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Book review: Arnold Witte on the new translation of Wölfflin’s Grundbegriffe

1 November 2015

Wölfflin’s Grundbegriffe as a psychological palimpsest?

Review of:

Heinrich Wölfflin, Principles of Art History. One Hundredth Anniversary Edition, translated by Jonathan Blower and edited by Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen, ix + 357 pp. Los Angeles: Getty Publications 2015. US$ 34.94, £ 20.00 ISBN 978-1-60606-452-8.

Arnold Witte  13/AW1

Abstract: The centenary of the publication of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (Munich, 1915) has been celebrated by the Getty with a new translation of this seminal text of art history in English. The introductions by Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen illuminate the academic background of this work, but also shed an interesting and important light on how the circumstances under which Wölfflin composed his book – the onset of the First World War – had a profound impact on its content and approach. This shows that a contextual approach to the historiography of art can help to reveal its presumed ‘neutral’ methods as profoundly time-bound.

Key words: Heinrich Wölfflin, Grundbegriffe/Principles, art history around 1900, World War I, translations

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