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The urban landscape of Hyde Park: Adrian Stokes, Conrad and the topos of negation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stephen Kite


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Adrian Stokess (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. Stokess 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 Stokess mental construct of the Park through a close mapping of this landscape and a concrete examination of its artefacts in relation to readings of Stokess own writings and those of Joseph Conrad, Ruskin and others. Following an outline of Stokess thought in the context of Kleinian psychoanalysis the paper takes Lakatoss concept of the negative heuristic as a point of departure to chart a journey from Stokess childhood home in Radnor Place, Bayswater through the park to the Albert Memorial. These topographies disclose Stokess 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kite S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Art History

Year: 2000

Volume: 23

Issue: 2

Pages: 205-232

ISSN (print): 0141-6790

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8365

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/1467-8365.00206


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