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#09 - Art_ndDesign III - John Ruskin

Author face
Article written by
Rosa Cortázar Meléndez

Following the chronological line with the previous article (#05 issue) and in England, today I come to talk to you about John Ruskin, a multifaceted gentleman (art critic, artist, writer, poet, sociologist) who rejected the Industrial Revolution to defend the craft, the decorative and the medieval along with William Morris, the greatest representative of the Arts and Crafts, being the opposite point to Henry Cole and the Universal Exhibitions, that is, enemies of industrial design and proletarian exploitation.

As a theorist, in Seven Lamps of Architecture, in 1849, he established seven bases that every artist should follow:

  • Sacrifice
  • Truth
  • Power
  • Beauty
  • Life
  • Memory
  • Obedience

In this publication he also defended quality and reason, using the best materials and paying attention to details, moving with a beauty based on the nature as God's creation and the artist repressing creativity to adapt to the needs of society, serving architecture as a history of human activity.

Although these principles were created for architecture, they can obviously also be applied to design, since design (although not all of it) also thrills with its beauty, adapts to needs, uses quality materials, etc., which I will talk about in more detail in the next article with Arts & Crafts and Morris.

He also got involved with the Pre-Raphaelites, a brotherhood of critics and artists who rejected academic art to defend the painting before Raphael (hence its name), full of lights, colours and details, creating beautiful works with a reminiscence of the medieval, keeping from this period even the vision of women as demons and evil beings that led men to perdition, as you can see in the work of Waterhouse, Hylas and the nymphs (image below), who died drowned by them after being seduced.

As a curious fact, this work has been removed from the Manchester Art Gallery for "objectifying women", but if we follow this idea then we will have to eliminate the vast majority of art, I think we should not censor so much, but raise awareness. I think this is quite an interesting debate, so anyone who wants to talk about it should not hesitate to contact me!

Written by Rosa Cortázar

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