Wednesday, January 5, 2011


10 pieces of information:

1) Valued aesthetic elements of art over moral or social themes (no conceptual art here folks)

2) A reaction to British morality, Victorian ideals and Industrialisation

3) Art for Art’s Sake – iconic phrase first used by Walter Pater (1867)

4) Blue and White dinner ware(decorative arts)

5) Nature – flowers and birds (decorative arts )

6 )Whistler /Ruskin trial

The guilty painting

(interesting in relation to Ronnie’s comment on the last post regarding the weight of Greenberg’s influence in the American scene of the 1950’s.)

7)Here is another interesting account of the Whistler/Ruskin trial

– particularly interesting because it gives four ‘tenets’ of the movement which basically states that artists and their visions are superior to everyone else in society and therefore their only duty is to create art and therefore they can distort what they are representing if they want to.

8) Oscar Wilde was a promoter of the aesthetic movement

9) The Aesthetic dress movement grew out of the artists desire to paint medieval knights and ladies. The artists models and wives started wearing the less restricting clothes. This was part of what was known as the “dress reform”of the 1870’s which was trying to get woman out of corsets and into bloomers.

Now they couldn't of done that in their Victorian finery! c 1880's

10)The pre Raphaelites are probable the best know group associated with aestheticism and the ideas discussed above.  Whistler was not a member of the pre Raphaelites but was linked to the same ideas of art for art's sake.  Whereas the P R's focused on ymbolism and religious and medieval scenes, Whistler was concerned primarily with colour. 

Artists include Rossetti, Burne Jones, Whistler, Beardsley, Millais,



Burne Jones


So that is Aestheticism in 300 words or less. 
I must admit I do love the images no matter how cliched some of them have become.
Please feel free to add anything. 


  1. Just before I got to your last remarks I was thinking was it soppy of me to still love the pre Raphaelites - you made me feel better about that. Thanks for doing all the work, you're really adding to my education, in the nicest possible way.

  2. What I really like about this project is that you're not moving through time, but alphabetically. The time-travel is mind-blowing.

  3. ahhh reading this reminds me how art theory is a shifting beast...... I don't think I'm familiar with the name 'aesthetism' even though I'm a little bit familiar with pre-raphaelites (I loved a beardsley print int he art room in high school!)... but maybe popping rossetti and co into an aesthetic basket is a good thing - see I tend to think of them in relation to the arts and craft movement... so I think of Mackintosh and Morris... and then onto the CALLIGRAPHY revival (hallelujah!!!) .....

    now what was next in the alphabet?

  4. thanks for commenting guys. It is more difficult than I thought it was going to be.

    Yes duck, I did agonise over what 'order
    to use but decided chronological sort of defeated the purpose. I only just read your last comment 2 posts back and totally agree. Pigeon holing anything (particularly art or literature)can be a counter productive activity and I am definitely going to hunt out the Winterson reference. However part of me is a real cataloguer. I like to see how the parts fit together even if it only form a flickering moment - before the fluidity of any history changes the whole picture. Ronnie's comment above highlights this nicely.
    Why am I doing this I don't know but I keep remembering reading a potters opinion a long time ago (can't remember specific names). He was talking about how long it took him to become a potter and he said "twenty years - 10 years to learn it and 10 years to forget what he had learnt" . I suppose I feel that i've been putting the cart before the horse and am trying to go back to the learning part. I hope that makes sense.
    If nothing else the alphabetical order should make for some interesting juxtapositions.

  5. oh yeah. Next is classicism.
    Maybe the most problematic of them all.
    I thought of doing it with neo-classicism because early reading is indicating an interchangeable usage of the two terms. Already I'm asking myself are the pre Raphaelites Neo classists as well as aesthetics? LoL, this is the wankerism that is so offensive isn't Duck?

  6. that was a typo. meant to read - 'Lol this is the wanderism that is so offensive isn't IT Duck?'

  7. Abso-lutely. Wankerism AND wanderism :)