XX FOUNDATIONS OF ART HISTORY TODAY

NEW PERSPECTIVES

Ernest F. Fenollosa ( 1853-1908) described a vision and not a reality when he wrote that we are approaching a time in which the artistic creation of all mankind might be seen in totality. Now, though much still remains to be done, from a contemporary perspective Fenollosa's goal appears to be nearly attained. 1

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, art-historical research has expanded to include both the earliest phases of prehistoric art and the most recent achievements of contemporary artists. The fact that geographical borderlines no longer impose conceptual limitations on serious research is one of the primary differences between art history in the twentieth century and that of earlier times. Erwin Panofsky described the beginning of this comprehensive approach when he noted that "where the European art historians were conditioned to think in terms of national and regional boundaries, no such limitations existed for the Americans" 2

The increased avenues of research and the multiplicity of approaches have broadened the field of art history in all countries to a degree that Winckelmann, Kugler, Rumohr, and Burckhardt could never have imagined. Although, as J.A. Schmoll (Eisenwerth) observed, no single scholar could possibly grasp all of the knowledge accumulated, 3 art historians including André Michel, Elie Faure, René Huyghe, Horst W. Janson, Ernst H. Gombrich, Kenneth Clark, and Michael V. Alpatov have made attempts to cope with the new allinclusiveness. 4 By definition, the works by these scholars are doomed to be fragmentary and subjective, and reveal the need for a continual revision of art history. 5 But monumental cooperative approaches do exist in series such as the Pelican History of Art, The Arts of Mankind, and the Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, which remain reliable sources for universalistic scholarship.


THE AMERICAN SITUATION AND THE IMMIGRANTS

The United States has clearly become the center of international research in the various areas of art history, at least since the great wave of immigration from Germany, Austria, and Italy before and during the Second World War. In his Kunstgeschichte American Style: A Study in Migration, Colin Eisler has convincingly described the enormously fertile situation created by the arrival of art historians from Europe who had already produced a flowering of art history during the earlier decades of the twentieth century. 6

The shift from Europe to America was channeled primarily through three institutions: the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, Princeton University, and Harvard University. Each in its own way accepted the immigrants and provided a base from which, for

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The History of Art History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Artists Histories 11
  • II - Poussin and the French Academy 21
  • III - Art in the Enlightenment 27
  • IV - The LaocoÖn Debate 37
  • V - Winckelmann''s Revolution 47
  • VI - Toward an Historical Discipline 59
  • VII - Goethe as Art Historian 67
  • VIII - Art History in Romanticism 75
  • IX - Rumohr and the Berlin School 87
  • X - Jakob Burckhardt and the Renaissance 95
  • XI - Reality and Method 103
  • XII - Art History in the GrÜnderzeit 125
  • XIII - The Dresden Holbein Debate 141
  • XIV - Impressionist Aesthetics 149
  • XV - The Vienna School 157
  • XVI - The Discovery of Form 171
  • XVII - Art History at the Turn of the Century 185
  • XVIII - Art Chistory of Expressionism 199
  • XIX - The Founding of Iconology 211
  • XX - Foundations of Art History Today 227
  • Epilogue - The Image of the Art Historian 251
  • Notes 253
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 270
  • Index of Names 271
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