Archive for the ‘ S ’ Category


Dates: 1931-

Nationality: British

Brian Sewell is a British art critic, motoring expert and media personality. He writes for the London Evening Standard and is noted for artistic conservatism and his acerbic view of the Turner Prize and conceptual art. A noted wit, Sewell has been described as “Britain’s most famous and controversial art critic.”

In 1984 he became art critic of the Evening Standard (replacing avant-garde critic Richard Cork). He won press awards including Critic of the Year in 1988, Arts Journalist of the Year in 1994, the Hawthornden Prize for Art Criticism in 1995 and the Foreign Press Award (Arts) in 2000. In April 2003 he was awarded “The George Orwell” prize for his political/current affairs column in the Evening Standard. In criticisms of the Tate Gallery’s art, he coined the phrase, the “Serota Tendency”, after its director Nicholas Serota. It was not until the late 1990s that he became a household figure through television, though he was on BBC Radio 4 before then.

Sewell is noted for formal, old-fashioned diction and anti-populist sentiments. He offended people in Gateshead by claiming an exhibition was too important to be held only at the town’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and should be shown to “more sophisticated” audiences in London; he has also disparaged Liverpool as a cultural city.Sewell’s attitude to female artists has been controversial. In July 2008 he was quoted in The Independent as saying:

“The art market is not sexist. The likes of Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois are of the second and third rank. There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50 per cent or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it’s something to do with bearing children.”

Sewell’s extensive vocabulary and verbose reviews are parodied in the ‘Brian Sewell Does Pop Culture!’ feature in The Tart webzine. Each week Sewell reviews a popular culture artefact, from television, film or pop music. Sewell does not hold his tongue regarding his opinions, and has frequently insulted the general public for their views on art.Consequently, he is more known for controversy than art criticism among many. He has issued quotes such as the following regarding public praise for the work of Banksy in Bristol:

“The public doesn’t know good from bad. For this city to be guided by the opinion of people who don’t know anything about art is lunacy. It doesn’t matter if they [the public] like it.”

He went on to assert that Banksy himself “should have been put down at birth.” Clive Anderson has described him as “a man intent on keeping his Christmas card list nice and short.”

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Brian Sewell’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 November 2010, 12:49 UTC, <>



Dates: 1925-

Nationality: American

Irving Sandler, Senior Fellow, received a BA at Temple University and an MA at the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 for American history and his PhD in Art History at New York University in 1976. Throughout the 1950s, Irving Sandler was involved in several different artist organizations; he was the director of the artist-run Tanager Gallery, the Program Chairman for the Artists’ Club and worked as a reviewer for Art News and Art International. During the 1950s, he also independently interviewed artists and worked as an art critic. In the 1960s he taught at New York University and and SUNY-Purchase. Mr. Sandler has been published several times for his books on interviews with artists, reviews and surveys of contemporary art. Some of his work includes The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism (1970), The New York School: The Painters and Sculptors of the Fifties (1978), American Art of the 1960s (1988), Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s (1996) and A Sweeper-Up After Artists: A Memoir (1993). Throughout his career, Irving Sandler has also held several influential positions at various curatorial organizations as well as larger foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sharpe Art Foundation.



Dates: 1920-2011

Nationality: American

Leo Steinberg (born July 9, 1920, Moscow) was an American art critic and art historian and a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Steinberg has won literary awards as well as awards for his criticism. He was professor of the History of Art at Hunter College, and a Benjamin Franklin and University Professor of the History of Art, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania. Steinberg is known for his work in several areas of Art History, notably Renaissance art and Modernism.

The whole of the Summer, 1983, issue of October was dedicated to Steinberg’s essay The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, later published as a book by Random House. In that essay, Steinberg examined a previously ignored pattern in Renaissance art: the prominent display of the genitals of the infant Christ, and the attention drawn again to that area in images of Christ near the end of his life.

In Tom Wolfe’s 1975 book, The Painted Word, Steinberg was labeled one of the “kings of Cultureburg” for the enormous degree of influence that his criticism, along with that of other “kings,” Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, exerted over the world of modern art at the time. However, Steinberg, who originally trained as an artist but earned a PhD in Art History, moved away from art criticism, concentrating on academic art-historical studies of such artists and architects as Borromini, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Leo Steinberg’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 November 2010, 23:47 UTC, <>


Dates: 1905-1980

Nationality: French

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy and existentialism, and his work continues to influence further fields such as sociology and literary studies. Sartre was also noted for his long relationship with the author and social theorist, Simone de Beauvoir. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused the honor.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Jean-Paul Sartre’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 December 2010, 23:28 UTC, <>

…But here I must at once digress to make it quite clear that we are not propounding an aesthetic morality, for our adversaries are disingenuous enough to reproach us even with that. I mention the work of art only by way of comparison. That being understood, does anyone reproach an artist, when he paints a picture, for not following rules established a priori. Does one ever ask what is the picture that he ought to paint? As everyone knows, there is no pre-defined picture for him to make; the artist applies himself to the composition of a picture, and the picture that ought to be made is precisely that which he will have made. As everyone knows, there are no aesthetic values a priori, but there are values which will appear in due course in the coherence of the picture, in the relation between the will to create and the finished work. No one can tell what the painting of tomorrow will be like; one cannot judge a painting until it is done. What has that to do with morality? We are in the same creative situation. We never speak of a work of art as irresponsible; when we are discussing a canvas by Picasso, we understand very well that the composition became what it is at the time when he was painting it, and that his works are part and parcel of his entire life.

