FAH102H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Modern Art, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Giorgio Vasari
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The Roots of the Discipline
• HK Chapter 3
• Erwin Panofsky. “The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline.” Meaning
in the Visual Arts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), 1-26.
Art is very old, but art history is not.
Art History as a discipline is new and have short history. early 19 cent.
Panofsky’s essay layout the diﬀerent between humanity and science, the
diﬀerent between the art history as a humanity discipline and science
1. Materialized (3- dimentional object)
2. Idea - subject matter (man tracing the woman, the moment he grab her,
and she became a tree. — subject matter — It came from a myth)
3. Content - context (who paint it? who paint for? who pay the money for
“History is necessary, not only to make life agreeable, but also to endow it with
a moral signiﬁcance. "— Marsilio Ficino (1433-99)
Panofsky: by studying art, we are not only studying the thing from past, art
historian also do it in a great moral purpose. We are doing the work of
Dynamic between the thing and the ppl who are looking at it.
Ethical function that art historian working on.
Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574)
Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550)
Series of biography - writing about the world he knew.
Goal: elevate of status of artist, also make class distinction between the artist
and craftsman. Artist not only use his hand, but also have their
concept/thoughts in their mind)
Art change as cyclical
> classical art (high point)
> gothic art (considered “not good”)
Johann Joachim Winkelmann (1717-68)
The History of Ancient Art, 1764
‘eine edle Einfalt und eine stille Grosse” (a Noble Simplicity and a Calm
was came from a shoe maker family. Self taught. Eventually went to university
and move to Rome 1755)
And he saw ancient Roman art, value the ethical quality and character quality in
“This exquisite and noble form of a nature thus perfect is, as it were, wrapped
round in immortality, and the from is but a vessel to contain it; a loftier spirit
seems to have taken the place of the mortal parts, and to have expanded in
He hated Modern art, hated Northern Art. He turns back to his own time and
The elevation/valuing of the other time and other place.
This Ideal is perticular in Ancient Greece/Rome. How could we or him not in
Ancient Greece/Rome access to it just by looking at the sculpture. How could
we understand their mean if we didn’t live in that time.
Johann Gottfried Herder (1744 - 1803)
Critique on WINKELMANN - you have to take art in his own term, own content.
He is interested in Northern art, in Gothic Art.
We cannot judge the angry ﬁgure like this (Rotten Pieta, c, 1300), we need to
understand what religious is talking about in that time, that place. We should
not compring it to Classical sculpture.
We should judge it with “Meditation on the Life of Christ”, judge it with the time
it was created.
Look at the thing at the same time, synchronic view of art
Look at the things across time diachronic view of art
(Rotten Pieta. c.1300.and Michelangelo.Pieta. 1498-9)
Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831)
First person to purpose that the change of the art - Hegel
He is a professor of University, when he ﬁnish his ﬁrst book, Holy Roman
Empire collapse. University is shut down and he lost his job.
Friend: Sulpiz Boisseree (1783 - 1854)
They two - collecting Northern European art.
Hegel, Aesthetic or Lectures on the Fine Arts (published ﬁrst 1835)
When we look a thing aesthetically, we look at it without relating anything
hermeneutic problem (problem of interpretation): how can we valuing it,
understand it and access that world without understand the culture that outside
of our culture?
Panofsky says you could try to reinvented/reimagining this world.
Panofsky think we have to keep asking : What the art/painter intend/which to
Hegel understand this problem, he suggests, we could learn a bit of the culture
Hegel developed a system to solve this problem.
IDEA (portrait of human mind — outside of matter, outside of time)
- universal spirit
- Absolute Idea
Idea ⬆ ⬆ Matter
3 PERIOD for Hegel.
- Symbolic (meaningful beyond their function) 狮像 not fully human or
animal. also meaningful over function.
- Classical (“… an expression of independence, of self-repose… in [the way in
which] the natural material is permeated and conquered by the spirit and in
which the artist has softened the marble, animated it, and given it a soul”) God
and human came in one moment.
- Romantic (emerge of the story of art, internal spirit, religious spirit into art. For
Hegel, the peak of artist are like Raphael and Da Vinci)
Hegel hates the art after the Christian moment. Painting have no Religious
content. (e.g. Pieter de Hooch, A Dutch Courtyard, 1658-60)
From Hegel, two main questions:
Why does art change overtime?
How is art historical and socially speciﬁc?
Criticism of Hegel
- Absolute Idea is too general to be useful
- Absolute Idea is unverﬁable
- Pays little attention to the form of art
- Pays little attention to social conditions under which art was made