an art critic who was asked to review Adolf Hitlers paintings, without being told who painted them, judged them as quite good. He also noted the different style in which human figures were drawn represents a profound disinterest in people.
The Southeast Asian island of Borneo joins a growing number of sites boasting early cave art innovation.
BY MAYA WEI-HAAS
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 7, 2018
COUNTLESS CAVES PERCH atop the steep-sided mountains of East Kalimantan in Indonesia, on the island of Borneo. Draped in stone sheets and spindles, these natural limestone cathedrals showcase geology at its best. But tucked within the outcrops is something even more spectacular: a vast and ancient gallery of cave art.
Hundreds of hands wave in outline from the ceilings, fingers outstretched inside bursts of red-orange paint. Now, updated analysis of the cave walls suggests that these images stand among the earliest traces of human creativity, dating back between 52,000 and 40,000 years ago. That makes the cave art tens of thousands of years older than previously thought.
But that's not the only secret in the vast labyrinthine system.
In a cave named Lubang Jeriji Saléh, a trio of rotund cow-like creatures is sketched on the wall, with the largest standing more than seven feet across. The new dating analysis suggests that these images are at least 40,000 years old, earning them the title of the earliest figurative cave paintings yet found. The work edges out the previous title-holder—a portly babirusa, or “pig deer,” in Sulawesi, Indonesia—by just a few thousand years.
“In the entrance, there's a little chamber to the right, and it's there—bam,” says archaeologist Maxime Aubert of Griffith University. It's not the earliest cave art ever found. But unlike earlier scribbles and tracings, these paintings are unequivocal depictions of ancient animals, his team reports today in the journal Nature.
The bovines and handprints join a growing array of artwork of similar age that adorns the walls of caves around the world. These paintings mark a shift in how early humans thought about and engaged with their environment—from focusing on survival and daily mundane necessities to cultivating what could be the earliest threads of human culture, explains Paleolithic archeologist April Nowell of the University of Victoria.
“I think for a lot of us, that's a true expression of human-ness in the broadest sense of that word,” she says.
Island locals have long known about these paintings, as they encountered the stunning works while hunting for edible bird nests. The artwork was eventually documented in the 1990s and later dated. But many samples were porous, Aubert explains, which notoriously gives ages older than reality. At the time, the team settled on a cautious minimum age of 10,000 years.
Aubert and his colleagues ventured back to the caves in 2016 and 2017 to collect new, nonporous samples and retest the ages using the same method, which relies on the ever-present drip of water. As liquid percolates through the rock and sediments overhead, the water slowly dissolves both limestone and naturally occurring radioactive uranium. It then deposits the substances in calcium carbonate coatings on the cave walls.
Uranium predictably degrades to thorium, and because water leaves this element behind in its wending path, scientists can measure the ratio of uranium to thorium to determine various features' ages. In total, the team analyzed 15 calcium carbonate samples from six cave sites, drawing from deposits on top of and beneath the drawings that sandwich the art in time.
The new dates seem to define three stages of Paleolithic artistry in the region, and they show a shift from depicting animals to showcasing the human world.
“We didn't expect that at all,” Aubert says.
The oldest phase is made up of reddish-orange images starting sometime between 40,000 to 52,000 years ago, including the bursts of color outlining ancient hands and the bovid-like animals. Dark purple images mark a second period timed to around 20,000 years ago. Many hands make up this phase, but they're ornamented with tattoo-like dots, dashes, and lines. Vine-like tendrils connect the hands together. Both red and purple pigments seem to be made of the same material, one may just be more weathered than the other, Aubert notes.
A slim, mulberry-colored human figure dating to roughly 13,600 years ago leads the art into the third phase. This period is dominated by black pigmented geometric shapes and stick figures engaged in activity, such as dancing, boating, and hunting. Found elsewhere across the island of Borneo, these black pigment drawings are thought to be just a few thousand years old.
