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In the Name of Rococo Author(s): Nicholas Newman Source: RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 40 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 129-134 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Stable URL: Accessed: 28-12-2018 02:57 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, The University of Chicago Press are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics This content downloaded from 73.75.115.155 on Fri, 28 Dec 2018 02:57:39 UTC All use subject to
In the name of rococo NICHOLAS NEWMAN The jumble called rococo is, in general, detestable. A parrot seems to have invented the word, and the thing is worthy of his tawdriness and his incoherence. Leigh Hunt, 1855] Like Gothic, baroque, neoclassical, and Impressionist, the word rococo began as a pejorative expression. But unlike those terms, it has not completed its evolution and become merely descriptive or honorific, as words signifying an age or a style, or both. William Park, 19922 When reviewing the scholarly literature on artistic practice in the early eighteenth century, one cannot help but be struck by the anxious need of each writer, as if undergoing a rite of passage, to grapple with the meaning of the name assigned to this period, rococo. All acknowledge that, at the earliest, the word was coined in the last decade of the style's currency, the 1750s, with most scholars postdating the term's invention to the late eighteenth or even nineteenth century. Since most art historians also date their academic discipline's current form to the decades of the 1750s and 1760s, with Johann Joachim Winckelmann figured as a founder, it might be worth interrogating the uniquely close historical concurrence of the naming of a particular style with the naming of a new field of study that conjoined for the first time the terms art and history. Upon such scrutiny, the concept rococo appears to be a foundational figure required to anchor art historical discourses; the core of this article will discuss the ways in which its visual and textual dimensions find condensation in the word rococo itself, such that the word bears the marks of its own forging. The word is neither singular nor even a thing, and may be incapable of becoming "merely descriptive or honorific"; rather, it is an event. It is critical to suspend the search for what meaning resides in the term rococo by instead interrogating what is done in the name of rococo.

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