Archive for the ‘ L ’ Category


Dates: 1937-

Nationality: American

Lucy Lippard is an internationally known writer, activist and curator from the United States. Lippard was among the first writers to recognize the de-materialization at work in conceptual art and was an early champion of feminist art. She is the author of eighteen books on contemporary art, and the recipient of a 1968 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Frank Mather Award for Criticism from the College Art Association, and two National Endowment for the Arts grants in criticism. She has written art criticism for Art in America, The Village Voice, In These Times, and Z Magazine.

Lucy Lippard was born in New York City and lived in New Orleans and Charlottesville, Virginia, before enrolling at Abbot Academy in 1952. After earning a B.A. degree from Smith College, she worked with the American Friends Service Committee in a Mexican village —- her first experience of a foreign nation. Later, she earned an M.A. degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. In 1968, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Since 1966, Lippard has published 20 books on feminism, art, politics and place and has received numerous awards and accolades from literary critics and art associations. Co-founder of Printed Matter, the Heresies Collective, Political Art Documentation/Distribution, Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America, and other artists’ organizations, she has also curated over 50 exhibitions, done performances, comics, guerrilla theater, and edited several independent publications the latest of which is the decidedly local La Puente de Galisteo in her home community in Galisteo, New Mexico. She has infused aesthetics with politics, and disdained disinterestedness for ethical activism. In 2007 Lippard was awarded an honorary degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD University), Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Lucy R. Lippard’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 October 2010, 01:06 UTC, <>



Dates: 1933-

Nationality: British

Edward Lucie-Smith was born in 1933 at Kingston, Jamaica. He moved to Britain in 1946, and was educated at King’s School, Canterbury and Merton College, Oxford, where he read History. Subsequently he was an Education Officer in the R.A.F., then worked in advertising for ten years before becoming a freelance author. He is now an internationally known art critic and historian, who is also a published poet  (member of the Académie Européenne de Poésie, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize), an anthologist and a practising photographer.

He has published more than a hundred books in all, including a biography of Joan of Arc (recently republished by Penguin in paperback as a ‘classic biography’), a historical novel, and more than sixty books about art, chiefly but not exclusively about contemporary work. He is generally regarded as the most prolific and the most widely published writer on art, with sales for some titles totalling over 250,000 copies. A number of his art books, among them Movements in Art since 1945 , Visual Arts of the 20th Century, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Art Today are used as standard texts throughout the world. Movements in Art since 1945, first published in 1969, has been continuously in print since that date, and has been completely updated five times since first publication. A new edition was published in March 2001. Other well-known texts include Sexuality in Western Art and 20th Century Latin American Art. The latter is regarded as the best concise account of a notoriously complex subject. It has been translated into Spanish and is widely used in Latin America itself. In addition to writing on art he has written extensively on craft and on industrial design, where his books include The Story of Craft, A History of Industrial Design and A Concise History of Furniture. Other texts include American Realism (1994) and Ars Erotica (1997). He is also the author of Judy Chicago: An American Vision (1999, Watson- Guptill), the first full career survey of the work of the leading American feminist artist. His books have been translated into many languages, among them French, Italian, Spanish (where he has six titles in the Mundo del Arte series published by El Destino in Barcelona), German, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, Korean and Chinese. Movements in Art appeared in October 2001 in Farsi. The translator is the director of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

A book of his Collected and Selected Poems titled Changing Shape was published by the Carcanet Press in February 2002. He has lectured in numerous countries including the United States, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Korea, Hong Kong. Yugoslavia, Australia and New Zealand. In Britain he was for many years a well-known broadcaster, appearing regularly on the BBC arts discussion programme The Critics and its successor Critics’ Forum. His appearances on these programmes spanned a period of twenty years.

He has written for many leading British newspapers and periodicals, among them The Times of London (where at one time he had a regular column), the London Evening Standard (whose critic he was for two years), the New Statesman, the Spectator, the London Magazine and Encounter. He currently writes regularly for Art Review, and also for Index on Censorship. He also writes for La Vanguardia in Barcelona. His work as a photographer is included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Butler Institute of Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, and the Frissiras Museum, Athens.



Dates: 1924-1998

Nationality: French

Jean-François Lyotard (August 10, 1924 – April 21, 1998) was a French philosopher and literary theorist. He is well-known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of post-modernity on the human condition.

Lyotard was a frequent writer on aesthetic matters. He was, despite his reputation as a postmodernist, a great promoter of modernist art. Lyotard saw ‘postmodernism’ as a latent tendency within thought throughout time and not a narrowly-limited historical period. He favored the startling and perplexing works of the high modernist avant-garde. In them he found a demonstration of the limits of our conceptuality, a valuable lesson for anyone too imbued with Enlightenment confidence. Lyotard has written extensively also on few contemporary artists of his choice: Valerio Adami, Daniel Buren, Marcel Duchamp, Bracha Ettinger and Barnett Newman, as well as on Paul Cézanne and Wassily Kandinsky.

