Skip to content

12: Jun15

The European scholarly reception of ‘primitive art’ in the decades around 1900: guest edited by Wilfried Van Damme and Raymond Corbey

 

Introduction: Raymond Corbey (Tilburg and Leiden Universities) and Wilfried Van Damme (Leiden University) ‘European encounters with ‘primitive art’ during the late nineteenth century’  12/vDC1

Articles:

Maarten Couttenier (Royal Museum for Central Africa), ‘“One speaks softly, like in a sacred place”: collecting, studying and exhibiting Congolese artefacts as African art in Belgium (1850–1897)’  12/MC1

Christian Kaufmann (University of East Anglia), ‘Seeing art in objects from the Pacific around 1900: how field collecting and German armchair anthropology met between 1873 and 1910’ 12/CK1

Susanne Mersmann (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz),  ‘Defining art in instructions for travellers: the agency of the Questionnaire de Sociologie et d’Ethnographie drafted by the Paris Anthropological Society in 1883’  12/SM1

Raymond Corbey (Tilburg and Leiden Universities) and Frans Karel Weener (Independent), ‘Collecting while converting: missionaries and ethnographics’ 12/RCFW1

Frances S. Connelly (University of Missouri-Kansas City), ‘John Ruskin and the Savage Gothic’  12/FSC1

Ruud Welten (Tilburg University), ‘Paul Gauguin and the complexity of the primitivist gaze’ 12/RWA1

Susanne Leeb (Leuphana Universität Lüneburg), ‘Primitivism and humanist teleology in art history around 1900’ 12/SLb1

Susan Lowish (Melbourne), ‘Evolutionists and Australian Aboriginal art: 1885-1915’ 12/SL1

Pierre Déléage (Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale, Collège de France, Paris), ‘The origin of art according to Karl von den Steinen’ 12/PD1

Oscar Moro Abadía (Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland), ‘The reception of Palaeolithic art at the turn of the twentieth century: between archaeology and art history’ 12/OMA1

Marjan Groot (LUCAS Institute of Leiden University), ‘Inscribing women and gender into histories and reception of design, crafts, and decorative arts of small-scale non-European cultures’ 12/MG1

Priyanka Basu (Scripps College), ‘Art historical “borderlands”: Elisabeth Wilson, Martin Heydrich, and August Schmarsow on “primitive” ornament’ 12/PB1

Kathryn W. Gunsch (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), ‘Seeing the world: Displaying foreign art in Berlin, 1898-1926’ 12/KG1

Julia Kelly (Loughborough), ‘“Dahomey!, Dahomey!”: the reception of Dahomean art in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries’  12/JK1

Kathleen De Muer (Free University, Brussels), ‘“Primitive art” in Henry Van de Velde’s art theory at the end of the nineteenth century’ 12/KDM1

Ursula Helg (Freie Universität Berlin), ‘“Thus we forever see the ages as they appear mirrored in our spirits”: Willhelm Worringer’s Abstraction and Empathy as longseller, or the birth of artistic modernism from the spirit of the imagined other’ 12/UH1

Yaëlle Biro (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY), ‘African arts between curios, antiquities, and avant-garde at the Maison Brummer, Paris (1908-1914)’ 12/YB1

Rudolf Effert (independent), ‘Ethnographic Art between debate and polemic: J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong’s hitherto unpublished manuscript “On uncivilized art and civilized “artistry” [1920]’ 12/RE1

Ruth B. Phillips (Carleton University), ‘Aesthetic primitivism revisited: The global diaspora of ‘primitive art’ and the rise of indigenous modernisms’  12/RBP1

Translations:

Rudolf Effert (independent), ‘On uncivilized art and civilized “artistry”: An ethnological enquiry’, J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong, previously unpublished [1920]. 12/RE2

Karl Johns (independent), ‘Alois Riegl and the Maori’: Alois Riegl ‘Ornament from New Zealand’, originally published as ‘Neuseeländische Ornamentik’, Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, vol. 20, new ser, vol, 10, 1890, 84-87.  12/KJ1