Standing among the greats
The new dates are exciting but perhaps not surprising, says archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen. Conard, who was not involved in the latest study, led the investigations into the Hohle Fels cave of southern Germany that discovered, among many other finds, a headless woman figurine dating to at least 35,000 years ago. In 2009, when the find was announced, it was arguably the earliest rendering of the human form.
But Conard has long anticipated the discovery of other ancient cultural centers: “Why would there only be one place on the planet Earth where all this stuff comes from?”
Sure enough, signs of the early beginnings of art around the world has grown in recent years. Smatterings of supremely old evidence include a 73,000-year-old hashtag-like doodle from South Africa, as well as 65,000-year-old geometric shapes and hand outlines from Spain that may have been made by Neanderthals. (Learn more about the origins of art.)
With their new dates, the Borneo depictions join a rich period that seems to mark the beginning of true cave painting around the world. The impressive charcoal menagerie of southern France's Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave dates to roughly 36,000 years ago; hand outlines and simple red discs of Spain's Castillo cave date to more than 40,800 years old. And just a short boat ride away from Borneo are the red handprints and portly pig-deer of Sulawesi that are as old as 39,900 years. There's also a variety of Australian art that could come from this time period, but it has proven more difficult to date than the limestone works.
As these varied regions gain more attention for their cave art, Nowell says, “I think the picture is going to change quite a bit.”
What sparked this apparent global artistic movement remains unknown. In Europe, art seemed to flourish soon after early modern humans arrived, but evidence for humans in Southeast Asia predates the ancient artists by 20 to 30 thousand years. As Aubert notes, the movements seem to accelerate during the last glacial maximum, and he speculates this change in climate somehow forced people into closer groups, speeding along cultural innovation.
But Conard is not convinced. “The way the climatic variations play out is so different in the different parts of the world,” he says. “In the world of hunters and gatherers in the Pleistocene, there's a lot of real estate,” he adds, so when the climate changes, there are still many places for people to go. When interpreting these changes, he says, context is key.
It's also possible that older rock art didn't survive the passage of time, Nowell suggests, especially if the work was scrawled on surfaces that were more exposed to the elements. Or perhaps earlier humans weren't inspired by the cave's blank canvas, she adds. Ochre crayons date back over 200,000 years—and scientists have ascribed many more mundane purposes to the colorful pigments, from sunscreen to adhesive.
For now, researchers are continuing to track down these cultural threads around the world, and with each new find, they grow more attuned to the past.
“Once we start to find these behaviors and these kinds of images,” Nowell says, “there's something that really connects us to these people and how they saw the world around them.”
“Sometimes the intention is to shock. But what is shocking first time round is boring and vacuous when repeated. This makes art into an elaborate joke, one that has ceased to be funny. Yet the critics go on endorsing it, afraid to say that the emperor has no clothes.” Roger Scruton
David Davidovich Burliuk July 1882 – January 1967) was a Ukrainian Futurist, Neo-Primitivist, book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism. Burliuk is often described as "the father of Russian Futurism."
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city. It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past. Cubism contributed to the formation of Italian Futurism's artistic style.
Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, Belgium and elsewhere. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even Futurist meals. To some extent, Futurism influenced the art movements Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism, Dada, and to a greater degree Precisionism, Rayonism, and Vorticism. Rayonism (or Rayism or Rayonnism) is a style of abstract art that developed in Russia in 1911.
Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova developed rayonism after hearing a series of lectures about Futurism by Marinetti in Moscow. The Futurists took speed, technology and modernity as their inspiration, depicting the dynamic character of early 20th century life.
(The Rayonists sought an art that floated beyond abstraction, outside time and space, and to break the barriers between the artist and the public.)
(Vorticism was a short-lived modernist movement in British art and poetry of the early 20th century, partly inspired by Cubism. The movement was announced in 1914 in the first issue of BLAST, which contained its manifesto and the movement's rejection of landscape and nudes in favour of a geometric style tending towards abstraction. Ultimately, it was their witnessing of unfolding human disaster in World War I that "drained these artists of their Vorticist zeal". Vorticism was based in London but was international in make-up and ambition.