He developed these themes in particular by discussing the sublime. The “sublime” is a term in aesthetics whose fortunes revived under postmodernism after a century or more of neglect. It refers to the experience of pleasurable anxiety that we experience when confronting wild and threatening sights like, for example, a massive craggy mountain, black against the sky, looming terrifyingly in our vision.

Lyotard found particularly interesting the explanation of the sublime offered by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment (sometimes Critique of the Power of Judgment). In this book Kant explains this mixture of anxiety and pleasure in the following terms: there are two kinds of ‘sublime’ experience. In the ‘mathematically’ sublime, an object strikes the mind in such a way that we find ourselves unable to take it in as a whole. More precisely, we experience a clash between our reason (which tells us that all objects are finite) and the imagination (the aspect of the mind that organizes what we see, and which sees an object incalculably larger than ourselves, and feels infinite). In the ‘dynamically’ sublime, the mind recoils at an object so immeasurably more powerful than we, whose weight, force, scale could crush us without the remotest hope of our being able to resist it. (Kant stresses that if we are in actual danger, our feeling of anxiety is very different from that of a sublime feeling. The sublime is an aesthetic experience, not a practical feeling of personal danger.) This explains the feeling of anxiety.

The feeling of pleasure comes when human reason asserts itself. What is deeply unsettling about the mathematically sublime is that the mental faculties that present visual perceptions to the mind are inadequate to the concept corresponding to it; in other words, what we are able to make ourselves see cannot fully match up to what we know is there. We know it’s a mountain but we cannot take the whole thing into our perception. What this does, ironically, is to compel our awareness of the supremacy of the human reason. Our sensibility is incapable of coping with such sights, but our reason can assert the finitude of the presentation. With the dynamically sublime, our sense of physical danger should prompt an awareness that we are not just physical material beings, but moral and (in Kant’s terms) noumenal beings as well. The body may be dwarfed by its power but our reason need not be. This explains, in both cases, why the sublime is an experience of pleasure as well as pain.

Lyotard is fascinated by this admission, from one of the philosophical architects of the Enlightenment, that the mind cannot always organise the world rationally. Some objects are simply incapable of being brought neatly under concepts. For Lyotard, in Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, but drawing on his argument in The Differend, this is a good thing. Such generalities as ‘concepts’ fail to pay proper attention to the particularity of things. What happens in the sublime is a crisis where we realize the inadequacy of the imagination and reason to each other. What we are witnessing, says Lyotard, is actually the differend; the straining of the mind at the edges of itself and at the edges of its conceptuality.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Jean-François Lyotard’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 November 2010, 19:03 UTC, <>


Dates: 1901-1981

Nationality: French

Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary theory. He gave yearly seminars, in Paris, from 1953 to 1981, mostly influencing France’s intellectuals in the 1960s and the 1970s, especially the post-structuralist philosophers. His interdisciplinary work is Freudian, featuring the unconscious, the castration complex, the ego; identification; and language as subjective perception, and thus he figures in critical theory, literary studies, twentieth-century French philosophy, and clinical psychoanalysis.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Jacques Lacan’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 December 2010, 04:59 UTC, <>

Jacques Lacan complicated his position on the Gaze as he developed his theories. At first, gazing was important in his theories in relation to the mirror stage, where the subject appears to achieve a sense of mastery by seeing himself as ideal ego. By viewing himself in the mirror, the subject at the mirror stage begins his entrance into culture and language by establishing his own subjectivity through the fantasy image inside the mirror, an image that the subject can aspire towards throughout his life (a stable coherent version of the self that does not correspond to the chaotic drives of our actual material bodies). Once the subject enters the symbolic order, that narcissistic ideal image is maintained in the imaginary order. As explained in the Lacan module on the structure of the psyche, that fantasy image of oneself can be filled in by others who we may want to emulate in our adult lives (role models, love objects, et cetera), anyone that we set up as a mirror for ourselves in what is, ultimately, a narcissistic relationship.

In his later essays, Lacan complicates this understanding of the narcissistic view in the mirror by distinguishing between the eye’s look and the Gaze. Gaze in Lacan’s later work refers to the uncanny sense that the object of our eye’s look or glance is somehow looking back at us of its own will. This uncanny feeling of being gazed at by the object of our look affects us in the same way as castration anxiety (reminding us of the lack at the heart of the symbolic order). We may believe that we are in control of our eye’s look; however, any feeling of scopophilic power is always undone by the fact that the the materiality of existence (the Real) always exceeds and undercuts the meaning structures of the symbolic order. Lacan’s favorite example for the Gaze is Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors. When you look at the painting, it at first gives you a sense that you are in control of your look; however, you then notice a blot at the bottom of the canvas, which you can only make out if you look at the painting from the side at an angle, from which point you begin to see that the blot is, in fact, a skull staring back at you. By having the object of our eye’s look look back at us, we are reminded of our own lack, of the fact that the symbolic order is separated only by a fragile border from the materiality of the Real. The symbols of power and desire in Holbein’s painting (wealth, art, science, ambition) are thus completely undercut. As Lacan puts it, the magical floating object “reflects our own nothingness, in the figure of the death’s head” (Lacan, Four Fundamental 92).

