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Modern Theories of Art 1: From Winckelmann to Baudelaire

Moshe Barasch
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 460
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  • Book Info
    Modern Theories of Art 1
    Book Description:

    This is an analytical survey of the thought about painting and sculpture as it unfolded from the early eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. This was the period during which theories of the visual arts, particularly of painting and sculpture, underwent a radical transformation, as a result of which the intellectual foundations of our modern views on the arts were formed. Because this transformation can only be understood when seen in a broad context of cultural, aesthetic, and philosophical developments of the period, Moshe Barasch surveys the opinions of the artists, and also treats in some detail the doctrines of philosophers, poets, and critics. Barasch thus traces for the reader the entire development of modernism in art and art theory. The aesthetic and intellectual developments of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that changed our views of the artistic image emphasized some central problems of critical reflection that became the major themes of any thought on art. The artistic symbol, the comprehensive system of the arts, and the relationship of one art with another are discussed in detail. We see the origins of a new perception of the artist's position, as well as the rise of new values in art, such as the role of the grotesque and the ugly in art. In his discussion of Baudelaire's analysis of Goya's monsters, Barasch concludes that the modern world is reflected in art whose beauty is independent of the beauty of nature.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8727-4
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 The Early Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 1-88)

    Students of letters are apt to balk at drawing sharply demarcated lines between periods. Such students, particularly when they have historical leanings, know better than most that, as a rule, the past persists in the present, and that what now seems the typical expression of the present has often been anticipated in the past. History is a constantly moving stream, and in this dynamic complexity the attempt to find, or establish, watertight compartments is almost a desperate one. This banal truth is valid, of course, also for the history of reflection on the figurative arts, that is, the theory of...

  5. 2 Beginnings of the New Age
    (pp. 89-145)

    What scholars call “periodization,” that is, the division of the broad, continuous stream of history into “distinguishable portions,” is the historian’s task and burden. Students of all periods and ages will invest great intellectual effort and critical acumen in marking the “limits” of the periods they study, in establishing when and where they begin and end. It is particularly the “beginnings” that cast a magic spell, and the more so when the search is for the emergence of our own time and world. As we have already noted, in the limited domain of reflection on painting and sculpture, the new...

  6. 3 Unity and Diversity of the Visual Arts
    (pp. 146-223)

    That the nineteenth century is a complex historical period, combining contraries, merging continuing traditions and radical changes, is a truism that does not require further elaboration. This general characterization of the age—the period beginning with the sixties or seventies of the eighteenth century and leading up to the traumatic upheaval of the first World War in the twentieth—is also valid for the domain of our reflections. As need hardly be said, this was the period of the museums, the great public collections, that popularized a veneration of past achievement, as well as of “new” and revolutionary movements both...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. 4 The Symbol
    (pp. 224-283)

    “Iconology” has become a household word in modern critical language. “Symbol” and “symbolism,” the terms most often used to indicate the relationship of the visible to something that in itself is not seen, have been so frequently and so carelessly employed that they have almost ceased to have any meaning. I shall not here attempt to define these heavily charged notions; yet I must explain in a few words why, to my mind, the student of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reflections on art should devote careful attention to what might be called the tradition of symbolic reading of works of art....

  9. 5 The Artist
    (pp. 284-390)

    The century between 1750 and 1850, so we are accustomed to believing, opened up a new period in Western history. In the domain of the present study—attitudes to, and the interpretation of, the visual arts—the Enlightenment and Romanticism, those complex and multifaceted historical movements, indeed marked the emergence of a new stage. The revolution brought about by these movements affected every corner and aspect of the philosophy of art and of art criticism. It may seem obvious, yet it is not superfluous to emphasize again that in no respect was the upheaval more radical than in its effect...

  10. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 391-408)
  11. Name Index
    (pp. 409-414)
  12. Subject Index
    (pp. 415-423)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 424-425)