FAH102H1 Lecture Notes - Waterloo Road, London, Aby Warburg, Carl Jung
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Alexandra Zylka January 20th, 2011
FAH102 – The Practice of Art History / Lecture 2
The Work of Art I: The Visual Analysis (Painting, Sculpture) - slides on FADIS
Jakob Burckhardt (1818-1897)
- Of Swiss origin
- His approach to art and history came from a more wholesome, cultural-historical
- Known as the father of cultural history (Aby Warburg will later significantly expand on
this line of ideas)
- Discussed the complex of life and people, including religion, art and literature.
Heinrich Wölfflin (1864-1945)
- Famous Swiss art historian, whose classifying principles (“painterly” vs. “linear”) were
influential in the development of formal analysis in the History or art during the later 20th
- Taught in Basel, Berlin and Munich.
- Three great books: Renaissance and Baroque, Classic Art and Principles of Art History.
- His family was wealthy and cultured
- Studied art history and philosophy under Jakob Burckhardt at the University of Basel.
- Emphasized there being psychology in the perception of psychology in art. (“art
- Baroque – based on “Baroco”(irregular)- Renaissance – comes from goldsmiths
- Why was Wölfflin so important?
oOffered the perspective of a value-free, culturally unbiased, objective, more-or-
less scientific, apolitical access to works of art…within the constraints of his time,
- By introducing method into art history, Wölfflin hopes to make it a discipline that
comprises more than appreciation of beauty and sensitivity to style.
The first departments of Art History – had to establish themselves as a serious science.
Archaeology – the grandmother of art history
Vernon Hyde Minor
- Believes that art can have a firmer foundation than it seemed to claim in the nineteenth
- He wants to make art history scientific (although in a somewhat different sense than
physics and biology are sciences)
The birth place of the history of art and of the field as a university institution lies in Germany.
- 1813 Göttingen
- 1844 Berlin
- 1852 Vienna
Wölfflin’s contemporaries were among others…
- Carl Jung
- Sigmund Freud
- Karl Max
“You are ugly” is only valid when “You are beauty” is said. – a means of comparison, side by
A Biunial or double lens Magic Lantern
- Made in England in 1878 by Tyler and Stackemann, Waterloo Road, London
- The Biunial magic lantern has two separate optical systems to allow the projection of
dissolves and other effects.
But what exactly is style?
- Stlye, according to Wölfflin, depends on various factors such as :
oAnd the elusive spirit of the age, the Zeitgeist
Wöfflin’s Principles :
- LINEAR – PAINTERLY
- PLANE – RECESSION
- CLOSED – OPEN
- UNITY – MULTIPLICITY
- ABSOLUTE CLARITY – RELATIVE CLARITY
1)Linear vs. painterly. Elements on the canvas are primarily described by lines. Figures
are distinct from one another; the painting is more or less a colored drawing. The
painterly painting relies on color to express form. Paint is usually loosely handled, form is
not defined with discrete lines and the edges of forms are not readily apparent.
2) Plane vs. recession. Objects in a planar painting are usually laid out parallel to the
picture plane, we tend to see the flat sides of things. Depth is signified by a succession
of parallel planes into space. In the non-planar painting objects turn corners to the
viewer. There is more a sense of motion up to and away from your eye within the
3) Closed vs. open form. Does the space in the painting seem closed off by something
at the edge of the canvas? Are the limits of the scene defined by objects within it? Or
does the painted space appear to stretch on infinitely beyond the limits of the canvas?
4) Multiplicity vs. unity. The multiple painting feels like a collection of individual
elements grouped together in the picture space. You feel you could pluck one object
right out of the painting. In the unified painting one senses the objects not as individual
elements, but as coherent parts of a general scene.
5) Absolute vs. relative clarity. Do you feel the objects are described as objects or as
paint? In the painting with absolute clarity objects tend to be placed in strong, clear light
so their edges are crisp and the viewer has an immediate understanding of the form of
the object. Objects are, as it were, re-created in paint. Relative clarity, on the other hand,
has to do with the optical sensation of objects. Objects are suggested in paint, not re-
created. They generally tend to be darker and more loosely focused. Painted objects are
not easily visually separable from the general painted field.
(Examples of these principles are on FADIS, starting at slide 29)
- There is more than what meets your eye! or,
- We only see what we are looking for?
- In art, the organization of forms and colors within the work of art.
- In traditional sculpture this means the arrangement of masses and planes.
- In representational painting it means the grouping of forms on a two-dimensional plane
- In abstract painting forms are generally composed on planes parallel to the picture
- In illusionistic works with advanced perspective, forms are arranged to accord with the
laws of depth perception.
“The painters’ figures and their environment were also colours and shapes, very intricate ones,
and the fifteenth-century equipment for understanding them as such was not altogether the
same as ours.
This is a great deal less clear and probably less important in the colours than in the shapes.
Assembling symbolic series of colours was a late medieval game still played in the
Renaissance. St. Anthoninus and others expounded a theological code;
White - Purity
Red - Charity
Yellow/Gold - Dignity
Black - Humility
Alberti and others gave an elemental code:
Red - Fire
Blue - Air
Green - Water
Grey - Earth
Composition is intrinsically interwoven with ART. The end of ART means the end of
Fah102 the practice of art history / lecture 2. The work of art i: the visual analysis (painting, sculpture) - slides on fadis. His approach to art and history came from a more wholesome, cultural-historical approach. Known as the father of cultural history (aby warburg will later significantly expand on this line of ideas) Discussed the complex of life and people, including religion, art and literature. Famous swiss art historian, whose classifying principles ( painterly vs. linear ) were influential in the development of formal analysis in the history or art during the later 20th century. Three great books: renaissance and baroque, classic art and principles of art history. Studied art history and philosophy under jakob burckhardt at the university of basel. Emphasized there being psychology in the perception of psychology in art. ( art psychology ) Baroque based on baroco (irregular)- renaissance comes from goldsmiths.