Breaking Frame: Technology and the Visual Arts in the Nineteenth Century

, J. W. Breaking Frame: Technology and the Visual Arts in the Nineteenth Century. Rutgers University Press, 1993.

Wosk also reveals the striking ability of artists to capture the drama and the dangers of the new technologies, seen in their images of factories spewing smoke, steam boilers bursting, trains crashing, and comic views of people-turned-automatons. Their art dramatically mirrored widespread feelings of disorientation the phenomenon sociologists have called “breaking frame.”

Wosk demonstrates the startling impact of new technologies on the decorative arts and industrial design. While critics anguished, manufacturers using new materials poured out elaborately ornamented machine-made copies of original works of art. The new simulations spurred dramatic design debates which have resurfaced during our postmodern era. She also highlights how artists’ responses to a world newly transformed by technology prefigured the fear and pride, resistance and accommodation to technological achievement, that are still felt over a century later.

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