"We have long been familiar with the power of the Chinese to balance colours, but we were not so well acquainted with their power of treating purely ornamental or conventional forms ; and in the chapter in the Grammar of Ornament on Chinese Ornament I was led, from my then knowledge, to express the opinion that the Chinese had not the power of dealing with conventional ornamental form : but it now appears that there has been a period in which a School of Art existed in China of a very important kind. We are led to think that this art must in some way have had a foreign origin; it so nearly resembles in all its principles the art of the Mohammedan races, that we may presume it was derived from them. It would be no difficult task to take a work of ornament of this class, and, by simply varying the colouring and correcting the drawing, convert it into an Indian or Persian composition. There is of course, in all these works, something essentially Chinese in the mode of rendering the idea, but the original idea is evidently Mohammedan. The Moors of the present day decorate their pottery under the same instinct, and follow the same laws as the Chinese obeyed in their beautiful enamelled vases. The Moorish artist takes a rudely–fashioned pot or other object, and by a marvellous instinct divides the surface of the object, 'by spots of colour, into triangles of proportionate area, according to the form and size of the object; these triangles are then crossed by others."
(Owen Jones, 1867)
Owen Jones (1867). "Examples of Chinese Ornament Selected from Objects in the South Kensington Museum and Other Collections: By Owen Jones. One Hundred Plates", S. & T. Gilbert, 4 Copthall Buildings, E.C. Back of the Bank of England.
"Stage one Graphic Design Communication students have been developing a new ornamental display font with highly Individual characters inspired by drawing digitally and laser cut manufactured to the exacting standards reminiscent of a traditional font foundry.
Level tutor Nigel Bents and Associate Lecturer Paul Oakley will further support students by printing typographic posters at the New North Press."
(Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Art and Design, 16 October 2011)
"in 2001, Peter Wollen wrote a rather impressionistic piece on Situationism for the New Left Review, in which he discussed the Danish artist Asger Jorn and his 1948 essay, 'What is Ornament?'. Jorn, a founding Situationist and also an appallingly sloppy painter, had a quaint view of art:
For Jorn, the pairing of European versus oriental ran together with other pairings, such as classical versus spontaneous, idealist versus materialist, Apollonian versus Dionysiac, with Jorn supporting the second term throughout–oriental, materialist, spontaneous, Dionysiac, and so on.
Further, for Jorn:
the nature of art is not to imitate the external forms of nature (naturalism) but to create natural art. Natural sculpture which is true to its material will be identical to nature's forms without seeking to imitate.
Jorn thus compares a minaret to a horsetail, and a totem–pole to a chestnut branch; the non–Western forms are seen as more organic, more rooted in the natural world."
(Conrad H. Roth)
[A critique of a romantic and 'essentialist' view of art and design.]