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Warburg Institute


This volume contains most of the papers given at a colloquium held at the Institute in 1997. It provides a study of the concept of composition in European art and art literature from the middle ages to the early twentieth century. Some authors are concerned to show the extent to which writers on art before 1880 would have been able to think of a work of art in the terms put forward by modernist theorists like Maurice Denis, Wassily Kandinsky and Clement Greenberg, as a flat surface, covered with colours, lines and forms arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way. Other authors aim to show how artists and theorists conceived of composition before the modern period, by describing some of the implications and connotations of the concept within a broader field of political and religious meanings.


Athene Reiss - Pictorial Composition in Medieval Art.
Charles Hope - 'Composition' from Cennini and Alberti to Vasari
François Quiviger - Imagining and Composing Stories in the Renaissance.
Philip Sohm - Baroque Piles and Other Decompositions.
Thomas Frangenberg - Andrea Pozzo on the Ceiling Paintings in S. Ignazio.
Colette Nativel - La Théorie de la composition dans le De pictura veterum de Franciscus Junius: Une transition entre Alberti et l'Académie.
Thomas Puttfarken - Composition, Disposition and Ordonnance in French Seventeenth–century Writings on Art.
Paul Taylor - Composition in Seventeenth–century Dutch Art Theory.
Harry Mount - Reynolds, Chiaroscuro and Composition.
Richard Wrigley - The Politics of Composition: Reflection on Jacques Louis David's Serment du Jeu de paume.
Hubert Locher - Towards a Science of Art: the Concept of 'Pure Composition' in Nineteenth– and Twentieth– century Art Theory.