone, and composition in a nonrepresentational context. Indeed, an important trend in modern painting has been that of abstraction—i.e., painting in which little or no attempt is made to accurately depict the appearance or form of objects in the realm of nature or the existing physical world. The door of the objective world was thus closed, but the inner world of the imagination offered seemingly infinite possibilities for exploration, as did the manipulation of pigments on a flat surface for their purely intrinsic visual or aesthetic appeal.

The beginnings of modern painting cannot be clearly demarcated, but it is generally agreed that it started in mid-19th-century France. The paintings of Gustav Courbet, Edouard Manet, and the Impressionists represent a deepening rejection of the prevailing academic traditions of Neoclassicism and Romanticism and a quest for a more truthful naturalistic representation of the visual world. The sepainters' Postimpressionist successors—notably Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin—can be viewed as more clearly modern in their repudiation of traditional subject matter and techniques and in their assumption of a more subjective and personal vision.From about the 1890s a succession of varied styles and movements arose that are the core of modern painting and are also one of the high points of the history of the Western visual arts in general.

These modern movements include Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, the Nabis, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, the Ashcan School, Suprematism, Constructivism, Orphism, Metaphysical painting, de Stijl, Purism, Dada, Surrealism, Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Op Art, Minimalism, and Neo-Expressionism.

Francis William Wentworth-Sheilds


Origins in the 19th century

As long ago as 1846 the qualities proper to a specifically modern art were discussed by the French writer Charles Baudelaire in an essay on the French Salon. He argued that colour would be foremost among these modern qualities (a prediction that subsequent events confirmed), but he still saw the new art in the context of the Romantic movement. Subsequent modernity came to be seen as necessitating not only a new style but also contemporary subject matter, and in 1863 Baudelaire praised the draftsman Constantin Guys as “le peintre de la vie moderne” (“the painter of modern life”). In 1862, with Baudelaire's support, the French painter Édouard Manet brought together a subject from contemporary social life and an unconventional style in “Concert in the Tuileries Gardens” (National Gallery, London). This painting, though rather isolated in his work of the time, was influential in establishing a new outlook. Another literary figure whose critical writings were influential was the French novelist Émile Zola, though Zola had limited sympathy for what he called the “new manner in painting” of Manet; nevertheless he contributed from 1866 onward to the emergence of the Impressionist group. The first appearance of the phrase “modern art” in the relatively permanent form of a book title was in 1883, when it was used by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, a friend of Zola's, to describe the theme of various reviews of painters' work he had collected. Other books on the subject followed, such as the Anglo-Irish novelist George Moore's Modern Painting (1893). It was about this time that the term avant-garde was introduced by the critic Théodore Duret, who used it of certain young painters. From then on, modernity was to be a recurrent concern of artists and critics. Public acceptance of the new standpoint was slow, however. The first museums dedicated specifically to modern art grew out of the fervour of individual collectors—for example, the Folkwang Museum at Essen, Ger., and the Kröller-Müller State Museum at Otterlo, Neth., both largely consisting of collections built up before 1914. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the outstanding public collection in the field, was founded in 1929, and the Western capital that lacks a museum explicitly devoted to modern art is rare.

The conflict between the new forces and the established academic tradition in France came into the open in 1863. The jury of the official Salon, which had long exercised great despotism in matters to do with painting, rejected more than 4,000 canvases—an unusually high figure. The resulting outcry prompted the emperor Napoleon III to order that the rejected works, if the painters agreed, be shown in a special exhibition known as the Salon des Refusés. The exhibition included works by Manet; Johan Barthold Jongkind, an older Dutch painter who was working in a tonal and summary style from nature; Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, who had met two years before at the Académie Suisse; Armand Guillaumin; James McNeill Whistler; and others. One of the greatest scandals was caused by Manet's painting “The Luncheon on the Grass” (Louvre, Paris), which was considered an affront to decency as well as taste. The younger painters became aware of their common aims. Claude Monet, whose landscape style had been influenced from the outset by the atmospheric sketches of the Channel coast of Eugène Boudin, as well as by Jongkind (whom he described to Boudin as “quite mad”), had met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Jean-Frédéric Bazille studying in the studio of Charles Gleyre. Abandoning academic study, they worked together outdoors in the forest of Fontainebleau, where contacts with the Barbizon painters Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de La Peña and Charles-François Daubigny strengthened their direction.

The implicit acceptance of the visual scene on which the new style was based owed something to the example of Courbet, who influenced Renoir in particular in the next few years. The plein air (“open-air”) paintings of the Barbizon painters also had an effect, but the suggestion of an art based on the notation of pure colour was suggested by several sources. The example of Eugène Delacroix had a deep significance for the 19th century in France, and the reliance on separate, undisguised touches of the brush in the form that became characteristic of Impressionism is perhaps first apparent in sketches of the sea at Dieppe painted by Delacroix in 1852. The economy of Manet's touch in the 1860s was affected by Spanish and Dutch examples as well as by Delacroix, but his seascapes and racecourse pictures of 1864 are also important. The full Impressionistic style did not develop until the end of the 1860s.

Though the figurative aims of Impressionism can be regarded as the conclusion of 19th-century Realism, the method, which made no attempt to hide even the most basic means of preparing a finished painting, was an original one. Brushstrokes did not pretend to be anything but dashes of paint, thus conveying their coloured message without any disguise or effect at individual illusion. It was in this respect and in the all-embracing unity of colour and handling that resulted, rather than its realism, that Impressionism founded modern painting. Other developments in the 1860s had no immediate sequels in Impressionism. The presentation of some of Manet's figures, such as “The Fifer” (Louvre) of 1866, as vignettes or decorative designs shading into virtually blank backgrounds was a radical departure from the coherent pictorial construction of Western tradition since the Renaissance; it is the first sign of the form built outward from a central nucleus without reference to the classic frame that has appeared repeatedly in modern art. Honoré Daumier is supposed to have said that “The Fifer” reduced painting “to faces on playing cards,” and in 1865 Courbet compared Manet's “Olympia” (1863; Louvre) to “the Queen of Spades after a bath.” The possibility of making an image out of the bare, almost heraldic juxtaposition of flat colours was neglected while the complex notation of Impressionism held sway, but it came to be regarded with interest as Impressionism receded. Other unconventional principles of design—suggested equally by Japanese prints, such as those that Manet placed in the background of his portrait of Zola (Louvre) in 1868, andby the chance arrangements of photography—appeared in the work of Edgar Degas, who sympathized with the aims of the new group, associating himself with them in seven of their eight exhibitions, which he largely helped to organize.

Other qualities that Baudelaire in 1846 had specified as the qualities of modern art—spirituality and aspiration toward the infinite—evolved quite apart from Impressionism. The visionary implications of Romantic painting were explored by Gustave Moreau, whose elaborate biblical and mythological scenes, weighed down with sumptuous detail, gave colour an imaginative and symbolic richness. His example had a special value to the next generation. The imagination of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes was of the opposite order, preserving the large-scale clarity of mural painting, a policy that made him appreciated when a reaction against Impressionism set in.

Another possibility of Romanticism was pursued in isolation by the Marseille painter Adolphe Monticelli. The richness of his colour is thought to have contributed something crucial to Cézanne's development. The counterpart of Moreau in Britain was Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The intricate and perverse linear formulations that he developed from the Pre-Raphaelites greatly influenced the international Symbolist style of the last decades of the century.

The influence of the trend in the direction of the modern in France, together with its controversial element, was introduced to Britain by Whistler, whose concern was narrowly aesthetic rather than analytic. The harmonies he developed were close to being monochromatic; his use of Spanish and Japanese elements had little of the radical originality of Manet and Degas. His influence dominated and also limited the development of avant-garde painting in Britain for many years. John Singer Sargent, like Whistler an American who came to live in Britain, popularized a less-discriminating version of the Impressionistic style.

In Germany a Romantic strain coexisted with a Realistic style that remained unaffected by the most advanced French painting. Anselm Feuerbach, one of the Romantics, was influenced by Delacroix. In 1855 he went to Italy where the effect of the 16th century came to predominate in his work. The landscapes of Hans von Marées were also essentially Romantic. He had visited France but spent most of his working life in Italy; the frescoes he executed in Naples echo Puvis de Chavannes in their style. Realism found exponents in Wilhelm Leibl and Hans Thoma. In Italy the reaction against the academies was centred in Florence, where a group known as the Macchiaioli (from macchia, “patch”) worked from 1855, producing landscapes, genre paintings, and Romantic costume pieces executed in the highly visible brushstrokes that gave the group its name.

In the United States, Thomas Eakins developed a broadly handled, powerful Realist style that became almost Expressionistic in his later years. He had visited Paris in 1866, and the influence of Manet can be detected in his paintings. His interest in anatomy and perspective gave him a role analogous to that of Degas. The early development of Winslow Homer, who was in France a year later, ran parallel to Monet's style in the 1860s. The work of Albert Pinkham Ryder was, by contrast, introverted and visionary. He was among the artists who adapted the Romantic vocabulary to the symbolic purposes of modern art.

In France in the mid-1860s Monet produced a series of large-scale open-air conversation pieces in which elements derived from Courbet and Manet were fused with a wholly original expression of dappled light in solid paint. The approach of Pissarro, who had arrived in Paris from the West Indies in 1855, was more delicate; influenced by Camille Corot as well as Courbet, he recorded pure landscape motives in a limited range of tones, though with a natural lyricism of feeling. The starting pointof Cézanne was, by contrast, vigorous to the point of violence. In 1866 he evolved a style in which paint was applied in thick dabs with a palette knife; this combined a handling (a technical term in painting meaning the individual's manipulation of materials in the execution of a work; it has been likened to a person's signature in handwriting) derived from Courbet with the gray tonality of Manet; its rough-hewn crudity has a consistency that was essentially new. His alternative style in the 1860s, with curling brushstrokes related to Daumier, is equally virile and was often applied tosubjects of violent eroticism. The unbridled force of Cézanne's early work gave the first sign of qualities that were to become characteristic of modern painting. Though exceptional, it was not unique; in Italy during the 1860s the Russian painter of historical and scriptural themes, Nikolay Nikolayevich Ge, produced sketches with loose, expressive brushwork sometimes resembling Cézanne's.


The first steps toward a systematic Impressionist style were taken in France in Monet's coast scenes from 1866 onward, notably the “Terrace” (1866; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City), in which he chose a subject that allowed use of a full palette of primary colour. The decisive development took place in 1869, when Monet and Renoir painted together at the resort of La Grenouillère on the Seine River. The resulting pictures suggest that Monet contributed the pattern of separate brushstrokes, the light tonality, and the brilliance of colour; Renoir the overall iridescence, feathery lightness of touch, and delight in the recreation of ordinary people. Working at Louveciennes from 1869, Pissarro evolved the drier and more flexible handling of crumbly paint that was also to be a common feature of Impressionist painting.

It was in the environs of Paris after the Franco-Prussian War that there developed the fully formed landscape style that remains the most popular achievement of modern painting. An exhibition held in the studio of the photographer Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) in 1874 included Monet's picture “Impression: Sunrise” (Marmottan Museum, Paris), and it was this work that, by being disparaged as mere “impressionism,” gave a name to an entire movement. The exhibition itself revealed three main trends. The Parisian circle around Monet and Renoir had developed the evanescent and sketchlike style the furthest. The vision of those working near Pissarro in Pontoise and Auvers was in general more solid, being firmly rooted in country scenes. A relatively urbane, genrelike trend was detectable in Degas's pictureof Paul Valpinçon and his family at the races called “Carriage at the Races” (1870–73; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and Berthe Morisot's “The Cradle” (1873; Louvre [see ]). Manet himself was absent, hoping for academic success; his “Gare Saint-Lazare” (1873; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), influenced by the Impressionist palette, was accepted at the Salon. Modeling himself on Pissarro, Cézanne sublimatedthe turbulent emotions of his earlier work in pictures that were studied directly and closely from nature; he followed the method for the rest of his life.

The experiment of an independent exhibition was repeated in 1876, though with fewer participants. Monet now began to make studies of the Gare Saint-Lazare. Renoirused effects of dappled light and shadow to explore genre subjects such as “Le Moulinde la galette” (1876; Louvre [see ]). In 1877 only 18 artists exhibited. The major painters began to go their separate ways, particularly as there were disputes about whether to continue with the independent exhibitions. Cézanne, who did not exhibit with the Impressionists again, was perhaps the first to realize that a critical stage had been reached. For the first time, a style had been based on the openly individual character of a technique rather than on the form of a particular subject or the way it was formulated. A style that admits to painting as being only a matter of paint raises in a peculiarly acute form the question of how far the qualities of art are intrinsic. Impressionism in the 1870s was inseparable from heightened visual experience of a sensuously satisfying world. But the blocklike shapes in Cézanne's pictures, such as the portrait of his patron Victor Chocquet (c. 1877; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio), suggest that for him the relationship between the colour patches on his canvas was equally important. In the years that followed, he systematized his technique into patterns of parallel brushstrokes that gave a new significance to the pictorial surface (see ). An unassuming series of still lifes and self-portraits by Cézanne were painted in 1879–80, and these, when they became known, profoundly impressed the younger generation, who reckoned them to be as monumental as the great art of the past, yet in a subtly different way that was inherent in the actual manner of painting.

The style of the 1870s was formless from a traditional standpoint, and at the beginning of the next decade Renoir decided that he had gone to the limit with Impressionism and “did not know either how to paint or draw.” Following a trip to Italy, he set about acquiring a wiry, linear style that was the direct opposite of his relaxed, freely brushed manner of earlier years.

The appearance of a new generation posed a fresh challenge. Georges Seurat was moving away from the empirical standpoint of Impressionism toward a technique (Pointillism) and a form that were increasingly deliberately designed. Paul Gauguin, taking his starting point from Cézanne's style of about 1880, passed from a capriciouspersonal type of Impressionism to a greater use of symbols. He exhibited with the Impressionists from 1880 onward, but it was soon evident that group shows could no longer accommodate the growing diversity. In 1884, after the Salon jury had been particularly harsh, the Société des Artistes Indépendants was formed. The last Impressionist group show was held in 1886. Only Monet and Armand Guillaumin, to whose efforts the group owed much of its eventual recognition, were now in the strict sense Impressionists. Monet, who had exhibited only once since 1879, continued to build on the original foundation of the style, the rendering of visual impression through colour in paintings that studied a single motif in varying lights. For him the formlessness and the homogeneity of Impressionism were its ultimate virtues. In his last series of “Water Lilies,” painted between 1906 and 1926, the shimmering of light eventually lost its last descriptive content, and only the colour and curling movement of his brush carried a general all-pervading reference to the visual world. Renoir's later work was equally expansive; his sympathetic vision of humanity revealed its own inherent breadth and grandeur.

Impressionism, in one aspect, continued the main direction of 19th-century painting, and after 1880 the movement was an international one, taking on independent national characteristics. Russia produced an exponent in Isaak Ilich Levitan, and Scotland one in William MacTaggart. In Italy Telemarco Signorini and in the United States such painters as Childe Hassam developed modified forms of the style. In France, and to some extent in Germany with Max Liebermann, Impressionism provided a basis for the styles that followed.


During the decades before 1900, the Symbolists were the avant-garde, and one of quite a new kind, influencing not only the arts but also the thought and spirit of the epoch. Maurice Denis, their theoretician, enunciated in 1890 the most famous of their artistic principles: Remember that a picture—before being a war-horse, a nude or an anecdote of some sort—is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.

Such ideas inspired a group of young painters, among whom was Denis himself, to callthemselves Nabis (from the Hebrew word for “prophet”). They were in revolt against the faithfulness to nature of Impressionism; in addition, largely because they were in close touch with Symbolist writers, they regarded choice of subject as important. Theyincluded Paul Ranson, who gave the style a decorative and linear inflection; Pierre Bonnard; and Édouard Vuillard.

Other than the Nabis, one of the chief Symbolists was Odilon Redon, who moved from the same starting point as the Impressionists—the landscape style of the Barbizon school—but in precisely the opposite direction. Redon's visionary charcoal drawings (which he called his black pictures) led to successive series of lithographs that explored the evocative, irrational, and fantastic orders of creation that Impressionismexcluded. Redon later wrote:

Nothing in art can be done by will alone. Everything is done by docile submissionto the coming of the unconscious . . . for every act of creation, the unconscious sets us a different problem.

Redon established one of the characteristic standpoints of modern art, and his influence on the younger Symbolists was profound. In 1888 Gauguin, already affectedby a trip to Martinique, settled at Pont-Aven in Brittany. The influential style he developed there was based on the juxtaposition of flat areas of colours enclosed by black contours, the total effect suggesting cloisonné enamel (a technique in which metal strips differentiate the colour areas of the design, thereby creating an outline effect), hence the name Cloisonnisme used to describe this style. The spirit in which Gauguin rendered Breton scenes was mystical. He wrote:

Do not copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, but think more of creating than of the actual result.

At Pont-Aven, Gauguin was joined by Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin, who had lately begun to work in a similar way. Paul Sérusier painted under Gauguin's direction a little sketch entitled “Bois d'amour” that appeared more independent of appearances and bolder in its synthesis of pattern than anything that had been seen before; it became known in Paris as “The Talisman.” The liberation of Synthetism, as the new style was called, indeed worked like a charm, and after the Café Volpini exhibition of 1889 it spread rapidly. The movement was linked with literature and, in particular, with drama; it inspired its own periodical, La Revue Blanche, and Le Théâtre de l'Oeuvre (both founded in Paris in 1891); there were exhibitions twice a year at a Paris gallery, Le Barc de Boutteville, from 1891 to 1897.

The decorative style known as Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, spread across Europe and the Americas in the 1890s. The pursuit of natural and organic sources for form still further alienated art from the descriptive purpose that had been the basis of figurative style, and an artistic movement without taint of historicism that molded thefine arts, architecture, and craftsmanship in a single, consistent taste recovered the creative unity that had been lost since the early 18th century. In The Netherlands the fin de siècle (“end of the century”; specifically the end of the 19th century, and a phrase that has overtones of a rather precious sophistication and world-weariness) style and sense of purpose appeared in the paintings of Johan Thorn Prikker and Jan Toorop. The Viennese Gustav Klimt made bolder and more arbitrary use of pattern. In Russia the demonic genius of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel had points of contact with the Art Nouveau style. It even affected Seurat and his circle, who were known as the Neo-Impressionists; the popular imagery of Seurat's later works, such as “The Circus” (1890–91; Louvre), was expressed in sinuous rhythms not far from Art Nouveau, and the Belgian Henry van de Velde passed from Neo-Impressionism by way of fin de siècle decorations that were near abstraction to a place among the founders of 20th-century architecture. A strange and beautiful blend of Symbolism with an alpine clarity of colour close to Neo-Impressionism appeared in compositions such as “The Unnatural Mothers” by the Italian Giovanni Segantini.

The end of the 19th-century tradition

Until Seurat no painter had expressly founded a style on the intrinsic reactions of colour to colour and a codified vocabulary of expressive forms. The consistent granulation of colour in Seurat's work from 1885 onward was specific to the picture, not to the sensation or the subject. The coherent images of space and light that he made out of this granulation ended with him. Seurat's followers, grouped as Neo-Impressionists under the leadership of Paul Signac, developed his technique rather than his vision. Seurat's influence was nonetheless widespread and fertile; his system in itself supplied a clarity that painters needed. It was Neo-Impressionism that was in the ascendant when the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh arrived in Paris in 1886. The emotional travail evident in van Gogh's early work was marvelously lightened in the new aesthetic climate. But in his hands the dashes of pure colour turned and twisted, trading invisible and unstable lines of force. They werewoven into rhythmical and convulsive patterns reflecting themounting intensity of his own feelings. Such patterns converted the Neo-Impressionist style into something quite different—a forerunner of what was to be known as Expressionism. Other painters were less radical in their approach. Pissarro assimilated the Neo-Impressionist method to the vision of the older generation; Henri-Edmond Cross and Maximilien Luce gave it the characteristic economy of the age that followed. Henri Matisse's repeated experiments with it, culminating in his contact with Signac and Cross in 1904, finally converted the pure colour of Impressionism to the special purposes of 20th-century art.

In the meantime, the older Impressionists were producing the broadly conceived works that crowned their artistic achievement and formed, as it seems in retrospect, the great traditional masterpieces of modern art. Degas's lifelong absorption in the human body as a subject led him to produce a series of bathing scenes and drawings from the nude in which the form expanded to an amplitude that filled the picture. Fullness of form was an effect that Renoir also achieved. Cézanne announced a determination “to do Poussin over again from nature” and was reckoned to have fulfilled that aim with his “Great Bathers” and the series of landscapes of Mont Sainte-Victoire (see ). In the pictures of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the style and standpoint derived from Degas, but his graphic work reflected the aims of the Symbolist generation (see ). The most original contribution of Édouard Vuillard lay in the evocative patterning of the little pictures that he painted before 1900. The art of Pierre Bonnard, on the other hand, developed throughout his life. His subjects and his method remained, on the surface, those of the Impressionist tradition, but they were re-created from memory and imagination; Bonnard's pictures have the quality of a cherished private order of experience.

Developments outside France were not of comparable importance. In Britain in the 1880s, Philip Wilson Steer painted a small group of landscapes with figures that were among the earliest and loveliest examples of the fin de siècle style. The work of Walter Sickert revolved around an idiosyncratic fascination with the actual touch of a brush on canvas. His affinities remained essentially with the tonal Impressionism of the earliest stages of the modern movement rather than with the art of colour that developed from it, though he eventually made the transition in old age. In Germany the artists of the Postimpressionist generation, such as Lovis Corinth and Max Slevogt, working with the peculiar recklessness that is endemic to German painting, laid the technical foundations of Expressionism. Ferdinand Hodler in Switzerland developed a painterly Symbolist style in the 1890s. The Belgian painter James Ensor abandoned Impressionism at the end of the 1880s for a bitter and fantastic style that was a pioneer example of extreme expressive alienation.

The most remarkable painter of the fin de siècle outside France, however, was the Norwegian Edvard Munch. “The Cry” (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo), the famous picture in which the rhythms of Art Nouveau were given a hysterical expressive force with hardly a vestige of the Impressionist description of nature, was painted in 1893. For many years before a breakdown interrupted his development in 1907, he worked abroad. He was particularly influential in Germany.

In the United States, Maurice Prendergast transformed Impressionism into pattern. In Russia the fin de siècle styles of Léon Bakst and the Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”) group, aswell as a vivid revival of folk decoration, flourished, later becoming known internationally through their connection with the Russian ballet.


The 20th century

By 1903 the impetus of Symbolism was expended and a new and enigmatic mood was forming. The new attitude drew on a vein that was comic, poetic, and fantastic, exploring an irrational quality akin to humour inherent in the creative process itself, as well as on a reserve of ironic detachment. The new painters drew strength from unexpected sources. The work of Henri Rousseau, a former clerk in the Paris municipal customs service who was known as “Le Douanier” accordingly, and who had exhibited at the Indépendants since 1886, attracted attention. The apparent innocence of his pictures gave them a kind of imaginative grandeur that seemed beyond the reach of any art founded on sophistication.

The art of supposedly primitive peoples had a special appealin the early years of the 20th century. Gauguin, who had made direct contact with it in his last years, proved propheticnot only in the forms he adopted but in the spirit of his approach. Maurice de Vlaminck and André Derain, who met in1900, evolved a style together based on crude statements of strong colours. Matisse had been moving more circumspectly in the same direction. The apparent ferocity o fthe works that the three exhibited in 1905 earned them the nickname of the Fauves (“Wild Beasts”). It appears that Matisse was responsible for introducing Pablo Picasso to African sculpture. Picasso had already shown signs of dissatisfaction with existing canons; his use of fin de siècle styles in his earliest works has a quality close to irony. Primitive art, both African and Iberian, provided him with an austerity and detachment that led after 1906 to a radical metamorphosis of the image and style hitherto habitual in European art. In 1904 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, at Dresden, discovered the art of the Pacific Islands as well as African art. His first reflection of the primitive spirit was parallel to that of the Fauves and may have depended on them, if only partially.

The idea of art, first and last, as a matter of expression (in contrast to Impressionism) was common to Germany and France in the first decade of the 20th century; it appears in Matisse's Notes of a Painter, published in 1908. Matisse, in fact, hardly differentiated expression from decoration; his ideal of art as “something like a good armchair in which to rest” explicitly excluded the distortion and disquiet that earned the style of Kirchner and Die Brücke (“The Bridge”) group, which was founded in 1905, the label of Expressionism. The worldly subjects of Kirchner represented only one aspect of the group; the earthy Primitivism of Emil Nolde and the emphatic pictorial rhetoric of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff are more typical. Both Nolde and Max Pechstein (another member of the group) traveled to the Pacific. The development of the Austrian Oskar Kokoschka, who was influenced by members of Die Brücke, spanned the first two-thirds of the 20th century; the tempestuous emotion of his finest pictures places them among the masterpieces of painting of the German-speaking world in his time.

The transformation of painting after 1907 was particularly apparent in works executed in Germany. Wassily Kandinsky had come to Munich from Moscow at the age of 30 in 1896. His earliest mature works were painted in a jewellike, fairy-tale Cloisonniste style. He later told how one evening in his studio he came upon “an indescribably beautiful picture, drenched with an inner glowing . . . of which I saw nothing but forms and colours . . .” (from R.L. Herbert [ed.], Modern Artists on Art, 1965). It was one of his own works, standing on its side, so that its content was incomprehensible. Kandinsky's first nonfigurative watercolour was painted in 1910, and in the same year he wrote much of Concerning the Spiritual in Art , which converted the aesthetic doctrines of Goethe to the purposes of the new art. The series of “Improvisations” that followed preserved reminiscences of figuration, made illegible by the looseness of the pictorial structure; their diffuse and amorphous consistency had little connection with the main objectives of painting at the time. In the first decade of the 20th century, the idea of painting implied by Postimpressionism and that of a reasoned structure analogous to the structure of nature, if not to appearances, were far from exhausted. The influence of Kandinsky's “Improvisations” from 1911 onward, though delayed, was nonetheless great and pointed in a direction that abstract painting was to take 40 years later.

The Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (“The Blue Rider”), named after one of Kandinsky's earlier pictures, was formed in 1911 to represent the new tendencies when Kandinsky and Franz Marc withdrew from the heterogeneous Neue Künstlervereinigung (“New Artists' Association”). The group soon became, in its turn, a broadly based assembly of the international avant-garde artists of the day, although the stylizations of Marc himself now appear commonplace. Among the early members of the group, the Russian Alexey von Jawlensky evolved a structured form of Expressionism that culminated in the 1930s in a series of abstractions of a head, but the chief importance of the group was as a stage in the development of the Swiss painter Paul Klee.

Cubism and its consequences

Picasso's Primitivism, joined to the influence of Cézanne's “Great Bathers,” culminated in 1907 in the enigmatic and famous picture “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon” (Museum of Modern Art, New York City). Those who saw it were astonished and perplexed, not only by the arbitrary disruption in the right-hand part of the picture of the continuity that had always united an image but also by the defiant unloveliness, which made it plain that the traditional beauties of art, the appeal of the subject, and the credibility of its imitation were now, at any rate to Picasso, finally irrelevant. “What a loss to French art!” a Russian collector said, and Picasso himself was not sure what to think of the picture; it was not reproduced for 15 years or publicly exhibited for 30. Nevertheless, the effect on his associates was profound. Matisse and Georges Braque, who, unlike Picasso, had been experimenting with Fauvism, immediately started painting female nudes of similar stridency. Subsequently, however, Matisse turned back toward relatively traditional forms and the flooding colour that chiefly concerned him. Braque, on the other hand, became more and more closely associated with Picasso, and Cubism, as the new style was labeled by one of Braque's hostile critics in the following year, was the result of their collaboration. In the first phase, lasting into 1909, the focus of their work was the accentuation and disruption of planes. In the next two years Braque went to paint at Cézanne's old sites, and the inspiration of Cézanne's style at this stage is indubitable. In the second phase, from 1910 to 1912, the irrelevance of the subject, in any integral form, became evident. It was no longer necessary to travel in search of a motif; any still life would do as well. The essence of the picture was in the treatment. If Analytical Cubism, as this phase is generally labeled, analyzed anything, it was the nature of the treatment. The great Cubist pictures were meditations on the intrinsic character of the detached Cézannesque facets and contours, out of which the almost-illegible images were built. Indeed, the objects were not so much depicted as denoted by linear signs, a spiral for the scrolled head of a violin or the trademark from a label fora bottle, which were superimposed on the shifting, half-contradictory flux of shapes. The element of paradox is essential; even when it approaches monumental grandeur, Cubism has a quality that eludes solemn exposition. Subtle and elegant geometric puns build up into massive demonstrations of pictorial structure, demonstrations that its complex parallels and conjunctions build nothing so firmly and so memorably as the picture itself. This proof that figurative art creates an independent reality is the central proposition of modern art, and it has had a profound effect not only on painting and sculpture, as well as on the arts of design that depend on them, but also on the intellectual climate of the age.

