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Modern Ideal: The Rise and Collapse of Idealism in the Visual Arts from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism

Modern Ideal: The Rise and Collapse of Idealism in the Visual Arts from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism (Hardback)

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Over the last three centuries the world has been modernized. From the first stirrings of industrialism to the definitive arrival of globalization, artists, craftspeople and designers have engaged with modernization in order to make sense of the transformations it continually imposes. They have been, by turns, brutally critical and profoundly idealistic about the ongoing state of things. The Modern Ideal explores the idea of modernity, returning it to its historical context and showing how theory and practice in the modern visual arts emerged over three centuries. Concepts which are central to the meaning of modernity are explained, including style, modernization, progress, ideology and universality, and movements across all disciplines are discussed, from neoclassicism to postmodernism. The rise of idealism in the modern visual arts is also explored: the attempt to create a definitive, positive style that was capable of transforming not only art but society as a whole, became the obsessive quest of succeeding generations of artists, architects and designers.

By dealing with issues at large in the contemporary art and design scene, and by speculating about the next phase of modern practice, the book identifies the collapse of idealism in the modern arts as being of central concern today.

Paul Greenhalgh was formerly Head of Research at the V&A. He curated the hugely successful exhibition, Art Nouveau 1890-1914 and edited the accompanying bestselling book (V&A 2000). He is currently President of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

More books by Paul Greenhalgh

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