Karl Johns (independent), ‘Schlosser and Montaigne in the Festschrift for Franz Wickhoff’: Julius Schlosser, ‘Glosses on a passage in Montaigne’, originally published as: ‘Randglossen zu einer Stelle Montaignes’, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte, Franz Wickhoff gewidmet von einem Kreise von Freunden und Schülern, Vienna: Schroll, 1903, 172-182 and reprinted in Schlosser, Präludien Vorträge und Aufsätze, Berlin: Bard, 1927, 213-226.  12/KJ2

Abstracts:

Introduction: Raymond Corbey (Tilburg and Leiden Universities) and Wilfried Van Damme (Leiden University) ‘European encounters with ‘primitive art’ during the late nineteenth century’  12/vDC1

Abstract: This is an introduction to the present Journal of Art Historiography’s special issue on the European reception of so-called primitive art in around 1900. It outlines the collection of objects from small-scale non-European societies and their scholarly conceptualisation and appreciation as art during the late nineteenth century.

Key words: anthropology of art, history of anthropology, reception of non-European art, primitivism, history of collections

Articles:

Maarten Couttenier (Royal Museum for Central Africa),   ‘”One Speaks Softly, Like in a Sacred Place.” Collecting, Studying and Exhibiting Congolese Artefacts as African Art in Belgium (1850–1897)’  12/MC1

Abstract: This article will try to correct the ‘modernist myth’, dating the ‘discovery’ of African ‘art’ after 1900, by looking at Belgium and its colony at the end of the 19th century. Although Africans themselves were of course the first to appreciate the beauty of their own objects, not only European artists, but also colonials, scientists and museum curators became fascinated by African artists and their work, including not only sculpture, but also material culture, drawings, architecture, music and dance. The article will trace how African utensils became exhibited as ethnographical specimens and art objects during World Exhibitions and in the (Belgian) Congo Museum in Tervuren.

Key words: Congo, Belgium, African art, ethnography, museums, history of sciences, colonial culture

Christian Kaufmann (University of East Anglia), ‘Seeing art in objects from the Pacific around 1900: how field collecting and German armchair anthropology met between 1873 and 1910’  12/CK1

Abstract: Reports by travellers on their discovery of works of art in remote places become more frequent in the early years of the 19th century. In 1842 sculptures from Hawai’i are mentioned in a handbook of art history, based on an artist’s field drawings. In the 1860s scientists start collecting ethnographica, including works of aesthetic value, which begin to reach European and overseas museums in the late 1870s. Between 1894 and 1900 collecting and discussing art, often based on documentation obtained in the field and with the help of local interlocutors, becomes an accepted practice in leading museums, both in Germany and the USA.

Key words: early field anthropology, collecting art from the Pacific for museums  before 1910, early visions for a global history of art, J. St. Kubary and Museum Godeffroy, Felix von Luschan, Karl von den Steinen and the Ethnological Museum Berlin, history of anthropology of art

Susanne Mersmann (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), ‘Defining art in instructions for travellers: the agency of the Questionnaire de Sociologie et d’Ethnographie drafted by the Paris Anthropological Society in 1883’  12/SM1

Abstract: The present article deals with the definitions of art included in instructions forwarded to travellers. Such texts date back to the sixteenth century and were not only applied widely in Europe but subsequently in North America too. During the eighteenth century they began to adopt an increasingly academic character. This study focuses on the Questionnaire de Sociologie et d’Ethnographie of 1883 which in France marked a transition point from physical anthropology to cultural anthropology. The Questionnaire de Sociologie et d’Ethnographie contains a separate section dedicated to the fine arts. The main objective is to analyse the definitions of art in the Questionnaire. The final part of the article deals with the answers.

Key words: French nineteenth century, description and travel, definitions of art, Charles Letourneau, art and anthropology, Eugène Véron

Raymond Corbey (Tilburg and Leiden Universities) and Frans Karel Weener (Independent), ‘Collecting while Converting: Missionaries and Ethnographics’  12/RCFW1

Abstract: This paper concerns an understudied yet germane aspect of western receptions and interpretations of indigenous ritual art around 1900: the role of Christian missionaries, who furnished countless indigenous art objects, and that of missionary propaganda. The latter used to stress the heroic agency of misionaries in the field combating superstition and confiscating or burning idols. However, what happened in the field often turns out to have been different and more richly checkered than the crude image usually projected on the home front by the boards of missionary organisations and periodicals. We analyze three case studies which show a consideable role for native agency and autonomous local developments, with missionaries as relatively passive bystanders.