Jonathan Eastman Johnson (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) was an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.
Johnson's style is largely realistic in both subject matter and in execution. His charcoal sketches were not strongly influenced by period artists but are informed more by his lithography training. Later works show influence by the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, and also by Jean-François Millet. Echoes of Millet's The Gleaners can be seen in Johnson's The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket, although the emotional tone of the work is far different.
His careful portrayal of individuals rather than stereotypes enhances the realism of his paintings. Ojibwe artist Carl Gawboynotes that the faces in the 1857 portraits of Ojibwe people by Johnson are recognizable in people in the Ojibwe community today. Some of his paintings, such as Ojibwe Wigwam at Grand Portage, are highly realistic, with details seen in the later photorealism movement.
His careful attention to light sources contributes to the realism. Portraits, Girl and Pets and The Boy Lincoln, make use of single light sources in a manner that is similar to the 17th-century Dutch Masters whom he had studied in The Hague in the 1850s.
NINE DISCOURSES ON COMMODUS
In the mid-1950s, while working as a cryptographer in the US Army, Cy Twombly developed his signature style of graffiti-like scratches, scribbles, and frenetic lines that simultaneously referenced and subverted the then-dominant painterly mode of Abstract Expressionism. Following Twombly's permanent move to Rome in 1957, the gestural freedom of Abstract Expressionism was counterbalanced by and tethered to the weight of history. A series of works from the late 1950s and early 1960s chart Twombly's deepening fascination with Italian history, ancient mythology, and classical literature.
During the period from 1962 to 1963 Twombly's paintings and their historical referents assumed a much more somber and anxious tone, as Twombly took up a panoply of historical assassinations as his point of departure-a shift perhaps reflective of the darkening mood of the early 1960s, which witnessed the Cuban Missile crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Produced in the winter of 1963, the painting cycle Nine Discourses on Commodus serves as a summation of this agonized and singular phase in his career. The cycle is based on the cruelty, insanity, and eventual murder of the Roman emperor Aurelius Commodus (161–192 CE). Conflict, opposition, and tension dominate the paintings' composition. Two whorls of matter hold the central focus of each piece, ranging in mood from serene, cloudlike structures to bleeding wounds and culminating in a fiery apotheosis in the final panel. Despite the paintings' intrinsic aesthetics of chaos and instability, a tightly controlled armature governs their composition. The gray background acts as a negative space to counterbalance the bloody whirls of paint and scabs of congealed impasto. Over this neutral backdrop, the line that runs along the middle of the paintings serves as a guiding mark to subdivide the composition. Many of the Commodus paintings also feature numerical sequences, often articulating the grids, graphs, and geometric axes that form the paintings' skeleton.
The Commodus paintings were first exhibited at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in March 1964, appearing before an American audience still in the thrall of Pop art and Minimalism. In this context, Twombly's messy and esoteric Commodus paintings seemed severely out of place and out of date. They attracted scathing reviews, which tellingly focused on Twombly's absence from the New York art scene, implying his abandonment of the United States and carrying the distinctly chauvinistic subtext that these paintings had been imported from "old Europe." Given their intrinsic reliance on narrative and sequence, it can hardly have helped the situation that the Commodus paintings were installed in a jumbled and confused order at Castelli Gallery, leaving their overall trajectory undecipherable.
After this ignominious reception, the Commodus paintings, all unsold, were returned to exile in Italy. The controversy over the works and its aftermath had far-reaching repercussions on Twombly's painting and career, reverberating in his diminished output during the following two years and perhaps acting as a catalyst for his subsequent change in direction with the "blackboard" series. It was not until the summers of 1977 and 1978, while preparations were under way for a retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, that Twombly would create another historical ensemble, Fifty Days at Iliam. When the Whitney retrospective opened in 1979, it was only the second time the Commodus paintings had been exhibited.
