The Picturesque: Architecture, Disgust and other Irregularities

Macarthur, John The Picturesque: Architecture, Disgust and other Irregularities 1st ed. London, New York: Routledge, 2007.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Macarthur, John
Title The Picturesque: Architecture, Disgust and other Irregularities
Place of Publication London, New York
Publisher Routledge
Publication year 2007
Sub-type Research book (original research)
Edition 1st
Series The classical tradition in architecture
ISBN 9781844721412
Start page 1
End page 295
Total number of pages 295
Collection year 2008
Subjects 310102 Heritage and Conservation
310101 Architecture
310199 Architecture and Urban Environment not elsewhere classified
780199 Other
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Cover Text.

The term picturesque once meant a radical blurring of art and life–a reordering of hierarchies of taste and of relations between the arts of architecture, painting and gardening. This book recaptures some of the piquancy of the picturesque in the 18th century theories of Sir Uvedale Price and others when it was a risky term concerned with a refined taste for everyday things, such as the hovels of the labouring poor. Today, the idea of understanding experience through images is so ubiquitous and the technology for doing this so sophisticated, that the word ‘picturesque’ is frequently used to describe aesthetic failure, trivial cultural products and naïve tastes. But this received impression of the picturesque is a false one. In fact, the theory of the picturesque underpins numerous aspects of modern art and architecture that no longer have anything to do with a sentimental taste for images of rural life. What is more, the split between a naïve and a critical picturesque already existed in Eighteenth century texts and debates–this is what gave it a critical edge, and is the basis for its development by later writers such as John Ruskin, Heinrich Wölfflin, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, and recently Rem Koolhaas.

In this fresh and authoritative account of the picturesque John Macarthur presents the 18th century idea in the light of its reception and effects in modern culture. In a series of linked essays Macarthur shows: what the concept of picture does in the picturesque and how this relates to modern theories of the image; how the distaste that we might feel today at the sentimentality of the picturesque was already at play in the 18th century; how visual values such as ‘irregularity’ become the basis of modern architectural planning; how the concept of appropriating a view moves from landscape design into urban design; and, why movement is fundamental to picturing the stillness of buildings, cities and landscapes.
Table of Contents

The genesis of the picturesque/ 1795 / Price, Knight and Repton / The Nineteenth century / The picturesque in modernism / The reception of the picturesque

The space of painting and pictorial composition / Painting and pictures / The end of fresco / Gilpin, the sketch and composition at large / Price, Reynolds and genre / Breadth and connection / Repton and the limits of the picture / Architecture and pictures / Coda: Le Corbusier and Herzog and de Meuron, or, the end of the modern picturesque

Feeling and ideation / ‘A dirty fellow with a dirty shovel’: Rhyparography and the value of disgust in art / Disinterestedness / Disinterest II: disgust in the republic of taste / A picturesque butcher’s shop / Meat in Repton / The Carcase of an Ox / Sir Uvedale Price’s theory of disgust / Picturesqueness and objecthood / The heartlessness of the picturesque: John Ruskin / From savageness to brutalism and ‘The Revenge Of The Picturesque’ / Everyday

The architectural plan, and a sketch for its history / The truth about cottages / Cottages– neat and neglected / Irregularity in theory and practice / Cottage architecture and irregularity as technique / Familiarity / Plan-form and style / Picturesque architecture and form / Triangularity / Le Corbusier’s picturesque / Picturesque minimalism?

Repton’s theory of appropriation / From landscape and prospect to landscape and power / Ivor de Wolfe’s picturesque, or, who and what was Townscape? / The politics of viewpoint from Civilia to Collage City / Horizonality and modern art / The franchise of architecture, or looking down with the picturesque / Postscript: sharawaggi now

Picturesque and baroque / Wölfflin, malerisch and the picturesque movement-effect / Movement, space and modernity / Imitating movement / Benjamin and the non-sensuous imitation of movement / Interruption / Architecture and the picturesque


Keyword Architecture
Art History
Visual Culture
Q-Index Code A1

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Created: Tue, 11 Dec 2007, 11:00:46 EST by Laura McTaggart on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management