White walls, white nights, white girls: whiteness and the artistic interior, 1850-1890 - NMS Research Repository
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White walls, white nights, white girls: whiteness and the artistic interior, 1850-1890

9 September 2014

Abstract

Although in recent years some academic work has been undertaken about the use of colour, particularly blue, green and yellow, in Arts and Crafts and Aestheticism, little attention has been paid to the significance of the use of white in art, design and literature. Using as its starting point the notion of the Aesthetic or Artistic interior both as designed space and also as the interior self of the Aesthete formed though sensory experience, this article will utilize sources in art, design and literature to explore the complex meanings and symbolism of the colour white in art and design, as well as the relationship between design practice and ideas of artistic and Aesthetic selfhood. I contend that in employing the seemingly blank walls, canvases and draperies of whiteness, artists, writers and designers sought to create surfaces, spaces and images that could, and did, refer to very specific concepts of culture and identity.

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