It would take many years for the true impact of the Commodus paintings to become apparent. Today, distanced from the rivalries and debates of the 1960s, the strength of Twombly's painting is no longer obscured by such polemics. The Commodus paintings-previously seen as peripheral or aberrant by Twombly's contemporaries-now clearly occupy a unique and central position in the history of postwar painting.
Nicholas Cullinan. "Cy Twombly." In Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection. Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Madrid: TF Editores, 2009.
Oscar Gustaf Björck ( January 1860 – December 1929) was a Swedish painter and a professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. He y settled in Stockholm in 1888 where he concentrated on portraits. Björck's earliest portraits were influenced by Georg von Rosen and his pictures from Skagen reflected the influence of Danish artists, especially Peder Severin Krøyer. In many of his characteristic works, he depicted the Swedish middle class of his times.
Björck was encouraged to go to Skagen in 1882 by P.S. Krøyer whom he had met in Paris and for whom he showed great admiration. He immediately became attached to the artists' community there, especially Michael Ancher, his wife Anna and Holger Drachmann. It was not just the Skagen landscape that attracted him but equally the warmth and hospitality of the artists themselves. Björck spent several summers there, completing some of his best paintings under the influence of Krøyer and the French Naturalism movement.
AUG 9, 2018
Aaron Ott, the first-ever curator of public art at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, talks about leading an uncommon cultural initiative across Western New York.
As the director of the Helsinki Art Museum, which is owned and operated by city government, Janne Sirén was required to provide art for the streets and parks of the Finnish capital. So when he moved to Buffalo, New York, in 2013 to become the director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, he asked to meet with their public art curator.
They didn’t have one. Most U.S. museums don’t.
Sirén quickly changed that, hiring Aaron Ott, who had previously worked on art projects for various Chicago-area institutions, as the first-ever curator for the Albright-Knox’s public art initiative. The 156-year-old museum is now five years into an ambitious program that’s been injecting life into the Western New York region’s parks, neighborhoods, buildings, and other infrastructure through paint, plastic, steel, cloth, and whatever else their international cast of commissioned artists want to work with.
Buffalo isn’t exactly known as a hotbed for adventurous contemporary public art—at least not since Green Lightning, an infamous downtown installation that drew the ire of then-mayor Jimmy Griffin in 1984 for its perceived vulgarity before being dismantled and relocated to Chicago. But Ott’s team has already delivered a few instant hits. Casey Riordan Millard’s Shark Girl sits on a bench by the city’s Inner Harbor, accommodating selfie-seekers from across the region. New “emotional wayfinding” signs by Stephen Powers (a.k.a. “Espo”) tap into the region’s love-hate relationship with itself and are sure to fill up local Instagram feeds. Robert Indiana’s Cor-Ten steel NUMBERS ONE through ZEROprovide photogenic pop art in the verdant Outer Harbor while the museum itself hosts a retrospective on the recently deceased artist.
But the program, funded with city, county, and private money, stretches well beyond Buffalo’s most visited parts. In a city neatly segregated by its street grid, murals by London-raised Shantell Martin and Wrocław-based Wojciech Kołacz bring contemporary, internationally identifiable murals to the city’s East Side—the hub of black culture in today’s Buffalo, laced with the lingering traces of the Polish community that has mostly resettled in the suburbs. Closer to Main Street, four local artists have transformed a bus depot wall into a tribute to 28 civil rights leaders. And in a section of the West Side that has been the center of Buffalo’s Hispanic and Latinx community since the 1960s, a mural by artist and activist Betsy Casañas celebrates the neighborhood’s identity.
CityLab recently caught up with Ott to talk about the origin of the program, the planning behind each commission, and the power of public art to change the community conversation in Buffalo.
So this is for forever?