It is the same upon the plane of morality. There is this in common between art and morality, that in both we have to do with creation and invention. We cannot decide a priori what it is that should be done. I think it was made sufficiently clear to you in the case of that student who came to see me, that to whatever ethical system he might appeal, the Kantian or any other, he could find no sort of guidance whatever; he was obliged to invent the law for himself. Certainly we cannot say that this man, in choosing to remain with his mother – that is, in taking sentiment, personal devotion and concrete charity as his moral foundations – would be making an irresponsible choice, nor could we do so if he preferred the sacrifice of going away to England. Man makes himself; he is not found ready-made; he makes himself by the choice of his morality, and he cannot but choose a morality, such is the pressure of circumstances upon him. We define man only in relation to his commitments; it is therefore absurd to reproach us for irresponsibility in our choice.



Dates: 1904-1996

Nationality: American

Meyer Schapiro (September 23, 1904 – March 3, 1996) was an American 20th century art historian. Schapiro was born in Šiauliai, Lithuania.

In 1907 his family immigrated to the United States, where he received his bachelors’ and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. He began teaching in 1928 and became a full professor at Columbia in 1952. Schapiro was a proponent of modern art, and published books on Van Gogh and Cézanne and various essays on modern art. He was a founder of Dissent, along with Irving Howe and Michael Harrington. From 1966–1967 Schapiro was the Norton professor at Harvard University.

Schapiro’s discourse on style is often considered his greatest contribution to the study of art history. According to Schapiro, style refers to the formal qualities and visual characteristics of a piece of art. Schapiro demonstrated that style could be used not only as an identifier of a particular period but also as a diagnostic tool. Style is indicative of the artist and the culture at large. It reflects the economic and social circumstances in which an artist works and breathes and reveals underlying cultural assumptions and normative values. On the other hand our own descriptions of form and style indicate our period, our concerns, and our biases; the way art historians of a particular age talk about style is also indicative of their cultural context.

Schapiro was, at points in his career, criticized for his approach to style because of its politically radical connotations. Schapiro himself wrote scholarly articles for a variety of socialist publications and endeavored to apply a novel Marxist method to the study of art history. In his most famous essay on Medieval Spanish art, ‘From Mozarabic to Romanesque in Silos,’ Schapiro demonstrated how the concurrent existence of two historical styles in one monastery was indicative of economic upheaval and class conflict.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Meyer Schapiro’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 December 2010, 11:12 UTC, <>


Dates: 1788-1860

Nationality: German

Schopenhauer’s violence-filled vision of the daily world sends him on a quest for tranquility, and he pursues this by retracing the path through which the Will objectifies itself. He discovers more peaceful states of mind by directing his everyday, practically-oriented consciousness towards more extraordinary, universal and less-individuated states of mind, since he believes that the violence that a person experiences, is proportional to the degree to which that person’s consciousness is individuated and objectifying. His view is that with less individuation and objectification, there is less conflict, less pain and more peace.

One way to achieve a more tranquil state of consciousness, according to Schopenhauer, is through aesthetic perception. This is a special state of perceptual consciousness where we apprehend some spatio-temporal object and discern through this object, the Platonic Idea that corresponds to the type of object in question. In this form of perception, we lose ourselves in the object, forget about our individuality, and become the clear mirror of the object. For example, during the aesthetic perception of an individual apple tree, we would perceive shining through the tree, the archetype of all apple trees (i.e., the Ur-phenomenon, as Goethe would describe it) in an appreciation of every apple tree that was, is, or will be.

Since Schopenhauer assumes that the quality of the subject of experience must correspond to the quality of the object of experience, he infers that in the state of aesthetic perception, where the objects are universal, the subject of experience must likewise become universal (WWR, Section 33). Aesthetic perception thus raises a person into a pure will-less, painless, and timeless subject of knowledge (WWR, Section 34).

Few people supposedly have the capacity to remain in such an aesthetic state of mind for very long, and most are denied the transcendent tranquillity of aesthetic perception. For Schopenhauer, only the artistically-minded genius has the capacity to remain in the state of pure perception, and it is to these individuals that we must turn — as we appreciate their works of art — to obtain a more concentrated and knowledgeable glimpse of the Platonic Ideas. The artistic genius contemplates these Ideas, creates a work of art that portrays them in a manner more clear and accessible than is usual, and thereby communicates the universalistic vision to those who lack the idealizing power to see through, and to rise above, the ordinary world of spatio-temporal objects.