Key words: missions, iconoclasm, ethnographics, collecting, conversion

Frances S. Connelly (University of Missouri-Kansas City), ‘John Ruskin and the Savage Gothic’  12/FSC1

Abstract: John Ruskin’s provocative theories concerning Gothic art and architecture bear serious consideration in light of the formative debates concerning “primitive” art and its relation to modern European society. Like many primitivists, Ruskin’s advocacy for the medieval was motivated by a reformist zeal concerning the state of modern industrial Europe. He differs markedly in his ideas concerning the value and uses of the “savage” Gothic for modern audiences. Ruskin rejected the random borrowing of stylistic elements, stressing instead the artisanal process and the communal role of Gothic monuments. It is also significant that Ruskin problematises the relationship between “primitive” and modern by repeatedly acknowledging his position as a modern viewer and emphasising the process through which he makes (artisan-like) his interpretive history of the Gothic. Rejecting the mastering gaze, Ruskin constantly reminds readers that their view of this pre-modern work is fragmentary and disjunctive.

Key words: John Ruskin, medievalism, irony, bricolage, grotesque, noble savage, Gauguin

Ruud Welten (Tilburg University), ‘Paul Gauguin and the complexity of the primitivist gaze’ 12/RWA1

Abstract: The article describes the complexity of Paul Gauguin’s primitivism in a philosophical, more precisely, phenomenological way. It focuses on the phenomenological gaze that, in all its complexity, is active in Gauguin. In his ‘Tahitian’ paintings, we encounter a double gaze: the individual gaze, as painted by Gauguin, makes the spectator aware of the distance between Western and Polynesian cultures. Firstly, colonialism is a gaze that reduces the other to a primitive state in order to esteem this state as more pure and authentic. Secondly, it is precisely the other that resists representation and, as such, gazes back. Gauguin’s anti-conquest, therefore, is not a mere personal, political or cultural revolt, but something that is phenomenological, hidden within the power of his art. Instead, it is the spectator who becomes the intruder, the voyeur, caught red-handed in his own primitivist gaze.

Key words: Paul Gauguin, the gaze, phenomenology, colonialism

Susanne Leeb (Leuphana Universität Lüneburg), ‘Primitivism and humanist teleology in art history around 1900’ 12/SLb1

Abstract: The following text deals with the way the art of non-European peoples has been handled conceptually and theoretically by researchers around 1900. The text will focus on Karl Woermann, especially on his art history of “all peoples of all times”, Die Geschichte der Kunst aller Völker und Zeiten (1900), and on Ernst Grosse’s slighly earlier book on the beginnings of art, Die Anfänge der Kunst (1894). In both writing one can point out fundamental epistemological assumptions, like a division between an art of animals and an art of men, the existence of a ‘drive to decorate’ or ‘art drive’, the ‘fact’ of a development from more primitive forms of art towards higher ones or the commonality of art to all people, but not to the same extent as European art etc. If the ethnographer Johannes Fabian asked several years ago “how anthropology makes its objects” under the condition of colonialism, this text asks how art history made its objects under the very same conditions.

Key words: aesthetics, humanism, art drive, ethnology, primitivism, colonial epistemology

Susan Lowish (Melbourne), ‘Evolutionists and Australian Aboriginal art: 1885-1915’ 12/SL1

Abstract: This paper examines key examples of writing about Australian Aboriginal art in the decades around 1900 specifically in relation to the way in which it is used to provide evidence for theories concerning the evolution of art. Analysis of published works by late nineteenth-century men of science reveals the main influences shaping their perceptions of Aboriginal art during this time and provides an early working definition of this emerging category. This paper confirms that turn-of-the-century European understandings of Aboriginal art were based on limited evidence mediated through a specifically ethnographic notion of ‘decorative art’.