Lacan then argues in “Of the Gaze as Objet Petit a” that there is an intimate relationship between the objet petit a (which coordinates our desire) and the Gaze (which threatens to undo all desire through the eruption of the Real). As I stated in the previous module, “at the heart of desire is a misregognition of fullness where there is really nothing but a screen for our own narcissistic projections. It is that lack at the heart of desire that ensures we continue to desire.” However, because the objet petit a (the object of our desire) is ultimately nothing but a screen for our own narcissistic projections, to come too close to it threatens to give us the experience precisely of the Lacanian Gaze, the realization that behind our desire is nothing but our lack: the materiality of the Real staring back at us. That lack at the heart of desire at once allows desire to persist and threatens continually to run us aground upon the underlying rock of the Real.

This concept has been particularly influential on a group of feminist film theorists who explore, on the one hand, how female objects of desire in traditional Hollywood film are reduced to passive screens for the projection of male fantasies, and, on the other hand, how the male desire for the mastery of the look is, in fact, continually undercut by a certain castration at the heart of cinema: the blank space between the frames that, only in its elision, can create the illusion of cinematic “reality.” That blank space between the frames is analogous to the ever-threatening Real over which we project our narcissistic fantasy of “reality.”



Dates: 1895-1985

Nationality: American

Susanne Katherina Langer (née Knauth) was an American philosopher of art, a follower of Ernst Cassirer. She is best known for her 1942 book Philosophy in a New Key. She was born in Manhattan. She studied at Radcliffe College, and completed a doctorate at Harvard University in 1926. She taught at Radcliffe, Wellesley College, Smith College, and Columbia University. From 1952 to 1962, she was professor of philosophy at Connecticut College.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Susanne Langer’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 December 2010, 08:02 UTC, <>

Philosophy in a New Key, a survey symbolism, became a best-seller. Langer’s earlier absorption into symbolic logic is seen in her attempt to create a rational basis for aesthetics. The work was much influenced by Ernst Cassirer, whose Sprache und Mythos from 1925 Langer translated into English. Feeling and Form (1953) was written on a Rockefeller Foundation grant. It developed further the ideas of Philosophy in a New Key, and expanded her system of aesthetics from music to the other fields of arts, painting, poetry, dance, etc.

Like Cassirer, Langer argued that man is essentially a symbol-using animal. Symbolic thought is deeply rooted in the human nature – it is the keynote to questions of life and consciousness, all humanistic problems. “Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling,” Langer defined. She distinguishes between the open “presentational” symbols of art and “discursive” symbols of language, which cannot reflect directly the subjective aspect of experience. Langer’s view of language is not far from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s logical theory developed in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922), but when Wittgenstein stopped on the threshold of the unsayable, Langer argued that “music articulates forms which language cannot set forth” – it shows what cannot be said.

Works of art do not directly express the artist’s experienced emotions, but rather an “idea” of emotion. Artists create virtual objects, illusions. Thus music creates an auditory apparation of time, “virtual time”, in painting “virtual space” is the primary illusion, poets create appearances of events, persons, emotional reactions, places etc, “poetic semblances”. Langer argues that musical forms bear a close logical resemblance to the forms of human feelings. Music is a “presentational symbol” of psychic process and its tonal structures bear a close logical similarity to the forms of feeling, “forms of growth and of attenuation, flowing and stowing, conflict and resolution, speed, arrest, terrific excitement, calm, or subtle activation and dreamy lapses”. The symbol and the object symbolized have a common logical form.

Langer also distinguishes art as symbol – the work of art as an indivisible whole – from symbols in art, which are elements of the work and often have a literal meaning. Langer’s unconventional use of the term “symbol” has been criticized by a number of philosophers, George Dickie included, but Monroe C. Beardley has noted in his book Aesthetics from Classical Greece to the Present (1966), that Langer’s general concept of art as symbol and its development “is carried through with great sensitivity and concreteness.”



Dates: 1970-Present

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Robert Williams, Gary Panter

Lowbrow, or lowbrow art, describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor – sometimes the humor is gleeful, sometimes impish, and sometimes it’s a sarcastic comment.Most lowbrow artworks are paintings, but there are also toys, digital art, and sculpture.

Wikipedia contributors. “Lowbrow (art movement).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Feb. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. <>

Robert Williams


Dates: 1969-1980

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler

Characterized by intuitive and loose paint handling, spontaneous expression, illusionist space, acrylic staining, process, occasional imagery, and other painterly and newer technological techniques,Lyrical Abstraction led the way away from minimalism in painting and toward a new freer expressionism.Painters who directly reacted against the predominating Formalist, Minimalist, and Pop Art and geometric abstraction styles of the 1960s, turned to new, experimental, loose, painterly, expressive, pictorial and abstract painting styles. Many of them had been Minimalists, working with various monochromatic, geometric styles, and whose paintings publicly evolved into new abstract painterly motifs.

Wikipedia contributors. “Lyrical Abstraction.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. <>

Richard Diebenkorn