The experimental investigation of what reality meant in artistic terms then took a daring turn that was unparalleled since pictorial illusion had been isolated five centuries earlier. The Cubists proceeded to embody real material from the actual world within the picture. They included first stenciled lettering, then pasted paper,and later solid objects; the reality of art asthey saw it absorbed them all. This assemblage of material, called collage, led in 1912 to the third phase of the movement, Synthetic Cubism (see photograph), which continued until 1914. The textured and patterned planes were composed into forms more like pictorial objects in themselves than recognizable figurations. In the later work of Picasso and Braque, it is again possible to construe their pictorial code as referring plainly to the objective world—in the case of Braque, to still life chosen with an appreciation of household things and, with Picasso, to emotive yet enigmatichuman subjects as well. The message of Cubism remained the same: meaning had been shown to reside in the structure of the style, the basic geometry implied in the Postimpressionist handling of life. The message spread rapidly.

The first theoretical work on the movement, On Cubism, by the French painters Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, was published in 1912. It was argued that geometric and mathematical principles of general validity could be deduced from the style. An exhibition in the same year represented all Cubism's adherents except the two creators. The exhibition was called the Section d'Or (“Golden Section”), after a mathematical division of a line into two sections with a certain proportion to each other. Among the exhibitors were the Spaniard Juan Gris and the Frenchman Fernand Léger, who in their subsequent work were both concerned with combining the basic scheme of Synthetic Cubism with the renewed sense of a coherent subject. Cubism stimulated parallel tendencies in The Netherlands, Italy, and Russia. In The Netherlands, Piet Mondrian, on the basis of Cézanne and the Dutch painters of the fin de siècle, had reached a very simple, symbolic style analogous to the Dutch landscape. He first saw Cubist paintings in 1910 and moved to Paris two years later. The subsequent resolution of his sense of natural conflict into increasingly bare rectangular designs balancing vertical against horizontal and white against areas of primary colour is one of the achievements of modern art. In 1917 the de Stijl movement formed in The Netherlands around him, with lasting consequences for the architecture, design, and typography of the century.

In Italy in 1909 a program for all the arts was issued by the poet Filippo Marinetti, who called his exercise the Futurist manifesto. He rejected the art of the past and exalted energy, strength, movement, and the power of the modern machine. In painting, his ideas were taken up by Carlo Carrà. Umberto Boccioni, the most talented of the group, pursued its ideas not only in painting but also in sculpture. The most memorable serial images of movement were those of Giacomo Balla; they reveal that, under its vivid fragmentation, the vision of Futurism was not far from the photographic. Its imperative mood and disruptive tactics nonetheless had their effect, finding an echo in Britain in the Vorticist circle around Wyndham Lewis. Lewis' analytical intelligence and the toughness of his artistic temper marked equally his near-abstract early works and the incisive classical portraits he painted later. Among his early associates, David Bomberg developed from the Cubist idiomin 1912–13 images of a striking clarity and force; and WilliamRoberts combined a Cubist formulation with social commentary analogous to that of the 18th-century painter William Hogarth.

In Russia, where Western developments were well known, the avant-garde, with its own roots in primitive art, had already evolved a simplified Expressionistic style. Kazimir Malevich produced formalized images of peasants at work that anticipated the later style of Léger. The striplike and often abstract formulations of Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Gontcharova, to which they gave the name of Rayonism, date from 1911. In 1912 Malevich exhibited his first “Cubo-Futurist” works, in which the figures were reduced to dynamic coloured blocks, and in 1913 he followed these witha black square on a white background. This increasing tendency to abstraction reached its culmination in 1915 withthe arrival of what he called Suprematism, in which simple geometric elements provided the whole dynamic force. The Russian movement, complicated by its own politics, was both accelerated and eventually broken by the Revolution, which gave it, for a time, a social function that the avant-garde has hardly achieved elsewhere. The Russian artists dispersed after 1922, however, and their legacy, the tradition of Constructivism, was transmitted to western Europe by El Lissitzky, Antoine Pevsner, and the latter's brother, Naum Gabo.

Prismatic colour, the element in Cézanne that the Cubists had neglected in dismantling his style, was taken up by Robert Delaunay. Delaunay's variety of Cubism was named Orphism, after Orpheus, the poet and musician of ancient Greek myth. The essential discovery of Orphism was proclaimed as a realization that “colour is both form and subject.” After an exquisite series of “Windows,” Delaunay freed himself from representation and based his designs on the effects of simultaneous colour contrast. These dictated the concentric patterns of his “Discs” and “Cosmic Circular Forms,” which occupied him and his wife, Sonia, thenceforward. The Czech František Kupka painted his first totally abstract work at about the same time. Even the simplest of his subsequent works never quite lost the rhythms of the fin de siècle style. Delaunay realized that a new order of painting was beginning, but his immediate influence was strongest abroad. Two American followers, Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell, exhibited as “Synchromists” in 1913. The Munich group Der Blaue Reiter was in touch with Delaunay, who exhibited with them, and the subsequent development of Klee was founded on his conversion to Delaunay's ideal of colour.

Fantasy and the irrational

The identity of a work of art as a thing in itself, independent of representation, was on the way to general recognition when the outbreak of war in 1914 interrupted artistic life throughout most of Europe. The activities of a group of painters, writers, and musicians who sought refuge in Zürich reflected the disorientation and disillusion of the time. Dada, as the movement was called, owed much to the iconoclasm of the Cubists and to the polemical tactics of the Futurists. Nonetheless its attack on art was fundamentally artistic; one wing of the avant-garde has owed allegiance to the Dadaist tradition ever since. As well as the need continually to attack the limits of the fine arts, it was felt important to “épater [“shock”] les bourgeois.” The Dadaists enlarged the field open to artists in three ways. They questioned the idea that some subjects were simply not relevant to painting, a question that had been hovering over art for some time, by the simple expedient of arguing that anything and everything was fair game. The repetitive and amorphous trends of Impressionism had in fact already given grounds for such a supposition. The next step was to make a reluctant public accept that any object was a work of art if an artist chose to proclaim it one. In 1914 Marcel Duchamp, the exhibitor of serial images of movement in the Section d'Or, produced a bottle rack bought in a Paris store. Better and more épatant still, he submitted a urinal to a New York exhibition under a pseudonym in 1917. Duchamp did not paint again, and this is perhaps the single Dadaist gesture that time has failed to reconcile with art. It was also the Dadaists who posed the question, if art (as Redon had realized) is not within the reach of will, how is it different from chance? Jean Arp made collages and then reliefs from random shapes obtained “according to the laws of chance.” Of all modern artists, he examined most closely the side of art akin to humour. Similarly, the Dadaists explored such elements as incongruity and dissociation, a process that led the way to Surrealism. Finally and almost incidentally, they asked, if the presentation of movement is proper to art, why not movement itself? Viking Eggeling and Hans Richter, with animated drawings and film, made the first works in a kinetic tradition that even by the late 1980s showed no sign of abating.

The painter who, more than any other, focused on incongruity—a feature that in painting involves the reinstatement of the subject, rather than its treatment, at the centre of art—was Giorgio De Chirico, an Italian born in Greece. De Chirico, rooted in the Mediterranean world, created from 1910 onward unforgettable images of its dereliction. In the immediate postwar years, he pioneered a style of emblematic, half-abstract still life called pittura metafisica (“metaphysical painting”), but by 1924, when the Surrealists began to work a similar vein of fantasy, De Chirico had changed; and in later life he disavowed his early achievement. Metaphysical painting had one unexpected sequel, the serene realism of Giorgio Morandi. Meanwhile, Kurt Schwitters in Germany developed the mediums of collage and assemblage in the new spirit. Francis Picabia, who was associated with Duchamp in the United States during the war, joined forces with the Swiss Dadaists in 1918; his contribution was an epigrammatic elegance of style. The German Max Ernst was the most resourceful pictorial technician of the movement and a continually fertile inventor.

It was in 1917 that the term Surrealism was coined, when the poet Guillaume Apollinaire described the style of the ballet Parade , for which Picasso had painted the sets, as:
a sort of sur-realism in which I see a point of departure for a series of manifestations of that New Spirit which . .. promises to transform arts and manners from top to bottom with universal joy.

The manifesto of the Surrealist movement, which was composed by the poet André Breton, did not appear until 1924, however. Surrealism meant different things in different people's hands, but a common feature was absorption in the fantastic and irrational. The questions posed by Dada also preoccupied Surrealists, but for them the problem of the involuntary, fortuitous element in art, for example, was clearly open to psychological solution. The Surrealists demanded “pure psychic automatism”; the automatic drawings that the French artist André Masson made from 1925 onward and, on a more mechanical level, the frottage (“rubbing”) devices of Ernst, which added to painting the evocative effect of fortuitously dappled textures, introduced an element that flourished even more fully 20 years later. Another discovery made in the wake of Dada was similarly delayed in its full impact: Parade had been the culmination of a series of musical compositions by Erik Satie that were based on ironic quotations of popular material. In the early 1920s the Americans Stuart Davis and Man Ray made paintings out of the designs on commercial packaging, foreshadowing the Pop Art of the 1950s.

The greatest achievement of Surrealist painting, however, was the invention of a new genre: fantastic realism—the prosaic, indeed quasi-photographic, rendering of the forms of fantasy and dream. The invention was the work, after De Chirico, of the Frenchman Yves Tanguy and the Spaniard Salvador Dalí. In the pictorial world of Dalí, everyday things undergo a transformation that can be almost disturbing; in that of Tanguy, forms are more suggestive than related to actual objects. A different aspect of this dream realism, one that is particularly disturbing, was shown by the Belgian René Magritte.

In the years after 1918, a mood of classical consolidation affected some painters. In Germany a “New Objectivity” (Die Neue Sachlichkeit) was imposed on Expressionism; the eventual synthesis appeared in the brutal paintings of Max Beckmann. In France the Italian-born Amedeo Modigliani, affected by the simplicity of the Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi, arrived at a delicate linear realism, the last of the great Postimpressionist styles.

The Expressionist tradition was developed to an extreme of agonized distortion by Chaim Soutine. Another Russian-born member of the school of Paris, Marc Chagall, who had been influenced both by Cubism and the Russian avant-garde, discovered in the 1920s an individual and inconsequent veinof pictorial fancy. The sombre and devotional art of the Frenchman Georges Rouault bore the marks of his training with Gustave Moreau and as a stained-glass maker. Its crude force had been developed in the context of Fauvism, but the vision was one of refined introspection. The vigour and freedom of Fauvism was developed in the opposite direction in the decorative, extrovert style of another French painter, Raoul Dufy. The classicizing trend of the 1920s had a remarkable sequel in the work of the mural painters of Mexico. One such, Diego Rivera, had learned the formal lessons of Cubism in Paris; José Clemente Orozco was more dependent on the folk art of his country. Their frescoes combined grandeur with a legibility and social awareness rare in modern art.

The greatest imaginative achievements between World Wars I and II were, however, again those of Picasso. In the years immediately following World War I he had painted a series of solidly modeled yet oddly ironic figure pictures. Then his mood changed, and in 1925 “The Three Dancers” (Tate Gallery, London) reintroduced an anarchic and convulsive quality. The ambiguities and transformations of his art, both in painting and sculpture, have an emotional character that is entirely his own, but the enlargement of the artistic language greatly influenced others. The metamorphosis of natural shape into abstracted forms that nevertheless curve and bulge with their own life, a metamorphosis initiated by Picasso, became the international style of the early 1930s. The Spaniard Joan Miró gave it his own clarity and gaiety. Biomorphic abstraction, in essence the method of Tanguy, extended the resources of Surrealism, and the Chilean Roberto Matta Echaurren, who began painting in 1938, used it with dramatic effect. A poetic version of the style, rooted in an emotional response to landscape, was evolved in Englandby Graham Sutherland. In the later 1930s, with “Guernica” (1937; Prado, Madrid) and other pictures, Picasso responded to specific events. Around 1940, two painters in the United States, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning, gave the biomorphic style a new character: relaxed, diffuse, and clear.

The development of abstract painting between the wars was comparatively slow. Klee (in 1921) and Kandinsky (in 1922) gravitated to the Bauhaus, the school in Germany whose work at Weimar and later at Dessau deeply influenced architecture and design as well as basic teaching. Oskar Schlemmer, whose simplified manner paralleled the Italian metaphysical painters, and Lyonel Feininger, an American-born painter working in a style developed from Cubism, were already teaching there. Kandinsky was concerned with refining the geometric ingredient of his work.Klee developed the poetic and fantastic elements of his art with an inconsequent fertility. The systematic purity of the Bauhaus approach survived longest in the work of Josef Albers, who moved to the United States in 1933. In 1940 Mondrian moved to New York City, and his last dynamic pictures reflect the new environment. Mondrian's work was appreciated by only a small circle, although a similar strength of purpose with a delicate responsiveness to a broader range of forms appeared in the work of the British painter Ben Nicholson. In the 1930s some paintings were executed by artists who formed themselves into groups, such as Abstraction-Création in Paris, Unit One in London, and the Association of American Abstract Artists in New York City. The work of these groups attained wider recognition only after World War II.

After 1945

The postwar work of Braque developed a few basic themes. The space and content of “The Studio” series of five paintings were formulated in vertical phases of varying sombreness; a mysterious bird that featured in this series was a symbol expressive of aspiration. Nicolas de Stael, a friend of Braque who was born in St. Petersburg, reached in 1950 a style in which lozenges of solid paint were built into structures of echo and correspondence. Colour in itself provided the substance, and de Stael's influence was considerable. The painterly and basically traditional vein of abstraction pursued in Paris by such painters as Alfred Manessier remained at root decorative. In Italy, traditional trends in sculpture are reflected in the brilliant accomplished modeling of Giacomo Manzù; Marino Marini, devoting himself almost entirely to the single theme of horse and rider, gave a bald realistic style an oddly apocalyptic force.

The Expressionist tradition was revived in the new spirit by the “Cobra” group of painters from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam who came together in Paris in 1948. In the work of Asger Jorn and Karel Appel, the image springs as if bychance from the free extempore play of brushstrokes. Surrealism proved remarkably durable. Among its adherents, the American Joseph Cornell had been evolving from the techniques of collage and assemblage a personal and evocative form of image; the Pole Hans Bellmer and the German Richard Lindner, working in Paris and New York, respectively, explored private and obsessive themes; they were recognized as among the most individual talents of their generation. In general, the most idiosyncratic and anarchic qualities of art were being developed as a new tradition, while geometric abstraction was seen to be the natural basis for the arts that are public and communal in purpose. Victor Pasmore in Britain, for instance, abandoned his earlier Postimpressionist standpoint to start afresh with constructional and graphic symbols deriving from Klee and Mondrian.

The presence of a number of the pioneer Surrealists in the United States during World War II affected later developments there. Surrealism's element of psychic automatism, particularly the spontaneous calligraphy of Masson, was particularly influential. The possibilities had, in fact, been implicit in modern painting for at least two decades; in Paris in the 1920s Jean Fautrier was already basing pictures on spontaneous and informal gestures with paint. In the United States in the 1940s, however, fresh impetus came from the impulsive play of colour in the work of the influential teacher Hans Hofmann. The movement that became known as Abstract Expressionism represented a decisive departure from its European sources, not only because the homogeneous consistency of a painted surface in itself took on a new meaning in the expansive U.S. conditions but at least equally because of the exceptional personality of Jackson Pollock. The style Pollock adopted in 1947 reflected an original involvement in the act of painting that transcended deliberation or control. The influential critic Harold Rosenberg wrote in 1952:

At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act—rather than as a space in which to reproduce, redesign, analyze or “express” an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.

(The Tradition of the New)

In contrast to Pollock's work, that executed at the time by Willem de Kooning, though equally sweeping and ungovernable, showed a recurrent figurative reference; his series of alarming variations on the theme “Woman” began in 1950. Another Abstract Expressionist, Franz Kline, claimed, in executing his shapes like huge black and white ideograms, to be in some sense depicting figurative images. Rosenberg dubbed the group “action painters.” In the course of the 1950s their influence was felt in almost every country.The climate of artistic opinion that spread outward from New York made possible flamboyant gesture paintings such as those of the French-born Georges Mathieu.

The idea of painting as a homogeneous allover fabric led at the same time to other quite separate developments. Prompted by the primitive and psychotic imagery that he called l'art brut (“raw art”), Jean Dubuffet embarked on an extraordinarily resourceful series of experiments in translating the raw material of the world into pictures. The energy that fills the works of the American painter Mark Tobey is by comparison gentle and lyrical and much influenced by East Asian art. Dubuffet's example inspired the abstract “matter” painting that developed in several countries around 1950. At its best, as in the work of the Catalan Antonio Tapies, this style conveys a strong sense of natural substance.

New forms

In painting generally a new directness was strikingly combined with a new simplicity. Beginning at the age of 80, in the five years before his death in 1954, Henri Matisse made a series of large gouaches découpées in which the increasingly abstract images were created solely by the juxtaposition of sharply cut patches of brilliant colour. Their influence was widespread and by no means confined to painters, such as the American Ellsworth Kelly, who developed the vibrant interaction of hard-edge colour areas. Even from other starting points, painters were reaching similar conclusions. The very simple yet resonant colour combinations of the New York painter Mark Rothko or the grand severity of another American, Barnett Newman, furnish examples.

Abstract painting was revealing far wider potentialities than had been apparent between World Wars I and II, but figurative styles showed a new freedom as well. The Swiss Alberto Giacometti, who had worked as a Surrealist, evolved in both sculpture and painting his sensation of the visual impact of figures in space. Francis Bacon in Britain uncovered unexpected and startling connotations in the apparition of a human likeness on canvas.

Painting in the 1960s not only sought originality; it took up a deliberately extreme position that may have seemed almostto pass the bounds of art. Paintings might be extremely large. Alternatively, they might be extreme in some other respect, such as the canvases of the Frenchman Yves Klein, which showed only a plain, arresting blue colour, or the black pictures of the American Ad Reinhardt, with variations so slight as to be hardly perceptible. The element of apparent chance in action painting explained the way the stains of colour in the work of the American painter Morris Louis appeared to flow and soak across the canvas as if of their own accord.

The tradition of Dada and its skepticism regarding what had once been the received definition of art prompted continual experiment with the techniques of assemblage. Robert Rauschenberg in the United States sought to place his subtlycalculated “combine paintings” (collections of contrasting objects joined to make an ensemble) in the gap between reality and art, contrasting the significance of paint with the borrowed imagery and objects juxtaposed with it. Jasper Johns, an associate of Rauschenburg's, worked with preexisting designs such as targets and the U.S. flag, giving them an ironic look when subjected to incorporation in his works. In the borrowed imagery and popular quotations, on which much painting was based in the years that followed, the irony was intensified to the point of ceasing to be irony at all. Roy Lichtenstein took strip cartoons and other banal (even banally artistic) imagery as the motifs for pictures. Another American, Claes Oldenburg, began by reconstructing common things out of the random pictorial substance of Abstract Expressionism; his later reconstructions of the rigid furniture of everyday life are tailored out of limp plastic sheeting.

There is nothing random about the typical art of the 1960s. On the contrary, it was planned exactly and normally carried out by an efficient, almost mechanical-seeming system. Hard-edge painting developed into a wide range of planar styles having in common only their exploitation of optical reactions and the element of shock that is the visual concomitant of sharp contrast. The spread of this idiom was particularly influenced by the Hungarian-born Victor Vasarely, who worked in France; its most personal development was in the largely monochromatic work of Bridget Riley in Britain. Again, the initial tendency was to exclude such sensations from the aesthetic canon, but in theevent a whole region of visual meaning, void for uncertainty since abstraction began, was reclaimed for painting. Optical art, or Op Art, emphasizes movement, whether potential, actual, or relative, and such effects have been ingeniously investigated by the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (“Group for Visual Research”), founded in Paris in 1960, and the Zero group in Düsseldorf, Ger. In the reliefs of the Venezuelan Jesús Raphael Soto, shifting vision is given a delicate order.

Other developments have proved more fertile. In the hands of the American painters Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella, painting discovered new shapes, both within the rectangular canvas and beyond it. The new value given to the painted plane did not benefit painting only. The British painter Richard Smith deployed it in three dimensions in painted constructions that re-create impressions of commercial packaging in terms of the spatial imagination of the arts.

The extreme in this reduction of means and sophistication of aesthetics was perhaps reached when a group of sculptors in the United States and England turned to investigate the possibilities of minimal and primary forms, normally the simplest geometric solids, alone or arranged in baldly repetitive series. Here, it is the spectator (as perhaps in a sense it always is) who brings the interpretation and supplies the art. The proposition had the apparent preposterousness expected of avant-garde art, yet it seemed likely, in its turn, to shed light on problems that are very much older. It is characteristic of sculpture and painting in the 20th century to deal more and more consciously and directly with the ultimate definition of art. The perennial compulsion to reverse previously accepted definitions has threatened ever more directly the recognizable identity of art. At the end of the 1960s the tendency to emphasize the systems and attitudes of art rather than its product led to a move in several countries to deny the validity of the art object. Instead artists prepared written specifications for ideal, imaginary art, the fulfillment of which was superfluous, or self-sufficient programs for performances paradoxically analogous to some aspect of the more familiar artistic acts. Conceptual art has opened the way to activities notable in their defiance of conventional expectations. The designs of earth art or earthworks are fulfilled by moving large amounts of soil, preferably in inaccessible places, perhaps in token of the potency of traditional art to impose its shape on the world. Activities of this order may appear to belong as much to theory as to artistic creation itself; in the 1970s these distinctions, with other familiar cornerstones of artistic thought, were held to have lost their validity.

Sir Lawrence Gowing


In the 1970s, critical and public interest centred on the reductive constructions of Minimalism and the nihilistic questioning of conceptual art. The late 1970s and early 1980s, however, witnessed a resurgence of excitement in painting and a return to figurative representation. A new movement called Neo-Expressionism arose in New York City and in the art capitals of western Europe, especially in West Germany, combining the heavy paint surfaces and dynamic brushstrokes of Abstract Expressionism with the emotional tone of early 20th-century German Expressionism. The new movement's subject matter ranged from basically literal, though self-consciously primitive, treatments of the human figure to a range of imaginary subjects indicative of modern urban life, particularly its glamour, alienation, and menace. Anotable characteristic of Neo-Expressionism was the newly prominent role played in its commercial acceptance by gallery owners and art dealers who adroitly publicized the movement's artists. Indeed, Neo-Expressionism's sudden success was an indication of the growing commercialization of the avant-garde and its unhesitating acceptance by wealthy, influential collectors and progressive-minded museum curators. Some critics voiced doubts over what they saw as the reflexive pursuit of artistic novelty under the influence of commercial pressures, and some even asserted that critical and public acclaim had to some extent become divorced from the goals of finding and patronizing painters whose works had lasting artistic significance.




The 20th century



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Dictionary of ART AND ARTISTS (2500 entries) Thames and Hudson, 1994;
"Encyclopaedia Britannica" (Ultimate Reference Suite 2004 DVD)



Abstract Expressionism.

Term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, very narrowly, as ACTION PAINTING, although it was first coined in relation to the work of Vasily Kandinsky in 1929. The works of the generation of artists active in New York from the 1940s and regarded as Abstract Expressionists resist definition as a cohesive style; they range from Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of colour to Willem de Kooning’s violent handling of the figure. They were linked by a concern with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content. Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in the sculpture of David Smith, Ibram Lassaw and others, the photography of Aaron Siskind and the painting of Mark Tobey, as well as in the work of less renowned artists such as Bradley Walker Tomlin and Lee Krasner. However, the majority of Abstract Expressionists rejected critical labels and shared, if anything, only a common sense of moral purpose and alienation from American society. Abstract Expressionism has nonetheless been interpreted as an especially ‘American’ style because of its attention to the physical immediacy of paint; it has also been seen as a continuation of the Romantic tradition of the Sublime. It undeniably became the first American visual art to attain international status and influence.




Abstract art.

Term applied in its strictest sense to forms of 20th-century Western art that reject representation and have no starting- or finishing-point in nature. As distinct from processes of abstraction from nature or from objects (a recurring tendency across many cultures and periods that can be traced as far back as Palaeolithic cave painting), abstract art as a conscious aesthetic based on assumptions of self-sufficiency is a wholly modern phenomenon. See also ABSTRACTION.




International group of painters and sculptors, founded in Paris in February 1931 and active until 1936. It succeeded another short-lived group, CERCLE ET CARRÉ, which had been formed in 1929 with similar intentions of promoting and exhibiting abstract art. Its full official title was Abstraction-Création: Art non-figuratif. The founding committee included AUGUSTE HERBIN (president), Georges Vantongerloo (vice-president), Hans Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Georges Valmier and Frantisek Kupka.



Action painting.

Term applied to the work of American Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and, by extension, to the art of their followers at home and abroad during the 1950s. An alternative but slightly more general term is gestural painting; the other division within ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM was colour field painting.


Activists [Hung. Aktivizmus].

Hungarian artistic, literary and political group that emerged c. 1914, after the disintegration of the group THE EIGHT  in 1912. Though not a cohesive group, the Activists were stylistically united by their reaction to the predominantly Post-Impressionist aesthetic of the Eight. Instead they turned for inspiration to Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dada and Constructivism, and although some of these had previously influenced the Eight, the Activists made most consistent and profound use of these modern movements. The most notable Activists were Sándor Bortnyik, Péter Dobrovic (b 1890), János Kmetty, János Máttis Teutsch, László Moholy-Nagy, Jószef Nemes Lampérth, Lajos Tihanyi and Béla Uitz, of whom only Tihanyi had previously been a member of the Eight. Many Activists were at some time members of the MA GROUP, which revolved around the writer and artist Lajos Kassák, the main theoretical, and later artistic, driving force behind Hungarian Activism.



Italian movement that emerged in the late 1920s from the second wave of Futurism, which it eventually supplanted. It was announced by the publication on 22 September 1929 of the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura, signed by Giacomo Balla, Benedetta (Marinetti’s wife, the painter and writer Benedetta Cappa, 1897–1977), Fortunato Depero, Gerardo Dottori, Fillia, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini, the painter and sculptor Mino Somenzi (1899–1948) and the painter Tato (pseud. of Guglielmo Sansoni, 1896–1974). This text became the key document for the new adherents of Futurism in the 1930s. Although Marinetti had written the first Futurist manifestos, and Balla, Depero and Prampolini were senior figures within the movement, it was Dottori and younger painters who developed the new form most impressively. Building on earlier concerns with the speeding automobile, both Marinetti and the Fascist government gave particular importance to aeronautics in the 1920s, extolling the pilot as a type of Nietzschean ‘Superman’.


Agitprop [Rus. agitatsionnaya propaganda: ‘agitational propaganda’].

