Academic Illusions in the Field of Letters and the Arts: A Survey, a Criticism, a New Approach, and a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Study of Letters and Arts

By Martin Schütze | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE NEO-ROMANTIC "IRRATIONAL"
FORM-TYPE

"Open" or "atectonic" form. "No-form." The confusion of theme and intention with poetic-artistic content or meaning. The theory of the "musical" character of romantic personality and form.

The academic "irrational" form-type is essentially that of the baroque style as reduced by Wölfflin, in Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe, to five fundamental form-characters, and incorporated by recent academic writers in the metaphysics of "rationality-irrationality." In this extension and incorporation of Wölfflin's concepts, the third antithetic pair, namely, that of "open" and "closed," is the most important.

The character of "openness," according to Wölfflin, is essential to the baroque in opposition to the High- Renaissance, identified by Wölfflin with that of "closed- ness," which he calls the "classic." In Wölfflin's theory "closed" refers to a manner of composition, exemplified by Raphael, which is based on geometrical symmetry, i.e., an arrangement of the parts of a picture in a fairly equal spatial division on both sides of a vertical median axis. A triangle, approaching the geometrical type of an equilateral triangle, within the rectangle of the frame, is essentially the representative of the "closed" form. This type embodies a static geometrical equilibrium.

The "open" form, characteristic of the baroque, as interpreted by Wölfflin, does not show such geometrical symmetry. Its compositional axis is not vertical and

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