Key words: art and evolution, Australian Aboriginal art, art historiography, ethnology and decorative art

Pierre Déléage (Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale, Collège de France, Paris), ‘The origin of art according to Karl von den Steinen’ 12/PD1

Abstract: Based on a study of the custom, adopted by ethnologists in the early 20th century, of asking Amerindians of Lowland South America to do drawings in pencil in their notebooks, I explore three forgotten fragments of the history of thinking: the intense debates on the origin of ornaments, opposing an evolutionist and a materialist approach at the end of the 19th century; the theories on the origin of figuration, which I show date back to the important work of Karl von den Steinen regarding the populations of central Brazil; and the publications of ethnologists’ portraits drawn by Indians of the lowlands of South America, a little-known tradition of reverse anthropology serving as a counterpoint to the study of the reception of Amerindian art in Western ethnological literature.

Key words: art theories, ornamentation, drawings, Karl von den Steinen, Corrado Ricci, reverse anthropology, Lowland South America

Oscar Moro Abadía (Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland), ‘ The reception of Palaeolithic art at the turn of the twentieth century: between archaeology and art history’ 12/OMA1

Abstract: In this paper I focus on the role of art history in early conceptualizations of Palaeolithic art (1860-1930). In the decades around 1900, the formal analysis of Palaeolithic representations was highly inspired by models, theories and concepts first developed by art historians. I consider two main levels of influence. First, the modern distinction between ‘fine arts’ and ‘crafts’ influenced early interpretations of ‘primitive art’, a category that included Palaeolithic representations. Second, art history provided archaeologists with the theoretical background that helped them to interpret prehistoric images. For instance, archaeologists borrowed their terms and concepts from art historians. Moreover, the ‘representational’ and ‘degenerationist’ theories prevalent in art theory during the nineteenth century became the dominant theories to explain the origin and evolution of figurative and abstract representations. I complete this examination on the relationships between art history and archaeology by analyzing the impact of Palaeolithic images in art historical narratives. In particular, I examine the ways in which prehistoric representations were incorporated into the accounts elaborated by art historians during the first half of the twentieth century.

Key words: Palaeolithic art, art history, art theory, naturalism, primitive art, degenerationist theory

Marjan Groot (LUCAS Institute of Leiden University), ‘Inscribing women and gender into histories and reception of design, crafts, and decorative arts of small-scale non-European cultures’ 12/MG1

Abstract: Given the formation of the history of art and the anthropology of material culture in the late nineteenth century, this paper focuses on the scholarly field of study which has come to consist of the interrelationship of ornament, design, craft, and decorative art. After addressing the historiography of this emerging field with special attention to non-European cultures and areas, the paper will inscribe women authors and gender into the narrative and interpretation of craft, design, decorative art, and ornament through their personal observations of small-scale societies. Examples will address Ceylon, ‘the savage woman’, Brazil, Japan, Indonesian peoples, and African peoples. Contrary to object-oriented scholarly histories of the time, women’s reflections are linked to subject-personal experiences and imply a gendered appropriation of first-hand reception. Women’s writings also offer a gendering of geography in history writing where scholarly overviews by male authors created a western historical ‘landscape’ and women’s reception of non-European cultures positioned realms beyond it.

Key words: decorative art, design, material culture, anthropology, women, Japan, Ceylon, Indonesia, Africa

Priyanka Basu (Scripps College), ‘Art historical “borderlands”: Elisabeth Wilson, Martin Heydrich, and August Schmarsow on “primitive” ornament’12/PB1

Abstract: This article examines texts by Elisabeth Wilson and Martin Heydrich written in 1914 at the University of Leipzig on the subject of ‘primitive’ ornament. Both synopsize the history and literature of this field from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to the time of their writing. This article considers how Wilson and Heydrich represent this history and how the field’s multidisciplinary practitioners perceived its pressing problems. Above all, Wilson and Heydrich set up a number of recurring oppositions between major approaches to ‘primitive’ art and ornament, between ‘materialist’ interpretation, allied with archaeology, symbolic interpretation practiced for the most part by ethnologists, and an ‘aesthetic’ approach, pursued by art theorists and focused on the psychological will of its creators. These issues and this configuration of approaches are further examined in one of August Schmarsow’s important essays on art history and ethnology.

Key words: primitive, ornament, Elisabeth Wilson, Martin Heydrich, August Schmarsow, Kunstwissenschaft, ethnology, Leipzig

Kathryn W. Gunsch (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), ‘Seeing the world: Displaying foreign art in Berlin, 1898-1926’ 12/KG1

Abstract: Two major monuments reached Berlin at the end of the 19th century: the marble reliefs of the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon, and the bronze relief plaques from the audience hall of the royal palace at Benin City.  Each series of reliefs was placed into a newly built museum, but the curatorial approaches towards the two monuments greatly differed. This paper explores the many factors affecting the presentation of foreign artworks in Berlin, and the relationship between display methods and the development of the museum as a new institution.  The paper contends that while racist beliefs about the “Other” certainly affected museum exhibitions, the development of new academic fields and the evolving understanding of the purpose of the museum were also driving factors in determining display methods.

Key words: Benin, museum, African art, display, Berlin, ethnographic

Julia Kelly (Loughborough), ‘“Dahomey!, Dahomey!”: the reception of Dahomean art in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries’  12/JK1

Abstract: This essay examines the ways in which a series of royal sculptures from the African kingdom of Dahomey, acquired by the Trocadero Ethnographic Museum in Paris, were discussed in terms of both their artistic and anthropological interest in France in the 1890s. It sets this reception in the wider context of the French colonial conquest of Dahomey in this period, and of the increasing valorisation of African art by European artists and writers in the early 20th century. Dahomean art, however, did not play a significant role in this moment of modernist ‘primitivist’ appropriation. This essay also suggests that the large-scale figuration of the royal portraits, as well as their representation of a living culture with a well-established history set them at odds with a developing European preference for anonymous and ‘timeless’ African artefacts.

Key words: Dahomey, sculpture, colonialism, ethnography, museums

Kathleen De Muer (Free University, Brussels), ‘“Primitive art” in Henry Van de Velde’s art theory at the end of the nineteenth century’ 12/KDM1

Abstract: The designer and architect Henry Van de Velde (1863-1957) is by far best known for his Gesamtkunstwerke as well as his linear motifs. Less noted and less researched are his theoretical studies on art and society. The present article argues that those studies comprise a full-fledged part of a conceptual oeuvre in which linearity served the most articulate expression of Van de Velde’s core values in life: ‘vitality’ and ‘regeneration’. In the formation process of these values, Van de Velde was influenced by the late nineteenth-century European debate on ‘primitive art’, which was considered to be the artistic expression of that part of the human mind that mirrors the origin of humanity.

Key words: Henry Van de Velde, art theory, conceptual art, primitivism, Arthur Schopenhauer

Ursula Helg (Freie Universität Berlin), ‘‘‘Thus we forever see the ages as they appear mirrored in our spirits”: Willhelm Worringer’s Abstraction and Empathy as longseller, or the birth of artistic modernism from the spirit of the imagined 0ther’ 12/UH1

Abstract: As welcome as Worringer’s plea for a global broadening of art-historical research may seem from the present perspective, his theoretical approach, which is tied to a fictive other and determined by primitivist ideas remains problematic. His work helped to draw attention to non-European art, but it impeded its understanding. So the question is all the more pressing as to what actually made the book an internationally acclaimed longseller of modernism, which is referenced not only by artists but also by art and cultural theorists. The answer is to be sought in the adoption and subtle transformation of the primitivist figure of thought, which corresponded not only to the spirit of the early twentieth century, but to the very self-image of modernism as a whole. This article will attempt to show this.

Key words: primitivism, modernism, Wilhelm Worringer, abstraction, empathy, non-European Art, world art history, Ars Una, ornament

Yaëlle Biro (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY), ‘African arts between curios, antiquities, and avant-garde at the Maison Brummer, Paris (1908-1914)’ 12/YB1

Abstract: Before World War I, Hungarian-born art dealer Joseph Brummer (1883-1947) developed in Paris an extensive trade network through talented salesmanship and brilliant art selections. Helped by his brothers Imre (1889-1928) and Ernest (1891-1964), he promoted original art-forms that were not previously integral to the Western art canon. Juxtaposing works from Africa with art of Medieval Europe, Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as creations by living artists, the Maison Brummer blurred the boundaries that existed between these fields of collecting and was instrumental in awakening the interest of many collectors and museum professionals. Despite the Brummer brothers’ extensive international dealership and the fame of the collections they helped build, only recently has in depth scholarship begun to explore their activities. Using an array of unpublished archival documents and little-examined written accounts, this paper focuses on the early history of the Maison Brummer before its expansion to New York in 1914.