Russian acronym in use shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 for art applied to political and agitational ends. The prefix agit- was also applied to objects decorated or designed for this purpose, hence agitpoyezd (‘agit-train’) and agitparokhod (‘agit-boat’), decorated transport carrying propaganda to the war-front. Agitprop was not a stylistic term; it applied to various forms as many poets, painters and theatre designers became interested in agitational art. They derived new styles and techniques for it from Futurism, Suprematism and Constructivism


American Abstract Artists [A.A.A.].

American group of painters and sculptors formed in 1936 in New York. Their aim was to promote American abstract art. Similar to the Abstraction–Création group in Europe, this association introduced the public to American abstraction through annual exhibitions, publications and lectures. It also acted as a forum for abstract artists to share ideas. The group, whose first exhibition was held in April 1937 at the Squibb Galleries in New York, insisted that art should be divorced from political or social issues. Its aesthetics were usually identified with synthetic Cubism, and the majority of its members worked in a geometric Cubist-derived idiom of hard-edged forms, applying flat, strong colours. While the group officially rejected Expressionism and Surrealism, its members actually painted in a number of abstract styles. Almost half of the founding members had studied with Hans Hoffmann and infused their geometric styles with surreal, biomorphic forms, while others experimented with NEO-PLASTICISM.



Austrian group of performance artists, active in the 1960s. Its principal members were Günter Brus, Otto Muehl and Hermann Nitsch, who first collaborated informally in 1961, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, who was introduced to the group in 1963. Others associated with the group included Anni Brus, the film maker Kurt Kren, the composer Anetis Logosthetis and the actor Heinz Cibulka. The group were influenced by the work of Adolf Frohner (b 1934), Arnulf Rainer and Alfons Schilling (b 1934), who were all in turn influenced by American action painting and by the gestural painting associated with Tachism. The members of Aktionismus attached significance, however, not so much to the paintings produced by the artist as to the artist as a participant in the process of production, as a witness to creation rather than as a creator. Muehl, Brus and Nitsch all felt drawn to public performances celebrating and investigating artistic creativity by a natural progression from their earlier sculptural or painterly activities. In 1962 Muehl and Nitsch staged their first Aktion or performance, Blood Organ, in the Perinetgasse in Vienna. In 1965 Brus produced the booklet Le Marais to accompany an exhibition of his work at the Galerie Junge Generation, Vienna. Muehl, Nitsch and Schwarzkogler all contributed, referring to themselves as the Wiener Aktionsgruppe.


Allied Artists’ Association [A.A.A.].

Organization established in London in 1908, dedicated to non-juried exhibitions of international artists’ work. The main impetus for the A.A.A. came from Frank Rutter (1876–1937), art critic of the Sunday Times, and the first exhibition was held at the Albert Hall, London. Inspired by the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, Rutter wanted to set up an exhibiting platform for the work of progressive artists. On payment of a subscription, artists were entitled to exhibit five works (subsequently reduced to three) and over 3000 items were included in the first show. Rutter also wanted the A.A.A. to have a foreign section and for the first exhibition collaborated with Jan de Holewinski (1871–1927), who had been sent to London to organize an exhibition of Russian arts and crafts.


Amsterdam school.

Group of Expressionist architects and craftsworkers active mainly in Amsterdam from c. 1915 to c. 1930. The term was first used in 1916 by Jan Gratama in an article in a Festschrift for H. P. Berlage. From 1918 the group was loosely centred around the periodical Wendingen (1918–31). They were closely involved in attempts to provide architectural solutions for the social and economic problems in Amsterdam during this period.


American Artists’ Congress.

Organization founded in 1936 in the USA in response to the call of the Popular Front and the American Communist Party for formations of literary and artistic groups against the spread of Fascism. In May 1935 a group of New York artists met to draw up the ‘Call for an American Artists’ Congress’; among the initiators were George Ault (1891–1948), Peter Blume, Stuart Davis, Adolph Denn, William Gropper (b 1897), Jerome Klein, Louis Lozowick (1892–1973), Moses Soyer, Niles Spencer and Harry Sternberg. Davis became one of the most vociferous promoters of the Congress and was not only the national executive secretary but also the editor of the organization’s magazine, Art Front, until 1939.


Annandale Imitation Realists.

Australian group of mixed-media artists active in 1962. They formed for the purpose of staging an exhibition of the same name. Ross Crothall (b 1934), Mike Brown and Colin Lanceley worked together in Crothall’s studio in Annandale, a suburb of Sydney, in 1961. They shared an interest in assemblage, collage, junk art, objets trouvés and in non-Western art. Brown, who had worked in New Guinea in 1959, was impressed by the use in tribal house decoration and body ornament of modern urban rubbish such as broken plates and bottletops. Crothall delighted in the altered objet trouvé, for example egg cartons unfolded to become the Young Aesthetic Cow, or pieces of furniture crudely gathered into frontally posed female icons, sparkling with buttons and swirling house-paint, with such titles as Gross Débutante. Lanceley was deeply influenced by his teacher John Olsen and through him by Jean Dubuffet. He covered impastoed surfaces with junk materials, often decorating distorted female forms with strings of pearls, broken plates and other items; in Glad Family Picnic (1961; Sydney, A.G. NSW) elements combine into a garish visual cacophony.


Antipodean group.

Australian group of artists formed in Melbourne in February 1959 and active until January 1960. The founder-members were the art historian Bernard Smith (b 1916), who was elected chairman, and the painters Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd (b 1924), John Brack, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh. They were joined subsequently by the Sydney-based painter Bob Dickerson (b 1924). Smith chose the name of the group and compiled the Antipodean Manifesto, the appearance of which coincided with the inaugural exhibition, The Antipodeans, held in the Victorian Artists’ Society rooms in Melbourne in August 1959. The group’s main concern was to promote figurative painting at a time when non-figurative painting and sculpture were becoming established as the predominant trend in Australia, as in the USA and Europe. To gain a more prestigious venue to show their work, the group asked Smith to enlist the support of Kenneth Clark, who responded by suggesting the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The Gallery’s director, Bryan Robertson (b 1925), received British Council support and made a selection for an exhibition entitled Recent Australian Paintings (1961), which featured the work of the group alongside that of Jon Molvig, Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Fred Williams and others. Although the members of the group had experienced much critical opposition, they felt vindicated by their inclusion in this exhibition, which established that contemporary Australian painting had a well-founded and powerful national identity.


Arbeitsrat für Kunst.

Association of radical German architects, artists and critics founded in Berlin in December 1918 by Bruno Taut and dissolved on 30 May 1921. The membership grew rapidly and included the architects Otto Bartning, Walter Gropius, Paul Mebes, Erich Mendelsohn, Hans Poelzig, Paul Schmitthenner, Max Taut and Heinrich Tessenow; the painters César Klein, Erich Heckel, Käthe Kollwitz, Ludwig Meidner, Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Lyonel Feininger; the sculptors Rudolph Belling, Oswald Herzog and Gerhard Marcks; and such critics and patrons as Adolf Behne (1885–1948), Mechtilde von Lichnowsky (1879–1958), Julius Meier-Graefe, Karl Ernst Osthaus and Wilhelm Worringer.


Architectengroep de 8.

Dutch association of architects, based in Amsterdam from 1927 to 1942. It was founded by six former pupils of the School voor Bouwkunde, Versierende Kunsten en Ambachten in Haarlem: BEN MERKELBACH, J. H. GROENEWEGEN, Charles Karsten (1904–79), Hans van den Bosch (b 1900), Henri E. van de Pauwert (1895–1981) and Pieter Jan Verschuyl (1902–83). The name, probably coined by van de Pauwert during his military service, derived from the command to attention used in the Dutch army—‘geef acht’, ‘acht’ in Dutch meaning either ‘attention’ or ‘eight’. In the manifesto of De 8, published in the journal I 10 (1927), the young architects presented themselves as pragmatic and international, thus taking a stand against the expressive architectural outlook of the Amsterdam school to which their former teachers belonged. The declaration of intent, stimulated by the ideas of H. P. Berlage, De Stijl and contacts with functionalism in Belgium and Germany, attracted other Dutch architects and engineers connected with the Nieuwe Bouwen (‘new building’) movement of the 1920s. In 1928 Albert Boeken, Johannes Duiker and Jan Gerko Wiebenga (1886–1974) joined the group, the latter two already having designed a number of functionalist buildings. Boeken was mainly active as a publicist. The avowedly functionalist architect CORNELIS VAN EESTEREN joined in 1929 and introduced urban planning to the group. They took an active part in international CIAM congresses from 1929, van Eesteren becoming chairman of CIAM in 1930. De 8 soon took a stand in Amsterdam in favour of high-rise building and modern social housing construction (see AMSTERDAM, §II, 5). In 1932 De 8 officially joined forces with the Rotterdam group of modern architects DE OPBOUW, whose members included Johannes Bernardus van Loghem and Leendert Cornelis van der Vlugt. While members of the two groups continued to practise individually in the two cities, an editorial team was formed to produce the journal De 8 en Opbouw, an important forum for new architecture in the Netherlands. Their ideas gained increasing resonance, and in 1934 the younger architects of Groep 32 joined, as did Mart Stam, Gerrit Rietveld and Sybold van Ravesteyn. The group debated functionalist principles at the end of the 1930s, and a number of members left, including Rietveld and van Ravesteyn. The German occupation paralysed the architects’ activities as a group, and publication of De 8 en Opbouw ceased in 1942.


Archizoom (Associati).

Italian architectural and design partnership formed in 1966 by Andrea Branzi (b 1939), Gilberto Corretti (b 1941), Paolo Deganello (b 1940) and Massimo Morozzi. These were joined by Dario Bartolini and Lucia Bartolini in 1968. They were based in Florence and were influenced initially by the utopian visions of the English architectural group Archigram. They achieved international prominence following appearances at the Superarchitettura exhibitions of radical architecture held at Pistoia (1966) and Modena (1967) and organized with the SUPERSTUDIO group. Numerous projects and essays reflected the group’s search for a new, highly flexible and technology-based approach to urban design, and in the late 1960s exhibition and product design began to form a significant part of their work. The Superonda and Safari sofas, designed for the Poltronova company, combine modular flexibility with kitsch-inspired shiny plastic and leopard-skin finishes. Their central aim of stimulating individual creativity and fantasy was the focus of installations such as the Centre for Electric Conspiracy, with its closed, perfumed meditation areas housing exotic objects from different cultures, and the empty grey room presented at Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, an exhibition held at MOMA, New York, in 1972. In the latter a girl’s voice describes the light and colour of a beautiful house that is left to the listener to imagine. Dress is the theme of the two films (Vestirsi è facile and Come è fatto il capotto di Gogol ) that the group made shortly before disbanding in 1974 to follow separate careers.


a.r. group [Pol. artysci rewolucyjni: ‘revolutionary artists’].

Polish group of avant-garde artists that flourished between 1929 and 1936. Its members were the sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, the painters WLADYSLAW STRZEMINSKI and Henryk Stazewski, and the poets J. Brzekowski and J. Przybos. It was founded by Strzeminski after he, Kobro and Stazewski left the Praesens group. The group’s programme chiefly reflected the views of Strzeminski. In two leaflets entitled Kommunikaty a.r. (‘a.r. bulletins’) the group declared itself in favour of a ‘laboratory’ version of Constructivism and an avant-garde art that influenced social life in an indirect and gradual manner. It opposed the politicization and popularization of art, which it regarded as a debasement of artistic expression, but the group also believed that rigorous, formal discipline, the organic construction of a work, its coherence, effectiveness and economy of means, made art somewhat synthetic or contrived. From 1933 the group’s announcements regarding its programme appeared in the Lódz art magazine Forma.


Art Abstrait.

Belgian art group designed to propagate abstract art. It was formed in April 1952 as a successor to JEUNE PEINTURE BELGE by the artists Jean Milo (b 1906), Jo Delahaut (b 1911), Pol Bury, Georges Carrey (1902–53), Léopold Plomteux (b 1920), George Collignon (b 1923) and Jan Saverys (b 1924), who were joined later that year by Jan Burssens (b 1925) and Hauror. The group first exhibited in 1952 at the Cercle Artistique in Ghent, the Galerie Le Parc in Charleroi and the Galerie Arnaud in Paris and also travelled to Britain. The following year it exhibited at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Association pour le Progrès Intellectuel et Artistique de la Wallonie in Liège and at the Salle Comité voor Artistieke Werking in Antwerp. The members of the group had no unifying style or aesthetic apart from being non-figurative. The abstract styles within the group ranged from thickly impastoed informal works such as Carrey’s Composition (1953; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.) to hard-edged works such as Delahaut’s Besoar (1953; see 1981 exh. cat., p. 25). In 1954 Delahaut, Bury and the writers Jean Séaux and Karel Elno published a manifesto that introduced the concept of SPATIALISME, thus marking the end of Art Abstrait. Delahaut’s ideas about abstraction led to his co-founding the group Formes with the writers Séaux and Maurits Blicke in 1956. This was designed to realize the ideas of the Spatialisme manifesto, as shown, for example, in the abstraction of Delahaut’s Recall to Order (1955; see 1981 exh. cat., p. 32). Again short-lived, the Formes group exhibited in 1956 at Morlanwelz-Mariemont in Hainaut and in 1957 at the Galerie Accent in Antwerp.


Art and Freedom [Arab. Al-fann wa’l-hurriyya].

Egyptian group of Surrealist writers, artists and intellectuals founded on 9 January 1939 by the poet Georges Hunain (1914–73). The group included the Egyptian painters Ramsis Yunan (1914–66), Fu’ad Kamil (1919–73) and Kamil al-Talamsani (1917–72). Inspired by the work of André Breton, whom Hunain met in Paris in 1936, the aim of the group was to defend freedom in art by stressing the liberating role of the individual imagination. On 22 December 1938 Hunain and his colleagues signed a manifesto entitled ‘Vive l’Art Dégénéré’, which protested against Fascism, particularly Hitler’s claim that modern art was degenerate. The manifesto was followed by further writings, conferences and debates. Artists from the group exhibited work in June 1939 at the premises of Art and Freedom at 28 Shari` al-Madabigh in Cairo. In January 1940 the magazine al-Tatawwur was launched, which presented ideas behind modern art to an Egyptian audience. This was followed in February 1940 by the first Exposition de l’Art Indépendant in Cairo, which provoked lively polemics from the press. A second exhibition was held in March 1941, and further exhibitions were held in the following years. The activities of the Art and Freedom group were responsible for reviving cultural life in Egypt in the late 1930s and early 1940s, especially by challenging pictorial and literary academicism. Although Surrealism continued to inspire Egyptian artists in the following decades, with the founding of the Contemporary Art Group in 1946 many artists turned to examine the heritage of Egyptian folklore.


Art autre [Fr.: ‘other art’].

Term coined in a book published in 1952 by French writer and critic Michel Tapié to describe the kind of art many intellectuals and artists deemed appropriate to the turbulent mood of France immediately after World War II. He organized an exhibition entitled Un Art autre for the Studio Facchetti, in Paris, also in 1952. Inspired in part by the ideas of Vasily Kandinsky, by Existentialist philosophy and by the widespread admiration for alternative art forms (notably child art, psychotic art and ‘primitive’ non-Western art), Tapié advocated an art that worked through ‘paroxysm, magic, total ecstasy’, in which ‘form, transcended, is heavy with the possibilities of becoming’. He wrote of the need for ‘temperaments ready to break up everything, whose works were disturbing, stupefying, full of magic and violence to re-route the public. To re-route into a real future that mass of so-called advanced public, hardened like a sclerosis around a cubism finished long ago (but much prolonged), misplaced geometric abstraction, and a limited puritanism which above anything else blocks the way to any possible, authentically fertile future’. Although the term has been used more or less interchangeably with ART INFORMEL and TACHISM as embodied in the expressive and non-geometric abstract work of artists such as Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux and Wols, it also embraced the more figurative concerns of artists such as Jean Fautrier, Victor Brauner and Jean Dubuffet.


Art brut

[Fr.: ‘raw art’]. Term used from the mid-1940s to designate a type of art outside the fine art tradition. The commonest English-language equivalent for art brut is ‘Outsider art’. In North America, the same phenomenon tends to attract the label ‘Grass-roots art’. The French term was coined by Jean Dubuffet, who posited an inventive, non-conformist art that should be perfectly brut, unprocessed and spontaneous, and emphatically distinct from what he saw as the derivative stereotypes of official culture. In July 1945 Dubuffet initiated his searches for art brut, attracted particularly by the drawings of mental patients that he saw in Switzerland. In 1948 the non-profit-making Compagnie de l’Art Brut was founded, among whose partners were André Breton and the art critic Michel Tapié. The Collection de l’Art Brut was supported for a while by the company but was essentially a personal hobby horse of Dubuffet and remained for three decades an almost entirely private concern, inviting public attention only at exhibitions in 1949 (Paris, Gal. René Drouin) and 1967 (Paris, Mus. A. Déc.). In 1971 Dubuffet bequeathed the whole collection to the City of Lausanne, where it was put on permanent display to the public at the Château de Beaulieu. At the time of opening (1976), the collection comprised 5000 works by c. 200 artists, but it grew thereafter.


Art Contemporain [Flem. Kunst van Heden].

Belgian exhibiting society of artists founded on 1 March 1905 in Antwerp and active from 1905 to 1955. Its founder, the dealer François Franck (1872–1932), was motivated by the many short-lived attempts by Antwerp artists to set up an artistic forum alongside or in opposition to the Société pour l’Encouragement des Beaux-Arts (founded in 1788) and the Cercle Artistique (founded in 1852). The society organized annual exhibitions in which the work of one or several late 19th century or contemporary artists was featured on a spectacular scale (e.g. Alfred Stevens in 1907), with artist-members often showing alongside representative groups of foreigners. Between 1918 and 1939 Art Contemporain gained a dominant position in the artistic life of Antwerp through its membership structure. The enterprise was financially supported by enthusiasts: dealers such as Henri Fester (1849–1939) and politically committed intellectuals such as G. Serigiers (1858–1930), Louis Franck (1869–1937), Pol De Mont (1857–1931) and Emmanuel De Bom (1868–1953). This group regarded the promotion of ‘sincere and remarkable works of art, to whichever movement they might belong’ as a prestigious mission to society. The multifarious, sometimes precarious composition of the society made it wary of particularly innovative art, and after exhibiting work by the Ecole de Paris there was open internal conflict, which brought further criticism from Antwerp’s avant-garde artists. Nevertheless the work of members such as Jakob Smits, Albert Servaes, Georg Minne, Léon Spilliaert, Rik Wouters, Auguste Oleffe, Gustave Van de Woestyne, Edgard Tytgat, Gustave De Smet, Constant Permeke, Jean Brusselmans and others received ample attention. James Ensor was particularly fortunate to be promoted by Art Contemporain both at home and abroad. The close collaboration between the society and the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp has a continuing significance as a result of the museum’s purchases at the time, the gifts given by Friends of Modern Art (after 1925) and those of individuals, of which Charles Franck (1870–1935) and François Franck were the most prominent.


Art Deco.

Descriptive term applied to a style of decorative arts that was widely disseminated in Europe and the USA during the 1920s and 1930s. Derived from the style made popular by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, the term has been used only since the late 1960s, when there was a revival of interest in the decorative arts of the early 20th century. Since then the term ‘Art Deco’ has been applied to a wide variety of works produced during the inter-war years, and even to those of the German Bauhaus. But Art Deco was essentially of French origin, and the term should, therefore, be applied only to French works and those from countries directly influenced by France.


Arte generativo.

Style of Argentine painting named in 1959 by EDUARDO MACENTYRE and MIGUEL ANGEL VIDAL to describe their work, with its power to generate optical sequences by circular, vertical and horizontal displacement, and based on their studies of Georges Vantongerloo. Developing the tradition of geometric abstraction that had emerged in Argentina in the 1940s with groups such as Arte Concreto Invención, Movimiento Madí and Perceptismo, the aim of these artists was to extol the beauty and perfection of geometry through line and colour. They and the collector Ignacio Pirovano (1919–80), who acted as their theorist, were soon joined by the engineer and painter Baudes Gorlero (1912–59), who as well as creating his own work also analysed its development mathematically. All three artists were awarded prizes in 1959 in the Argentine competition Plástica con plásticos by a jury that consisted of the French critic Michel Ragon, the American museum director Thomas Messer (b 1920), the French painter Germaine Derbecq (1899–1973) and the Argentine critic Aldo Pellegrini (1903–75), shortly after which Gorlero died. MacEntyre and Vidal produced the Arte generativo manifesto in 1960, not as a theoretical statement but as a ‘clarification of ideas’. They distinguished the adjective ‘generative’ (‘able to produce or engender’) from the verb ‘to engender’ (‘to procreate, to propagate the same species, to cause, occasion, form’) and from the noun ‘generatrix’ (‘a point, line or surface whose motion generates a line, surface or solid’). After exploring these ideas more fully they suggested that shapes ‘produce power through the sensation of breaking free from and wishing to penetrate the basic plane and energy from the displacements and vibrations that they produce’. Both MacEntyre and Vidal relied on an analytical process, organizing basic units (curved lines for MacEntyre, straight lines in Vidal’s case) in accordance with constant laws and subjecting them to inventive variations characterized by an impeccable technique, splendid colour and surprising power.


Arte Madí.

Argentine movement of the 1940s based in Buenos Aires and led by GYULA KOSICE and the Uruguayan artists Carmelo Arden Quin (b 1913) and Rhod Rothfuss (b 1920). Together with Joaquín Torres García and the Argentine poet Edgar Bayley (b 1919), they were responsible for the publication in early 1944 of a single issue of a magazine, Arturo, which heralded the development of the Constructivist movement in Argentina, stressing the importance of pure invention and of interdisciplinary links. Tomás Maldonado, who designed the cover, and Lidy Prati (b 1921), who was responsible for most of the vignettes, soon dissociated themselves from their colleagues to help set up the ASOCIACIÓN ARTE CONCRETO INVENCIÓN; the editorial content of the magazine, however, suggested a coherent aesthetic that was also promoted in booklets published by Kosice and Bayley in 1945 and in two exhibitions, Art Concret Invention (which opened on 8 Oct 1945 in the house of the doctor and patron Enrique Pichon Rivière) and Movimiento de Arte Concreto Invención (from 2 Dec 1945 in the house of the photographer Grete Stern). Articles by Arden Quin and Kosice stressed the pure quality of plastic images free of naturalistic or symbolic connotations, whose radical character was distinguished by Bayley from what he termed the falsity of such movements as Expressionism, Realism and Romanticism. Rothfuss’s exposition of his ideas about shaped canvases, prefiguring by more than a decade devices taken up by American abstract painters, proved particularly influential.


Arte nucleare [It.: ‘nuclear art’].

Term applied to a style of Italian painting prevalent in the 1950s. The Movimento Nucleare was founded in 1951 by ENRICO BAJ and Sergio Dangelo (b 1931), with Gianni Bertini (b 1922), to promote a gestural, fantastical style of avant-garde art. In their first manifesto (1952) the artists introduced the idea of ‘nuclear painting’ and made it clear that they were striving for a relevant representation of post-War man and his precarious environment. Arte nucleare stood in opposition to the powers unleashed in the atomic age and expressed the general fear of imminent and uncontrollable damage from nuclear physics. The artists also reacted against the pictorial disciplines of De Stijl and all forms of geometric abstraction, pursuing instead the unpredictable effects of Surrealist automatism. This included gestural experiments similar to action painting and Tachism. Various Arte nucleare artists, including Gianni Dova, helped produce the magazine Phases in the mid-1950s. In 1955 Baj and other Arte nucleare artists joined the Mouvement International pour une Bauhaus Imaginiste (MIBI), founded by Asger Jorn. A further manifesto was released by the Arte nucleare artists in January 1959. This warned against the negative application of new technology and also found possibilities of a positive, aesthetic development from some aspects of atomic fission. Although a few Arte nucleare exhibitions were held, the movement did not gain the currency enjoyed by its rival, Art informel, and by the early 1960s had faded from the international arena.


Arte Povera [It.: ‘impoverished art’].

Term coined by the Genoese critic Germano Celant in 1967 for a group of Italian artists who, from the late 1960s, attempted to break down the ‘dichotomy between art and life’ (Celant: Flash Art, 1967), mainly through the creation of happenings and sculptures made from everyday materials. Such an attitude was opposed to the conventional role of art merely to reflect reality. The first Arte Povera exhibition was held at the Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa, in 1967. Subsequent shows included those at the Galleria De’Foscherari in Bologna and the Arsenale in Amalfi (both 1968), the latter containing examples of performance art by such figures as MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO. In general the work is characterized by startling juxtapositions of apparently unconnected objects: for example, in Venus of the Rags (1967; Naples, Di Bennardo col., see 1989 exh. cat., p. 365), Pistoletto created a vivid contrast between the cast of an antique sculpture (used as if it were a ready-made) and a brightly coloured pile of rags. Such combination of Classical and contemporary imagery had been characteristic of Giorgio de Chirico’s work from c. 1912 onwards. Furthermore, Arte Povera’s choice of unglamorous materials had been anticipated by more recent work, such as that of Emilio Vedova and Alberto Burri in the 1950s and 1960s, while Piero Manzoni had subverted traditional notions of the artist’s functions (e.g. Artist’s Shit, 1961, see 1989 exh. cat., p. 298). Like Manzoni’s innovations, Arte Povera was also linked to contemporary political radicalism, which culminated in the student protests of 1968. This is evident in such works as the ironic Golden Italy (1971; artist’s col., see 1993 exh. cat., p. 63) by LUCIANO FABRO, a gilded bronze relief of the map of Italy, hung upside down in a gesture that was literally revolutionary.


Arte programmata [It.: ‘programmed art’].

Term given to the work of various Italian artists active during the early 1960s who were primarily interested in KINETIC ART and OP ART. The phrase was used by Umberto Eco in 1962 for an exhibition that he presented at the Olivetti Showroom in Milan. This show included works by BRUNO MUNARI, Enzo Mari and members of GRUPPO N and GRUPPO T (both founded 1959). The artists produced objects by a procedure analogous to the methods of technological research, creating a prototype that was then developed through a series of closely related artefacts. This practice was exemplified by Munari, whose mass-produced ‘multiples’ took the form either of hand-operated objects or simple machines (e.g. X Hour, 1963; see Tanchis, pp. 72–3). The ‘multiples’ required the participation of members of the public in order to function and were intended to explore optical and physical phenomena, concerns that also dominated the work of other Arte programmata artists. Giovanni Anceschi (b 1939) created remarkable dynamic images with coloured liquids, while Gianni Colombo (b 1937) made reliefs constructed out of blocks that moved mechanically. Arte programmata gained an international reputation and in 1964 was the subject of exhibitions at the Royal College of Art, London, and at various venues in the USA. In the late 1960s, however, the artists became less closely associated, even though most continued to pursue their interests in kinetic and optical effects.



Group of Polish avant-garde artists active in Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine) between 1929 and 1935, from 1933 known as ‘Neoartes’. Among its members were painters who studied in Lwów, Kraków and Paris: Otto Hahn (1904–42), Jerzy Janisch (1901–62), Henryk Streng (who after 1939 used the pseudonym Marek Wlodarski), Margit Sielski (b 1903), Roman Sielski (b 1903), Mieczyslaw Wysocki (1899–1930), the self-taught painter Ludwik Lille (1897–1957) and the architect Aleksander Krzywoblocki (1901–79). Between 1930 and 1932 they held 11 exhibitions in Lwów, Warsaw and other cities. They searched for new, modern art, but they never defined it or formed any programme. Their art was heterogenous and covered various disciplines: painting, drawing, graphic art, collage and photomontage. Some of them were students of Léger and followed his style, but most of them moved towards Surrealism, for example Wysocki in his Fantasy of a Fight (1930) and Hahn in his lithograph Composition with Leaves (1930; both Wroclaw, N. Mus.). They explored subjects popular among Surrealists, such as the journey, sea and dreams, as in Roman Sielski’s Seascape (1931; Warsaw, N. Mus.). But they also made use of everyday subjects and depicted simple objects. Finally they broke with the timelessness and unreality of Surrealist visions and called for involvement in socio-political art. In 1933 Streng organized an opinion poll on new realism in art, and in 1936 he published in the monthly magazine Sygnaly an article entitled ‘Fighting for Live Art’. The move to realism was characteristic of the majority of Artes members. After the break-up of the group only Jerzy Janisch remained faithful to Surrealism; the others, for example Roman Sielski and Tadeusz Wojciechowski (1902–82), turned to Polish Colourism or, in the case of Streng, to abstraction.


