Visual Intelligences Research Project

About the Project : Research Topics : Visual Intelligences: Modernism and Postmodernism

What happened to forms and modes of visual intelligence during the practical, critical and theoretical upheavals associated with the modernist and postmodernist periods? Despite their creative experiments and innovations, early modern movements like Impressionism, Post-impressionism and Cubism, and artists like Matisse and Picasso, retained strong links with the techniques, methods, materials and skills deposited in older traditions. How did this influence change the visual intelligence required by new approaches, what features were retained, discarded, modified and introduced? For other modern movements, like Dada and Surrealism, the visual aspects of art take on a very different significance, departing radically from older preconceptions and values; what were the implications for the visual intelligence of practice?

The critical and theoretical influence of Clement Greenberg brought about yet more changes with important consequences for status of the visual appearance of works of art, as well as for the basis of criticism and creative practice. How does the idea of visual intelligence fare in this period?

Finally the theoretical, political and stylistic shifts associated with postmodernism are widely seen to have resulted in a downgrading of the visual aspects of art, rejecting once and for all any link between appearance and artistic or aesthetic quality. Yet contemporary artists continue to lavish attention on how their works look, on their visual details and overall impact. What, then, has visual intelligence come to mean today?