Horror vacui

DEFINITION

The compulsion to make marks in every space. Horror vacui is indicated by a crowded design. In Latin, it is literally, "fear of empty space" or "fear of emptiness." Some consider horror vacui one of the principles of design. Those who exclude it from their list of principles apparently interpret it as posessing an undesirable, perhaps obsessive quality, in contrast to the desirable, controlled principle of limitation, or perhaps to that of emphasis or dominance.(pr. horror vack'wee)Example: Richard Dadd (British, 1817-1886), The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke, 1855-64, oil on canvas, 54.0 x 39.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London. After murdering his father in 1843, Dadd was diagnosed as insane and spent the rest of his life in asylums. Cut off from the outside world, he produced a series of paintings which combine a remarkable attention to detail with an individual, manic intensity. The horror vacui seen in Dadd's pictures may be a result of his severe mental illness. See art brut.Quote: "Horror vacui ? fear of emptiness ? is the driving force in contemporary American taste. Along with the commercial interests that exploit this interest, it is the major factor now shaping attitudes toward public spaces, urban spaces, and even suburban sprawl." Herbert Muschamp, contemporary architecture critic, New York Times, August, 21, 2000. See architecture and taste. Also see allover painting, balance, busy, Collyers' Mansion, composition, folk art, interesting, monotony, passage, and Zen.

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