Séminaire : KUNST, German Theoretical Approaches to Art (1750-2000)


KUNST German Theoretical Approaches to Art (1750-2000)

A Zoom seminar co-organized by Caroline van Eck (Cambridge University), Isabelle Kalinowski and Mildred Galland-Szymkowiak (École Normale Supérieure, Paris)

This seminar will consider theories of art and art history developed in the German-speaking world from 1750 to the late 20th century. In the course of this period aesthetics as a philosophical discipline was born and branched out into various kinds ; art history became an academic discipline, incessantly in search of methododologies ; morphological approaches to art entered into a dialogue with more historical approaches to ancient and non-Western art. This vast corpus of thought remains to the present day an inexhaustible source of methodological tools to think about the arts. It is particularly relevant today because it took on the challenge of developing global theories of art and its histories, and sought to integrate perspectives on art and material culture from adiacent disciplines such as anthropology.

In the course of this seminar the main figures, texts and concepts will be analysed from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together art and architectural historians, philosophers and specialists of German language and culture. It is hosted by the research laboratory Pays germaniques (Isabelle
Kalinowski) and the Department of Philosophy (Mildred Galland-Szymkowiak) at the Ecole Normale in Paris (Translitterae Graduate Program), as well as by the Department of Art History in Cambridge (Caroline van Eck).

In 2021-22 the theme of the seminar will be ’Aesthetics and the Historicity of Art’. A series of key figures from the 1780s to the 1920s will be discussed, including Kant, Goethe and Schiller, Karl Rosenkranz, Alois Riegl, Julius von Schlosser, Georg Simmel, Wilhelm Worringer, Ernst Kris or Ernst Gombrich. The relation between theories of beauty and the nature of aesthetic experience on the one hand, and the historicity of art and the methodological issues raised by that historicity on the other, was one of the central issues in German thought about art in this period.
It emerges in philosophical aesthetics, in art criticism, artistic and architectural theory, but also around 1900 in the emerging fields of empirical and historical psychologies of art. Defining the relation between the aesthetic and historical aspects of art was also a key issue for art history as it grew into a scientific discipline in search of concepts and categories with which to devise historical frameworks or stylistic classifications.


Please write to isabelle.kalinowski@ens.psl.eu and cav35@cam.ac.uk for all enquiries or to register. The seminar is open to all graduate students in History of Art, History, Philosophy and German or French Studies.

The seminars will take place on Wednesdays, from 3 to 5 pm (British time) = from 4 to 6 pm (French time) and will be online. They will be held in English. Once enrolled you will receive the link.


10 November Ernst Cassirer’s conception of space, by Rémi Mermet (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)

1 December Wilhelm Worringer, by Mildred Galland-Szymkowiak and Isabelle Kalinowski (both CNRS/ Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)

12 January Karl Rosenkranz, by Margaret C. Rose (Cambridge)

9 February Alois Riegl, Julius von Schlosser and Ernst Kris : Origins of Antique Zoomorphic « Mischwesen », by Caroline van Eck (Cambridge University)

9 March Presentation of the Georg Simmel’s anthology Stile moderno. Saggi di estetica sociale, Einaudi, 2020, by Barbara Carnevali (EHESS, Paris) and Andrea Pinotti (Milan)

6 April Kant’s Critic of the Power of Judgment, by Danièle Cohn (Paris I) : CANCELLED

11 May La part de l’objet, la part du sujet. Kant, Schiller, Goethe, by Danièle Cohn (Paris I)

15 June Ernst Gombrich’s Preference for the Primitive, by Mary-Ann Middlekoop (Oxford/Cambridge)