The evolution of decorative art
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The evolution of decorative art : an essay upon its origin and development as illustrated by the art of modern races of mankind (1893)
By Balfour Henry
In presenting this short and, as I am well aware, imperfect essay to the public, I feel that it is necessary to say a few words in justification of my action. Although, for a proper comprehension of the growth of Art, it is necessary that its evolution should be studied from its very simplest beginning, this aspect of the subject has hardly been touched upon by writers of so-called * Histories of Art.’ In these, frequently very excellent works, the history of art is traced back perhaps to Assyrian and Ancient Egyptian civilisations, and a few writers dwell briefly upon the characteristics of modern Savage Art. Few of them, however, offer any study of the Art of the more primitive of the living races of mankind, with a view to explaining, by a process of reasoning from the known to the unknown, the first efforts of Primaeval Man to produce objects which should be pleasing to the eye, and gratify his growing aesthetic feelings.
The Art of Design must, we know, have had a continuous history, and have grown up gradually from simple beginnings, at first by easy stages, involving but slight intellectual efforts, steadily progressing until it has become an essential element in our surroundings, absorbing a vast amount of complex reasoning, the result of the accumulation and combination of simple ideas, which are the outcome of experience during countless ages.
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