Alex Potts: Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (1994)

17 July 2014, dusan

“Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), one of the most important figures ever to have written about art, is considered by many to be the father of modern art history. This book is an intellectual biography of Winckelmann that discusses his magnum opus, History of the Art of Antiquity, in the context of his life and work in Germany and in Rome in the eighteenth century.

Alex Potts analyzes Winckelmann’s eloquent account of the aesthetic and imaginative Greek ideal in art, an account that focuses on the political and homoerotic sexual content that gave the antique ideal male nude its larger resonance. He shows how Winckelmann’s writing reflects the well-known preoccupations and values of Enlightenment culture as well as a darker aspect of Enlightenment ideals–such as the fantasy of a completely free sovereign subjectivity associated with Greek art. Potts explores how Winckelmann’s historical perspective on the art of antiquity both prefigures and undermines the more strictly historicizing views put forward in the nineteenth century and how his systematic definition of style and historical development casts a new light on the present-day understanding of these notions. According to Potts, Winckelmann goes well beyond the simple rationalist art history and Neoclassical art theory with which he is usually associated. Rather, he often seems to speak directly to our present awareness of the discomforting ideological and psychic contradictions inherent in supposedly ideal symbolic forms.”

Publisher Yale University Press, 1994
ISBN 0300087365, 9780300058130
302 pages
via satranc112

Reviews: Christopher Reed (Journal of the History of Sexuality, 1996)
Dorothy Johnson (Eighteenth-Century Studies, 1996)

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Winckelmann’s works.

Isaiah Berlin: Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (1980)

18 November 2013, dusan

“In this outstanding collection of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, discusses the importance of dissenters in the history of ideas–among them Machiavelli, Giambattista Vico, Montesquieu, Alexander Herzen, Georges Sorel, Verdi, and Moses Hess. With his unusual powers of imaginative re-creation, Berlin brings to life original minds that swam against the current of their times.”

Edited and with a Bibliography by Henry Hardy
With an Introduction by Roger Hausheer
Publisher The Viking Press, New York, 1980
ISBN 0670109444
394 pages

Reviews: Mark Lilla (New York Review of Books), James G. Hanink.

Wikipedia

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Jeffrey Herf: Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (1985)

4 October 2013, dusan

“In a unique application of critical theory to the study of the role of ideology in politics, Jeffrey Herf explores the paradox inherent in the German fascists’ rejection of the rationalism of the Enlightenment while fully embracing modern technology. He documents evidence of a cultural tradition he calls ‘reactionary modernism’ found in the writings of German engineers and of the major intellectuals of the Weimar right: Ernst Juenger, Oswald Spengler, Werner Sombart, Hans Freyer, Carl Schmitt, and Martin Heidegger. The book shows how German nationalism and later National Socialism created what Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, called the ‘steel-like romanticism of the twentieth century’. By associating technology with the Germans, rather than the Jews, with beautiful form rather than the formlessness of the market, and with a strong state rather than a predominance of economic values and institutions, these right-wing intellectuals reconciled Germany’s strength with its romantic soul and national identity.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, 1985
ISBN 0521338336, 9780521338332
251 pages

Reviews: R.J. Overy (English Historical Review), Geoff Eley (Telos).
Commentary: Thomas Rohkraemer (Contemporary European History).

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