Art informel [Informalism; Lyrical Abstraction].

Term coined in 1950 by the French critic Michel Tapié, primarily in relation to the work of Wols, and subsequently applied more generally to a movement in European painting that began in the mid-1940s and flourished in the 1950s as a parallel development to Abstract Expressionism (especially action painting) in the USA. Sometimes referred to as TACHISM, ART AUTRE or Lyrical Abstraction, it was a type of abstraction in which form became subservient to the expressive impulses of the artist, and it was thus diametrically opposed to the cool rationalism of geometric abstraction. Antecedents can be found in the work of Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet and particularly in the Surrealist current of AUTOMATISM, such as that practised by André Masson. In its more precise historical sense its pioneers were artists based in Paris, such as Jean Fautrier, Wols (e.g. Composition, 1947; Hamburg, Ksthalle, or Yellow Composition, 1946–7; Berlin, Neue N.G.; for illustration see WOLS) and Hans Hartung (e.g. T. 1949-9, 1949; Düsseldorf, Kstsamml. Nordrhein–Westfalen); Hartung in particular was producing paintings with many of the features of Art informel by the mid-1930s, as in T. 1935-1 (1935; Paris, Pompidou; for illustration see HARTUNG, HANS). The movement came to include Jean-Michel Atlan, Jean Bazaine, Roger Bissière, Camille Bryen, Alberto Burri, Charles Lapicque, Alfred Manessier, Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux, Serge Poliakoff, Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Staël, Antoni Tàpies and others. Following the lead of Surrealist automatism, current in Surrealism, Art informel pictures were executed spontaneously and often at speed so as to give vent to the subconscious of the artist. Though embodying a wide range of approaches to abstraction, the brushwork in such works is generally gestural or calligraphic, as in Michaux’s Untitled (1960; New York, Guggenheim; see fig.) or Mathieu’s Capetians Everywhere (1954; Paris, Pompidou; for illustration see MATHIEU, GEORGES). Sometimes there is an emphasis on the texture or tactile quality of the paint, leading to a variant of Art informel referred to as MATTER PAINTING. Certain artists, such as Bazaine, Manessier and Poliakoff, produced paintings that appeared less spontaneous and more controlled, with a more consciously mediated composition and use of colour, as in Manessier’s Barrabas (1952; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.).


Artistas Modernos de la Argentina.

Argentine group of artists formed in 1952 and active until 1954. It was founded on the initiative of the art critic Aldo Pellegrini (1903–75) as a union of Constructivist painters belonging to the ASOCIACIÓN ARTE CONCRETO INVENCIÓN—Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati (b 1921), Ennio Iommi and Claudio Girola (b 1923)—and four independent semi-abstract artists: José Antonio Fernández Muro, Sarah Grilo, Miguel Ocampo and Hans Aebi (b 1923). Pellegrini’s main concern was with the quality of the artists’ work rather than with a shared programme. They were the first abstract artists in Argentina to exhibit together as a group abroad: in 1953 they showed both at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.


Artists International Association [AIA].

English group founded in London in 1933 as the Artists International to promote united action among artists and designers on social and political issues, and active from 1953 to 1971. In its original formulation it pursued an identifiably Marxist programme, with its members producing satirical illustrations for Left Review (e.g. see exh. cat., pp. 20–21) and propaganda material for various left-wing organizations. Reconstituted as the AIA in 1935, it avoided identification with any particular style, attracting broad support from artists working in both a traditional and modernist vein in a series of large group exhibitions on political and social themes, beginning with 1935 Exhibition (Artists Against Fascism & War) in 1935 (London, 28 Soho Square). Support was given to the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) and to the Artists’ Refugee Committee through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities, and efforts were made to increase popular access to art through travelling exhibitions, public murals and a series of mass-produced offset lithographs entitled Everyman Prints, published by the AIA in 1940.


Asnova [Assotsiatsiya Novykh Arkhitektorov; Rus.: Association of New Architects].

Russian architectural group active in Moscow from 1923 to 1932. It was founded by NIKOLAY LADOVSKY, VLADIMIR KRINSKY and NIKOLAY DOKUCHAYEV and was the USSR’s first avant-garde architectural association. Asnova intended to serve the new Soviet regime by establishing an architectural language based on economic and psychological efficiency. This Rationalist approach also attempted to secure an irrefutable, scientific foundation for the aesthetics of modern architecture.


Asociacion Arte Concreto Invención.

Argentine group formed in November 1945 by Tomás Maldonado and other Constructivist artists and active until c. 1964. Its other original members were Lidy Prati (b 1921), Alfredo Hlito, Manuel Espinosa, Raúl Lozza (b 1911), Alberto Molenberg (b 1921), Ennio Iommi, Claudio Girola (b 1923), Jorge Souza (b 1919), Primaldo Mónaco (b 1921), Oscar Núñez (b 1919), Antonio Caraduje (b 1920) and the poet Edgar Bayley (b 1919). Maldonado and Prati were prominent among the artists involved in the publication of the single issue of the magazine Arturo in early 1944, in which the image–invention was proposed as an alternative to representational, naturalistic or symbolic imagery, but they did not take part in two exhibitions of associated artists in 1945 that led to the establishment of ARTE MADÍ. In fact, their central role in setting up the Asociación Arte Concreto Invención was a way of declaring their independence from the other group.



Art form in which natural and manufactured, traditionally non-artistic, materials and objets trouvés are assembled into three-dimensional structures. As such it is closely related to COLLAGE, and like collage it is associated with Cubism, although its origins can be traced back beyond this. As much as by the materials used, it can be characterized by the way in which they are treated. In an assemblage the banal, often tawdry materials retain their individual physical and functional identity, despite artistic manipulation. The term was coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1953 to refer to his series of butterfly-wing collages and series of lithographs based on paper collages, which date from that year. Although these were in fact collages, he felt that that term ought to be reserved for the collage works of Braque, Picasso and the Dadaists of the period between 1910 and 1920. By 1954 Dubuffet had extended the term to cover a series of three-dimensional works made from primarily natural materials and objects. The concept of assemblage was given wide public currency by the exhibition The Art of Assemblage at MOMA, New York, in 1961. This included works by nearly 140 international artists, including Braque, Joseph Cornell, Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray and Kurt Schwitters. Several of the works shown were in fact collages, but the breadth of styles and artists included reflects the wide application of the term and the sometimes fine distinction between assemblage and collage. The ‘combine paintings’ of Rauschenberg, for example, fall awkwardly between the two, being essentially planar but with often extensive protrusions of objects. The inclusion of real objects and materials both expanded the range of artistic possibilities and attempted to bridge the gap between art and life.


Association of American Painters and Sculptors.

Group of artists founded in New York in 1911 with the aim of finding suitable exhibition space for young American artists. After preliminary meetings between the painters Jerome Myers (1867–1940), Elmer MacRae (1875–1955), Walt Kuhn (1877–1949) and others, a meeting was held at the Madison Gallery on 16 December 1911 for the purpose of founding a new artists’ organization. At a subsequent meeting on 2 January 1912 they elected officers and began to discuss exhibition plans. The president, Julian Alden Weir, who had been elected in absentia, resigned, however, and the leadership passed to Arthur B. Davies


Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia [AKhRR; Rus. Assotsiatsiya Khudozhnikov Revolyutsionnoy Rossii].

Soviet group of artists active in Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in 1922–32. It was established in January 1922 by a group of artists, including Aleksandr Grigor’yev (1891–1961), Yevgeny Katsman (1890–1976), Sergey Malyutin and Pavel Radimov (1887–1967), who were inspired by the 47th exhibition of the Peredvizhniki (the Wanderers). It was first called the Association of Artists Studying Revolutionary Life (Assotsiatsiya Khudozhnikov Izuchayushchikh Revolyutsionnyy Byt), then the Society of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (Obshchestvo Khudozhnikov Revolyutsionnoy Rossii) and finally, after the first group exhibition in Moscow in May 1922, the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia.


Association of Ottoman Painters [Association of Turkish Painters; Turkish Fine Arts Society; Turk. Osmanli ressamlar cemiyeti; Türk ressamlar cemiyeti; Türk sanayi-i nefise birligi; Güzel sanatlar birligi].

Turkish group of painters founded in 1908 by students from the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul. They had their first exhibition in Istanbul in 1910 and also published the monthly journal Nasir-i efkâr (‘Promoter of ideas’), which was supported financially by Crown Prince Abdülmecid (1868–1944), himself a painter and calligrapher and honorary president of the Association. The members included Ibrahim Çalli, who was recognized as the most prominent in the group, Ruhi Arel (1880–1931), Feyhaman Duran (1886–1970), Nazmi Ziya Güran, Namik Ismail (1890–1935), Avni Lifij (1889–1927), Hikmet Onat (1886–1977) and Sami Yetik (1876–1945). It was not very active from 1910, when some of its painters left Istanbul to study art in Europe, but their return at the outbreak of World War I brought renewed activity. Some members were responsible for bringing Impressionism and other European movements to Turkey, and they acquainted the Turkish public with figurative and narrative compositions, as well as portraiture. The Association organized annual exhibitions at the Galatasaray High School in Istanbul, and some of the artists were given workshops and taken to the Front during World War I. Many of the painters also became influential teachers at the Fine Arts Academy: Çalli from 1914, Onat from 1915, Güran from 1918, Duran from 1919, Ismail from 1927.


Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine [ARMU; Ukrain. Asotsiiatsiya Revolyutsiynoho Mystetstva Ukraïny].

Ukrainian group of artists active from 1925 to 1930. The association was founded by statute on 25 August 1925 in Kiev, with branches formed subsequently in other Ukrainian cities such as Kharokov (Kharkiv), Odessa, Dnepropetrovs’k (Dnipropetrivs’k) and Uman’. Members also lived in Moscow, Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and Paris. Artists of various artistic backgrounds and different training belonged to the association, but it was best represented by the avant-garde artists OLEKSANDR BOHOMAZOV, Nina Genke-Meller (1893–1954), Vasyl’ Yermilov (1894–1967), Oleksandr Khvostov (1895–1968), Vadym Meller (1884–1962), Viktor Pal’mov (1888–1929) and VLADIMIR TATLIN. Its theoretical platform, formulated by Ivan Vrona (1887–1970), rector of the progressive Kiev State Art Institute, was based on Marxist principles, recognizing the era as a transitional stage towards a more cohesive national proletarian reality. The association’s objective was to develop the strengths of Ukrainian artists and to be flexible enough to be able to consolidate a variety of formalist leanings without sacrificing high technical quality. Together with the Association of Artists of Red Ukraine (AKhChU: Asotsiiatsiya Khudozhnykiv Chervonoï Ukraïny), it succeeded in organizing one of the first exhibitions devoted to Ukrainian art of the 1920s. By 1927 ARMU was the single most influential body of artists in the country. It came to be dominated by painters who were attracted to the monumental art of MYKHAYLO BOYCHUK, which was inspired by the Byzantine period. Among those who followed Boychuk’s style were Sofiya A. Nalepins’ka-Boychuk (1884–1939), Ivan I. Padalka (1897–1938), Oksana Pavlenko (1895–1991), Mykola Rokyts’ky (1901–44), and Vasyl’ F. Sedlyar (1889–1937). In debating the means whereby ARMU’s aim to revitalize the artistic culture of Ukraine could be realized, Sedlyar (1926) laid equal emphasis on the importance of concepts such as artistic industry and material culture, as well as on the visual arts. He defended the association against its rival, the ASSOCIATION OF ARTISTS OF REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA (AKhRR), a group that turned to 19th-century Realism and by doing so stood in opposition to the left wing and to Productivist art as a whole. By June 1930, internal differences with ARMU had caused its leaders to dissolve it and to organize the group October (Ukrain. Zhovten’) in its place.


Auto-destructive art.

Term applied to works of art in a variety of media, with the capacity to destroy themselves after a finite existence, ranging from a few moments to 20 years. This self-destruction may result from natural processes such as collisions, decomposition and dematerialization, or from mechanisms requiring collaboration between artists, scientists and engineers, and may be either random and unpredictable or strictly controlled. The term, which is also sometimes used more loosely to describe any works with the capacity to transform themselves, was first used by Gustav Metzger in a manifesto (November 1959). Metzger elaborated on what he saw as an inherently political art theory and practice in five manifestos, in public lectures and demonstrations and in his own innovative techniques, including ‘painting’ in acid on nylon (1960–62).


Automatistes, Les.

Canadian group of artists active during the 1940s and the early 1950s, led by PAUL-EMILE BORDUAS. They were named by Tancrède Marcil jr in a review of their second Montreal exhibition, published in February 1947 in Le Quartier latin, the student journal for the University of Montreal, Quebec. The earliest characteristic example of the group’s work was Borduas’s Green Abstraction (1941; Montreal, Mus. F.A.), a small oil painting intended as an equivalent to the automatic writing of the Surrealist poet André Breton; it was succeeded by a series of 45 gouaches exhibited by Borduas in the foyer of the Théâtre Ermitage in Montreal from 25 April to 2 May 1942 and by other works painted before he moved to New York in 1953.


Bauhaus [Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar].

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by WALTER GROPIUS. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of FUNCTIONALISM in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in 1923, the main influences included John Ruskin and William Morris, and various individuals and groups with whom he had been directly involved: for example Henry Van de Velde; such members of the Darmstadt artists’ colony as Peter Behrens; the Deutscher Werkbund; and the Arbeitsrat für Kunst.

Bezalel [Heb. Betsal’el].

Israeli Academy of Arts and Design. It takes its name from the biblical artist Bezalel, son of Uri, one of the craftsmen whom Moses commissioned to build and decorate the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 31:1–5,35:30–32). It was founded in Jerusalem in 1906 by Boris Schatz (1866–1932), a Jewish artist of Latvian origin, and was at first known as the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts. Schatz also founded the Bezalel Museum (incorporated into the Israel Museum). The inhabitants of 19th-century Palestine, both Jewish and non-Jewish, had produced mostly folk art, ritual objects and olive-wood and shell-work souvenirs, so the founding of Bezalel provided a professional and ideological framework for the arts and crafts in Jerusalem. A major part of Schatz’s school was the workshops, which, starting with rug-making and silversmithing, eventually offered 30 different crafts; they employed workers and students, of whom there were 450 in 1913, in manufacturing, chiefly for export, decorative articles ranging from cane furniture, inlaid frames and ivory and wood carvings, to damascened and filigree objects (see also ISRAEL, §V). For Schatz, Bezalel was not merely a commercial enterprise, but a stage towards a Utopian society, as adumbrated by John Ruskin, whom he admired. Intended to create an original national style, Bezalel artefacts were a mixture of oriental styles and techniques with Art Nouveau features and influences from the Arts and Crafts Movement. The subjects were a combination of traditional Jewish images, Zionist symbols, biblical themes, views of the Holy Land and depictions of the flora and fauna of Palestine.


Term derived from the Classical concept of forms created by the power of natural life, applied to the use of organic shapes in 20th-century art, particularly within SURREALISM. It was first used in this sense by Alfred H. Barr jr in 1936. The tendency to favour ambiguous and organic shapes in apparent movement, with hints of the shapeless and vaguely spherical forms of germs, amoebas and embryos, can be traced to the plant morphology of Art Nouveau at the end of the 19th century; the works of Henry Van de Velde, Victor Horta and Hector Guimard are particularly important in this respect.

Blaue Reiter [Ger.: ‘Blue Rider’].

German group of artists active in Munich from 1911 to 1914. The principal members were Vasily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Alfred Kubin, Paul Klee and August Macke. The group’s aim was to express the inner desires of the different artists in a variety of forms, rather than to strive for a unified style or theme. It was the successor to the NEUE KÜNSTLERVEREINIGUNG MÜNCHEN (NKVM), founded in Munich in 1909.

Block, Der.

German association of architects formed in Saaleck early in 1928, in reaction to the avant-garde group Der Ring and to the emerging Modern Movement in general. The most prominent members were Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Paul Schmitthenner, German Bestelmeyer and Paul Bonatz. Bonatz and Schmitthenner were both supposed to take part in the exhibition of the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1927, and even prepared a layout plan for the Weissenhofsiedlung, the showpiece of the exhibition. Their design was, however, rejected in favour of the modernist design by Mies van der Rohe. Schultze-Naumburg from the early years of the century had propagated a return to organic and traditional forms of architecture, for example in his series of books Kulturarbeiten (1902–17). He was the leading theorist of the Heimatschutz movement, which advocated the preservation and continuation of German traditions and values. Bestelmeyer, Schmitthenner and Bonatz were among the most prominent architects of southern Germany, all holding influential teaching posts in Munich and Stuttgart. Der Block wanted to retain traditional skills and lifestyles and rejected functional, modern architecture with its emphasis on internationalism. Their ‘Manifesto’ appeared in Baukunst 4 (v (1928), pp. 128–9; repr. in Teut, p. 29); its polemic, enriched with an emphasis on ‘German-ness’, was eventually to evolve into the fierce opposition and persecution by the Third Reich of the ‘cultural bolshevism’ of the architecture and architects of the Modern Movement. As a group, however, Der Block was shortlived, active only into 1929.

Block group [Pol. Blok].

Polish avant-garde group active in Warsaw between 1924 and 1926. Group members included Henryk Berlewi, J. Golus, W. Kajruksztis, Katarzyna Kobro, K. Krynski, Maria Nicz-Borowiak (1896–1944), Aleksander Rafalowski (1894–1981), Henryk Stazewski, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, Mieczyslaw Szczuka, M. Szulc, Teresa Zarnower (d after 1945). Most members of the group had already exhibited together in some of the numerous exhibitions of the avant-garde in Poland in the early 1920s. They shared an enthusiasm for Soviet Constructivism, but there were already significant divisions within the group when it was formally founded in early 1924, holding its first official exhibition in the showroom of the car manufacturer Laurent-Clément in Warsaw in March of that year. The first issue of the group’s own magazine, Blok, appeared at the same time.

Bloomsbury Group.

Name applied to a group of friends, mainly writers and artists, who lived in or near the central London district of Bloomsbury from 1904 to the late 1930s. They were united by family ties and marriage rather than by any doctrine or philosophy, though several male members of the group had been affected by G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica (Cambridge, 1903) when they had attended the University of Cambridge. Moore emphasized the value of personal relationships and the contemplation of beautiful objects, promoting reason above social morality as an instrument of good within society. This anti-utilitarian position coloured the group’s early history. It influenced the thinking of, for example, the biographer and critic Lytton Strachey (1880–1932) and the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) and confirmed the position of conscientious objection maintained by some members of the group in World War I. Before 1910, literature and philosophy dominated Bloomsbury; thereafter it also came to be associated with painting, the decorative arts and the promotion of Post-Impressionism in England. This was mainly effected by the introduction into Bloomsbury of Roger Fry in 1910 and his close friendship with Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, with Clive Bell and with the writers Leonard Woolf (1880–1969) and Virginia Woolf (1882–1941). Fry, helped by the literary editor Desmond MacCarthy (1877–1952), Clive Bell and the Russian artist Boris Anrep (1883–1969), was chiefly responsible for the two large Post-Impressionist exhibitions held in London at the Grafton Galleries in 1910 and 1912. Bloomsbury’s swift identification with radical tendencies in the arts was realized by Vanessa Bell’s Friday Club (founded 1905) and the Grafton Group exhibiting society (1913–14); by Fry and Clive Bell’s association with the newly founded Contemporary Art Society (1910); and by the publication of Bell’s Art (London, 1914). This pre-eminence as apologists for new movements in art was soon challenged by Wyndham Lewis, T. E. Hulme and others, and by c. 1920 Bloomsbury painting and art criticism can be characterized as increasingly conservative.

Blue Four [Blauen Vier].

Name applied to a group of German painters, founded at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, on 31 March 1924. The group consisted of Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Alexei Jawlensky and Lyonel Feininger, who were formerly associated with the BLAUE REITER group. The idea for founding the Blue Four came from Galka Scheyer, a former pupil of Jawlensky, who sought to make the work and ideas of these artists better known in the USA through exhibitions, lectures and sales. While the Blue Four was not an official association, its name was chosen to give American audiences an idea about the type of artists involved and also to allude to the artists’ previous association with the Blaue Reiter group. In May 1924 Scheyer travelled to New York, where the first Blue Four exhibition took place at the Charles Daniel Gallery (Feb–March 1925). Scheyer then moved to California, where the first of many Blue Four exhibitions in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas took place at the Oakland Museum in autumn 1925. Further exhibitions, often with lectures by Scheyer, were held in Portland, OR (1927), Seattle, WA (1926, 1936), Spokane, WA (1927), Mexico City (1931) and in Chicago, IL (1932), as well as at the Ferdinand Möller Gallery in Berlin (1929).

Blue Rose [Rus. Golubaya Roza].

Group of second-generation Russian Symbolist artists active in Moscow between 1904 and 1908. The term derives from the title of an exhibition that they organized at premises in Myasnitsky Street, Moscow, in 1907. The group originated in Saratov, when in 1904 Pavel Kuznetsov and Pyotr Utkin (1877–1934) organized the exhibition Crimson Rose (Rus. Alaya Roza), which included the work of the two major Symbolist painters Mikhail Vrubel’ and their teacher Viktor Borisov-Musatov. Later that year, at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, they attracted artists of a similar persuasion such as Anatoly Arapov (1876–1949), Nikolay Krymov, Nikolay Milioti, Vasily Milioti, Nikolay Sapunov, Martiros Saryan and Sergey Sudeykin. An important member of the group was the wealthy banker, patron and artist Nikolay Ryabushinsky, who publicized Blue Rose in his magazine GOLDEN FLEECE (Rus.: Zolotoye Runo). By 1907 most of the group had become co-editors, but a group statement or manifesto was never published. Ryabushinsky also contributed to the stability of the group by purchasing works from Kuznetsov, Sapunov, Saryan and Sudeykin.

Boom style.

Term apparently coined by Robin Boyd in Australia’s Home (1952) and loosely applied to highly ornate architecture in a classical idiom that was fashionable in the eastern states of Australia between the late 1870s and early 1890s. The style was made possible by, and is to some extent an expression of, the financial boom that followed the discovery of gold in 1851. The climax of the boom was in the 1880s in Victoria, where the richest goldfields were located. The buildings most commonly associated with the Boom style are the richly decorated Italianate villas and speculative terrace houses of Melbourne. The English picturesque Italianate fashion had been introduced to Australia by the early 1840s but only reached its sumptuous apogee in Victoria in the late 1880s. The architecture is characterized by asymmetrical towers, balustraded parapets, polygonal bay windows and round-arched openings and arcades, though the terrace houses often lack the more elaborate features. The buildings were usually stuccoed and enriched with mass-produced Renaissance-style elements in cast cement. They frequently incorporate cast-iron filigree verandahs, prefabricated in sections. A typical stuccoed villa is Wardlow (1888), Carlton, Melbourne, by John Boyes. Other Italianate Boom style work was carried out in rich polychromatic brickwork, which was characteristic of Melbourne. The other fashionable idiom commonly included in the Boom style category is French Second Empire, employed for example at Labassa (1890), a lavish house in Caulfield, Melbourne, by John A. B. Koch, and the town hall (1883–5) at Bendigo by W. C. Vahland. The Boom style rapidly declined during the depression of the 1890s.

Brabant Fauvism.

Term first used in 1941 by the Belgian critic Paul Fierens to describe the style of painting of an informal group of artists active in and around Brussels (Brabant province), c. 1910–23. Its founder-members included Fernand Schirren, Louis Thévenet, Willem Paerels (1878–1962), Charles Dehoy and Auguste Oleffe, who had already been grouped together in Le Labeur art society, founded in 1898. When, in 1906, Oleffe moved to Auderghem, his house became an established meeting-place, and Edgard Tytgat, Jean Brusselmans, Anne-Pierre de Kat (1881–1968) and the most prominent member of the group Rik Wouters became associated. The first exhibition of the work of those who were later called the Brabant Fauvists was held at the Galerie Giroux in Brussels in 1912. Inspired by a variety of directions within Impressionism, the group rejected Symbolism and was heavily influenced by James Ensor. They sought to express themselves through a clear visual language, with pure glowing colours and precise composition. They chose simple subjects, such as still-lifes, harmonious landscapes and scenes from everyday life executed in a painterly manner with spontaneous, expressive brushstrokes, for example Wouters’s Woman Ironing (1912; Antwerp, Kon. Mus. S. Kst.) and Schirren’s Woman at the Piano (1915–17; Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.).

Brücke, Die [Ger.: ‘the bridge’].

German group of painters and printmakers active from 1905 to 1913 and closely associated with the development of Expressionism (see EXPRESSIONISM, §1).

The Künstlergruppe Brücke was founded on 7 June 1905 in Dresden by four architecture students: Fritz Bleyl (1880–1966), Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt (later Schmidt-Rottluff). They were joined by other German and European artists, including Max Pechstein, Cuno Amiet and Lambertus Zijl in 1906, Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1907, Kees van Dongen and Franz Nölken in 1908, Bohumil Kubista and Otto Mueller in 1910; Emil Nolde was a temporary member (1906–7). Kirchner and Bleyl had become friends in 1901 as architecture students at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff had met while at school in Chemnitz. Through Heckel’s brother Manfred they met Kirchner while studying architecture in Dresden c. 1904. They were united by a common aim to break new boundaries in art.


Term applied to the architectural style of exposed rough concrete and large modernist block forms, which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s and which derived from the architecture of Le Corbusier. The term originated from béton brut (Fr.: ‘raw concrete’) and was given overtones of cultural significance not only by Le Corbusier’s dictum ‘L’architecture, c’est avec des matières brutes établir des rapports émouvants’ (‘Architecture is the establishing of moving relationships with raw materials’), but also by the art brut of Jean Dubuffet and others, which emphasized the material and heavily impastoed surfaces. The epitome of Brutalism in this original sense is seen in the forms and surface treatment of its first major monument, Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation de Grandeur Conforme (1948–54; see fig.) in Marseille (for another illustrated example see LASDUN, DENYS). The ultimate disgrace of Brutalism in this same sense is to be seen in the innumerable blocks of flats built throughout the world that use the prestige of Le Corbusier’s béton brut as an excuse for low-cost surface treatments. In Le Corbusier’s own buildings exposed concrete is usually very carefully detailed, with particular attention to the surface patterns created by the timber shuttering, and this can be seen in the work of more conscientious followers of the mode such as Lasdun or Atelier 5.

Camden Town Group.

Exhibiting society of 16 British painters that flourished between 1911 and 1914. It was created from the inner core of artists who regularly attended the informal Saturday afternoon gatherings first established by Walter Sickert in 1907 in a rented studio at 19 Fitzroy Street, London. Sickert, Lucien Pissarro, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman and Robert Bevan, together with disciples, pupils and sympathetic colleagues, met weekly to display their work to each other and to a small band of patrons while discussing the politics of art in London. Although Fitzroy Street was never intended to represent a movement or school, between 1907 and 1911 it did nurture a distinct episode in the history of British art, which is most suggestively described as Camden Town painting. The pictures tended to be small: ‘little pictures for little patrons’, to quote one of the latter, Louis Fergusson. A Sickert-inspired vocabulary of favourite themes was established: nudes on a bed or at their toilet, informal portraits of friends and coster models in shabby bed-sitter interiors, mantelpiece still-lifes of cluttered bric-à-brac, and views of commonplace London streets, squares and gardens. Every theme was treated with objective perceptual honesty. The handling developed by many of these painters, influenced above all by Lucien Pissarro, represents a late and temperate flowering in England of French Impressionism. With qualifications, interest in colour analysis and the development of a broken touch were characteristics common to the inner core of ‘Camden Town’ painters.

