Immensely skillful and inventive, Hans Holbein molded his approach to art-making during a period of dramatic transformation in European society and culture: the emergence of humanism, the impact of the Reformation on religious life, and the effects of new scientific discoveries. Most people have encountered Holbein’s work—think of King Henry VIII and Holbein’s memorable portrait springs to mind, forever defining the Tudor king for posterity—but little is widely known about the artist himself. This overview of Holbein looks at his art through the changes in the world around him. Offering insightful and often surprising new interpretations of visual and historical sources that have rarely been addressed, Jeanne Nuechterlein reconstructs what we know of the life of this elusive figure, illuminating the complexity of his world and the images he generated.
Harriet Hosmer (1830–1908) was celebrated as one of the country's most respected artists, credited with opening the field of sculpture to women and cited as a model of female ability and American refinement. In this biographical study, Kate Culkin explores Hosmer's life and work and places her in the context of a notable group of expatriate writers and artists who gathered in Rome in the mid-nineteenth century.
In 1852 Hosmer moved from Boston to Rome, where she shared a house with actress Charlotte Cushman and soon formed close friendships with such prominent expatriates as Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and fellow sculptors John Gibson, Emma Stebbins, and William Wetmore Story. References to Hosmer or characters inspired by her appear in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Kate Field among others. Culkin argues that Hosmer's success was made possible by her extensive network of supporters, including her famous friends, boosters of American gentility, and women's rights advocates. This unlikely coalition, along with her talent, ambition, and careful maintenance of her public profile, ultimately brought her great acclaim. Culkin also addresses Hosmer's critique of women's position in nineteenth-century culture through her sculpture, women's rights advocates' use of high art to promote their cause, the role Hosmer's relationships with women played in her life and success, and the complex position a female artist occupied within a country increasingly interested in proving its gentility.
Robert Morris, a leading figure in postwar American art, is best known as a pioneer of minimalist sculpture, process art, and earthworks. Yet Morris has resisted affiliation with any one movement or style. An extraordinarily versatile artist, he has produced dances, performance pieces, prints, paintings, drawings, and installations, working with materials including plywood, felt, dirt, aluminum, steel mesh, fiberglass, and encaustic. Throughout his career, Morris has written influential critical essays, commenting on his own work as well as that of other artists, and exploring through text many of the theoretical concerns addressed in his artwork—about perception, materiality, space, and the process of artmaking. Have I Reasons presents seventeen of Morris’s essays, six of which have never been published before. Written over the past fifteen years, the essays, along with the volume’s many illustrations, provide an invaluable record of the recent thought of a major American artist.
The writings are arranged chronologically, beginning with “Indiana Street,” a vivid autobiographical account of the artist’s early years in Kansas City, Missouri. Have I Reasons includes reflections on Morris’s own site-specific installations; transcripts of seminars he conducted in conjunction with exhibitions; and the textual element of The Birthday Boy, the two-screen video-and-sound piece he installed at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy, on the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of Michelangelo’s David. Essays range from original interpretations of Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings and Jasper Johns’ early work to engagements with one of Morris’s most significant interlocutors, the philosopher Donald Davidson. Have I Reasons conveys not only Morris’s enduring deep interest in philosophy and issues of resemblance and representation but also his more recent turn toward directly addressing contemporary social and political issues such as corporate excess and preemptive belligerence.
Henri Matisse’s experiments with form and color revolutionized the twentieth-century art world. In this concise critical biography, Kathryn Brown explores Matisse’s long career, beginning with his struggles as a student in Paris and culminating in his celebrated use of paper cutouts and stained glass in the last decade of his life. The book challenges various myths about Matisse and offers a fresh perspective on his creativity and legacy. Chapters explore the artist’s enthusiasm for fashion and cinema, his travels, personal ties, interest in African art, love of literature, and willingness to challenge audience expectations. Through close readings of Matisse’s works, Brown offers new insight into the artist’s friendships and battles with dealers, critics, collectors, and fellow artists.
The first English collection of writings by Henry van de Velde, one of the most influential designers and theorists of the twentieth century.
Belgian artist, architect, designer, and theorist Henry van de Velde (1863–1957) was a highly original and influential figure in Europe beginning in the 1890s. A founding member of the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil movements, he also directed the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar, Germany, which eventually became the Bauhaus under Walter Gropius.
This selection of twenty-six essays, translated from French and German, includes van de Velde’s writings on William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Neo-Impressionist painting, and relationships between ornament, line, and abstraction in German aesthetics. The texts trace the evolution of van de Velde’s thoughts during his most productive period as a theorist in the artistic debates in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Katherine M. Kuenzli expertly guides readers to see how van de Velde’s writings reconcile themes of aesthetics and function, and expression and reason, throughout the artistic periods and regions represented by these texts. With introductory discussions of each essay and full annotations, this is an essential volume for a broad range of scholars and students of the history of fine and applied arts and ideas.
Political and cultural history and the arts combine in this engaging account of 1790s France.
In 1799, when the French artist Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) exhibited his Intervention of the Sabines, a history painting featuring the ancient heroine Hersilia, he added portraits of two contemporary women on either side of her—Henriette de Verninac, daughter of Charles-François Delacroix, minister of foreign affairs, and Juliette Récamier, a well-known and admired socialite. Drawing on many disciplines, Norman Bryson explains how such a combination of paintings could reveal the underlying nature of the Directoire, the period between the vicious and near-dictatorial Reign of Terror (1793–94) and the coup in 1799 that brought Napoleon to power.
Hersilia’s Sisters illuminates ways that cultural life and civil society were rebuilt during these years through an extraordinary efflorescence of women pioneers in every cultural domain—literature, the stage, opera, moral philosophy, political theory, painting, popular journalism, and fashion. Through a close examination of David’s work between The Intervention of the Sabines (begun in 1796) and Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (begun in 1800), Bryson explores how the flowering of women’s culture under the Directoire became a decisive influence on David’s art. With more than 150 illustrations, this book provides new and brilliant insight into this period that will captivate readers.
First published in 1966, this account of the life and work of T.C. Steele, one of Indiana's most renowned artists, has become a much-sought-after classic. For this reissue, sixty-two of the book's seventy-six illustrations, including all ten color plates, have been newly photographed and reproduced according to the highest modern standards. The text, unchanged from the first edition, includes a brief biography by the painter's grandson, Theodore L. Steele; a poetic memoir of Steele's last Brown County years by Selma N. Steele; and an appreciation of Steele's work by art historian Wilbur D. Peat.
Hélio Oiticica (1937–80) was one of the most brilliant Brazilian artists of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a forerunner of participatory art, and his melding of geometric abstraction and bodily engagement has influenced contemporary artists from Cildo Meireles and Ricardo Basbaum to Gabriel Orozco, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Olafur Eliasson. This book examines Oiticica’s impressive works against the backdrop of Brazil’s dramatic postwar push for modernization.
From Oiticica’s late 1950s experiments with painting and color to his mid-1960s wearable Parangolés, Small traces a series of artistic procedures that foreground the activation of the spectator. Analyzing works, propositions, and a wealth of archival material, she shows how Oiticica’s practice recast—in a sense “folded”—Brazil’s utopian vision of progress as well as the legacy of European constructive art. Ultimately, the book argues that the effectiveness of Oiticica’s participatory works stems not from a renunciation of art, but rather from their ability to produce epistemological models that reimagine the traditional boundaries between art and life.