Art and Architecture

Art&ArchitectureOxford Reference provides more than 60,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries across Art and Architecture. Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on artists, architects, works, and buildings as well as the terminology, concepts, movements, techniques, and organizations relating to all periods within these fields.

Written by trusted experts for researchers at every level, entries are complemented by illustrative line drawings and chronologies.

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                               The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture    A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art   The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms   The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists

See all the Art and Architecture books available on Oxford Reference >

Sample resources

Discover Art and Architecture on Oxford Reference with the below sample content:

Timelines of the arts and architecture: from Neanderthals carving a flute from the bone of a bear to the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai

Quotations about art and architecture from Oxford Essential Quotations

A chronology showing how key examples of Western art fit into a wider historical context, from The Oxford Dictionary of Art

Eidophusikon’ defined in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms

A biography of Annie Leibovitz from The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art

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Featured Author


James Stevens Curl

Ann Lee Morgan is an independent scholar. She has taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at schools in Chicago, where she also worked as an art reference books and periodical editor. Her publications include Arthur Dove: Life and Work, with a Catalogue Raisonné, Dear Stieglitz, Dear Dove, and the Historical Dictionary of Contemporary Art. She has edited Contemporary Designers and the International Contemporary Arts Directory. She is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists, available on Oxford Reference.

Author Q&A

Which historical events or figures featured in your dictionary have most influenced your study of your subject?

Attracted as a graduate student to the paintings of Arthur Dove, I chose to write my Ph.D. dissertation on the work of this American modernist, still relatively little known at that time. Importantly, for my work as an art historian, through Dove and his associates in the circle around Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer, gallerist, and ardent supporter of modernism in the arts, I came to understand how Dove and others adapted the modern movement that had originated in Europe to good use in an American context. These artists in their mature careers had little interest in pursuing variations on cubism and other recent developments in European art. But they also abhorred what they saw as the provincialism of American life. Dove’s resolve to use cosmopolitan formal terms to express an American identity illuminates a central tension within American art of the early twentieth century. Over time, I have increasingly come to appreciate how this duality has played out in various ways, but relatively consistently, in the nation’s artistic heritage.

What do you think is the most commonly held misconception in your subject area?

Both art historians and the general public commonly dismiss American art as uninteresting or second-rate until after World War II, when abstract expressionism and subsequent developments attracted international acclaim. Nevertheless, this misperception has begun to change in recent years; cultural interests have shifted toward a more inclusive point of view and the longstanding Eurocentric historical narrative has been challenged. As American art has taken on more prominence among art historians, exciting new research has reinvigorated the field with newly perceived complexity and depth of meaning. In fact, despite their frequent difficulties in obtaining academic training, American artists have always more than compensated for such limitations with freshness and expressive vigour. Their work has consistently resonated with aspects of the cultural, social, and political life of the nation in ways that are beginning to be better understood. From John Singleton Copley, a colonial Bostonian who painted better works than he had ever seen, through the New Deal-era American scene painters, who visualized core American values, the nation’s artists have offered much of interest to the eye and mind.

Which figure in your subject’s history would you most like to invite to a dinner party? What would you ask him/her?

This is a tough choice. Although artists are commonly thought to be inarticulate, in fact nearly all have perceptive things to say about their own and other artists’ work. That said, if choosing a dinner companion, I would favour one who would surely have interesting stories to tell.

Who better than Charles Willson Peale? A major contributor to the art life of the colonial era and early republic, he nevertheless also held his own among scientific minds of his day. A patriot and political activist, he served in the military during the Revolution and later held public office. He spearheaded establishment of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the country’s first art school and museum. In service to his belief in public education, he also operated his own long-lived museum encompassing both art and science. With his encouragement, his children, along with their descendants and other family members, sustained his name as an artist throughout the nineteenth century. Peale knew everybody—founders Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Rush, as well as artists John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and William Rush, among countless others from varied walks of life. We would have a lot to talk about.

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Featured blogs

In Architecture, Hold Fast to History
June 2015
Professor James Stevens Curl explains the importance of being able to understand architecture.

For more art and architecture blog posts delve in to the OUPblog archives >

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