Camouflage [Fr. camoufler: ‘to hide or disguise’; It. camuffare: ‘to disguise or deceive’].

Term used to describe the means of disguising or hiding an object, vehicle or vessel used on combat. Throughout both World Wars the great majority of French, British, German and American artists (whether soldiers or civilians) were employed as camouflage experts. After developments in photography and in aviation, camouflage was evolved in an attempt to conceal weapons from aerial surveillance. The French were among the first to seek the help of artists in such attempts, and the first service de camouflage in military history was established on 12 February 1915, in response to a proposal by Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scevola (1871–1950), an artist in the infantry who painted disruptive patterns on the surface of the artillery to reduce its visibility. The word ‘camouflage’ was quickly accepted, as was the deployment of artists as ‘camoufleurs’, resulting in Britain in the establishment of the British Camouflage Service as part of the Royal Engineers in 1916 and in the USA as the American Camouflage Corps in 1917. The latter was partly the consequence of the enthusiasm of Abbott Handerson Thayer, co-author of Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (1909), who was an heroic example for dozens of young American artists, led by Homer Saint-Gaudens (son of Augustus Saint-Gaudens), who enlisted in the war on the understanding that they would be used as camouflage experts. During World War I, in addition to camouflaging equipment, Allied artists such as Jacques Villon, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Jean-Louis Boussingault, Henri Bouchard, Pierre Laprade, Jean Puy, Charles Dufresne, Luc-Albert Moreau, Barry Faulkner, Louis Bouché (b 1896) and Grant Wood were typically asked to design armour-plated observation posts consisting of realistic replicas of dead tree trunks, periscopes disguised as tree branches, papier mâché listening posts in the form of hollow horse carcasses, disruptively patterned sniper suits, overhanging nets garnished with strips of osnaburg, false heads, life-size dummies, concealed foxhole covers, miles of painted canvas roads suspended above ground to conceal troop movements, and the alteration of landmarks in the hope of diverting attacks from the air.

Canadian Art Club.

Society of artists active in Toronto from 1907 to 1915. Among its 20 members were William Brymner, Maurice Cullen, Clarence Gagnon, James Wilson Morrice, Edmund Morris (1871–1913), A. Phimister Proctor (1860–1950), Horatio Walker, Homer Watson and Curtis Williamson (1867–1944). The Club was formed in reaction to the low standards and ‘truth to nature’ aesthetics of the Ontario Society of Artists and was modelled on Whistler’s International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. Its eight exhibitions concentrated on small, carefully hung groups of works by leading Canadian artists and attempted to establish a high standard for other artists. The Club applauded individual achievement and was nationalistic in persuading expatriates to exhibit at home but, unlike the Group of Seven, defined nationality in only the broadest terms. The artists who exhibited at the Club were influenced by the Barbizon school, the Hague school and British plein-air painting, by Whistler and the Impressionists. Their works were well received by critics, and the Club’s activities were an important catalyst for artistic and institutional change. Its major influence was that of its Quebec Impressionist members on the emerging Group of Seven. After the death of Morris in 1913, however, and with the distractions of World War I, the Club disbanded; personalities clashed, finances were shaky and the membership was too dispersed to sustain the enthusiasm to keep it alive.

Cercle et Carré.

Movement founded in Paris in late 1929 during a meeting between the writer Michel Seuphor (born 1901) and the Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres García, which became public in 1930. Though having no official manifesto, it is best characterized as broadly Constructivist in outlook. It comprised mainly abstract artists from Constructivism, Futurism, Purism, Neo-plasticism, Dada and Bauhaus, whose common motivation was to create an artistic opposition to the dominant Surrealists. The movement comprised both a periodical, which ran for three issues in 1930, and a single exhibition held at Galerie 23, Rue la Boëtie, Paris, from 18 to 30 April 1930. There were 130 exhibits, covering painting, sculpture, architecture and stage design, by 46 artists, including Hans Arp, Vasily Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Amédée Ozenfant, Antoine Pevsner, Luigi Russolo and Georges Vantongerloo. Notably, Theo van Doesburg refused to join, instead forming a rival group, Art concret. The exhibition closed with a lecture by Seuphor on ‘Art poétique’, with musical accompaniment from Russolo, but it was a commercial and critical failure.

CIAM [Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne].

International organization of modern architects founded in June 1928 at the château of La Sarraz, Switzerland. It was instigated by Hélène de Mandrot (who had offered her château as a venue for a meeting of architects interested in discussing developments in modern architecture), Le Corbusier and Sigfried Giedion. Its foundation was stimulated by the campaign in defence of Le Corbusier’s unexecuted competition entry (1927) for the League of Nations Building, Geneva, as well as the success of the Weissenhofsiedlung (1927) in Stuttgart—a permanent, model exhibition of social housing in which several noted European Modernists had participated (for further discussion and illustration see DEUTSCHER WERKBUND). The creation of CIAM established the MODERN MOVEMENT in architecture as an organized body, with a manifesto, statutes, a committee (see CIRPAC) and an address in Zurich: that of Giedion, who became its first secretary-general. Karl Moser was its first president, followed by Cornelis van Eesteren (1930–47) and Josep Lluís Sert (1947–56).


Circle of Artists [Rus. Krug Khudozhnikov].

Russian group of painters and sculptors, active from 1926 to 1932. It was founded in 1926 by graduates in painting from the Higher (State) Artistic and Technical Institute (Vkhutein) in Leningrad (now St Petersburg); most of them had been students of Aleksey Karev (1879–1942), Kuz’ma Petrov-Vodkin and Aleksandr Savinov (1881–1942). The group’s goal, similar to that of the SOCIETY OF EASEL PAINTERS and the FOUR ARTS SOCIETY OF ARTISTS, was to promote the professional role of painters and sculptors and to play an intermediary role between conservative artists and those who were avant-garde extremists. Seeking a modern art that actively drew on the painterly achievements of the past and yet was an expression of contemporary life, the group declared its rejection of literary content and ‘agitprop’ intention. Instead, it concentrated on easel painting and sculpture in the round while at the same time encouraging formal experimentation.

CIRPAC [Comité International pour la Résolution des Problèmes de l’Architecture Contemporaine].

Elected executive organ of CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), which was founded in 1928 at La Sarraz, Switzerland, on the initiative and leadership of Le Corbusier and Sigfried Giedion to coordinate the international forces of modern architecture. CIRPAC was formally constituted as the executive organ by statutes adopted at CIAM II (1929), held in Frankfurt am Main. The congress of CIAM members elected their delegates and their deputies by a two-thirds majority; these delegates then became members of CIRPAC. The election was held with a view to providing representation for each national CIAM group on the executive board. The President and Deputy President of CIAM (and concurrently of CIRPAC) were also elected by the congress with a two-thirds majority. The President could select a Secretary. The mandate was carried over from one congress to another, and the officers could be re-elected. CIRPAC was involved in the organization of congresses; its President determined the time and place of the next convention, and it operated an office during congresses and executed the resolutions passed at them. Every national group could delegate a further member with an advisory status only to meetings of CIRPAC, and more members could be drafted into work in progress on the suggestion of the President. In practice it fell to the members of CIRPAC to organize and administer the CIAM group of their country while keeping in contact with the leaders of CIAM. It was the task of CIRPAC members to publicize the aims of CIAM in their own countries by organizing exhibitions and drawing on the press; they were also required to recruit new supporters, to carry through the resolutions passed by previous congresses and to prepare subsequent ones. CIRPAC organized ten congresses between 1929 and 1959, when CIAM was formally disbanded.


International group of artists founded in the Café Notre-Dame, Paris, on 8 November 1948 and active until 1951. The name was a conflation of the initial letters of the names of the capital cities of the countries of origin of the first members of the group: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The initiators and spokesmen of the group were Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont and Constant. All were searching, by way of experimental methods, for new paths of creative expression, and all shared similar expectations of the years following World War II: a new society and a new art. Inspired by Marxism, they saw themselves as a ‘red Internationale of artists’ that would lead to a new people’s art. They rejected Western culture and its aesthetics. They also emphatically repudiated Surrealism, as defined by André Breton, although they had found useful points of departure within the movement. Their working method was based on spontaneity and experiment, and they drew their inspiration in particular from children’s drawings, from primitive art forms and from the work of Paul Klee and Joan Miró.

Cold art [Ger. Kalte Kunst].

Term used primarily in reference to a branch of Constructivism based on geometric forms of unmodulated colour, organized by simple mathematical formulae in such a way that the end result clearly bears this mathematical imprint, especially as found in the work of Swiss artists such as the painter Karl Gerstner (b 1930) and Richard Paul Lohse.

Although the label is sometimes applied to other types of art structured on mathematical principles, such as Op art and Kinetic art, in its stricter sense it relates more closely to the ideas propounded by Max Bill within the context of CONCRETE ART. In his essay ‘The Mathematical Approach in Contemporary Art’, he wrote of mathematical problems as ‘the projection of latent forces...which we are unconsciously at grips with every day of our lives; in fact that music of the spheres which underlies each man-made system and every law of nature it is within our power to discern. Hence all such visionary elements help to furnish art with a fresh content.’ As early as his series of lithographs, 15 Variations on a Single Theme (Paris, 1938; see 1974–5 exh. cat., pp. 54–63), Bill subjected basic geometric shapes to variations through the application of simple rules.

Colour field painting.

Term referring to the work of such Abstract Expressionists as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still and to various subsequent American painters, including Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Jules Olitski and Helen Frankenthaler. The popularity of the concept stemmed largely from Clement Greenberg’s formalist art criticism, especially his essay ‘American-type Painting’, written in 1955 for Partisan Review, which implied that Still, Newman and Rothko had consummated a tendency in modernist painting to apply colour in large areas or ‘fields’. This notion became increasingly widespread and doctrinaire in later interpretations of ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, until the movement was effectively divided into ‘gesturalist’ and ‘colour field’ styles despite the narrow and somewhat misleading overtones of each category.

Commercial art.

Term used in the 20th century to define art, usually magazine illustrations or posters (see POSTER), designed to advertise goods, services or forms of entertainment. The usage of the term declined in the early 1960s, in favour of the more general ‘graphic art’.

Computer art.

Term formerly used to describe any work of art in which a computer was used to make either the work itself or the decisions that determined its form. Computers became so widely used, however, that in the late 20th century the term was applied mainly to work that emphasized the computer’s role. Such calculating tools as the abacus have existed for millennia, and artists have frequently invented mathematical systems to help them to make pictures. The GOLDEN SECTION and Alberti’s formulae for rendering perspective were devices that aspired to fuse realism with idealism in art, while Leonardo da Vinci devoted much time to applying mathematical principles to image-making. After centuries of speculations by writers, and following experiments in the 19th century, computers began their exponential development in the aftermath of World War II, when new weapon-guidance systems were adapted for peaceful applications, and the term ‘cybernetics’ was given currency by Norbert Wiener. Artists exploited computers’ ability to execute mathematical formulations or ‘algorithms’ from 1950, when Ben F. Laposky (b 1930) used an analogue computer to generate electronic images on an oscilloscope. Once it was possible to link computers to printers, programmers often made ‘doodles’ between their official tasks. From the early 1960s artists began to take this activity more seriously and quickly discovered that many formal decisions could be left to the computer, with results that were particularly valued for their unpredictability. From the mid-1970s the painter Harold Cohen (b 1928) developed a sophisticated programme, AARON, which generated drawings that the artist then completed as coloured paintings. Although the computer became capable of that task as well, Cohen continued to hand-colour computer-generated images (e.g. Socrates’ Garden, 1984; Pittsburgh, PA, Buhl Sci. Cent.; see fig.).

Conceptual art [idea art; information art].

Term applied to work produced from the mid-1960s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas. Although Henry Flynt of the Fluxus group had designated his performance pieces ‘concept art’ as early as 1961, and Edward Kienholz had begun to devise ‘concept tableaux’ in 1963, the term first achieved public prominence in defining a distinct art form in an article published by Sol LeWitt in 1967. Only loosely definable as a movement, it emerged more or less simultaneously in North America, Europe and Latin America and had repercussions on more conventional spheres of artistic production spawning artists’ books as a separate category and contributing substantially to the acceptance of photographs, musical scores, architectural drawings and performance art on an equal footing with painting and sculpture.

Concrete art.

Term coined by Theo van Doesburg in 1930 to refer to a specific type of non-figurative painting and sculpture. Van Doesburg defined the term in the first and only issue of Art Concret, which appeared in April 1930 with a manifesto, The Basis of Concrete Art, signed by van Doesburg, Otto G. Carlsund, Jean Hélion and the Armenian painter Leon Tutundjian (1905–68). In the manifesto it was stated that ‘The painting should be constructed entirely from purely plastic elements, that is to say planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than itself and consequently the painting possesses no other significance than itself.’ Natural forms, lyricism and sentiment were strictly forbidden. Taking a narrow sense of the word ‘abstract’ as implying a starting-point in the visible world, it distinguishes Concrete art from ABSTRACT ART as emanating directly from the mind rather than from an abstraction of forms in nature. For this reason the term is sometimes applied retrospectively to the more cerebral abstract works by such other artists as Mondrian, Kandinsky, Malevich and Frantisek Kupka.

Concretists, the [Swed. Konkretisterna].

Swedish group of artists active in the early 1950s. The members were the painters (Olof) Lennart Rodhe (b 1916), Olle Bonnier (b 1925), Pierre Olofsson (b 1921), Karl-Axel Ingemar Pehrson (b 1921) and Lage Johannes Lindell (1920–80) and the sculptor Arne Jones (1914–76). With a number of other artists they had exhibited in Ung konst (Young art) in Stockholm in 1947 and came to be called ‘1947 års män’ (‘Men of the Year 1947’). In an article in Konstrevy in 1947, Sven Alfons (b 1918; painter and writer on art history) saw a common element in their work and described these artists as ‘young Goth[ic]s’. The ‘gothic’ aspect is especially clear in several of Jones’s sculptures (e.g. The Cathedral, 1948; Stockholm, Västertorp).


Avant-garde tendency in 20th-century painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture, with associated developments in literature, theatre and film. The term was first coined by artists in Russia in early 1921 and achieved wide international currency in the 1920s. Russian Constructivism refers specifically to a group of artists who sought to move beyond the autonomous art object, extending the formal language of abstract art into practical design work. This development was prompted by the Utopian climate following the October Revolution of 1917, which led artists to seek to create a new visual environment, embodying the social needs and values of the new Communist order. The concept of International Constructivism defines a broader current in Western art, most vital from around 1922 until the end of the 1920s, that was centred primarily in Germany. International Constructivists were inspired by the Russian example, both artistically and politically. They continued, however, to work in the traditional artistic media of painting and sculpture, while also experimenting with film and photography and recognizing the potential of the new formal language for utilitarian design. The term Constructivism has frequently been used since the 1920s, in a looser fashion, to evoke a continuing tradition of geometric abstract art that is ‘constructed’ from autonomous visual elements such as lines and planes, and characterized by such qualities as precision, impersonality, a clear formal order, simplicity and economy of organization and the use of contemporary materials such as plastic and metal.


Italian group of painters and sculptors formed in 1961. With the critic Carlo Argan (b 1909) as spokesman, it included Carla Accardi, Pietro Consagra, Piero Dorazio, Gastone Novelli (1925–68), Achille Perilli (b 1927) and Giulio Turcato among its founder-members. They were soon joined by Lucio Fontana, Arnaldo Pomodoro and Giò Pomodoro. Some of these artists had previously been members of FORMA, founded in 1947 to promote abstract art. The notion of continuity was inherent not only in the group’s general aim—to regenerate the traditional greatness of Italian art—but equally as an ideal for specific works of art, each painting or sculpture reflecting the order and continuity of its creation. This was in opposition not only to the social realists, such as Renato Guttuso and Armando Pizzinato (b 1910), but also (to a lesser extent) to the Informalist trends among artists of the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti and the Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani. However, some members, notably Turcato, went through all phases from Expressionism in the 1930s to geometrical abstraction in the 1960s. Accardi, Perilli and Novelli incorporated geometrical writing or ‘signs’ in their work. Fontana, the most influential and avowedly abstract artist to be associated with the group, added a further aspect to Continuità, the idea of continuity of a work within its surroundings, for example his Spatial Environment (1949; Milan, Gal. Naviglio), which was a precursor of environmental art. From the late 1950s onwards he also suggested continuity with the space behind the canvas in his slit canvases known as Tagli (‘slashes’, e.g. Spatial Concept—Expectations, 1959; Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris). Among the sculptors, Giò Pomodoro created cast bronze reliefs with irregular surfaces, creating a sense of integration with the surrounding wall or floor. Continuità, like Forma before it, represented a convergence of artists with similar aims rather than a definitive movement.


Italian journal that gave its name to an artistic movement in Milan from 1938 to 1943. Corrente grew out of Vita giovanile, a Fascist youth journal founded in Milan in January 1938 that originally sought to combat the cultural chauvinism of official art. The fortnightly publication soon developed an anti-Fascist stance; in October 1938 it was retitled Corrente di vita giovanile and the Fascist party symbols were removed from its masthead. From February 1939 it was entitled simply Corrente.

Correspondence art [Mail art].

Term applied to art sent through the post rather than displayed or sold through conventional commercial channels, encompassing a variety of media including postcards, books, images made on photocopying machines or with rubber stamps, postage stamps designed by artists, concrete poetry and other art forms generally considered marginal. Although Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters and the Italian Futurists have been cited as its precursors, as a definable international movement it can be traced to practices introduced in the early 1960s by artists associated with Fluxus, Nouveau Réalisme and the Gutai group and most specifically to the work of RAY JOHNSON. From the mid-1950s Johnson posted poetic mimeographed letters to a select list of people from the art world and figures from popular culture, which by 1962 he had developed into a network that became known as the New York Correspondence School of Art.


Term derived from a reference made to ‘geometric schemas and cubes’ by the critic Louis Vauxcelles in describing paintings exhibited in Paris by Georges Braque in November 1908; it is more generally applied not only to work of this period by Braque and Pablo Picasso but also to a range of art produced in France during the later 1900s, the 1910s and the early 1920s and to variants developed in other countries. Although the term is not specifically applied to a style of architecture except in former Czechoslovakia, architects did share painters’ formal concerns regarding the conventions of representation and the dissolution of three-dimensional form. Cubism cannot definitively be called either a style, the art of a specific group or even a movement. It embraces widely disparate work; it applies to artists in different milieux; and it produced no agreed manifesto. Yet, despite the difficulties of definition, it has been called the first and the most influential of all movements in 20th-century art.


Term used to describe a style of Czech avant-garde art, literature, film, dance and cabaret of the period 1909–21. It was introduced by art historians and critics, notably Jirí Padrta and Morislav Lamac, in the early 1970s. The term has two meanings: a general one applicable to the tendency of the age and a specialized one referring to the synthesis of two styles that influenced the development of modern Czech art: French Cubism and German Expressionism.


Term first used in 1913 in a lecture, later published, by the Russian art critic Korney Chukovsky (1882–1969) in reference to a group of Russian avant-garde poets whose work was seen to relate to French Cubism and Italian Futurism; it was subsequently adopted by painters and is now used by art historians to refer to Russian art works of the period 1912–15 that combine aspects of both styles. Initially the term was applied to the work of the poets Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksey Kruchonykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, Benedikt Livshits (1886–1939) and Vasily Kamensky (1864–1961), who were grouped around the painter David Burlyuk. Their raucous poetry recitals, public clowning, painted faces and ridiculous clothes emulated the activities of the Italians and earned them the name of Russian Futurists. In poetic output, however, only Mayakovsky could be compared with the Italians; his poem ‘Along the Echoes of the City’, for example, which describes various street noises, is reminiscent of Luigi Russolo’s manifesto L’arte dei rumori (Milan, 1913).

Cumberland Market Group.

British group of painters. They took their subject-matter from everyday life, particularly that of north-west London, where Robert Bevan had his studio and held ‘At Homes’ for artist-friends. These formalized in late 1914 when Bevan, Charles Ginner and Harold Gilman established the group, joined in 1915 by John Nash. Christopher Nevinson and E. McKnight Kauffer attended meetings and compared works, although they did not exhibit with the group. Members consciously embraced the style called ‘Neo-Realism’, exploring the spirit of their age through the shapes and colours of daily life. Their intentions were proclaimed in Ginner’s manifesto in New Age (1 Jan 1914), which was also used as the preface to Gilman and Ginner’s two-man exhibition that year: it attacked the academic and warned against the ‘decorative’ aspect of imitators of Post-Impressionism.

Czech Cubism.

Term used to describe a style in architecture and the applied arts, directly inspired by Cubist painting and sculpture, which was developed by architects and designers active in Prague shortly before World War I; the term itself was not used until the 1960s. The leaders of the style were the members of the Group of Plastic Artists (1911–14), which broke away from the Mánes Union of Artists in 1911 and for two years published its own journal, Umelecky mesícník (‘Art monthly’). The architects in the group were Josef Gocár, Josef Chochol, Vlastislav Hofman (1884–1964) and Pavel Janák; other members included Emil Filla, Václav Spála, Antonín Procházka and Otto Gutfreund. The group was reacting against the austere rationalism of such architects as Jan Kotera, seeking instead to sustain architecture and the applied arts as branches of art rich in content. Their approach was expounded in various articles, particularly by Janák, who developed the principles of architectural Cubism; based on the thesis of Cubism in painting and sculpture, that art should create a distinctive, parallel picture of reality, it attempted to dematerialize a building’s mass by the three-dimensional surface sculpturing of the façade with abstract, prismatic forms.


Artistic and literary movement launched in Zurich in 1916 but shared by independent groups in New York, Berlin, Paris and elsewhere. The Dadaists channelled their revulsion at World War I into an indictment of the nationalist and materialist values that had brought it about. They were united not by a common style but by a rejection of conventions in art and thought, seeking through their unorthodox techniques, performances and provocations to shock society into self-awareness. The name Dada itself was typical of the movement’s anti-rationalism. Various members of the Zurich group are credited with the invention of the name; according to one account it was selected by the insertion of a knife into a dictionary, and was retained for its multilingual, childish and nonsensical connotations. The Zurich group was formed around the poets HUGO BALL, Emmy Hennings, TRISTAN TZARA and RICHARD HUELSENBECK, and the painters HANS ARP, MARCEL JANCO and HANS RICHTER. The term was subsequently adopted in New York by the group that had formed around MARCEL DUCHAMP, FRANCIS PICABIA, Marius de Zayas (1880–1961) and MAN RAY. The largest of several German groups was formed in Berlin by Huelsenbeck with JOHN HEARTFIELD, RAOUL HAUSMANN, HANNAH HÖCH and GEORGE GROSZ. As well as important centres elsewhere (Barcelona, Cologne and Hannover), a prominent post-war Parisian group was promoted by Tzara, Picabia and ANDRÉ BRETON. This disintegrated acrimoniously in 1922–3, although further Dada activities continued among those unwilling to join Surrealism in 1924.

Danube school.

Group of German and Austrian artists c. 1500–50, of which Albrecht Altdorfer and WOLFGANG HUBER were two of the central figures. The term came into use following an observation by Theodor von Frimmel (1853–1928) in 1892 that painting in the Danube region around Regensburg, Passau and Linz possessed certain common characteristics that entitled one to speak of a Danube style (Donaustil ). This point was taken up by Hermann Voss in Der Ursprung des Donaustils (Leipzig, 1907). Once the early, Viennese works (c. 1500–05) of Lucas Cranach the elder  were recognized as having provided the formative stage of this stylistic development, the name Danube school (Donauschule) took deeper root. The name also carried associations of the regional landscape (Donaulandschaft) and of the art born of that region (Kunstlandschaft), evoking what critics saw as its nature-orientated quality. ‘Danube school’ and ‘Danube style’ established themselves as terms of reference too convenient to be dislodged, despite the demurs of many critics. The leading artists did not form a school in the usual sense of the term, since their communality derived from neither a single workshop nor even a particular centre, and the geographical limits of the school or style are even less precise. Nevertheless, continuing discussion over the idea of a Danube school has given de facto acknowledgement that it does exist as a stylistic phenomenon.

Dau al Set [Cat.: ‘die at seven’].

Artistic and literary group based in Barcelona and active from 1948 to 1956. It was founded in September 1948 by the poet Joan Brossa, who proposed the group’s name, together with philosopher Arnau Puig and the painters Modest Cuixart, Joan Ponç (b 1927), Antoni Tàpies and Joan-Josep Tharrats. They based their stance largely on Dada and Surrealism and related developments, notably on Max Ernst’s early work and on the art of Paul Klee and Joan Miró, and directed much of their attention to the sub-conscious by way of magic and the occult. Making clear their opposition to academic and official artistic circles, they were an important force in promoting contemporary art in Catalonia after the damage to their culture effected by the Spanish Civil War (1936–9).


Technique for generating images used, for example, by the Surrealist artist Oscar Domínguez: paint is applied to a piece of paper that is then either folded, creating a mirrored pattern, or pressed against another sheet. The resulting image can then be elaborated, as in a blot drawing. It is a popular technique with young school children.

Delft school.

Term applied to conservative Dutch architects associated with the Technische Hogeschool, Delft, in the 1920s and 1930s, and by extension to anti-progressive architecture in Holland in the 1940s and 1950s. It was probably first used in 1946 in an article entitled ‘De dictatuur van de Delftse school’ by the critic J. J. Vriend (1896–1975) in the journal De Groene Amsterdammer. Vriend, an adherent of Nieuwe Zakelijkheid, opposed the traditionalist tendency that dominated post-war reconstruction in the Netherlands outside Rotterdam. He traced its origins to the group of architects led by the architect and urban planner MARINUS JAN GRANPRÉ MOLIÈRE and their followers. Granpré Molière, a charismatic personality and able teacher, became professor of architecture at the Technische Hogeschool, Delft, in 1924. Unhappy with the ‘unprincipled’ architecture of the time, he sought clear values and norms for the art of building. In contrast to the Functionalism that was increasingly prominent in the 1920s and which took its norms and values from industrial processes and forms, Granpré Molière found his convictions in medieval scholastic philosophy. He was strongly influenced by the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, as interpreted by the French neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain, and particularly the Thomist notions of ‘perfection, proportion and radiance’. Architecture was conceived as a hierarchical entity, in which age-old values, symbolism and the building’s location were important. In construction preference was given to natural materials and traditional techniques, but the past also had symbolic value in a visual sense, and consequently modern technology and the architecture associated with it were avoided.

Deutsche Gartenstadtgesellschaft.

German association of architects, urban planners and writers. Founded in 1902 and active until the 1930s, it was modelled on the English Garden Cities Association. In contrast to the English precursor, however, which was grounded on Ebenezer Howard’s practical theories of economic decentralization, the Deutsche Gartenstadtgesellschaft had literary roots. Its direct predecessors were the communes established by literati seeking to re-establish contact with the land, which flourished in the countryside around Berlin at the turn of the century. Among its founder-members were the writers Heinrich Hart (1855–1906) and Julius Hart (1859–1930), Bruno Wille (1860–1928) and Wilhelm Bölsche (1861–1939), and the literary tendencies of the group were clearly stated in the founding manifesto: ‘The Deutsche Gartenstadtgesellschaft is a propaganda society. It sees the winning over of the public to the garden city cause as its principal aim’ (quoted from Founding Statutes of Deutsche Gartenstadtgesellschaft, article 1, in Hartmann, p. 161). Practical skills were brought to the group by the cousins Bernhard (b 1867) and Hans (b 1876) Kampffmeyer, who had both trained as landscape architects and were active in literary and socialist circles in both Berlin and Paris.

Deutscher Werkbund.

German association of architects, designers and industrialists. It was active from 1907 to 1934 and then from 1950. It was founded in Munich, prompted by the artistic success of the third Deutsche Kunstgewerbeausstellung, held in Dresden in 1906, and by the then current, very acrimonious debate about the goals of applied art in Germany. Its founder-members included Hermann Muthesius, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Tessenow, Fritz Schumacher and Theodor Fischer, who served as its first president.