Schopenhauer states that the highest purpose of art is to communicate Platonic Ideas (WWR, Section 50). As constituting art, he has in mind the traditional five fine arts minus music, namely, architecture, sculpture, painting, and poetry. These four arts he comprehends in relation to the Platonic Ideas — those universal objects of aesthetic awareness that are located at the objective pole of the universal subject-object distinction that is general root of the principle of sufficient reason. Schopenhauer’s account of the visual and literary arts corresponds to the world as representation in its immediate objectification, namely, the field of Platonic Ideas as opposed to the field of spatio-temporal objects.

Wicks, Robert. “Arthur Schopenhauer.”The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (ed.).  <>


Dates: 1759-1805

Nationality: German

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, playwright and philosopher. He originally studied for a medical career but abandoned it after the striking success of his first play, Die Räuber (1781). Although his fame as an author chiefly rests upon his contributions to poetry and drama, there was an important interlude (1789–95) during which he was drawn instead towards discussing philosophical issues that concerned the nature and significance of art. During this period, which coincided with his appointment to an academic post at the university in Jena, he developed a growing friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose very different temperament and aptitudes stimulated Schiller to reappraise his own vocation as a creative artist. Essays Schiller produced in consequence—notably Über Anmut und Würde (1793) and Über naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (1795–6)—reflect his changing attitudes to his complex relationship with the older writer.

Another formative influence at this time was the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Two themes arising from Kant’s philosophy—one connected with his approach to morality and the other with his aesthetic theory—played a prominent role in Schiller’s most widely acclaimed critical work, the Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen—in einer Reihe von Briefen (1795). However, he was not disposed to regard Kant’s treatment of either of these themes as being finally satisfactory, the distinctive account Schiller offered of the place of art in human life taking shape partly in the light of the reservations he expressed. At the ethical level Kant had advanced a basically dualistic theory of choice and action, moral worth being exhibited in an agent’s capacity to overcome the sensuous components of his nature under the direction of principles dictated by his rational will. Schiller was impressed by the conception of freedom implicit in Kant’s doctrine, and in his writings on drama he underlined its importance for the understanding of tragedy. Nevertheless, he denied that the suppression of the sensuous by the rational self represented an acceptable human ideal, drawing attention to the psychological distortions it inevitably entailed and opposing the Kantian picture in favour of one that emphasized harmony, not division, within the personality. Thus he began by identifying two original mental impulses or drives—the first sensory and receptive, the second rational and legislative—in a fashion that broadly corresponded to the Kantian dichotomy. In his view, however, it was essential that these should be preserved in a state of equilibrium rather than of mutual antagonism, and to that end he invoked the notion of a third impulse whose function was to mediate between the other two, thereby reconciling the ‘interests of the senses’ with the ‘ideas of reason’. This was the ‘play-drive’ (Spieltrieb), and Schiller connected it specifically with artistic creativity and aesthetic appreciation.

Schiller’s association of art and play was clearly reminiscent of another strand in Kant’s philosophy, this time deriving from the analysis of the aesthetic consciousness Kant provided in the Kritik der Urteilskraft. In aesthetic experience, Kant claimed, we are aware of a unique pleasure that originates in an unconstrained accord between our faculties of thought and imagination; moreover, the satisfaction in question is wholly disinterested and independent of all practical or utilitarian concerns. These features were echoed in Schiller’s account, where beauty was referred to as the true ‘object of the play-drive’, and where the liberation it afforded from everyday preoccupations permitted our various mental powers to unfold in a harmonious manner, free from ‘the fetters of ends and purposes’. But here again there were signal differences in the conclusions Schiller drew. Whereas Kant distinguished sharply between the respective domains of moral and aesthetic judgment, for Schiller the capacity for aesthetic play was central to the notion of a fully realized humanity, overcoming conflicts within the spheres of personal life and social existence alike. And so far as art itself was concerned, he took exception to the excessively formalistic strain that he detected in parts of Kant’s writing on the subject. The artist certainly resisted routine responses to his subject-matter, asserting his ‘own kind of dominion over it’ and absorbing it within forms of order that exercised the perceptual and imaginative capacities of the beholder in revealing ways; in this sense he could be said to re-create the world of experience according to laws of his own making, thereby transmuting its objective content. It did not follow, however, that the aesthetic value of a work of art was confined to its formal properties alone; to transmute was not to disregard or eliminate. Such a conception of art as achieving an expressive ‘union and equilibrium of reality and form’ was integral to Schiller’s overall account of the aesthetic consciousness and its crucial role in human development.

Gardiner, Patrick. “Schiller, Friedrich.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <;