This intensive course has been designed for anyone with an interest in the history of ideas. No previous knowledge of art history or philosophy is required. The course is open to everyone over the age of 18. The number of participants is limited to 16.
SPRING COURSE: Ideas on Art: A Beginner’s Course in Art Theory, c. 1790-c. 1950
Monday 26 – Wednesday 28 March 2018
Dr Matthias Vollmer
Philosophical theories on the nature, characteristics and function of art, and more narrowly, on beauty, have been very influential in the development of art history and in the ways we have interpreted, and sometimes also made, images. The names of their authors crop up time and again in art-historical texts – Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, among others – but for all their impact, the theories of these philosophers are not always well or widely understood. From the later nineteenth and early twentieth century, art history came into its own as a serious academic discipline and influential art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin, Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky and Ernst Gombrich developed their own approaches to the study of art. Carl Jung´s psychoanalytical theory was also stimulating and influential for art and art theory, as was Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic reading of visual signs.
This course offers a thorough but accessible investigation of the influence of these important thinkers on art-historical writings and on the making of art from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
DAY 1: AESTHETICS AND ‘GENIUS’: KANT AND HEGEL
DAY 2: THE EMERGENCE OF ART HISTORY AND PSYCHOLOGY: WÖLFFLIN, WARBURG AND JUNG
DAY 3: SUBJECT-MATTER, ARTIST, AND SIGN: PANOFSKY, GOMBRICH, SEMIOTICS
TEACHING METHOD: A number of significant case studies will help us examine these theories and their influence on art production and reception. Classroom sessions in the morning on ‘theory’ will be followed by close looking at individual works of art in the National Gallery, The Courtauld Gallery and Tate Modern in the afternoons.
Dr Matthias Vollmer is Adjunct Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Programme. He studied History of Art, Philosophy, and Orientalism at the Freie Universität Berlin and wrote his PhD thesis on medieval book illustration. Matthias teaches interdisciplinary seminars on medieval and Renaissance art, as well as courses on modern art at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität der Künste Berlin and the Universität Münster. He currently researches the principles of visualisation in art and science.