German Art History and Scientific Thought

Beyond Formalism

German Art History and Scientific Thought Website price:£54.00 (Regular price: £60.00)
  • Imprint: Ashgate
  • Illustrations: Includes 28 b&w illustrations
  • Published: August 2012
  • Format: 234 x 156 mm
  • Extent: 208 pages
  • Binding: Hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-4094-4023-9
  • ISBN Short: 9781409440239
  • BL Reference: 707.1'1'43-dc23
  • LoC Control No: 2011038475
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  • Edited by Mitchell B. Frank, Carleton University, Canada, and Daniel Adler, York University, Canada
  • A fresh contribution to the ongoing debate between Kunstwissenschaft (scientific study of art) and Kunstgeschichte (art history), this essay collection explores how German-speaking art historians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century self-consciously generated a field of study. Prominent North American and European scholars provide new insights into how a mixing of diverse methodologies took place, in order to gain a more subtle and comprehensive understanding of how art history became institutionalized and legitimized in Germany.

    One common assumption about early art-historical writing in Germany is that it depended upon a simplistic and narrowly-defined formalism. This book helps to correct this stereotype by demonstrating the complexity of discussion surrounding formalist concerns, and by examining how German-speaking art historians borrowed, incorporated, stole, and made analogies with concepts from the sciences in formulating their methods. In focusing on the work of some of the well-known 'fathers' of the discipline - such as Alois Riegl and Heinrich Wölfflin - as well as on lesser-known figures, the essays in this volume provide illuminating, and sometimes surprising, treatments of art history's prior and understudied interactions with a wide range of scientific orientations, from psychology, sociology, and physiognomics to evolutionism and comparative anatomy.

  • Contents: Introduction: German art history and scientific thought: beyond formalism, Mitchell B. Frank and Daniel Adler; Body-building: August Schmarsow's Kunstwissenschaft between psychophysiology and phenomenology, Andrea Pinotti; 'Look at your fish': science, modernism and Alois Riegl's formal practice, Margaret Olin; Heuristic constructs and ideal types: the Wölfflin/Weber connection, Joan Hart; The formalist's compromise: Wölfflin and psychology, Daniel Adler; Recapitulation and evolutionism in German artwriting, Mitchell B. Frank; The physiognomics of architecture: Heinrich Wölfflin, Hans Sedlmayr and Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Daniela Bohde; Materializing Strukturforschung, Ian Verstegen; Reine Wissenschaft: art history in Germany and the notions of 'pure science' and 'objective scholarship', 1920-1950, Christian Fuhrmeister; Bibliography; Index.

  • About the Editor: Mitchell B. Frank, Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton University, is the author of German Romantic Painting Redefined (2001) and Central European Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada (2007). Daniel Adler, Associate Professor of Art History at York University in Toronto, is the author of Hanne Darboven: Cultural History, 1880-1983 (Afterall Books, 2009).

  • Reviews: 'The essays in the present volume, even though they all focus on a particular case, help the reader to gain a broader insight in the exchange between science and art history… The cumulative insight the reader acquires from this volume is that the approach of art history to the sciences was all but a clear trajectory towards objectivity; it called forth an increasing subjective and sometimes holistic appreciation of visual experience.' Journal of Art Historiography

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