In Pursuit of Beauty - Burke, Doreen Bolger - Yale University Press

Art and Architecture

Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press 

In Pursuit of Beauty

Americans and the Aesthetic Movement

  • Doreen B. Burke
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The pioneering exhibition "In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement" and the accompanying publication demonstrate the continuing commitment of the Metropolitan Museum's American Wing to the study of the arts of the nineteenth century, exemplified by the landmark show Nineteenth-Century America (1970) and reaffirmed in such permanent installations as the Nineteenth-Century Arts Gallery, the Greek Revival Parlor, the John Henry Belter Rococo Revival Parlor, and the Renaissance Revival Parlor. This project is the first comprehensive study of a phenomenon that not only dominated the American arts of the 1870s and 1880s, but also helped set the course of such later developments in the United States as the Arts and Crafts movement, the indigenous interpretation of Art Nouveau, and even the rise of modernism. In fact, the early history of the Metropolitan—its founding, its sponsorship of a school of industrial design, and its display of decorative works—is inextricably tied to the Aesthetic movement and its educational goals.

"In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement" comprised some 175 objects including furniture, metalwork, stained glass, ceramics, textiles, wallpaper, painting, and sculpture. Some of these had rarely been displayed; others, although familiar, were being shown in new and even startling contexts. The exhibition and catalogue are arranged thematically to illustrate both the major styles of a visually rich movement and the ideas that generated its diversity. [This book was originally published in 1986 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]