Czech avant-garde group of architects, painters, sculptors, collagists, photographers, film makers, designers and writers, active 1920–31. Its name is a composite of the words ‘nine’ and ‘forces’. The group’s leader, KAREL TEIGE, advocated a reconciliation between utilitarianism and lyrical subjectivity: ‘Constructivism and Poetism’. Devetsil’s architects, including JAROMÍR KREJCAR and KAREL HONZÍK, invested the geometry of architecture with an element of poetry, while painters and photographers such as TOYEN and JINDRICH STYRSKY moved towards Surrealism, and when the group dissolved many of its members, including Teige, joined the Czech Surrealist group.

Donkey’s Tail [Rus. Oslinyy Khvost].

Russian group of painters active in 1911–15. It was led by Mikhail Larionov and Natal’ya Goncharova. The name was chosen by Larionov and recalled a famous artistic scandal in Paris, when a picture, painted by tying a brush to a donkey’s tail, was exhibited without comment at the Salon des Indépendants of 1905. The Donkey’s Tail group was the result of a difference in aesthetic ideology within the JACK OF DIAMONDS group. While most of their colleagues in Jack of Diamonds preferred to rely on the example of contemporary French and German painting, Larionov and Goncharova adopted the view that their art should evolve from the stylistic traditions of popular Russian art forms, such as the icon and lubok (a type of wood-engraving). A few, such as Kazimir Malevich and Alexsey Morgunov (1884–1935), shared their views and resigned in order to help found Donkey’s Tail in 1911. The official launch of the group took place in early 1912 at the Jack of Diamonds conference, when Goncharova and Larionov interrupted the proceedings and, ‘in a halo of scandal’ (Livshits), proclaimed the formation of Donkey’s Tail and their secession from Jack of Diamonds.

Ecole de Paris.

Term applied to the loose affiliation of artists working in Paris from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was first used by the critic André Warnod in Comoedia in the early 1920s as a way of referring to the non-French artists who had settled and worked in Paris for some years, many of whom lived either in Montmartre or Montparnasse, and who included a number of artists of Eastern European or Jewish origin.

Eight, the (i) [Cz. Osma].

Group of Bohemian painters established in 1906 with the aim of making colour the dominant element in their art. The members, all graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, were Emil Filla, Friedrich Feigl (1884–1965), Antonín Procházka, Willy Nowak (1886–1977), Otokar Kubín, Max Horb (1882–1907), Bohumil Kubista and Emil Artur Pittermann-Longen (1885–1936). Filla, Feigl and Procházka had undertaken further study journeys in Europe, which had opened up their artistic horizons and convinced them of the need for innovation in Czech art. At their initial meetings, held at a Prague coffee-house, the Union, they planned to publish their own magazine and put on an exhibition in the prestigious Topic salon in Prague. Eventually they succeeded in renting a shop in Králodvorská Street, Prague, where a hastily organized exhibition was opened on 18 April 1907, with a catalogue consisting of a sheet of paper headed Exhibition 8 Kunstausstellung. The number 8 in the title of the exhibition was intended to represent the number of members in the group; in fact there were only seven, because Pittermann-Longen was only allowed at his own request to exhibit ‘behind the curtain in the cubby-hole’, since he was still a student at the Academy. The catalogue was in German as well as Czech, as Nowak, Horb and Feigl were of German birth. The majority of the paintings exhibited showed the artists’ tendency towards an expressionism in the manner of Munch (who had an exhibition in Prague in 1905), van Gogh, Honoré Daumier and Max Liebermann. Only Max Brod gave the exhibition a positive review; otherwise the reaction of the public and critics was negative. A second exhibition of the Eight took place in the Topic salon in 1908, though it was without the participation of Horb (who had died) and Kubín (who was in Paris). The new exhibitors were Vincenc Benes and Linka Scheithauerová (1884–1960), the future wife of Procházka. The catalogue of exhibitors does not include Pittermann-Longen, and they were therefore once again seven. Among the artists’ aims on this occasion was the enhancement of expression (Filla) and the liberation of colour splashes (Procházka). The exhibition produced an even more negative reaction than the first. Although it was never officially disbanded, the members of the group maintained contact until 1911, when some of them were co-founders of the Cubist-orientated Group of Plastic Artists. Kubín and Filla turned to Neo-primitivism, and Nowak to Neo-classicism; Feigl remained in the Expressionist tradition.

Eight, the.

Group of eight American painters who joined forces in 1907 to promote stylistic diversity and to liberalize the exclusive exhibition system in the USA. They first exhibited together at Robert Henri’s instigation at the Macbeth Galleries, New York, in February 1908, following the rejection of works by George Luks, Everett Shinn, William J. Glackens and others at the National Academy of Design’s spring show in 1907, of which Henri was a jury member before resigning in protest. Henri, the driving force behind the group, was joined not only by Luks, Shinn and Glackens but also by John Sloan, Ernest Lawson, Arthur B. Davies and Maurice Prendergast. Henri was a painter of cityscapes and portraits who worked in a dark and painterly, conservative style influenced by Frans Hals and Velázquez; a gifted teacher, he encouraged his students to depict the urban poor with vitality and sensitivity.

Eight, the [Hung. Nyolcak].

Hungarian avant-garde group founded in early 1909 and consisting of the painters Róbert Berény, Béla Czóbel, Dezso Czigány, Károly Kernstok, Ödön Márffy, Dezso Orbán (1884–1986), Bertalan Pór and Lajos Tihanyi. Later the sculptors Márk Vedres (1870–1961) and Vilmos Fémes Beck and the industrial designer Anna Lesznai (b 1885) also became members. The group was originally called the Searchers (Keresok) and had formed the most radical section within MIENK (Hungarian Impressionists and Naturalists), a broad-based group of artists. They left MIENK in order to develop a more modern aesthetic. The name the Eight was adopted on the occasion of the second exhibition in 1911, and its leader and organizer was Kernstok. Unlike the earlier Nagybánya school or other contemporary Western movements, the Eight had no homogeneous style, individual artists being influenced by a variety of sources ranging from Cézanne to Cubism. Though unified by a sense of the social function of art, the details of this belief again varied with each artist.

Electrography [electrophotography; xerography].

Term for processes involving the interaction of light and electricity to produce images and for the production of original works of art by these processes. Since these processes are used by nearly all photocopiers, the production of such works has also been referred to as ‘copy art’, although this is misleading, since it suggests the mere replication of already existing works. Artistic photocopies were made in California in the late 1950s, but electrography proper as an international art form dates from the early 1960s, when electrographers developed its basic techniques. Bruno Munari’s pioneering works, workshops and publications, starting in 1963, foreshadowed the preponderant role played by Europe in the history of electrography, to which important exhibitions at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1980) and in Valencia (1988) later testified. Electrographs vary widely in size and can be over 1 km in length; materials used include not only paper but also canvas and leather. In the mid-1970s xeroradiography (a xerographic process in which an X-ray gun is used to obtain X-ray pictures) and telecopy respectively gave rise to electroradiographic art and fax art. The advent in the 1980s of the digital copier, with its creative programmes, also created new possibilities, and from 1989 the colour laser copier could be connected to a computer or a video camera, thereby increasing the creative potential of electrography. At the end of the 20th century it was one of the most practised technological art forms, with Pol Bury and David Hockney among its prominent exponents. The Museo Internacional de Electrografía in Cuenca, Spain, is the leading institution devoted to the subject.


Term coined by Theo van Doesburg and applied to painting and architecture to describe the constructive use of line, plane, volume and colour not only as the primary means of art but as an end in itself. In his article, ‘L’Elémentarisme et son origine’, he stated that the movement had been born in Holland in 1924 via the DE STIJL group. He then listed Elementarist contributors to the arts: ‘Georges Antheil in music, César Domela, Vordemberge-Gildewart and the author of this article (the founder of the movement) in painting, Constantin Brancusi in sculpture, Mies van der Rohe, van Eesteren, Rietveld and the author in architecture, I. K. Bonset [one of van Doesburg’s pseudonyms] in literature, Friederich Kiesler in the rejuvenation of the theatre’. The term is intimately related to the notion of abstraction and has roots extending back as far as Plato’s Philebus. In its broader definition it can provide an insight into the development of abstraction. As early as 1915, in his article on the development of modern art, van Doesburg wrote about the ‘fundamental elements’ of art and analysed how they had been treated during different historical periods.

Entartete Kunst [Ger.: ‘degenerate art’].

Term used by the Nazis in Germany from the 1920s to refer to art that did not fall into line with the arts policies of National Socialism, chiefly avant-garde work. The term ‘degenerate art’ has been used generally to describe art perceived as signifying decay, and usually forms of art production in chronological proximity. It has been used in a polemical context to enhance the value of a specific aesthetic viewpoint. The first known example is the assessment made by the Italian bourgeoisie of the 14th century of medieval art as a barbaric relapse when compared with antiquity. The Italian writer and statesman Niccolò Machiavelli employed the term ‘degeneration’ (corruzione) in his Discorso of 1581. It was used by Giovanni Pietro Bellori in his polemic against Giorgio Vasari and Michelangelo. It is also used generally to mean irregular or against the rules, in contrast with the dominant aesthetic trend, which is set up as the rule. In this sense the term ‘Baroque’ was also initially intended to be disparaging. At the end of the 19th century the term was used in association with Nietzsche’s concept of decadence. It was later used in this sense by Thomas Mann, who regarded the artist as ‘a social outsider prone to be tired of life’ (1987–8 exh. cat.) and considered this predisposition to be the basis of the need for artistic creativity. Familiarity with crises and melancholy was viewed as the cause and driving force of artistic genius, which found its expression in a new artistic subjectivity. In contrast, in his book Entartung (1892–3), Max Nordau viewed Naturalism, Symbolism and Realism as decadent art movements that had originated in the ‘degeneracy’ of their founders, and he proposed that they be combated in the interest of health. This perception was essentially in line with Emperor William II’s ideas on art and with the imperial criticism of art, which, on occasion, even stigmatized Impressionism as ‘gutter painting’ (Gossenmalerei). William II had attempted to regulate art, claiming, in his speech at the inauguration of Siegesallee in Berlin in 1901: ‘Art that goes beyond the laws and limits imposed on it by me ceases to be art.’ In 1913 a resolution ‘Against degeneracy in art’ was passed in the Prussian house of representatives. In Germany these defamations were always closely linked to nationalistic tendencies.

Environmental art.

Art form based on the premise that a work of art should invade the totality of the architecture around it and be conceived as a complete space rather than being reducible to a mere object hanging on a wall or placed within a space. This idea, which became widespread during the 1960s and 1970s in a number of different aesthetic formulations, can be traced back to earlier types of art not usually referred to as environments: the wall paintings of ancient tombs, the frescoes of Roman or of Renaissance art and the paintings of Baroque chapels, which surround the spectator and entirely cover the architectural structure that shelters them. Indeed, the whole of art history prior to the transportable easel picture is linked to architecture and hence to the environment. A number of artists in the 1960s conceived environmental art precisely in order to question the easel painting.

Equipo Crónica [Sp.: ‘the chronicle team’].

Spanish group of painters formed in 1964 and disbanded in 1981. Its original members were Rafael Solbes (1940–81), Manuel Valdés (b 1942) and Juan Antonio Toledo (b 1940), but Toledo left the group in 1965. They worked collaboratively and formed part of a larger movement known as Crónica de la Realidad, using strongly narrative figurative images that were formally indebted to Pop art and that had a pronounced social and political content directed primarily against Franco’s regime.

Erotic art.

Term applied to art with a sexual content, and especially to art that celebrates human sexuality. It is derived from eros, the Greek word for human, physical love for another person (as opposed to agape, the spiritual, unselfish love for a god). The imagery of erotic art may be either explicitly or implicitly sexual, instances of the latter being more common in many cultures because of such factors as codes of behaviour, prudery and censorship. The majority of sexually explicit works of art in the Western world have been produced as part of an overall desire to express the totality of human experience: very few artists have made eroticism their only motivation. In many other societies and cultures, however, sex has provided a far more evident source of inspiration.

Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre.

Open-air painting schools developed in Mexico as artistic teaching projects for broad sections of the population during the period of the Revolution (1910–17). The first phase of their existence took place under Victoriano Huerta’s government (1913–14), and their structure was established under the government of Alvaro Obregón (1920–24). Alfredo Ramos Martínez was the project’s main promoter, supported by civil servants, intellectuals and artists. The precepts by which art was to be taught were based on those of John Dewey’s Action School in the USA; children and adolescents, farmers and factory workers were to meet and develop their own ideas with sincerity and simplicity, taking as their model the Barbizon school of landscape painting, with its devotion to contact with untamed nature. The first of the escuelas, situated at Santa Anita Ixtapalapa on the outskirts of Mexico City, was named Barbizon. Impressionism, a great deal of naive art and a certain involuntary expressionism were all blended together in the works of the students, who needed no formal qualifications to enter the schools. David Alfaro Siqueiros was among them. The project was extended to Chimalistac and moved on in 1921 to Coyoacán, where an attempt was made to involve native Mexicans and mestizos in order to encourage the production of a uniquely Mexican art. Under the government of Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–8), the open-air painting schools system was expanded to include branches in Xochimilco, Tlálpan and Guadalupe Hidalgo. This expansion, which reached the states of Michoacán and Puebla in the 1930s, was due to the enormous need for expression that arises in periods of transition and social upheaval, when a society’s cultural traditions are under attack. In 1932 the schools’ name was changed to Escuelas Libres de Pintura; entry requirements were also changed. In 1935 government subsidies, already reduced, finally ceased, and the schools went into decline. The Tasco school, under the Japanese director Tamiji Kitagawa (1894–1990), was the last to disappear in 1937, having survived for two years on local resources. Several thousand students attended the open-air painting schools, and their works were exhibited in Berlin, Paris and Madrid in 1926 with great success. During their rise to fame, the schools were enthusiastically supported by Diego Rivera, Alfonso Reyes (1889–1959), Pierre Janet (1859–1947), Eugenio d’Ors and Dewey; during their decline, they were criticized by Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo.

Estonian Artists’ Group [EKR; Est. Eesti Kunstnikkude Ruhm].

Estonian group of painters and sculptors active from 1923 to c. 1930. The group continued the progressive internationalist orientation of their predecessors in the YOUNG ESTONIA movement and united a new generation of painters committed to Cubist experimentation. The group was founded in Tartu by Eduard Ole (b 1898) and Friedrich Hist (1900–41), joined by Felix Randel (1901–77, named Johansen until 1936). Their work, like that of much of their colleagues, was primarily distinguished by modest geometricized abstraction and decorative colourism suggested by Synthetic Cubism, rather than by explorations of simultaneity, collage etc. It also often displayed strong characteristics of NEUE SACHLICHKEIT and PURISM. The earliest Estonian practitioners of Cubism were among the group’s members: Jaan Vahtra (1882–1947) and Hist, who from 1921 studied in Latvia, where he kept company with the modernists of the RIGA ARTISTS’ GROUP. In 1924 EKR exhibited in Tartu and Tallinn with the Latvians, by which time membership had grown with the critical additions of Märt Laarmann (1896–1979), Arnold Akberg (1894–1984) and Henrik Olvi (1894–1972). Akberg and Olvi created some of EKR’s most radical work, with Akberg investigating non-objectivity in a Cubo-Constructivist manner and Olvi executing rigorous architectonic compositions. Laarmann is credited as the group’s ideologue, having written their manifesto, The New Arts Book, published in 1928. Other members included the sculptor Juhan Raudsepp (1896–1984) and Edmond-Arnold Blumenfeldt (1903–46). While Blumenfeldt’s art was more Expressionistic, Raudsepp worked in the group’s distinctive abstract geometric style, which was revived in the 1970s by Estonian nonconformist artists such as TÕNIS VINT and LEONHARD LAPIN.


Mexican group of writers and artists, active between 1921 and 1927. The group’s members included Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940), Fermín Revueltas, Leopoldo Méndez, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Germán Cueto, and the writers Arqeles Vela and Germán List Arzubide, with Diego Rivera and Jean Charlot as sympathizers. All were keen to stress the importance of cosmopolitanism. They followed Futurism in a complete rejection of academicism and Symbolism in the arts, although no limits were imposed on what should replace these, and their ideal of making art public and accessible corresponded with that of the mural movement in Mexico. This aim at a cultural revival was initially expressed through a manifesto published in the first issue of the periodical Actual, written by the poet Manuel Maples Arce, who initiated the trend. The manifesto included a directory of avant-garde artists and writers of all contemporary styles, probably compiled with the help of Rivera and Charlot, who had recently returned from Paris. It called on Mexican intellectuals to unite and form a society of artists, claiming ‘the need to bear witness to the vertiginous transformation of the world’. Maples Arce recommended rapid action and total subversion as an immediate strategy, and looked to the USSR for ideological inspiration. Taking an iconoclastic attitude, he condemned religiosity and patriotism. The generally incoherent and aggressive manifesto borrowed from Marinetti’s Futurist manifestos and Spanish Ultraist ideas. The group’s ideas were further propagated by the periodicals Irradiador (1924) and Horizonte (1926–7), the latter being published by their own publishing house, Ediciones Estridentistas. Public meetings and casual exhibitions at the Café de Nadie, Mexico City, were also held.

European School [Hung. Európai Iskola].

Hungarian artistic group formed in 1945 and active in Budapest until 1948. It was modelled on the Ecole de Paris and founded on the belief that a new artistic vision could only be established from a synthesis of East and West. According to its programme, it represented Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, abstract art and Surrealism in Hungary. The aim of its members was to organize exhibitions, publish writings and encourage contact between artists. Members included the art historians and critics Erno Kállai, A’rpád Mezei and Imre Pán, and painters in the group included, among others, Margit Anna, Jenô Barcsay, Endre Bálint, Béla Czóbel, József Egry, Jenô Gadányi, Dezso Korniss, Tamás Lossonczy, Ferenc Martyn and Erno Schubert. Among the sculptors were Dezso Bokros Birmann, Erzsébet Forgách Hahn, Etienne Hajdu (in Paris), József Jakovitz and Tibor Vilt. Marcel Jean, the Surrealist theorist who lived for a while in Budapest, was an honorary member, while Imré Amos and Lajos Vajda were looked to as role models. The group did not adhere to a unified style; for example, while Jenô Gadányi’s Fantastical Landscape (1948; Budapest, N.G.) was Expressionist, Jeno Barcsay’s Street (1946; Budapest, N.G.) was influenced by Cubism. The members sought to use both organic and inorganic forms to balance rationalism and intuition in their work. The majority of them started from the Constructivist–Surrealist scheme introduced by Lajos Vajda. Some of them produced ‘bioromantic’ work after World War II. Others worked towards monumentality through Expressionist–Constructivist works. They organized 38 exhibitions of members’ (and some foreign) work.

Euston Road School.

Name given by Clive Bell in 1938 to a group of English painters associated with the School of Drawing and Painting established in October 1937 by William Coldstream, Claude Rogers (b 1907) and Victor Pasmore, in a review of the exhibition 15 Paintings of London (Oct-Nov 1938; London, Storran Gal.). The school was initially in Fitzroy Street, but it moved soon after to premises at 314/316 Euston Road. The term was quickly broadened to describe a movement encompassing as many as 30 other painters, many of them former students of the Slade School of Fine Art, including Rodrigo Moynihan, Lawrence Gowing (b 1918), William Townsend (1909–73), Graham Bell, Anthony Devas (1911–58) and Geoffrey Tibble (1909–52).

Exat-51 [Eksperimentalni atelje; Croat.: ‘experimental atelier’].

Croatian group of artists active in Zagreb from 1950 to 1956. Its members were the architects Bernardo Bernardi (1912–85), Zdravko Bregovac (b 1924), Zvonimir Radic (1921–83), Bozidar Rasica (1912–92), Vjenceslav Richter (b 1917) and Vladimir Zarahovic, and the painters Vlado Kristl (b 1922), IVAN PICELJ and Aleksandar Srnec (b 1924). On 7 December they united officially at the plenary meeting of the Association of Applied Artists of Croatia (Croat. Udruzenje likovnih umjetnika primijenjenih umjetnosti Hrvatske (ULUPUH)), at which time they proclaimed their manifesto. The group was formed to protest against the dominance of officially sanctioned Socialist Realism and the condemnation of all forms of abstraction and motifs unacceptable in Communist doctrine as decadent and bourgeois. In its manifesto, Exat-51 emphasized that such an attitude contradicted the principles of Socialist development, that the differences between so-called ‘pure’ art and ‘applied’ art were non-existent and that abstract art could enrich the field of visual communication. The activity of the group was therefore to spring from the existing social situation and, as such, to contribute to the progress of society. The principal intention was to attain a synthesis of all branches of the fine arts and to encourage artistic experimentation. At the first Exat-51 exhibition in February 1953, held in Zagreb at the Hall of the Architects’ Society of Croatia, works by Picelj, Kristl, Srnec and Rasica were featured; the exhibition was later shown in Belgrade. The group made an important contribution in helping to free Yugoslav artists from predominant Stalinist dogmas, and its members later continued to work in a more individual manner, still adhering, however, to the main ideas set out in the manifesto.


International movement in art and architecture, which flourished between c. 1905 and c. 1920, especially in Germany. It also extended to literature, music, dance and theatre. The term was originally applied more widely to various avant-garde movements: for example it was adopted as an alternative to the use of ‘Post-Impressionism’ by Roger Fry in exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912. It was also used contemporaneously in Scandinavia and Germany, being gradually confined to the specific groups of artists and architects to which it is now applied.

Federation style.

Term applied to domestic designs of Australian architecture from around the turn of the 20th century, when the Commonwealth of Australia (1901) was created. It was first proposed by Professor Bernard Smith (1969) to replace the use of ‘Queen Anne’, which he argued was inappropriate and misleading in the Australian setting. The context of the original suggestion applies the name to a particular domestic picturesque idiom developed from the 1880s until c. 1914. These designs featured red bricks, turned wood ornament, half-timbering with rough-cast in the gables, shingled walls and striking terracotta tiles. Externally the designs derive from the English Domestic Revival pioneered by architects such as Richard Norman Shaw and from American sources such as the Shingle style, while internally there is an affinity with Arts and Crafts ideals. The designs developed within a ferment of discussion on the creation of an Australian style, partly as an offshoot of the English Arts and Crafts movement’s concern with the uniqueness of place, materials, climate and local culture, and partly as a response to the excitement caused by the recognition in Australia of an American style in the work of architects such as H. H. Richardson.

Fellowship of St Luke [Brotherhood of St Luke; Pol. Bractwo Swietego Lukasza].

Polish group of painters that flourished in 1925–39. It emerged from the studio of Tadeusz Pruszkowski (1888–1942) at the School of Fine Arts (Sekola Sztuk Pieknych), Warsaw, and was the first post-war group in Warsaw’s largest art school. The fellowship’s 14 members, all pupils of Pruszkowski, included Boleslaw Cybis (1895–1957), Jan Gotard (1898–1943), Antoni Michalak (1902–75) and Jan Zamojski (1901–85). The fellowship modelled itself on the medieval guilds (see GUILD), and the ‘Master’ Pruszkowski ceremoniously emancipated his pupils. The leadership of the group rested with the ‘Chapter’ (Kapitula). The members of the fellowship received special diplomas of emancipation. The group’s artistic programme was also based on former models, primarily on 16th- and 17th-century Dutch painting, although the group was essentially held together by ties of friendship. The artistic character of the fellowship was largely influenced by the personality of Pruszkowski, an admirer of Frans Hals and Diego Velázquez and a colourful character in the Warsaw art world.

Fibre art.

Collective term, coined in the 1970s, for creative, experimental fibre objects. A wide range of techniques is used, often in combinations that encompass both traditional (e.g. felting, knotting) and modern (e.g. photographic transfer) practices. The eclectic range of materials includes many not previously associated with textiles, such as paper, wood, iridescent film, nylon mesh and wire.


Informal international group of avant-garde artists working in a wide range of media and active from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Their activities included public concerts or festivals and the dissemination of innovatively designed anthologies and publications, including scores for electronic music, theatrical performances, ephemeral events, gestures and actions constituted from the individual’s everyday experience. Other types of work included the distribution of object editions, correspondence art and concrete poetry. According to the directions of the artist, Fluxus works often required the participation of a spectator in order to be completed.

Forces Nouvelles.

French group organized by the painter and critic Henri Héraut (b 1894), whose first exhibition, in April 1935 at the Galerie Billiet-Vorms in Paris, consisted of paintings by Héraut, Robert Humblot (1907–62), Henri Jannot (b 1909), Jean Lasne (1911–46), Alfred Pellan, Georges Rohner (b 1913) and Pierre Tal-Coat. Héraut, the eldest of the painters, hoped to establish a new aesthetic through the group and stated in his preface to the catalogue that since all modern movements, starting with Impressionism and Expressionism, had endangered art there was a need to return to drawing, tradition and nature. The group’s concentration on nature was often manifested in their preference for still-lifes, such as Lasne’s Still-life (1939; Paris, Pompidou). Sensitive to the political situation in Europe, they rejected light-hearted subject-matter, often dwelling on disaster, as in Humblot’s Dead Child (1936; priv. col.), and relied on a restricted dark palette, as in Héraut’s Othello (1935; Rennes, Mus. B.-A. & Archéol.).


Italian group, founded in Rome in 1947. Its members included Pietro Consagra, Giulio Turcato, Piero Dorazio, Achille Perilli (b 1927), Antonio Sanfilippo (1923–80), Carla Accardi, Ugo Attardi (b 1923), Mino Guerrini and Concetto Maugeri. These artists played an important part in the development of Italian abstract art during the late 1940s and the 1950s. While influenced by contemporary ART INFORMEL, the work of Forma cannot be confined to any neat stylistic definition. Both Turcato and Dorazio experimented at this time with geometric abstraction, influenced in particular by the work of the Futurist Giacomo Balla. Turcato’s paintings had a strong narrative element, as can be seen from Political Gathering (1950; Rome, Gal. Anna d’Ascanio), in which the bright red triangles have an obvious political significance. While Dorazio’s work consisted of disciplined rhythmic patterns of interlocking shapes, other artists, such as the painters Accardi and Sanfilippo and the sculptor Consagra, concentrated on creating freer, more expressive works. During the 1950s Turcato, too, moved towards a more lyrical form of abstraction. As well as staging its own exhibitions (e.g. at the Art Club in Rome in 1947), Forma was involved in important international events, including the Venice Biennale of 1948 and the exhibition Arte astratta e concreta in Italia, held at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Rome in 1951. The group also made an important contribution to debate on art through its eponymous magazine. Its successor was the group CONTINUITÀ (founded 1961), which included Accardi, Consagra, Dorazio, Perilli and Turcato.

Formists [Pol. Formisci].

Polish group of painters and sculptors that flourished between 1917 and 1922, from 1917 to 1919 known as the Polish Expressionists (Ekspresjonisci Polscy). A foretaste of the Formists’ work appeared in the three Wystawy niezaleznych (‘Exhibitions of the Independents’; 1911–13) in Kraków, organized by the artists later to become leading Formists: the painter and stage designer Andrzej Pronaszko (1888–1961), his brother Zbigniew Pronaszko and Tytus Czyzewski, who all opposed Impressionism and favoured Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism. The Formists first exhibited in Kraków in 1917. Their aim was to find a new form and a new national style (they saw themselves as the Polish equivalent of the Italian Futurists and French Cubists) that was in part a continuation of the artistic ideology of the turn of the century (Polish modernism). A wide variety of artists took part in Formist exhibitions, including Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Leon Chwistek, the painter Tymon Niesolowski (1882–1965), August Zamoyski and the graphic artist Wladyslaw Skoczylas (1883–1934), who later became the chief ideologist of national art.

