Sublimity, beauty and decorum

Part of book or chapter of book English OPEN
White, Luke (2007)
  • Publisher: MOCA in conjunction with the Royal Academy Schools

This catalogue essay examines the work of two contemporary abstract painters, Maisie Kendall and Richmond Burton, who were showing together at the Royal Academy Schools Gallery in London, in Autumn 2007. It traces the fate of the "decorative" in modern art, and relates this term to Neoclassical attitudes to decorum. Tracing the turn away from decorum as a validating term in art, with the rise of the related (and gendered) notions of the sublime and the beautiful (with the privileging of the former over the latter), the essay argues that now in work such as Kendall's and Burton's the sensual pleasure of beauty - a kind of indecorous decorum, or a decorous indecorum - serves as a deliberately transgressive and even troubling element.\ud The essay was produced for the catalogue for the exhibition.
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