Key words: Brummer, African art, trade, collecting, galleries, art market, Paris

Rudolf Effert (Independent), ‘Ethnographic Art between debate and polemic: J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong’s hitherto unpublished manuscript ‘On uncivilized art and civilized “artistry”’, previously unpublished 1920]’  12/RE1

Abstract: This essay introduces J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong’s unpublished manuscript on ‘primitive art’ studies dating from 1920. It offers a brief outline of the author’s academic career and discusses the background and contents of the manuscript, published here for the time, in English translation.

Key words: J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong (1886-1964)

Ruth B. Phillips (Carleton University), ‘Aesthetic primitivism revisited: The global diaspora of ‘primitive art’ and the rise of indigenous modernisms’  12/RBP1

Abstract: This paper examines the global export of the construct of primitive art which developed in Europe in the early-twentieth century and the catalytic role it played in the emergence of modernist art forms produced by Indigenous peoples. It argues for the need to distinguish between sociological primitivism grounded in cultural evolutionist theory and the aesthetic primitivism promoted by artists, ethnologists and patrons who admired and appropriated the traditional arts of non-Western peoples classified as ‘primitive.’ Case studies of two refugees from Nazi Europe, German ethnologist Leonhard Adam and Austrian artist George Swinton, demonstrate the tension between received understandings of primitive art and these men’s growing awareness, following emigration, of Indigenous modernities. It also led to their active promotion of modern Australian Aboriginal and Inuit arts, despite  the undoubted links between aesthetic primitivism and the oppressive assimilationist policies justified through sociological primitivism.

Key words: aesthetic primitivism, indigenous modernisms, Leonhard Adam, George Swinton, Inuit art, Australian Aboriginal art

Translations:

Rudolf Effert (independent), ‘On uncivilized art and civilized “artistry”: An ethnological enquiry’, J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong, previously unpublished [1920]. 12/RE2

Abstract: In an unpublished manuscript, written in Dutch in 1920, the prominent Dutch ethnologist J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong offered a survey of theories on the origins of art and ornamentation. The beginning and conclusion of the essay consist of a polemic against the (Dutch) Society of Friends of Asiatic Art and the idea that ethnographic art can be sufficiently understood from an aesthetic point of view.

Key words: historiography of ‘primitive art’ studies, ornament studies, theories on the origins of art, J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong (1886-1964)

Karl Johns (independent), ‘Alois Riegl and the Maori’: Alois Riegl ‘Ornament from New Zealand’, originally published as ‘Neuseeländische Ornamentik’, Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, vol. 20, new ser, vol, 10, 1890, 84-87.’  12/KJ1

Abstract: Riegl’s lecture about Maori ornament was held before the Anthropological Society in Vienna in 1890 and anticipates much of what he then said in his Stilfragen. After reiterating his milestone criticism of the ‘materialist’ theories of Semper and his followers, he suggests that the spiral motif was used for more profound and spontaneous reasons at the knee of a figure and the point of a canoe because of its complexity in being read in more than one direction, with and without other intervening elements. It seems to have arisen independently in various places with widely varying climates and cultures.

Key words: spiral motif, origins of art, Maori art, Gottfried Semper

Karl Johns (independent), ‘Schlosser and Montaigne in the Festschrift for Franz Wickhoff’: Julius Schlosser, ‘Glosses on a passage in Montaigne’, Originally published as: ‘Randglossen zu einer Stelle Montaignes’, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte, Franz Wickhoff gewidmet von einem Kreise von Freunden und Schülern, Vienna: Schroll, 1903, 172-182 and reprinted in Schlosser, Präludien Vorträge und Aufsätze, Berlin: Bard, 1927, 213-226.  12/KJ2

Abstract: Earlier theories about the origins of decoration supposed that forms such as the widespread zig-zag motif in ornamental art originated as a ‘naturalistic’ imitation of lightning in the sky or the movements of snakes along the surface of the earth. Evidence exists that actual naturalistic imitation as we know it only became conscious far later and that art originally and more fundamentally expressed feelings or impressions based on such figments as what had been called ‘memory images.’

Key words: origins of art, imitation in art, expression in art, Alois Riegl

%d bloggers like this: