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Anna Brzyski Ph.D.— In 1908 Viennese architect Adolf Loose declared ornament to be dead. From his modernist perspective cultural development proceeded through gradual shedding of what he considered to be unnecessary and distracting decorative elements. The stripping down of form to its essential components was synonymous with progress. It signaled the emergence of the superior visual language of modernity.For better or for worse, we have lost that sense of certainty and no longer seem to believe in the redemptive value of purity. Formal austerity, transparency, and functionalism have become code words that ultimately point to modernism, rather than any quality of an object or visual experience. Perhaps that is one reason why visual excess, ornament and decorative pattern have reemerged with vengeance as key visual strategies of contemporary art. Read more…

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