Four Arts Society of Artists [Rus. Obshchestvo Khudozhnikov ‘4 Iskusstva’].

Soviet exhibiting society, active in Moscow from 1924 to 1932. The society was planned to include representatives of all ‘Four Arts’, painting, sculpture, graphics and architecture. Among its members were the painters Martiros Saryan and Konstantin Istomin (1887–1942), the graphic artists Pyotr Miturich, Lev Bruni and Vladimir Favorsky, the sculptor Aleksandr Matveyev and painters such as Pavel Kuznetsov and Kuz’ma Petrov-Vodkin, who had previously exhibited with the Blue Rose group. At different times the group included such architects as Ivan Zholtovsky, Aleksey Shchusev, Vladimir Shchuko and El Lissitzky, together with artists such as Ivan Klyun, Vladimir Lebedev (1891–1967) and the sculptor Vera Mukhina contributing to one or more of the society’s four Moscow exhibitions (1925, 1926, 1928 and 1929).

Friday Club.

British group of painters, active 1905–22. Vanessa Bell conceived of and created the Friday Club in the summer of 1905. She was inspired by her experience of Parisian café life and the artists introduced to her in Paris by Clive Bell, and she hoped to create in London a similar milieu in which artists and friends could meet to exchange ideas. The Club met for lectures and held regular exhibitions in rented rooms, one taking place in Clifford’s Inn Hall in 1907, another at the Baillie Gallery in 1908. Its members were oddly assorted: Vanessa Bell drew upon students from the Royal Academy Schools and the Slade School of Fine Art, as well as her own family and family friends. Lecturers included Clive Bell, Basil Creighton, Walter Lamb and Roger Fry. Virginia Woolf remarked that in its early stages the Club was split: ‘one half of the committee shriek Whistler and French Impressionists, and the other are stalwart British’. In 1913 Essil Elmslie replaced Vanessa Bell as secretary to the Club, and meetings and discussions outside the annual exhibitions ceased. However, between 1910 and 1914 its exhibitions included young artists of talent, among them J. D. Innes, Derwent Lees (1885–1931), John Currie (c. 1890–1914) and Henry Lamb, and drew much comment from the press. Despite this, the history of the Club remains shadowy because no minutes of its meetings exist and not all its exhibition catalogues can be traced.

Fronte Nuovo delle Arti.

Italian group of artists. It was founded by Renato Birolli in 1946 as the Nuova Secessione Artistica Italiana and renamed in 1947. The manifesto of 1946 was signed by Giuseppe Santomaso, Bruno Cassinari, Antonio Corpora, Renato Guttuso, Ennio Morlotti, Armando Pizzinato (b 1910), Giulio Turcato, Emilio Vedova and the sculptors Leonardo Leoncillo (1915–68) and Alberto Viani. During the first group exhibition, which was held at the Galleria della Spiga in Milan in 1947, Cassinari resigned, and the sculptors Pericle Fazzini and Nino Franchina (b 1912) joined. This was the vanguard of Italian painters and sculptors who, in the wake of the fear and stagnation brought on by World War II, endeavoured to revitalize Italian 20th-century art, which they felt had died with Futurism and Pittura Metafisica. Although the artists were stylistically very different, ranging from abstraction to naturalism, they were united by left-wing politics and by their wish, as stated in their manifesto, to give their ‘separate creations in the world of the imagination a basis of moral necessity’. While the group also shared an admiration for Picasso, the polarization of the abstract formalists and the realists became increasingly evident during the Venice Biennale of 1948. That year the Communist journal Rinascita published an article highly critical of works exhibited in Bologna by Fronte Nuovo members. The assumption that the Communists had no artistic preferences was shattered and this helped to destroy the group. Its stylistic diversity is indicated in a comparison of Guttuso’s powerfully figurative Mafia (1948; New York, MOMA) with Turcato’s Revolt (1948; Rome, G.N.A. Mod.); the latter evokes the resistance to German repression in near abstract forms derived from Picasso’s Guernica (Madrid, Prado). The group had disintegrated by 1952, when Birolli, Corpora, Turcato and Vedova were among the abstract painters gathered together in Lionello Venturi’s GRUPPO DEGLI OTTO PITTORI ITALIANI.

Frottage [from Fr. frotter: ‘to rub’].

Technique of reproducing a texture or relief design by laying paper over it and rubbing it with some drawing medium, for example pencil or crayon. Max Ernst and other Surrealist artists incorporated such rubbings into their paintings by means of collage. It is also a popular method of making rubbings of medieval church brasses and other ancient monuments and inscriptions.


Italian movement, literary in origin, that grew to embrace painting, sculpture, photography and architecture, which was launched by the publication on 20 February 1909 of ‘Le Futurisme’ by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. Marinetti’s intention was to reject the past, to revolutionize culture and make it more modern. The new ideology of Futurism set itself with violent enthusiasm against the weighty inheritance of an art tied to the Italian cultural tradition and exalted the idea of an aesthetic generated by the modern myth of the machine and of speed.

Gaceta del arte.

An international monthly cultural review that was published in Tenerife, Canary Islands, from February 1932 to June 1936. Its editor-in-chief was Eduardo Westerdahl (1902–80), and its editors included the writer Domingo Pérez Mink. The proclamation of the Second Republic in Spain in 1931 created an atmosphere of liberalization, and national and international avant-garde periodicals of the previous decade such as Esprit, Cahiers d’art, Die Brücke and Revista de Occidente reappeared. The very character of the islands and the emphasis on international tourism favoured the Gaceta del arte’s publication. Its viewpoint was dependent on Westerdahl’s European travels, which put him in contact with such contemporary avant-garde movements as Functionalism, Rationalism, Surrealism and many others. His programme was to disseminate the most progressive styles and ideas emerging in Europe, from aesthetics and ethics to fashion. From the outset, Gaceta del arte maintained connections with the Rationalist movement in architecture. Its contacts with Surrealism emerged later through Oscar Domínguez. The Gaceta del arte always maintained its independence, however, although there was a Surrealist faction among the magazine’s editors, represented chiefly by Domingo López-Torres and Pedro Garcia Cabrera. Domínguez exhibited in Tenerife in 1933 and the review devoted a special issue to Surrealism. The Exposición internacional del Surrealismo was held in Tenerife in 1935 and included works by De Chirico, Duchamp, Dalí, Max Ernst, Domínguez and Giacometti among others; André Breton visited the island for the occasion. The Gaceta continued as a platform for the discussion of new ideas from Europe and from Spain. Its contributors included some of the most important artists of the day, such as Miró, Kandinsky and Angel Ferrant. It was always well received, particularly in liberal circles in Madrid and Barcelona. When the Spanish Civil War loomed in 1936, the review took a position against the war and against Fascism, but events caused its disappearance in June 1936.

GATEPAC [Grupo de Artistas y Técnicos Españoles para el Progreso de la Arquitectura Contemporánea].

Spanish group of architects. It developed from GATCPAC, a Catalan group formed in 1930 by JOSEP LLUÍS SERT, JOSEP TORRES I CLAVÉ, Sixto Illescas (1903–86) and Juan Baptista Subirana (1904–79). In 1930 GATEPAC was founded as a state body bringing the Catalan group together with a group of architects from central Spain, the most prominent of whom was FERNANDO GARCÍA MERCADAL, and a group from the Basque country that included José María Aizpurua (1904–36) and Joaquín Labayen (1904–74). It remained active until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. GATEPAC was the Spanish representative in CIRPAC and in CIAM, and the architecture designed and promoted by the group can be seen as exemplifying the orthodox Rationalism of the 1930s. Although the young architects who belonged to GATEPAC were all influenced to some extent by Le Corbusier, they also showed a particular preoccupation with the relation of architecture to technical considerations and to social and economic conditions. The group’s theoretical concepts were thus closely related to the principles of Neue Sachlichkeit.

General Idea.

Canadian partnership of conceptual artists working as performance artists, video artists, photographers and sculptors. It was formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson [pseud. of Michael Tims] (b Vancouver, 1946), Felix Partz [pseud. of Ron Gabe] (b Winnipeg, 1945) and Jorge Zontal [pseud. of Jorge Saia] (b Parma, Italy, 1944; d Feb 1994). Influenced by semiotics and working in various media, they sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. Their existence as a group, each with an assumed name, itself undermined the traditional notion of the solitary artist of genius. In 1972 they began publishing a quarterly journal, File, to publicize their current interests and work. In the 1970s they concentrated on beauty parades, starting in 1970 with the 1970 Miss General Idea Pageant, a performance at the Festival of Underground Theatre in Toronto that mocked the clichés surrounding the beauty parade, resulting in the nomination of Miss General Idea 1970. This was followed by the 1971 Miss General Idea Pageant, which involved the submission by 13 artists of photographic entries that were exhibited and judged at The Space in Toronto.

Godollo colony.

Hungarian artists’ colony. It was formed in 1901 at Gödöllo, near Budapest, when the painter Aladár Körösfoi-Kriesch undertook to revive the traditional art of weaving with looms donated by the Ministry of Culture. Members included Sándor Nagy and his wife, the painter and designer Laura Kriesch (1879–1966), Ervin Raálo (1874–1959), Jeno Remsey (1885–1980), Endre Frecskai (1875–1919), Léo Belmonte (1870–1956), Árpád Juhász (1863–1914), Rezso Mihály (1889–1972), István Zichy (1879–1951), Mariska Undi (1887–1959), Carla Undi (1881–1956) and the sculptor Ferenc Sidló (1882–1953). Inspired by the ideals of John Ruskin and William Morris and by the heroic vision of peasant life celebrated by Tolstoy, the group established workshops in ceramics, sculpture, leatherwork, furniture-making, embroidery, book-binding and illustration, fabric and wallpaper design and, most importantly, in stained glass and the weaving of carpets and tapestries coloured with vegetable dyes. Their goals were social as well as artistic: to enable the rural poor to stay on the land, they taught traditional craft techniques to local young people and exhibited their work to international acclaim. They also sought to develop a modern national style by adapting the rich forms and colourful ornament of vernacular art and architecture, which they recorded and published between 1907 and 1922 in the five-volume study, A magyar nép müvészete (The art of the Hungarian people). In 1909 they had a collective exhibition at the National Salon in Budapest. As artists identified with a style of romantic nationalism, Gödöllo designers and craftsmen obtained such important government commissions as the decoration of the Hungarian pavilions at international exhibitions and, in 1913, the design and decoration of the Palace of Culture of Marosvásárhely (now Tîrgu Mures, Romania), where the stained-glass windows by Sándor Nagy and Ede Thoroczkai Wigand rank as one of the greatest achievements of 20th-century Hungarian art. The colony existed until 1921. The textile workshop carried on for a few more years under the management of Sándor Nagy and the weaver Vilma Frey (1886–after 1921).

Golden Fleece [Rus. Zolotoye Runo].

Russian artistic and literary magazine published monthly in Moscow during 1906–9. It was financed and edited by the millionaire Nikolay Ryabushinsky, and it sponsored the first exhibitions in Russia of modern and of contemporary French art. In its first two years, this beautifully produced, well-illustrated and lively magazine was principally dedicated to Russian Symbolism. The poets Aleksandr Blok, Konstantin Bal’mont (1867–1943) and Andrey Bely were regular contributors and co-editors, as were many painters of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) generation such as Alexandre Benois, Mikhail Vrubel’, Igor’ Grabar’, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Konstantin Korovin, Nicholas Roerich, Konstantin Somov and Valentin Serov. The Blue Rose group were also represented.


Term applied to an arrangement of institutionally illicit marks in which there has been an attempt to establish some sort of coherent composition; such marks are made by an individual or individuals (not generally professional artists) on a wall or other surface that is usually visually accessible to the public. The term ‘graffiti’ derives from the Greek graphein (‘to write’). Graffiti (sing. graffito) or SGRAFFITO, meaning a drawing or scribbling on a flat surface, originally referred to those marks found on ancient Roman architecture. Although examples of graffiti have been found at such sites as Pompeii, the Domus Aurea of Emperor Nero (reg AD 54–68) in Rome, Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli and the Maya site of Tikal in Mesoamerica, they are usually associated with 20th-century urban environments. They may range from a few simple marks to compositions that are complex and colourful. Motives for the production of such marks may include a desire for recognition that is public in nature, and/or the need to appropriate a public space or someone else’s private space for group or individual purposes. Graffiti are recognized as a way of dealing with problems of identification in overcrowded or self-denying environments, and are an outlet through which people may choose to publish their thoughts, philosophies or poems. Illegitimate counterparts to the paid, legitimate advertisements on billboards or signs, graffiti utilize the walls of garages, public toilets and gaol cells for their clandestine messages.

Grass and Earth Society [Sodosha].

Japanese group of Western-style (Yoga) painters, active between c. 1915 and 1922 in Tokyo. Its principal member was the painter Ryusei Kishida, who was said to have thought up the group’s name when he saw grass growing by the roadside as he walked along a Tokyo street. Other founder-members were Kazumasa Nakagawa (1893–1991) and Shohachi Kimura (1893–1958). Although Kishida was interested in the realistic depiction of nature, the group did not have a uniform style and concentrated on organizing exhibitions. In October 1915 the group held its first exhibition, sponsored by the Society of Contemporary Art, at the premises of the Yomiuri newspaper in Tokyo. The show comprised 172 works by 23 artists including the group’s founders. In the second exhibition in 1916 were 118 works shown by 13 artists, including Kishida’s Sketch of a Road Cut Through a Hill (1915; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.). A total of nine exhibitions were organized by the group, the last being held in 1922.

Gresham group.

Association of Hungarian artists who met regularly at the Gresham Café in Budapest from the mid-1920s to 1944. A loose and friendly association free from institutional constraints, they were united merely by the approximate similarity of their aesthetic thinking, rather than any particular style. Such leading members of the Hungarian avant-garde as Róbert Berény and Aurél Bernáth were, especially in their youth, among the artists at the Gresham. In the 1920s the group contained such representatives of the nascent Hungarian Expressionist movement as József Egry, István Szonyi, Béni Ferenczy and Pál Pátzay (1896–1979). They are also often referred to as the ‘post-Nagybánya school’, which refers to the principles of the NAGYBÁNYA COLONY, active in the 1910s, and to their desire to uphold the artistic tradition and stance of the group represented primarily by Károly Ferenczy.

Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel [GRAV]

. Group of artists active in Paris from 1960 to 1968. Eleven artists signed the original manifesto, but only six of them formed the core of the group: Horacio García Rossi (b 1929), Francisco Sobrino, François Morellet, Julio Le Parc, Joël Stein (b 1926) and Jean-Pierre Vasarely, known as Yvaral (b 1934). The group took its name from the Centre de Recherche d’Art Visuel, founded in Paris in July 1960. Following the belief of Victor Vasarely (father of Yvaral) that the concept of the artist as a solitary genius was outdated, the artists’ main aim was to merge the individual identities of the members into a collective activity that would be more than the sum of its parts. They also believed that ‘workers collaborating with the aid of scientific and technical disciplines [would] be the only true creators of the future’. The group exhibited in Europe within the framework of the NOUVELLE TENDANCE movement, and it successfully developed the logic of group activity through the strategy of anonymity and the holding of collective events called Labyrinths. From the outset, members of GRAV adopted the principle of submitting individual work to the consideration of the group as a whole, which would determine its relevance to the overall programme. In 1961 they felt confident enough to assert that ‘plastic reality’ was inherent in ‘the constant relationship between the plastic object and the human eye’. This conviction led them to experiment with a wide spectrum of kinetic and optical effects, employing various types of artificial light and mechanical movement as well as optical or ‘virtual’ movement. In Assez de mystifications!, the text that they published on the occasion of the Paris Biennale in 1961, they sought to forge a connection between their efforts to engage the ‘human eye’ and their forthright denunciation of the élitism of traditional art, which appealed to ‘the cultivated eye...the intellectual eye’.

Group f.64.

American group of photographers, active 1932–5. It was a loose association of San Francisco Bay Area photographers who articulated and promoted a modern movement in photographic aesthetics. The group was formed in August 1932 by photographers who shared an interest in pure and unmanipulated photography as a means of creative expression. It derived its name from the smallest possible aperture setting on a camera, the use of which resulted in the greatest and sharpest depth of field, producing an image with foreground and background clearly focused. The original membership consisted of Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards (1883–1958), Sonya Noskowiak (1900–75), Henry Swift (1891–1960), Willard Van Dyke (1906–86) and Edward Weston. The emphasis on clarity was partly a reaction against the lingering Pictorialism in West Coast photography, exemplified by the work of William Mortensen (1897–1965) and Anne Brigman (1869–1950), who achieved painterly effects through manipulation of the negative and print.

Group of Plastic Artists [Czech: Skupina Vytvarnych Umelcu].

Bohemian avant-garde group, active 1911–17. In February 1911 a fundamental rift between the older and younger generations in the MÁNES UNION OF ARTISTS was occasioned by the fall in subscriptions to the union’s journal Volné smery after its new editors, Emil Filla and Antonín Matejcek, reproduced Picasso’s work and published Filla’s article on the virtues of the new primitivism. The majority of the young contributors to the journal pointedly withdrew from the Mánes Union. Towards the end of 1911 they established the Group of Plastic Artists, oriented towards Cubism; its members were Vincenc Benes, V. H. Brunner, Josef Capek, Emil Filla, Josef Gocár, Otto Gutfreund, Vlastislav Hofman (1884–1964), Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák, Zdenek Kratochvíl, Frantisek Kysela, Antonín Procházka, Ladislav Síma, Václav Spála, the writers Karel Capek (1890–1938) and Frantisek Langer, and the art historian V. V. Stech. For personal reasons and differences of opinion, Bohumil Kubista, Otokar Kubín and Matejcek remained outside the group and soon returned to the Mánes Union. Gocár was elected the group’s first president.

Group of Seven.

Canadian group of painters. It was named in May 1920 on the occasion of an exhibition held in Toronto and was initially composed of Frank Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren S. Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer, J. E. H.MacDonald and Fred Varley. On Johnston’s resignation in 1926, A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join. The group later expanded to include two members from outside Toronto, Edwin H. Holgate from Montreal (in 1930) and Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald from Winnipeg (in 1932). The essential character of the group’s style and approach to landscape painting was in evidence well before their official formation in 1920, and some of their most important pictures also pre-date that first exhibition. Although they continued to show together officially only until December 1931 and disbanded in 1933, when former members helped establish a successor organization with a much larger membership drawn from all over the country (the Canadian Group of Painters), the term continued to be applied to the later works of the group’s original members.

Group X.

Group of British artists formed in 1920. It exhibited at the Mansard Gallery, Heal’s, in London, between 26 March and 24 April of that year. The nucleus of the group, whose name had no precise significance, was a regrouping of the Vorticists, comprising Wyndham Lewis, Jessica Dismorr, Frederick Etchells, Cuthbert Hamilton, William Roberts and Edward Wadsworth; these artists were joined by Frank Dobson, Charles Ginner, McKnight Kauffer and John Turnbull. Although the artists were united in a belief that ‘the experiments undertaken all over Europe during the last ten years should be utilized directly and developed, and not be lightly abandoned or the effort allowed to relax’ (Lewis, exh. cat., intro.), the works exhibited were characterized chiefly by a tendency to angular figuration; the critic Frank Rutter (1876–1937) wrote in the Sunday Times (28 March 1920) that ‘the real tendency of the exhibition is towards a new sort of realism, evolved by artists who have passed through a phase of abstract experiment’.

Grupo CAYC.

Argentine group of artists. It was founded in Buenos Aires in 1971 as the Grupo de los Trece by the critic Jorge Glusberg (b 1938) and renamed Grupo CAYC because of its close association with the Centro de Arte y Comunicación. The group held its first public show in 1972 in the exhibition Hacia un perfil del arte latino americano at the third Bienal Coltejer, Medellín, Colombia. The group’s chief members were Jacques Bedel, Luis Benedit, Jorge Glusberg, Víctor Grippo, the sculptor Leopoldo Maler (b 1937), the sculptor Alfredo Portillos (b 1928) and Clorindo Testa. Treating the visual aspect of works of art as just one element in order to demonstrate the complexity and richness of the creative process, they took a wide view of Latin American culture that spanned the cosmogony of Pre-Columbian societies to the technological and scientific concepts of the late 20th century. In 1977 they won the Gran Premio Itamaraty at the 14th São Paulo Biennale with their collective work Signs of Artificial Eco-systems.

Grupo Hondo.

Spanish group of painters. It was formed in Madrid in 1961 by Juan Genovés, José Paredes Jardiel (b 1928), Fernando Mignoni (b 1929) and Chilean Gastón Orellana (b 1933) and was active until 1964. They first exhibited together in 1961 at the Galería Nebli, Madrid, reacting against the total abstraction of Art informel but applying its free, automatic, rapid and uninhibited techniques to a socially committed and Expressionist ‘neo-figurative’ style. They acquired two new members, José Vento (b 1925) and Carlos Sansegundo (b 1930), for their second exhibition in 1963, at the Sociedad de Amigos de Arte in Madrid, but they went their separate ways a year later.

Grupo R.

Catalan group of architects. They were active in Barcelona from 1951 to 1959. Their aim was the renewal of Catalan architecture. The group, which included Oriol Bohigas, Joaquim Gili Moros (b 1916), Josep Martorell, Antoni de Moragas Gallissa (b 1913), José Pratmarsó Parera (b 1913), José María Sostres Maluquer and Manuel eq Valls Verges (b 1912), was formed through a competition organized by the Colegio de Arquitectos de Cataluña y Baleares in January 1949 to solve housing problems in Barcelona. They were later joined by Pau Montguró and Francesc Vayreda. For them the development of architecture and urban planning was based not only on technical, but also on economic and social considerations. Outstanding among their activities were the exhibitions held in the Galerias Layeyanas in Barcelona (1952, 1954 and 1958) and courses that they organized including ‘Economics and Urban Development’ and ‘Sociology and Urban Development’.

Gruppe 5 [Nor.: ‘Group 5’].

Norwegian group of artists active from 1961. It has had a decisive influence on the recognition of abstract art in Norway. The group was founded in 1961 by the Spanish-born Ramon Isern (Solé) (b 1914; d 1989), together with Håkon Bleken (b 1929), Halvdan Ljøsne (b 1929), Lars Tiller (1924–94) and Roar Wold (b 1926). They were all teachers in the architectural department (Institutt for form og farge) of the Norges Tekniske Høgskole in Trondheim. They wished to define their shared opposition to the traditional and conventional Trondheim art world and to break Oslo’s dominance of Norwegian art. Without any agreed ideological platform, they examined, in non-representational paintings, the relationship between plane, form, colour, space, the process of abstraction and the legacy of Constructivism, as they had in their teaching. In their abstract paintings the Constructivist stamp was rhythmically enlivened by the materiality of colours and such evocative spatially expansive subjects as that of Wold’s At the Edge of the Beach (1963; Oslo, Mus. Samtidskst). Isern made geometrically defined and totem-like sculptures in different materials, as well as tapestries with similar forms. Most of the group’s members also executed charcoal drawings, graphics and collages, such as Ljøsne’s oil painting Accumulation (1965; Oslo, Mus. Samtidskst) with glued-on newspaper clippings and disturbing spatial effects, and wrote articles about art theory.

Gruppe 33 [Künstlervereinigung Gruppe 1933].

Swiss group of artists. It was founded in Basle in 1933 by the painters Otto Abt (1903–82), Walter Bodmer, Paul Camenisch (1893–1970), Theo Eble (1899–1974), Max Haufler, Charles Hindenlang (1894–1960), Carlo König (1900–70), Rudolf Maeglin (1892–1971), Ernst Max Musfeld (1900–64), Otto Staiger (1894–1967), Max Sulzbachner (b 1904) and Walter Kurt Wiemken (1907–40), the sculptors Daniel Hummel and Louis Weber (b 1891) and the architect Paul Artaria. Camenisch was effectively leader of the group, which arose in opposition to the conservatism of the Gesellschaft Schweizerischer Maler, Bildhauer und Architekten (GSMBA) and also to the rising tide of hostility to modern art engendered by the Nazis in neighbouring Germany. Soon after its foundation a programme propagated by the members claimed their aim to be ‘the active participation in the development of the plastic arts without ignoring the phenomena and expression of our time’. Left-wing and anti-fascist politically, the members of the group worked within various modern currents such as Surrealism, Constructivism and abstract art. With the expansion of its membership, however, it soon attracted artists from less modern tendencies as well as photographers, film makers, graphic designers and stage designers. There also arose a significant grouping of socially engaged architects.

Gruppe 53.

German group of painters founded in Düsseldorf in 1953 and active until 1959. In 1953 some young Düsseldorf artists banded together to form an association known as the Künstlergruppe Niederrhein, with a shared interest in art informel and the intention of mounting exhibitions, in opposition to the established artists’ association, the Rheinische Secession. From 1954 the group emerged as Gruppe 53, with joint exhibitions held primarily in buildings owned by the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, and every second year at the Städtische Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf. The members included Peter Brüning, Winfried Gaul (b 1928), Gerhard Hoehme, Horst Egon Kalinowski, Herbert Kaufman (b 1924), Peter Royen (b 1923), Rolf Sackenheim (b 1921) and Friedrich Wertmann (b 1927). Abstract artists from outside Düsseldorf, such as Karl Fred Dahmen (1917–81), Bernard Schultze and Emil Schumacher, were also invited to exhibit with them, as were other Düsseldorf artists representing various developing trends in painting. Thus Konrad Klapheck, who worked figuratively, and members of the Zero group, including Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, exhibited with Gruppe 53. There was no common aesthetic programming policy, although representative works include Brüning’s Bild 2/63 (1963; Bonn, Städt. Kstmus.), Gaul’s Good-bye to Rembrandt (1956–7; Saarbrücken, Saarland Mus.) and Hoehme’s Black Spring (1956; priv. col.). Economic and organizational interests formed the basis of their joint action, along with the desire to establish abstract art. All those involved painted in an abstract way and rejected geometrically inspired ‘cold abstraction’. The group received considerable support from the collector, art historian and later gallery owner Jean-Pierre Wilhelm (1912–68). He made contacts with gallery owners, especially in Paris, and with artists from abroad. When the opportunities for exhibiting abstract work by young artists in Düsseldorf had improved as a result of Gruppe 53’s commitment, and when other commercial galleries opened in addition to Wilhelm’s Galerie 22, the reasons motivating the group disappeared, and it was consequently disbanded in 1959.

Gruppe Progressiver Künstler [Gruppe der Progressiven]

German group of artists. It was founded in Cologne in 1925 by Franz Seiwert (1894–1933) and Heinrich Hoerle (1895–1936), with Otto Freundlich, Gerd Arntz (b 1900), Hans Schmitz (1896–1977), Augustin Tschinkel (b 1905) and the photographer August Sander. The group extended the programme of a ‘proletarian’ art that had characterized Seiwert and Hoerle’s STUPID GROUP and their intervening work to include artists from other centres in the Rhineland and throughout Germany. They supported the revolutionary opposition to the ineffectual Weimar Republic, which they saw as a tool of repressive right-wing elements in the establishment. Following collaborations with the idealist and pacifist Berlin periodical Die Aktion, Seiwert and Hoerle started their own artistic publication, A bis Z, in October 1929, beginning the group’s most fertile period. While the periodical attracted contributions from a broad cross-section of artists (including Raoul Haussmann, Jean Hélion and László Moholy-Nagy), the group favoured a stripped-down figurative style, whose schematized forms and abstract elements drew attention to the mechanization of contemporary existence. With echoes of Oskar Schlemmer’s work and of Parisian Purism, some compositions also tended towards the coldness of Neue Sachlichkeit. Their critical political stance made them an immediate target for Nazi opposition. The group and periodical were ended in 1933, Seiwert died the same year, and Hoerle and Freundlich’s work was subsequently designated as entartete Kunst.

Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani.

