The Role of the Vienna School in Shaping Central European Approaches to Art History and Related Discourses
V. In Defence of Liberal “Humanism”: Gombrich’s Struggle against Metaphysics
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“The greatest compliment to be paid to Gombrich would be to treat his theories with the seriousness which they deserve, and to examine their ideological and philosophical basis.”
“Hypostatized Collective Personalities”
In the German art historical journal Kritische Berichte (1937), the twenty-eight years old Ernst Gombrich, who had already immigrated to London, reviewed Ernst von Garger’s essay “Über die Wertungsschwierigkeiten bei mittelalterlicher Kunst”.1 Max Dvořák’s disciple Ernst von Garger had referred to Alois Riegl’s theory of “Kunstwollen” in order to improve its vague distinction between “intention” and “achievement” (“Wollen” and “Können”). He proposed to estimate the value of a medieval work of art by comparing its original intention and final achievement. But Garger’s solution was resolutely rejected by the young Gombrich. He argued that Garger’s idea of medieval art understood in terms of intention was in principle wrong.
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