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The Urban Landscape of Hyde Park: Adrian Stokes, Conrad and the topos of negation

Kite, Stephen ORCID: 2000. The Urban Landscape of Hyde Park: Adrian Stokes, Conrad and the topos of negation. Art History 23 (2) , pp. 205-232. 10.1111/1467-8365.00206

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Adrian Stokes's (1902-72) construct of the urban landscape of Hyde Park as a topos of negation is a remarkable recorded instance in twentieth century criticism of the influence of environment in directing an aesthetic position. Stokes's London landscape of Hyde Park and the monuments embedded within it represented, for him, a powerful negative heuristic; a set of negative rules inscribed within his personal cultural system for the purposes of rejection, and deployed to define — in antithesis — his critical direction. His accounts of Hyde Park are, outwardly, a withering critique of Edwardian moral vacuity and Victorian eclecticism while inwardly — on the psycho-analytic level — they register projections of inner anxiety and personal guilt at the ‘destroyed mother’ that the Park represents and drive his need to make reparation. The paper examines the formation of Stokes's mental construct of the Park through a close mapping of this landscape and a concrete examination of its artefacts in relation to readings of Stokes's own writings and those of Joseph Conrad, Ruskin and others. Following an outline of Stokes's thought in the context of Kleinian psychoanalysis the paper takes Lakatos's concept of the negative heuristic as a point of departure to chart a journey from Stokes's childhood home in Radnor Place, Bayswater through the park to the Albert Memorial. These topographies disclose Stokes's offensive responses to the Park and its artefacts and show how — in eschewing Hyde Park and all it represents – he begins to discover formal and ethical positions that will frame the core of his architectural-artistic theories.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0141-6790
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 13:07

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