Italian group of eight painters. It was formed in 1952 after the disintegration of FRONTE NUOVO DELLE ARTI. Six of them had belonged to the earlier group: Renato Birolli, Antonio Corpora, Ennio Morlotti, Emilio Vedova, Giuseppe Santomaso and Giulio Turcato; the other founder-members were Afro and Mattia Moreni (b 1920). The group, which exhibited at the Venice Biennale of 1952, was coordinated by Lionello Venturi, who described its style as ‘abstract-concrete ...born of a tradition that began around 1910 and that includes Cubism, Expressionism and Abstraction’. Geometric or post-Cubist forms dominate these artists’ work; however, the naturalistic colour and atmospheric luminosity of such paintings as Vedova’s Cosmic Vision (1952; New York, MOMA) and Birolli’s Brambles and Paths (1953; Brescia, Cavellini priv. col., see Venturi, 1959, pl. 14, p. 47) typify this group’s leanings towards expressive abstraction. During the 1950s Birolli, Corpora and Morlotti became more involved with Informalism and Tachism, and Santomaso and Vedova were significantly inspired by Hans Hartung and Wols respectively. Of the eight, Afro was the most outstanding exponent of lyrical expressionism, largely achieved through his use of vibrant and transparent colour in works such as Underwater Fishing (1955; Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie).

Gruppo N.

Italian group of artists. It was formed in Padua in 1959. It included Alberto Biasi (b 1937), Ennio Chiggio (b 1937), Giovanni Antonio Costa (b 1935), Edoardo N. Landi (b 1937) and Manfredo Massironi (b 1937). The group gained notoriety in 1959 when Massironi competed unsuccessfully for the Premio San Fedele, for which he submitted a piece of cardboard that he had selected because of the interesting optical qualities of its surface. During the 1960s Gruppo N played an important part in the development of Op art in Italy. The work of Biasi, for example, included geometric abstract reliefs with striking optical effects, such as the Optical-dynamic Relief (Drops) (painted iron and card, 1962; Padua, priv. col.); this attempted to create an effect analogous to the patterns caused by drops of water falling on a liquid surface. The group’s gallery, Studio N, which opened in Padua in November 1960, rapidly became an important centre for experimental art, music and poetry. The group had its own room at the Venice Biennale of 1964 and also participated in various exhibitions of Arte programmata in Italy, as well as showing work at Studio F in Ulm (1963) and the Museum Sztuki, Lódz (1967).

Gruppo 7.

Italian group of architects. It was formed in 1926 by seven students from the Scuola Superiore di Architettura del Politecnico, Milan: GIUSEPPE TERRAGNI, Guido Frette, Ubaldo Castagnoli, Sebastiano Larco, Carlo Enrico Rava, Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini. Castagnoli was replaced in 1927 by Adalberto Libera.

Gruppo T.

Italian group of artists. It was founded in Milan in 1959 and active until 1962. The founders were Giovanni Anceschi (b 1939), Davide Boriani (b 1936), Gianni Colombo (b 1937) and Gabriele de Vecchi (b 1938). These artists, who were primarily interested in kinetic art, first exhibited as a group in 1960 in the Galleria Pater in Milan, where they held six exhibitions entitled Miriorama 1–6, none lasting more than a few days. In the last of these shows the four founder-members were joined by Grazia Varisco (b 1937). Gruppo T’s works frequently invited the participation of the exhibition visitor: for example, Boriani’s Magnetic Surfaces contained patterns of iron dust that changed as the objects were handled. By contrast the exhibits of a show held at the Galleria Danese in December 1960 were powered by electric motors (e.g. Rotoplastik by Colombo). The group cooperated with other artists with similar aims, including Gruppo N, at whose gallery, Studio N, in Padua they exhibited in 1962. They also were supported by Lucio Fontana, who presented an exhibition of their work at the Galleria La Salita in Rome in 1961. Gruppo T’s last exhibition was at the Galleria del Cavallino in 1962.

Gutai [Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai; Jap.: Concrete Art Association].

Japanese group of artists, active between 1954 and 1972. It was formed by 18 young avant-garde artists, led by JIRO YOSHIHARA, one of the founders of Japanese abstract painting. Following Yoshihara’s guidance in creating an anti-individualistic form of expression, the group started by holding an open-air exhibition at the Ashiyagawa riverside. The members began experimenting in performance art, for example breaking through single-leaf paper screens and creating other staged pieces such as San baso ultra-moderne by Kazuo Shiraga (b 1924). This consisted of archers firing at a theatrical set and was performed in Osaka in 1957. The group also practised kinetic art, for example in Work: Water by Sadamasa Motonaga, in which water was filtered through suspended fabrics at the Second Open-air Exhibition in Ashiya in 1956.

Hagenbund [Künstlerbund Hagen; Hagengesellschaft].

Austrian group of artists formed in 1900 in Vienna and active until 1930. Its most prominent members included Heinrich Lefler and Joseph Urban. The group took its name from Herr Haagen, the landlord of an inn at which artists often met for informal discussion. Originally called the Hagengesellschaft, most of its members left the Künstlerhaus at the same time as the Secessionists in 1897. Three years later they left the Secession to form the Hagenbund. At first the group intended to remain within the Künstlerhaus, and they held their first two exhibitions on its premises. However, between 1902 and 1912, and again from 1920 until 1930, they exhibited independently in a market-hall (the Zedlitzhalle) converted by Urban. The group favoured a distinct Art Nouveau style based on folk art and British antecedents, such as the work of Aubrey Beardsley. Their manner was less extreme than that of the Secessionists, and this contributed to their official success; Lefler and Urban were the major contributors to a pageant held in 1908 in celebration of Francis Joseph’s 60 years on the throne. The influence of the Hagenbund was felt largely through their illustrations, which were popular with a younger and less upper-class audience than the Secessionists had. Most notable was the series Gerlachs Jugendbücherei, illustrated with lithographs by Lefler, Urban and Karl Fahringer (1874–1952). Among Austrian artists who participated in Hagenbund exhibitions were Robin Christian Andersen, Anton Hanak, Oskar Laske (1874–1951) and, at times, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. Although the group was not dissolved until 1930, its importance had faded by the outbreak of World War I.

Halmstad group [Swed. Halmstadgruppen].

Swedish group of six painters active from 1929. It disbanded only with the death of the various members. The artists were the brothers Axel Olson (1899–1986) and Erik (Arthur) Olson (1901–86), their cousin (Anders) Waldemar Lorentzon (1899–1984), Sven Jonson (1902–83), (Carl) Stellan (Gabriel) Mörner (1896–1979) and Theodor Esaias Thorén (1901–81). All had connections with Halmstad, a town on the west coast of Sweden. In 1919 Egon Östlund, a mechanical engineer working in Halmstad, established contact with the Olsons and Lorentzon. Through Östlund, they became familiar with the work of Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, and over the years Östlund supported the Halmstad group. Adrian-Nilsson’s paintings were important early mutual influences for the group, as were Cubism and Neo-plasticism. In the early 1930s the group began to paint in a Surrealist style, as in, for example, Erik Olson’s the Day through the Night (1935; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.); they were influenced by such artists as Salvador Dalí and Yves Tanguy. Gradually the painters developed in different directions, but the group remained active, exhibiting together. They were the most significant exponents of Surrealism in Sweden and took part in various Surrealist exhibitions in Europe in the 1930s. Axel Olson became very involved in local art life, while Erik Olson had close contacts with Danish Surrealists and participated in the resistance to the German occupation of Denmark during World War II. In 1950 he converted to Catholicism and had connections with the art sacré movement in France. He also painted many religious works. In 1963 he was awarded the Order of Gregory the Great by Pope John XXIII (reg 1958–63). Lorentzon joined the Oxford Movement in 1938 and from that time executed mainly religious decorations. Mörner was very versatile, designing sets for various theatres, mostly in Stockholm and Göteborg. He wrote articles on art and several books, including his autobiography Spegel mot mitt liv (‘Mirror to my life’; Stockholm, 1969) and Det varma kvällsljuset (‘The warm evening light’; Stockholm, 1976).

Hard-edge painting.

Term applied to abstract paintings composed of simple geometric or organic forms executed in broad, flat colours and delineated by precise, sharp edges. The term was coined by the Californian art critic Jules Langsner in 1958 and intended by him merely as an alternative to the term ‘geometric abstraction’. Generally, however, it is used in a more specific sense: whereas geometric abstraction can be used to describe works with large numbers of separate, possibly modelled, elements creating a spatial effect, hard-edge painting refers only to works comprised of a small number of large, flat forms, generally avoiding the use of pictorial depth. It is in relation to this type of painting, particularly as produced by artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, KENNETH NOLAND, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s, that the term acquired general currency. Characteristic of this style are Newman’s The Gate (1954; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.) and Kelly’s White Black (1961; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.)

Heimatstil [Ger.: ‘regional style’].

Name of a 20th-century movement in architecture, interior decoration and the decorative arts, aimed at protecting and promoting regional and native characteristics. It developed in individual ways in a number of European countries, for example Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Finland, and flourished with varying intensity until the end of the 1940s. Heimatkunst (Ger.: ‘regional art’) was, similarly, linked to local and regional traditions without being folk art as such. Heimatstil was at its height in Switzerland in the years leading up to, and during, World War II, advocating a nationalist culture based on the traditional rural society, as opposed to the grandeur and modern functionalism of cosmopolitan urban culture. It was believed that architecture and the decorative arts should reflect such typically Swiss values as modesty, honesty and being at one with nature. These national characteristics, turned into material form, should make an impact on a new, more natural way of life that was inherently tied to the notion of country. Heimatstil saw as beautiful only that which was in accordance with the essence of the inhabitants of a particular region.

High Tech.

Stylistic term applied to the expressive use of modern technology, industrial components, equipment or materials in the design of architecture, interiors and furnishings. It was first employed in print by Joan Kron and Susan Slesin in magazine articles of 1977. High Tech described the then-fashionable style of decoration using out-of-context, brightly coloured elements of industrial design (e.g. factory lamps, warehouse shelving, office chairs, work-benches, duct-work, glass bricks etc) in domestic interiors and shops. In their book High-Tech: The Industrial Style and Source-book for the Home (1978), however, Kron and Slesin cited a number of buildings, most notably the Centre Georges Pompidou (1971–7), Paris, by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, to add weight to their argument that ‘the industrial aesthetic in design one of the most important design trends today’. By 1980 this building had become the standard exemplar of High Tech architectural design and remained a monument of definition thereafter. The bright colours of its exposed ducts, its transparent escalator tubes hung on the exterior of its boldly exhibited structural system and its general air of technological optimism made it a convincing large-scale demonstration of the Kron and Slesin aesthetic.

Hi-Red Center [Haireddo Senta].

Japanese group of installation artists founded in 1963 and active until 1964. The group’s name comprised a translation of the first part of each founder’s surname: ‘Taka’ from JIRO TAKAMATSU, ‘Aka’ from Genpei Akasegawa (b 1937) and ‘Naka’ from Natsuyuki Nakanishi (b 1935). The group attempted to draw attention to their neo-Dadaist ideas through the staging of public installations and performances. In the Dairoku ji mikisa keikaku (‘The sixth blender plan’) exhibition at the Miyata Clinic, Shinbashi, Tokyo (1963), for example, Nakanishi covered himself in metal clothes-pegs. The Shieruta puran (‘Shelter plan’) event in the Teikoku Hotel, Tokyo (1964), involved the creation of personalized nuclear fall-out shelters by the group’s members. Hi-Red Center also produced a number of pamphlets in addition to their other activities.

Hlebine school [Hlebinska slikarska skola; Hlebine Primitives].

Croatian group of painters who worked in Hlebine and the neighbouring village of Podravina, near Zagreb, from c. 1932. Its principal members included KRSTO HEGEDUSIC, IVAN GENERALIC, Franjo Mraz (1910–81) and Mirko Virius (1889–1943). The first mention of the group was in 1932, when Hegedusic began to encourage peasants from the area to paint. The Croatian authorities at that time favoured an art programme based on a folk style and aimed at an authentic national artistic expression, and Hegedusic’s idea corresponded with prevailing populist support for ruralism and its manifestation in various artistic media. An art independent of western European ideas was also preferred. Hegedusic exerted a strong influence on his collaborators (among the first of whom were Generalic and Mraz) through his use of rural motifs and his technique of painting on glass. He also organized several exhibitions in which the work of the Hlebine school was shown with that of the LAND GROUP (Zemlja). After World War II Generalic was the most important artist of the group to work in the region. The painters Franjo Filipovic (b 1930), Dragan Gazi (1930–83), Mijo Kovacic (b 1935), Ivan Vecenaj (b 1920), Martin Mehkek (b 1936), Ivan Lackovic-Croata (b 1932) and Josip Generalic (b 1936) gathered round him and formed the ‘second Hlebine school’. Unlike the first generation, who had been preoccupied with themes of social criticism, the second generation nostalgically evoked idyllic peasant life and labour and celebrated their beauty. The Hlebine Primitives became well known internationally, exhibiting at the Biennale in São Paulo in 1955 and at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Brussels in 1958. This frequent international exposure created the impression that their primitivist work was representative of modern Yugoslav art. Their most important works are in the Gallery of Primitive Art in Zagreb.


French group of painters who held their first exhibition as a group at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans in June 1948. Their manifesto, which affirmed their commitment to realism and to communism, was drawn up and published by the critic Jean Bouret. In the preface to the exhibition catalogue he stated that ‘painting exists to bear witness, and nothing human can remain foreign to it’. The best-known artists associated with the group were Bernard Buffet and Bernard Lorjou (b 1908). Buffet’s style, as represented by such series as Flagellation, Resurrection (both 1952) and Horrors of War (1954), illustrates the atmosphere of ‘existential’ Angst that characterized the work of many painters associated with Homme–Témoin. Lorjou’s the Atomic Age (1950) is a tableau of post-war urban suffering, oppression and spiritual longing. The painters were obviously strongly influenced by the harsh and expressionistic styles of Francis Gruber and Chaïm Soutine. In content, their work developed almost into a pastiche of those contemporary artists who protested against war atrocities or political opposition to tyranny, such as Fautrier or Matisse.

Imaginistgruppen [Swed.: ‘Imaginist group’].

Swedish Surrealist group, founded c. 1945, which grew out of the short-lived MINOTAURGRUPPEN. Its founders were C. O. Hultén, Max Walter Svanberg and Anders Österlin (b 1926), and later its members included the artists Gösta Kriland (1917–89), Bertil Lundberg (b 1922), Bengt Orup (b 1916), Bertil Gado (b 1916), Lennart Lindfors and Gudrun Ählberg-Kriland. The Imaginistgruppen followed the example of the Minotaurgruppen by using the styles and techniques characteristic of Surrealism, as in Hultén’s Beach Statue ( frottage, 1948; Malmö, Kstmus.). In 1947 the group founded its own publishing house in Malmö, and that year it produced a collection of frottages, Drömmar ur bladens händer (‘Dreams from the hands of leaves’), by Hultén. Första fasen (‘First phase’), a text on Imaginism written by Svanberg in 1948, was included in the catalogue of an exhibition of his work in Göteborg in 1949. In this ‘manifesto’, the first part of his Deklarationer om imaginism i tre utvecklingsfaser (‘Declarations on Imaginism in three phases’), Svanberg discussed the crucial role played by imagination, stressing the free and revolutionary nature of Imaginist art. He claimed that the image, which contained disparate elements, was central and that its realization required the overthrow of traditional art forms, as these were based on reality. These were all familiar Surrealist ideas, and Svanberg developed them further in Andra fasen (‘Second phase’) (1950) and Tredje fasen (‘Third phase’) (1952), so becoming the group’s chief theorist. The Imaginistgruppen participated in the Surrealist exhibition held at the Galerie Aleby in Stockholm in 1949, and Imaginistgruppen exhibitions were held in Stockholm in 1951, in Malmö and Göteborg in 1952, at the Galerie de Babylone in Paris in 1953 and at Lund University in 1954. In 1950 the publishing house issued an album of eight lithographs by Svanberg. Svanberg left the group in 1953, claiming to be the only true Imaginist, but the group continued in existence until 1956.

Independent Group.

British group of artists, architects and critics. It met as an informal discussion group at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, from 1952 to 1955. Its members, drawn from those of the ICA who were dissatisfied with the Institute’s policy towards modernism, included the art critic Lawrence Alloway (1926–90), the design historian Peter Reyner Banham (1922–88), the art historian Toni del Renzio (b 1915), the artists Nigel Henderson, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and John McHale (1922–78), and the architects Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson.

Inkhuk [Institut Khudozhestvennoy Kultury; Rus.: ‘Institute of Artistic Culture’].

Soviet institute for research in the arts that flourished from 1920 to 1926. Inkhuk was a dominant force in the development of Soviet art, architecture and design in the 1920s. Founded in Moscow in May 1920, with affiliations in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and Vitebsk, it attracted many members of the avant-garde, especially LYUBOV’ POPOVA and ALEKSANDR RODCHENKO; its key administrative positions were occupied by Vasily Kandinsky (Moscow), Vladimir Tatlin (Petrograd) and Kazimir Malevich (Vitebsk). At one time Inkhuk maintained contact with Berlin (through El Lissitzky and the journal Veshch’/Gegenstand/Objet), the Netherlands, Hungary and Japan, although it never really had the chance to develop these international connections. One of the principal aims of Inkhuk was to reduce the modern movements such as Suprematism and Tatlin’s concept of the ‘culture of materials’ to a scientifically based programme that could be used for educational and research purposes—a development analogous to the initial endeavours of the Russian Formalist school of literary criticism, which attempted to analyse literature in terms of formal structures. In its aspiration to elaborate a rational basis for artistic practice, Inkhuk encouraged discussions on specific issues of artistic content and form, such as the debate on ‘composition versus construction’ in 1921.

Installation [Environment].

Term that gained currency in the 1960s to describe a construction or assemblage conceived for a specific interior, often for a temporary period, and distinguished from more conventional sculpture as a discrete object by its physical domination of the entire space. By inviting the viewer literally to enter into the work of art, and by appealing not only to the sense of sight but also, on occasion, to those of hearing and smell, such works demand the spectator’s active engagement. As an art form, installations are particularly associated with movements of the 1960s and 1970s such as Pop art, Nouveau Réalisme, Minimalism, conceptual art and process art, but in theory they can be conceived within the terms of virtually any style.

International Style.

Term applied to architecture of the MODERN MOVEMENT after 1932. That year the first architectural exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York, was held following a visit to Europe by historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, Director of Architecture at MOMA; the term was enshrined in the title of the accompanying book and catalogue The International Style: Architecture since 1922. Buildings selected for inclusion in the exhibition, with some notable exceptions (see below), had certain formal characteristics in common, being mostly rectilinear, undecorated, asymmetrical and white.

Jack of Diamonds [Rus. Bubnovy Valet].

Group of Russian avant-garde painters active in Moscow from 1910 to 1917. It was founded by Mikhail Larionov, Natal’ya Goncharova, Aristarkh Lentulov, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Robert Fal’k, Il’ya Mashkov and Aleksandr Kuprin, young artists who found membership of existing art societies no longer compatible with their experimental styles of painting. Regular participants included Alexandra Exter, David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk. The name ‘Jack of Diamonds’, chosen by Larionov, suggested not only the roguish behaviour of the avant-garde but also their love of popular graphic art forms such as old printed playing cards.

Jeune Peinture Belge.

Belgian group of avant-garde artists active from 1945 to 1948. It was formed on the initiative of an art critic Robert L. Delevoy and a lawyer René Lust, with the intention of promoting the work of young contemporary painters and sculptors through exhibitions. It developed from the groups Route libre (1939) and L’Apport (1941–51). The main exhibitions took place in 1947 in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. The ‘first generation’ of artists involved in the foundation of the group included the sculptor Willy Anthoons (b 1911) and the painters René Barbaix (1909–66), Gaston Bertrand (b 1910), Anne Bonnet (1908–60), Jan Cox (1919–80), Jack Godderis (b 1916), Emile Mahy (1903–79), Marc Mendelson (b 1915), Charles Pry (b 1915), Mig Quinet (b 1906), Rik Slabbinck (b 1914) and Louis Van Lint (1909–87).

Junk art.

Term first used by the critic Lawrence Alloway in 1961 to describe an urban art in which found or ready-made objects and mechanical debris were transformed into paintings, sculptures and environments by welding, collaging, décollaging or otherwise assembling them into new and unusual forms. The name evolved from the phrase ‘junk culture’, which had been used in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in Great Britain and the USA, by writers such as Hilton Kramer (b 1928) to describe the vulgar and kitsch qualities of objects with built-in obsolescence produced in industrial nations after World War II.

Kapists [Capists; Pol. Kapisci, from ‘Komitet Paryski’: Parisian Committee].

Polish group of painters. In 1924 a number of students of Józef Pankiewicz at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków formed a committee, whose aim was to organize a study trip to Paris. Jan Cybis (1897–1972), Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa (1897–1988), Zygmunt Waliszewski, Artur Nacht-Samborski, Piotr Potworowski and Józef Czapski were among the painters who therefore founded the Paris branch of the Kraków Academy from 1924 to 1930. They gained fame after two successful exhibitions at the Galerie Zak in Paris (1930) and the Galerie Moos in Geneva (1931). Most of the artists returned to Poland in 1931, where they were still known as the Kapists. They were a loose association, and, although they had no clearly defined programme, they were principally influenced by the work of Pierre Bonnard. The members were Post-Impressionist painters representing the trend known as Polish Colourism, and they stressed the importance of good craftsmanship in painting. Generally their work is associated with a particular sensitivity to colour, its harmony and contrasts. Forms were built with colour, and the use of perspective and chiaroscuro was limited, as in Rudzka-Cybisowa’s Still-life with Armchair (c. 1956; Poznan, N. Mus.). They painted from nature but did not imitate it, and their compositions were sometimes close to abstraction (e.g. Shells by Jan Cybis, 1953–4; Poznan, N. Mus.). Zygmunt Waliszewski was the only member of the group who did not reject literary subject-matter (e.g. the Toilet of Venus, 1933; Warsaw, N. Mus.). Kapists were well-represented on the staff of the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, opened in 1945. Along with Constructivism, the Polish Colourism introduced by the Kapists became one of the most popular trends in Polish painting in the first half of the 20th century.

Kecskemét colony.

Hungarian artists’ colony established in 1911 at Kecskemét, c. 80 km south-east of Budapest. The town provided studios for artists and offered commissions. The studios were designed in Hungarian Secessionist style by the colony members Béla Jánszky (1884–1945) and Tibor Szivessy (1884–1963). In the Secessionist spirit of Gesamtkunst the colony’s activities ranged from ceramics to tapestry. A weaving school was set up, and free courses in art and industrial design were held in the town. Members came in part from the NAGYBÁNYA COLONY: the initiator of the colony and its first leader was the painter Béla Iványi Grünwald, and Elek Falus (1884–1950) played a significant role in the foundation of the colony and went on to direct its textile workshop. From 1920 the colony was led by Imre Révész (1859–1945), a noted genre-painter. Artists also came from the SZOLNOK COLONY, and the sculptors Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl and Imre Csikász (1884–1914) also worked there.

Kinetic art.

Term applied to works of art concerned with real and apparent movement. It may encompass machines, mobiles and light objects in actual motion; more broadly, it also includes works in virtual or apparent movement, which could be placed under the denomination of OP ART. Kinetic art originated between 1913 and 1920, when a few isolated figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Vladimir Tatlin and NAUM GABO conceived their first works and statements to lay stress on mechanical movement. At about the same time Tatlin, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Man Ray constructed their first mobiles, and Thomas Wilfred and Adrian Bernard Klein, with Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack and Kurt Schwerdtfeger at the Bauhaus, began to develop their colour organs and projection techniques in the direction of an art medium consisting of light and movement (1921–3). Although László Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Calder pursued more or less continuous artistic research into actual motion in the 1920s and 1930s, it was only after 1950 that the breakthrough into kinetic art, and its subsequent expansion, finally took place. Such artists as Pol Bury, Jean Tinguely, Nicolas Schöffer and Harry Kramer played a leading part in this development as far as mechanical movement was concerned; Calder, Bruno Munari, Kenneth Martin (iv) and George Rickey in the domain of the MOBILE; and Wilfred, Frank Joseph Malina (1912–81), Schöffer and Gyorgy Kepes (b 1906) in that of lumino-kinetic experiment.

Kitchen Sink school.

English group of painters active in the 1950s. Its name was derived from an article of 1954 by the critic David Sylvester and is used to identify a brand of English realist painting whose main exponents were John Bratby (b 1928), Derrick Greaves (b 1927), Edward Middleditch (b 1923) and Jack Smith. These artists knew each other and exhibited together but did not share a common programme or ideology. Like the contemporary ‘angry young men’ of realist drama and literature, they rejected their label. Their work represents a distinctive but brief reaction against the élitism of abstraction and Neo-Romanticism in favour of figurative social realism, a reaction that found its most ardent voice in the writings of the Marxist critic John Berger (b 1926).

Kraków group [Pol. Grupa Krakowska].

Polish group of avant-garde artists, initially active in 1933–9 and later revived. Based in Kraków, the group included young painters and sculptors, students and graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków: Sasza Blonder, B. Grünberg, Maria Jarema, L. Lewicki, S. Osostowicz, S. Piasecki, B. Stawinski, J. Stern, Henryk Wicinski, and A. Winnicki, as well as more loosely affiliated members: F. Jazwiecki and Adam Marczynski. The group arose from a larger students’ group, Zywi, with 30 members, founded in the academy in early 1932, which developed in reaction to the conservative teaching methods, as well as in response to the political atmosphere of the 1930s and its effect after the collapse of various Constructivist groupings. The Kraków group, whose membership was affiliated to the Academic Left and the already-banned Polish Communist Party, defined its activities as revolutionary, pro-proletarian and anti-nationalist. The young artists were related by a free, liberal artistic programme, and their activities came into conflict with the authorities of the academy, who had recourse to expulsions and permitted police interventions and arrests at academy exhibitions. The artists associated with the working-class movement and the trade union movement employed the slogan ‘proletarian arts’ but, unlike the Constructivist group, forbore to define their programme. Their main aim was the defence of their threatened freedoms, and thus, for example, they responded to the call directed to all artists on 1 May 1934 to form ‘a common front in opposition to the Fascisization of life in Poland, and to threats against independent creativity’.

Land art.

International art form that developed particularly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was part of a revolt against painting and sculpture and the anti-formalist current of the late 1960s that included CONCEPTUAL ART and Arte Povera. A number of mainly British and North American artists turned their attention to working directly with nature, notably Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson and Richard Long. They created immense sculptures on the same scale as landscape itself, or exhibited written and photographic accounts of their excursions. With few exceptions, their works (also known as earthworks) are almost inaccessible, situated far from human settlements in deserts or abandoned areas. Their lifespan was brief: little by little they were destroyed by the elements and often by erosion, so that for posterity they exist only in the form of preparatory drawings, photographs or films. The works themselves were seen by only a small number of people and sometimes by only the artist.

London Group.

English exhibiting society founded in November 1913. On its foundation it absorbed many members of the CAMDEN TOWN GROUP and also incorporated the more avant-garde artists influenced by Cubism and Futurism, some of whom afterwards joined the Vorticist movement. Among the founder-members were David Bomberg, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Harold Gilman (the group’s first president until his death in 1919), Charles Ginner, Spencer Gore, Percy Wyndham Lewis, John Nash, Christopher Nevinson and Edward Wadsworth. The group was organized in opposition to the conservatism of the Royal Academy and the stagnation of the formerly radical New English Art Club. Though, as can be judged from the names of its founders, it had no homogeneous style or aesthetic, it acted as a focal point for the more progressive elements in British art at that time.


Term coined c. 1950 by the art historian John I. H. Baur to define a style in 19th-century American painting characterized by the realistic rendering of light and atmosphere. It was never a unified movement but rather an attempt by several painters working in the USA to understand the mysteries of nature through a precise, detailed rendering of the landscape. Luminism flourished c. 1850–75 but examples are found both earlier and later. Its principal practitioners were FITZ HUGH LANE, MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE,