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20: June 19


General articles

Hammam Aldouri (Independent), ‘Search for a method: a reassessment of Hegel’s dialectic in art history’ 20/HA1

Abstract: It is often noted that G.W.F. Hegel offers the modern academic discipline of art history its first methodological model of scholarly construction. This essay offers a critical analysis of some salient moments in the art historical reception of Hegel’s ‘dialectical method’ and, against that reception, to provide a reconstruction of Hegel’s analysis of method in the short yet dense ‘Introduction’ to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Drawing on the recent renewed interest in Hegel in art history, I show that Hegel does not fabricate a ‘dialectical method’ but develops, instead, a sophisticated negation of method. This negation, however, is not a total annihilation. Strangely, it yields a deeper, more bewildering philosophical claim: that we are both the object and subject of philosophical analysis. In the context of the Hegelian legacy of art history, this extraction of the ontology of social being from out of the limits of philosophical methodology opens up some difficult questions, questions that concern, in the last instance, what the subject of art historical scholarship is.

Key Words: G.W.F. Hegel, E.H. Gombrich, dialectical method, reception, social ontology, art historiography

Csilla Markója (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), ‘ The modification of meaning: Cézanne, Hildebrand, Meier-Graefe and the problems of cultural transfer’ 20/CM1

Abstract: Can concepts or artistic practices be transferred from one culture, one region, one land to another; and how much can another cultural context modify the meaning and function of a given artistic language, in the present case a language of painters? We can move nearer to an understanding of the problem if we bear in mind that cultural transfer differs essentially from comparison since it builds on the premise that there are no national cultures that have developed in an autochthonous way. These cultures have formed in the wake of influences, co-habitation, and motif adoption of many different kinds. Investigation of cultural transfers, then, emphasises similarities existing in social memory and not on differences. The art history of the time around 1900 has been recorded by way of the narrative of progressivism, in the paradigm of the centre and the periphery. The model itself is historical. We can and should remark upon on the material of past in its capacity as such and we may emphasise different aspects of it. Nevertheless, the material of the past is malleable only up to a certain limit. The historical marker of the art of the era under discussion is progressivism: we would be ahistorical were we to divest it of this tag. This paper presents the problems of cultural transfer on the example of Hungarian and French fauvism, involving the reception of renowned art historians and thinkers such as Adolf Hildebrand, Julius Meier-Graefe or Georg Lukacs.

Key words: art historiography, fauvism, cultural transfer, Adolf Hildebrand, Julius Meier–Graefe, Georg Lukacs, modernism, art history, Cézanne, Matisse, Leo Popper, The Eight, Károly Kernstok, Aristide Maillol, Robert Bereny, Fauves

Jacob Stewart-Halevy (Tufts University), ‘Sypher’s Cipher: ‘Paradoxes of Conduct’ in the Reception of Mannerism, 1954-1973’ 20/JSH1

Abstract:This essay uses the reception of Wylie Sypher’s widely read, but ill-reputed Four Stages of Renaissance Style: Transformations in Art and Literature 1400–1700 in order to explore the uses and effects of a genre we might call ‘middlebrow Mannerism.’ Sypher and his mid-century peers’ over-reaching synthetic histories allegorised the literature and artefacts of sixteenth century courtier society to address post-war middle class aspirations including the cultivation of self-doubt, moral sophistication, and the democratisation of elite culture. Although scorned by scholars including Erwin Panofsky and Meyer Schapiro, their work had lasting consequences for the future of contemporary art, providing artists and critics with the tools to wage a proxy struggle against High Modernism while prompting them to scrutinise their own roles and behaviours within the mid-sixties art world.

Keywords: middlebrow, Modernism, Mannerism, maniera, art world


Eloise Donnelly (University of Cambridge and the British Museum), ‘A material influence imperceptibly exercised on the taste and judgement of the public’: The Burlington Fine Arts Club and the history of collecting’: Stacey J. Pierson, Private Collecting, Exhibitions, and the Shaping of Art History in London. The Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, Routledge, 2017, 222pp, 10 col. plates, 24 b. & w. illus., ISBN 978-1-138-23262-4 20/ED1

Abstract: Founded in 1866 by the South Kensington curator John Charles Robinson, the Burlington Fine Arts Club played a critical role in the landscape of collecting and display over its near century long history. Occupying a unique space between museums, commercial art galleries, learned societies and traditional gentleman’s clubs, it functioned as a point of intersection between public and private collecting spheres and gave rise to a number of seminal exhibitions. Despite this, it has remained on the periphery of studies of the history of collecting. Stacey Pierson’s history of the Club, part of Routledge’s series Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950, seeks to address this gap in historiography, situating the Club and the networks that emanated from its lists of members within recent histories of collecting, museology, exhibitions and the art market and exploring its legacy for art historical criticism.

Key words: collecting, museums, art market, exhibitions, curating, networks

Ladislav Kesner (Masaryk University Brno), ‘Saving the humanities from evolutionary and neuroscientific imperialism’: Matthew Rampley, The Seductions of Darwin. Art, Evolution, Neuroscience, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA 2017,189 pp., ISBN 978-0-271-07742-0 20/LK1

Abstract: Matthew Rampley´s The Seductions of Darwin. Art, Evolution, Neuroscience presents a strong critique of evolutionary and neuroscientific approaches to art. The review critically analyses author´s positions, arguments and rhetoric, concluding that the book fails in its objective to examine the value of biological approaches for art history and thus contribute to bridging the divide between science and art.

Keywords: art, science, evolutionary theories, neo-Darwinism, biological approaches, neuroarthistory, neuroaesthetics

Aaron Kozbelt (Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York), ‘Gombrich’s cosmos of thought: past and future’: Art and the Mind – Ernst H. Gombrich: Mit dem Steckenpferd unterwegs, edited by Sybille Moser-Ernst with editorial assistance by Ursula Marinelli, Göttingen, Germany: V& R unipress, 2018, 442 pp., 59 figures, ISBN 9783847107941 20/AK1

Abstract: This review of the English-language chapters of Sybille Moser-Ernst’s edited collection, Art and Mind – Ernst H. Gombrich: Mit dem Steckenpferd unterwegs, focuses on his complex and continuing influence on basic questions about visual art and its history. Gombrich’s broad interdisciplinary reach is evident in the range of themes and critical approaches offered by the contributors. As cognitive psychologist whose research interests and orientation overlap with many of Gombrich’s core concerns, I discuss the contributions in terms of foci on the past versus future and situate the latter in the context of contemporary psychological and neuroscience research. The implications of this cross-disciplinary dialogue remain fertile, as researchers in many domains continue to play catch-up to Gombrich’s prescient insights.

Key Words: Gombrich, neuroarthistory, neuroaesthetics, empirical aesthetics, perceptual psychology, creativity, postmodernism

Elizabeth Mansfield (Pennsylvania State University), ‘Where centre and periphery meet: art history in Greece’: Art History in Greece: Selected Essays, edited by Evgenios D. Matthiopoulos, Athens: Melissa Publishing House, 2018, 150 pp., 22 b. & w. illus., ISBN 9789602043790 20/EM1

Abstract: The edited collection Art History in Greece: Selected Essays features six essays on the development and contemporary practice of the discipline of art history in Greece and Cyprus. Although interest in the historical study of the visual arts existed in Greece by the nineteenth century, it was not until after the 1821 War of Independence that the discipline began to take distinctive shape. Even so, art history remained under the shadow of archaeology, which has been accorded greater cultural authority and social value by successive governments and popular audiences alike since the emergence of modern Greece. The essays collected here provide insight into the history of art history’s emergence as a distinct discipline in Greece and show how current trends in research are, to some extent, a response to the ongoing dynamics of nationalism and the not-unrelated privileging of archaeology.

Keywords: Greece, Cyprus, Greek art history, nationalism, archaeology, National Gallery in Athens, Association of Greek Art Historians

France Nerlich (INHA Paris), ‘The invention of the homogeneity and continuity of peoples. Or the essential ethnicization of art history’: Eric Michaud, Les Invasions barbares. Une généalogie de l’histoire de l’art, Paris: nrf essais Gallimard, 2015, 304 pages, 14 b. & w. illus., ISBN 978-2-07-012265-3 20/FN1

Abstract: With this book, Eric Michaud proposes a thesis on the origins of art history, which for him are intimately linked to the invention at the end of the 18th century of the myth of the invasion of the Barbarians as a key moment in the rejuvenation of Western civilisation. Tracking in the writings of major art historians the assertions on the link between art and race, he tries to unravel the thread of a discipline that was built on this idea of an ethnicity of art in concepts that still today weigh on the vocabulary and concepts commonly used. Michaud explores the positions of 18th century authors, in particular Winckelmann’s key role, then the major authors of 19th and early 20th century art history. Along the way, he sheds light on the close relationship between anthropology and art history when it came to proving the survival of races. In this sense, art and its monuments have assumed an obvious genealogical function on which the idea of stylistic constant and biological and psychological heredity is based and on which the ethnicisation of art could easily raise and flourish.

Key words: nation, race, taste, style, Romanticism, anti-Semitism, genealogy, art history, evolution

Alessandro Nova (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz), ‘Raphael and the redefinition of art in Renaissance Italy’ In memoriam Robert Williams: Robert Williams, Raphael and the Redefinition of Art in Renaissance Italy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 304 pp., 113 b. & w. illus., ISBN 978-1-107-13150-7 20/AN1

Abstract: The reviewer highlights the most important issues discussed by the late Robert Williams in his last book: style, decorum, and division of labour. Starting from the principle of stylistic eclecticism in Raphael’s work, the review helps the reader to deal with the complex terminology used by Williams: systematicity of representation, different types of decorum, Techne and Metatechne.

Key words: Italian Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari, Vincenzio Borghini, Pietro Bembo, style, meta-style, decorum, censorship, labour and division of labour, imitation, theory of imitation, systematicity, systematicity of representation, principle of stylistic eclecticism, self-reflexivity, Techne, Metatechne, German language

Matthew Rampley (Brno), ‘Theories of agency in art’: Horst Bredekamp, Image Acts: A Systematic Approach to Visual Agency. Translated by Elizabeth Clegg. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2018, 361 pp, ISBN 978-3110536300 20/MR1

Abstract: This review offers a critical summary of Bredekamp’s Image Acts. Identifying Bredekamp’s theory of the image act as an attempt to provide a general Warburg theory of the image, it argues that despite the impressively wide-ranging and ambitious scope of the study, it is theoretically undetermined. Agency is a central term, but the book lacks a theory or even working definition of agency, which makes it different to understand the force of some of Bredekamp’s claims. The review contrasts Bredekamp with Alfred Gell, whose Art and Agency focused on anthropological study of the ascriptions of agency to images in different cultures and the structure of such ascriptions. It argues that Image Acts ends up being neither a fully worked-out theory of visual agency nor a historical or anthropological account of attributions of agency, and its purpose and focus consequently remains ambiguous.

Key words: visual theory, anthropology, Alfred Gell, Aby Warburg, Ernst Cassirer, W. J. T. Mitchell, prehistoric art, agency, speech act theory, symbolism

Richard Read (University of Western Australia), ‘Opened eyes on Australian exhibition history’: Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our Eyes by Joanna Mendelssohn, Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis and Catherine Speck, Melbourne, Thames & Hudson, 2018, 432 pages, 396 col. Plates, 63 b. & w. illus., ISBN 9780500501214 20/RR1

Abstract: A review of a compendious volume that traces the history of Australian exhibitions from the middle of the twentieth century to 2018. It examines how its authors place the field of exhibition history in relation to other agencies of influence on Australian culture: government policy, funding agencies, directors’ planning committees, art historians, art critics, and the inventive ways generations of curators responded to a series of artistic movements, indigenous aspirations, the cultures of minorities and successive waves of migrants. It probes possible contradictions in the volume’s presentation of exophoric or endophoric models of cohesion in national exhibitionary culture, compares it with histories of curating of other countries, and speculates upon alternative approaches to artists’ contributions to exhibition history, reasons for unequal achievements in the separate Australian states and the photography of spectating.

Key words: Australian art, galleries, exhibitions, institutional history, spectators

Ariane Varela Braga (University of Zurich), ‘Ornament and European Modernism: from art practice to art history’: Ornament and European Modernism. From Art Practice to Art History, by Loretta Vandi (ed.), New York and London: Routledge, 2018, 198 pp., 38 colour & b/w illus., ISBN: 978-1-138-74340-3 20/VB1

Abstract: In the edited volume Ornament and European Modernism, Lorandi Vandi presents five essays that, taking ornament as a central point of departure, all examine in different ways the question of the dissociation between non-representational and representation art and the problem of the unity of art. The book is thus not much so about ornament itself as the interpretation and meanings that have been given to ornament between the second-half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Focusing as much on proto-Modernism as on Modernism itself, it provides an up-to-date reading of the approaches to ornament developed by historical key-figures, such as Owen Jones, Gottfried Semper, Wilhelm Worringer or Adolf Loos, besides examining the lesser known contribution of August Schmarsow and offering a new reading of Ernst Gombrich’s theory of perception.

Key words: ornament, architecture, Primitivism, Modernism, England, Germany, Austria, abstraction, psychology of perception

Kamini Vellodi (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh), ‘A timely collection?’: Time in the History of Art. Temporality, chronology and anachrony, edited by Dan Karlholm and Keith Moxey, Studies in Art Historiography, New York and London: Routledge 2018, 254 pages, 50 B/W Illus, ISBN 978-0-415-34744-0, 20/KV1

Abstract: The question of time has been at the forefront of art historical investigation for several years. The value of Time in the history of Art is in bringing together a conceptually, methodologically and thematically diverse range of viewpoints to present the range of problematics at stake in the questioning. The collection is, however, symptomatic of the challenges and pitfalls of art historical attention to time. First, sustained and analytical attention to philosophies of time are obscured in favour of descriptions of the temporal complexity of artefacts/images/artworks. Thus, despite claims to the contrary, the underlying conceptual frameworks and models of time (including the much-maligned model of chronology) persist. Second, the questioning of time is detached from the questioning of other fundamental presuppositions of art historical study – such as knowledge, representation and fact – and as such only partially enacts the critique of art historical thinking that it claims to stage.

Keywords: time, chronology, critique, anachronism, heterochrony

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