That’s my hope! The Albright-Knox, it’s such a big part of Buffalo. We’re the sixth-oldest museum in the country. Period. We’re the oldest museum dedicated to modern and contemporary work. We’re essentially the oldest museum in America that’s not encyclopedic, so people are really familiar with us as a cultural beacon. But the public art initiative is now only on its fourth year. In the long history of the institution, we’ve started something that’s only taken up a wee little bit of it, but people have responded well to it so far.
It’s been humbling to see how excited the public is for the work we’re doing. Since we have a campus expansion coming up, my hope is that during the construction period we can be more active in the community by having great art outside the museum’s walls.
We have great partners, which is critical. It’s not just about relying on other institutions or individuals to help us manage the work—we also share financial obligations. Placing the Robert Indiana numbers at the Outer Harbor was larger than my annual budget. Having the assistance of a number of people in the community—in this instance, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation—to help make that financially feasible allows us to do the kind of work that we’re really excited about.
Besides Helsinki, are there other case studies you looked at for public art programs?
It’s a bit novel for a museum to be doing this in the States. There are museums that have programs that present as public. Newfields in Indianapolis has 100 acres of space that serve as a garden of sorts for sculptures. The Walker in Minneapolis has a newly expanded sculpture garden and a big hill that they program with performances. There are places like the High Line and anything Creative Time and the Public Art Fund have done, which aren’t necessarily museum-affiliated projects but are museum quality.
There are all kinds of different models to do something like this, but we took what we liked and what we thought could be applied to our own situation. We wanted to figure out how to craft a public-private partnership using the assets and expertise of this museum, not just in terms of the collection but the people we have and our relationships with the art world. It’s a network that’s been developed over a century and a half. You can’t create that from whole cloth.
When did public art start appearing?
I got here in April 2014. Because the Public Art Initiative didn’t exist yet, one of my first tasks was to go out in the community and meet stakeholders, individuals, and organizations that wanted to partner with us, because that was going to be the only way we could make it as successful and broad-based as we wanted it to be. Through those conversations we established how we might want to begin. It took a couple of months to figure it out.
There were a couple pieces that we launched all at once. In late August and early September of 2014 we placed a couple of things that were concurrent with each other. We did Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful project, which included 44 billboards placed throughout Erie and Niagara counties as well as a sticker campaign. We also had a temporary, performance-based mural with a Providence group called Tape Art where people from the public would come and meet the artists and build it with us on the facade of the Central Library
Alfred Sisley ( October 30 1839 – January 29 1899) was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors). He deviated into figure painting only rarely and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, found that Impressionism fulfilled his artistic needs.
Flanders tourist board chides firm for removing ads featuring the Flemish master’s works
Daniel Boffey in Brussels
Rubens nudes have entranced those visiting the world’s great art galleries for some 400 years. Contemporaries on whom the Flemish master is said to have had a profound impact include Van Dyck and Rembrandt … but none of this has passed muster with Facebook’s censors.
In a move that has prompted a semi-playful complaint to the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, it has taken down a series of promotions on social media for the Belgian region of Flanders because they feature works by the artist famous for his Baroque paintings of voluptuous women and cherubs.
Advertisements containing sexually oriented content, including artistic or educational nudes, apart from statues, are prohibited on the site.
In an open letter signed by most of the museums in Flanders, the Flemish tourist board, Toerisme Vlaanderen, has written to Zuckerberg to ask for a rethink. “Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens’ cherubs are all considered indecent”, the letter says. “Not by us, but by you … Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.”
Posts removed have even included an advert featuring Rubens’ The Descent from the Cross, in which Jesus is naked in his loincloth.
The Flemish tourist board has pushed its point by releasing a short video in which the “nude police” drag away visitors at the Rubens House in Antwerp to stop them from gazing at the implicated paintings.
The tourist office is currently running a two-year programme promoting the Flemish masters Rubens, Pieter Bruegel and Jan van Eyck.
The office’s chief executive, Peter De Wilde, said: “Unfortunately, promoting our unique cultural heritage on the world’s most popular social network is impossible right now.”
