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Discourses and Strategies

The Role of the Vienna School in Shaping Central European Approaches to Art History and Related Discourses


Ján Bakos

This book consists of essays on the Vienna School’s impact on Central European art history, Walter Benjamin’s move from transhistoricism to historical relativism, Jacob Burckhardt’s legacy and its metamorphoses, two competing conceptions of the social history of art, and Ernst Gombrich’s life long struggle against metaphysics. All share a common denominator: concern with the trajectories of art historical ideas and their ideological instrumentality. However, the author’s aim in analysing the premises and intentions of art historical discourse is not to undermine the credibility of art history by reducing it to total epistemological relativism. The historiography of art historical theories and critical reflection on their ideological background is understood by the author as an auxiliary art historical subdiscipline.
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Bibliographical Note


Details of the previous publications of essays in this volume are as follows:

“Humanists” versus “Relativists”: Methodological Visions and Revisions within the Vienna School. Paper read at the conference “Etablierung und Entwicklung des Faches Kunstgeschichte in Deutschland, Polen und Mittel-europa”, Kraków, 26 – 30 September 2007. Published under the title “‘Nominalists’ versus ‘Realists’ or ‘Humanists’ versus ‘Relativists’ (Methodological Visions and Revisions within the Vienna School)” in Die Etablierung und Entwicklung des Faches Kunstgeschichte in Deutschland, Polen und Mitteleuropa. Eds. Wojciech BAŁUS – Joanna WOLAŃSKA. Warszawa 2010, pp. 315-346.

The Depth of the Historicity of Art and Walter Benjamin. Paper delivered at the international conference “Umelecké dielo v epoche mediálnych výziev” (Work of Art in the Age of Media Challenges), Bratislava, 5 – 6 October 2006. Slovak original “Walter Benjamin a hĺbka historicity (Benjamin a Viedenská škola dejín umenia)”, published in Slovak Review of World Literature Research, 16, 2007, No. 1, pp. 27-36.

Between Task and Function: Metamorphoses of Jacob Burckhardt’s Legacy. Published under the title “Metamorphoses of Jacob Burckhardt’s Legacy” in Horizons. Essays on Art and Art Research. 50 Years Swiss Institute for Art Research. Eds. Juerg ALBRECHT – Kornelia IMESCH. Ostfildern-Ruit 2001, pp. 345-352.

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