For the love of order and the sense of beauty : Denman Waldo Ross and his theory of pure design
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This study investigated the work of design theorist Denman Waldo Ross and his theory of “pure design.” During the early twentieth century, Ross delivered lectures, published articles and books, and mused endlessly on the subject of art and design pedagogy. He taught future architects, designers, and art teachers at Harvard University, and acted as a patron to artists and art theorists. He also served on numerous boards and panels, helping to govern the Boston public schools, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. His work is not widely known today, but it was influential during a critical moment in American art education history. Arthur Wesley Dow is often credited as initiator of the elements and principles of design—an unfair burden for him to bear. Denman Waldo Ross, too, participated in the development of the language and terminology related to the elements and principles of design in the canon of art education at the turn of the twentieth century.