The Decorative Aesthetic in Modernism, 1860-1960


In the criticism of modern art, "decoration" and "decorative" have often been used as pejorative terms, designating art that has no intellectual basis but is merely pleasing, intended to fill space and delight the eye. However, in the late 19th century, these terms carried important cultural value and opened the door to significant experiments in abstraction. Moreover, the decoration of a public space or surface may have political implications. This course will investigate decoration and theories of "the decorative" in modern art in Europe and the United States, with special attention paid to the evolution of ideas of modernism in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional environments. We will also consider some of the political meanings that may be borne by both public mural painting and domestic decoration as well as easel painting that aspires to conditions of the decorative. Key figures include Puvis de Chavannes, Morris, the Nabis, Van de Velde, Monet, Matisse, the Mexican muralists, Pollock, and Shapiro. Prerequisites: L01 215; any 300-level course in Art History; or permission of instructor.
Course Attributes: FA AH; EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; AH MEA

Section 01

The Decorative Aesthetic in Modernism, 1860-1960
View Course Listing - SP2023