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Look Inside The Rhetoric of Purity

The Rhetoric of Purity
Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting

$40.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in New Art History and Criticism

  • Date Published: August 1994
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521477598

$ 40.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • In The Rhetoric of Purity, Mark Cheetham explores the historical and theoretical relations between early abstract painting in Europe and the notion of purity. For Gauguin, Serusier, Mondrian and Kandinsky - the pioneering abstractionists whose written and visual works Cheetham discusses in detail - purity is the crucial quality that painting must possess. Purity, however, was itself only a password for what Cheetham defines as an 'essentialist' philosophy inaugurated by Plato's vision of a perfect, non-mimetic art form and practised by the founders of abstraction. The essentialism of late nineteenth-century French discussion of 'abstraction', Cheetham argues, also infects the work of Mondrian and Kandinsky. These visions of abstraction are central to the development of Modernism and are closely tied to the philosophical traditions of Plato, Hegel and Schopenhauer. As a conclusion, Cheetham provides a postmodern reading of Klee's rejection of the rhetoric of purity and claims that Klee's refusal speaks to contemporary concerns in visual theory and culture. By acting as an antidote to the seductive appeal of purity in art and society, Cheetham's final critique of the trope of purity seeks to preserve the possibility of visual discourse itself.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 1994
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521477598
    • length: 220 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 189 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction
    Acknowledgements
    Part I. Out of Plato's cave: 'abstraction' in late nineteenth-century France:
    1. Gauguin and the art of pure memory
    2. Serusier and Plato's poison
    Part II. The Mechanisms of Purity I: Mondrian
    Part III. The Mechanisms of Purity II: Kandinsky
    Part IV. Purity as Aesthetic Ideology:
    1. Absolute autonomy
    2. Universal exclusivity
    3. Authoritarian freedom
    Postscript. Klee and the Interrogation of Purity
    Notes
    Selected bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    Mark A. Cheetham

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