- Who were they?
- What did they advocate?
- Summary and reflection
Who were they?
Spook School was another name to describe the Glasgow four – which consisted of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald, James Herbert MacNair and Frances Macdonald. The four of them were famous for being pioneers of the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau translates into New Art, an international movement dictated by an reaction against academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. The Glasgow four were painters as well as designers, and had drawn influence from Celtic Art and Symbolism. They developed the Glasgow Style, which was a fusion of influence of Arts & Craft movement, Celtic Revival and Japonisme. They were named Spook School, or in other words Ghoul School as their artwork was termed ‘derisive epithet’ which distorted and conventionalized human form.
The four met at the Glasgow School of Arts. MacNair and Mackintosh were fellow architect students and close friends, while the Macdonalds were day students at the school. They formed an informal creative alliance which produced innovative and at times controversial artworks which were essential to the development and recognition of the ‘Glasgow Style’.
The controversial artworks were considered to be breaking the norms of society – it was uncommon for female painters to paint nude woman in the 1890s.
The sexual tension that arose from the collaboration of the four was undeniable.
The Vienna Secession was the epitome of Glasgow four’s impact on the Art Nouveau movement. They had sold most, if not all of their works there and despite having parted ways after that, their exhibition remained important to the movement in its entirety. However, they had little to no influence on Art Nouveau post – Vienna. Mackintosh continued with his architectural works and went on to become the most famous of the four and was renowned all over the world.
Their detachment from academic art gained recognition from the masses and other artists, they challenged the norms and shied away from the curvilinear art forms that dominated the art scene at that period. Their use of structural, rectilinear shapes influenced big time artists such as Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser. Despite discontinuation of their alliance post secession, their influence was widespread and they were even coined as Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls for their distinct styles and representation. They were one of the most influential groups in Art Nouveau, which championed the use of linear, plant-like forms and drew from science, mythical history and modernity for inspiration.