Craft and creativity

Quatrefoil: ‘The Fancy Shape’

Episode 106 of 99% Invisible investigates the history and meaning behind the quatrefoil, which you may simply recognise as ‘that fancy shape’:

The quatrefoil has been re-interpreted and re-contextualized in a phenomenon to which architectural and art historians refer as “iconographical drift.” The associations with the shape are constantly shifting depending on where it’s used, who is using it, and what purpose it is used for.

Yet no matter where it’s used, it implies the same thing: fanciness.

(Images: Owen Jones: The Grammar of Ornament, sourced from the University of Wisconsin’s digital archive of decorative arts by Eric Gjerde)


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