Barock: Art History and Politics from Burckhardt to Hitler (1844-1945)

INHA  -  2, rue Vivienne  -  75002 Paris
Le Centre d'histoire et théorie des arts (CEHTA) accueille Evonne Levy, directrice d’études (Toronto University) invitée à l’EHESS.

Jacob Burckhardt: Jesuit style, Counter-Reformation, Baroque
Samedi 30 Avril 2011, 18h-20h ; INHA - salle W. Benjamin (séminaire exceptionnel)

The Baroques of A.E. Brinckmann and Hans Sedlmayr: Biography and Art History under National Socialism
Mardi  3  Mai 2011, 9h-11h ; INHA Salle N.C. Fabri de Peiresc (séminaire de G. Careri)

Heinrich Wölfflin and the Political Language of Early Formalism
Mardi 10 Mai 2011, 15h-17h ; EHESS, 105 bd Raspail 75006 Paris- salle 8 (séminaire d'E. Michaud)

These three conferences are part of a book-length study to be entitled "Barock: Art History and Politics from Burckhardt to Hitler (1844-1945)."  In politically-motivated art histories each historical period poses particular problems: the political formation of the period and the effects of its artistic production must be reconciled with the political values of the present. 

Baroque architecture, first characterized in the wake of the French Revolution by Quatremère de Quincy, bore two political stigmas long before it became a fulsome art historical concept. Associated on the one hand with the absolute power of the Ancien Régime and on the other with the papacy and internationalist Jesuits, the political values of the Baroque era stood on both counts in opposition to the nineteenth-century project of nation-formation. Lagging decades behind ancient and Medieval art, Baroque architecture would only be intensively studied by art historians starting in the late 1880s. For the next one hundred years Germanic art historians found ways either to reconcile this problematic period of architectural production with the political values and needs of the day or to use it as a negative example.  This reconciliation  was all the more pressing because Baroque churches and palaces often physically constituted what Giulio Argan termed the "centers of prestige" of European cities.  Over the course of the century-long inquiry which my book describes, a formal language of architecture took shape which described Baroque architectural forms as the embodiment the state - both the Baroque state and the state of the present.  Architectural historians of the Baroque persistently took up several questions that are central to political philosophy, principal amongst them: What is the ideal relation of individual to the state and how are buildings the traces of an ideal political order? 

This book-length project focuses on a variety of writings (short and long, scholarly and more popular) on Baroque architecture primarily by leading figures: the Swiss Jacob Burckhardt and his student Heinrich Wölfflin; the Dresden architectural historian Cornelius Gurlitt; National Socialist art historians A. E.Brinckmann, Hans Sedlmayr, and Wilhelm Pinder; and Adolf Hitler, in another category altogether, who expressed a high opinion of Jesuit architecture. 

At the EHESS I propose to discuss three key episodes in this historiography: Burckhardt's early definition (and subsequent rejection) of a "Jesuit style" of architecture as a place-holder for the Baroque in his early "political" moment, when he was a journalist weighing in on the controversies over the ongoing Jesuit presence in Switzerland; Heinrich Wölfflin's inaugural "Renaissance und Barock" (1888) which, I argue, develops a language of "political formalism" which parallels the preoccupation of contemporary historians with the form of the ideal state; A.E. Brinckmann and Hans Sedlmayr whose membership in the Nazi party and whose political opportunism and conservatism (respectively) shaped their views of the European and Austrian Baroque (also respectively).  One of the obstacles to the investigation of the historiography of art in relation to politics is the paucity of detailed biographical studies of art historians and publications of their papers and correspondence, a lacuna which this study (and these conferences) has endeavoured to address with reconstructions of the political biographies of each figure.  One of the ambitions of the project is to give a face to art history and to show its openness to the historical circumstances under which it is produced.

  • le samedi 30 avril 2011  de 18h  à 20h
  • le mardi 3 mai 2011  de 9h  à 11h
  • le mardi 10 mai 2011  de 15h  à 17h
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