From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases. It can be inelegant, and eclectics are sometimes criticised for lack of consistency in their thinking, but it is common in many fields of study. For example, most psychologists accept parts of behaviorism, but do not attempt to use the theory to explain all aspects of human behavior.
Eclecticism was first practiced by a group of ancient philosophers who attached themselves to no real system, but selected from existing philosophical beliefs those doctrines that seemed most reasonable to them. Out of this collected material they constructed their new system of philosophy. The term comes from the Greek eklektikos: choosing the best. Well known eclectics in Greek philosophy were the Stoics Panaetius and Posidonius, and the New Academics Carneades and Philo of Larissa. Among the Romans, Cicero was thoroughly eclectic, as he united the Peripatetic, Stoic, and New Academic doctrines. Further eclectics were Varro and Seneca.
Architecture and art
The term eclecticism is used to describe the combination in a single work of elements from different historical styles, chiefly in architecture and, by implication, in the fine and decorative arts. The term is sometimes also loosely applied to the general stylistic variety of 19th century architecture after Neo-classicism (c. 1820), although the revivals of styles in that period have, since the 1970s, generally been referred to as aspects of historicism.
Eclecticism plays an important role in critical discussions and evaluations but is somehow distant from the actual forms of the artefacts to which it is applied, and its meaning is thus rather indistinct. The simplest definition of the term—that every work of art represents the combination of a variety of influences—is so basic as to be of little use. In some ways Eclecticism is reminiscent of Mannerism in that the term was used pejoratively for much of the period of its currency, although, unlike Mannerism, Eclecticism never amounted to a movement or constituted a specific style: it is characterized precisely by the fact that it was not a particular style.
Eclecticism is also known as a new popular music stream in the house scene. Dutch DJs like Don Diablo, Gregor Salto and Erick E are active in this music. Eclecticism is popular among Experimental Music Artists like Alex Ross-Iver,Tom Waits and Les Claypool.
Robin Holloway cites the composers Britten, Shostakovich, Copland, Poulenc and Tippett as eclectic composers, 'along the lines first boldly laid by Stravinsky; they make their idiom from very diverse sources, assimilating and transforming them into themselves'