Facebook said it had accepted an offer from the tourist office to talk about the issue, and insisted that the paintings would not be prohibited in normal posts, but only in advertisements.
The German government recently condemned Facebook after Zuckerberg announced that it would not remove posts containing Holocaust denial, on the basis that his customers had a right to free expression.
By Anthony G. Attrino
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
When a N.J. elementary school teacher offered David Killen a chance to buy 200 paintings she had in storage, the Manhattan art dealer thought they'd make great filler items at his next auction.
"I thought it was a bunch of junk," Killen said Monday. "I saw good, bad and ugly. Overall, I thought it was garbage, but I'm always looking for filler."
He offered $75 a painting - a total of $15,000.
When he loaded the boxes of artwork onto his truck, he began to realize he'd stumbled onto an unbelievable find that could fetch millions.
"The more I looked at them, the more I realized - these are real de Koonigs,"
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch abstract expressionist artist who died in 1997. His paintings have sold worldwide for tens of millions.
Two experts say the paintings Killen has are authentic.
Originally, the 200 pieces of art were gathered in New York City, in a world-famous art restoration studio run by conservator Orrin Riley.
When Riley died in 1986, his girlfriend Susanne Schnitzer took possession of the paintings and held onto them for years, according to Killen.
In 2009, Schnitzer was hit by a car and died.
Her trusted friends - a group from New Jersey serving as executors that included the teacher - took the paintings, along with many other of Schnitzer's possessions and stored them in Ho-Ho-Kus.
"They tried to do the right thing and return everything to its original owner," Killen said.
But there were a bunch of paintings whose owners they could not track down. Killen surmises the pieces were given up by their owners, who collected insurance money on them based on claims of damages.
"If you look at them closely, you can see there are slight tears and holes here and there," he said. "I believe they were given to Orrin to be restored after the owners collected insurance."
After several years, the group from New Jersey contacted the New York State Attorney General's Office asking what they should do with the paintings, Killen said.
The AG's office told them they were now considered abandoned property and they could do whatever they wanted - including sell them.
"I didn't hear back for a year, then they called and said, 'Do you still want it?'" Killen said. "I said, 'Sure.'"
Killen declined to name the teacher or her friends, saying he did not have permission to identify them.
He says he plans to place the paintings up for auction in the fall and will advertise the sales on his website.
"I've been in this business for many years," he said. "I sell buy and sell paintings all the time. Never in a million years would I dream of finding original works like this."
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a child prodigy who, aged eleven, became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his family home in London, at 83 Gower Street (now number 7). Millais became the most famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1850) generating considerable controversy, and painting perhaps the embodiment of the school, Ophelia, in 1851.
By the mid-1850s Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style to develop a new form of realism in his art. His later works were enormously successful, making Millais one of the wealthiest artists of his day, but some former admirers including William Morris saw this as a sell-out (Millais notoriously allowed one of his paintings to be used for a sentimental soap advertisement). While these and early 20th-century critics, reading art through the lens of Modernism, viewed much of his later production as wanting, this perspective has changed in recent decades, as his later works have come to be seen in the context of wider changes and advanced tendencies in the broader late nineteenth-century art world.
Millais's personal life has also played a significant role in his reputation. His wife Effie was formerly married to the critic John Ruskin, who had supported Millais's early work. The annulment of the marriage and her wedding to Millais have sometimes been linked to his change of style, but she became a powerful promoter of his work and they worked in concert to secure commissions and expand their social and intellectual circles.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (later known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member "brotherhood". Their principles were shared by other artists, including Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman.
A later, medievalising strain inspired by Rossetti included Edward Burne-Jones and extended into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse.
The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite".
In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called "Sir Sloshua". To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, "sloshy" meant "anything lax or scamped in the process of painting ... and hence ... anything or person of a commonplace or conventional kind".
The brotherhood sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colors and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art. The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English critic whose influences were driven by his religious background.
The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group's debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal.