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  • 8/8/2019 DaCosta Kauffman


    NationalStereotypes,rejudice,ndAestheticJudgmentsin the Historiographyf ArtThontos oCasto o fnrcnn

    Vhen I wasa qr:rduate tuderlt, n importanrprofessor,vho aterbecar.nchechiefcul'rltor f a major museumwherc wa soncealsoa fellow,used o dismiss fr fronrAustriaand surrounding egio's as schnitzcl"and arr f}om Germanyas kraut."Sootrafterward,wl'ren began eachir.rg, seniorprofessor nd chair of rhe de-partmetrtwhcrc I tcachspokc n a similarvcin aboucmy inrcrest n art ficlrn hesercgi

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    77 Thomas aCosta aufmann

    and apprehension: ut soon find the epithct o[reproach retortedon us."]Personal necdotes an thus serve o introducea more general nd long-

    standinsproblenr n the iteratureof art.This brief paper akesup this themc andconsiders, i rst , one important t r : rd i t ion of ar t history that t r ied to be freeofaesthetic rejudices. econd, t suggestsow this tr:rditionmay havebeen nitiatedasa responsco the employment of canons n art history,bLrt ha t art historiansassociated ith this schoolalso ailcd to escape i'om the snares f regionalandnatiolralprcjudices, nd thar thc tenacitl,of rhcscprejudices csult.s nly in partfronr the circumst:rncchat the c'l isciplincvas ilrn-red nd grew during an ageoftrationalism. inally, rn arqllmellt s rnrrdehat a more firndementalproblem s n-volved,one that haspersistedlom the tinre hat aestheticsirst became ntanglcdwith art historyand a kind of proto-anthropology,."vhenhc moclcrn orrnsof thesediscoursesn firctorigin:rtcd n th e cightccnthcentLlry.

    A rcmark attributed to thc Vicnncsc rrr histolian Alois Riegl providesago

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    establish.To exemplifyhis argument, (lombrich-who, it may also be noted,believed n trtrnshistorical tar.rclarcl.nd norms-adduced Vasari'.semarkson whatis now calledGothic architecture.

    Br-rtVasaridid not Llsc he word "(lothic." In the well-known passageGombrich cited,Vasari pokeof "anotherkind of work, calledGerman . . . whichcould well be calledConfusionor f) isorder nstead."8 asari 'segative cmarks rein kcepingwith thc kinds of categorieshat he established nd employed hrough-out the Vite.As iswell knowrr,Vasari cploycddistirrctions mong he typesof artmade n variouscit ies,betweenart in Florence nd art in Venice,berwee 'lirscandisegno nd Venctiart olorito.He also m;rlicd hat art ists ould be treated ccord-ing to national difllrenccs.Vasari's1-rositior.r.rot nly clcarly csulted rom a prejudicein favor of the ' Iuscan(and ts rc latec l ppearancesn Rome), but i t led to theneglect r dis;raragcn-rcr.rtf othcr ccntcrs, nd clcarlyof the art of oth er natiotrs.')This is fbr instance lsoevident nh is uita oFJacol'ro ontormo,whcrc one pointfbr cr i t ic ism is Pontormo'suscof ( lerman engrav ings: or therners,GermansinclLrdcd, rc to come to Italy to le:rrn rom Italian art, not the reverse.0

    Sirnilarexpressiorrsf aestheticudgmenthave r.rfbrmcd.r.ruchf the sub-sequcnt itcraturcof art. l)epenclingon one'spoint of view, he Venetian,Dutch,Clerman,Fre ch, or whatevcrplaccorrcmight l ike to promote suppli ed henormfor writers who respondecl o Vasari n creati ng heir owr.r egior.ralr nationalhistoriographies.ven he sortof art historywhich, ikc thework ofJohann oachim'Winckelmann,trcatcclnationalor local schoclls s constitutin g a sequence, ndwhich in the writ ings of later historians egarcledhis secluece as he resultof aprocess f evoh-rtion ltstyles,managed o cornbine his iclea f progress ith theassumpt ion hat some norm had been expressedn the h is tory of ar t . For'Winckelmann,and for n.rarry thers, t wasof co urse he art of ancientGreece, ndsubsequentlyhat of the Italian Renaissance.llTb e sure,other norms could alsobe posi ted:Johann Wolfgang von ( loethe thus turned Vasar ion his headbyg iv inga pos i t i ve a lue o Gorh ica rch i t cc ru r cnd deeming he lo th ica pos i t i v cexpression f Clermanness.r Subsequently,many art historians rom the time of theinstitutionalization of the discipline n the nineteenthcentury havesung he praisesof German art; mutatis mutandisart of other nations hasalsobeencelebratedwhenthe forms of their art wereestablished snormative.

    Normative assumptionsand in particular the classical anon were espe-cially what Riegl had in his sights.As Otto Pdcht suggestedn his acute analysis fRiegl, the implications of Riegl'swritings were that the classical ano n, and

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    74 Thomas aCosta aufmann

    absoluteaesthetic o rms in get-reral,ad becomcobsolete v the late nineteenthcentut'y.1r'heyhad to be dropped. Instead, t wa snecessaryo r-rnderstandhateachphase n history had ts owrl aesthcticdeals.Fo r rhis,as s rvellknown, Riegldevelopeclhe iclcaof Kunstu,ollen: achperiod and placehad its own Kunstwollen.Neverthelcss,hile eschewir.rgudgmentsand an approach o history ha tseemedo be basedo11 esthetic lejudices,Ricgl ernployecl onccptsof regionalor nationalconstauts hat also ely on stereotypes,nd n.ra.ynsinuatesuch preju-clices r-rto hc writing of history. In Dts Hol/andischeGruppenportrlr Riegl calledthe l )utch groLrp ort fa i t " the genre r r losr eprcsenrat ivef Ho l land\ r . rar io r . ra lstvle."raWhateverhe term may nrean lsewhcre,{icgl's roteanKunstwollenistheforcewhich drives stylistic changc n DasHollAndiscbeGruppenportzTl.r takcsonnat io r la l ,rnclv i th in rhc net iona l , cg iona l i r rnrsn thc genrcof por t r l i rurc .

    AlthoLrght nright bc argued hx Kunsht,o//cns tr 'reuristic nc lnot nec-cssarilya psycho[ogical crn'r, t iegl'suseof thc conccl-ltof Kurtstutollezzn thisparticularc:rse.s lircctlyusccl

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    writers of Riegl 's imc (he diecl n r9o5),as t had becn n the ninetecnrhcenrury,and his assumptions botrt hc psychology f pcopleswerecertainlynot restrictcdto his time and pl: rce I{icgl is,howevcr, m;rorranr br scveral easons. or Riegltideash:rvecontinucd to providc the basis br argurnents or thc existence f na-tional ancl ncialconstantsn art. Notions of natior.r:r lr racialconstants emainedimportant during thc twcntieth century or mru'ry icnr.reserofbssorshrough allthe Vienlra schools" Farthistory, ronr the "firstschool," o which Rieglbelongcd;to Otto l) i icl .rt, ans Sccll-nayr,nclKarl Maria von Swoboda n the second chool;to KouraclObcrhubcr n most rcccnt imcs. l :

    Rccently {icgl anclother scholar-sssociateclith the Vienna School ikeP:ichthavebccn tratrslatcclnto Irnglish; hcy havebcgur.ro receivern ncreasingamount of attcntiorr, n prrrtpcrh:rps ecauschcy may seem o ofler a wayof do-ing art historywhich appcars() cscapenrr.n ome raditionalacsthetic rejudices,and thus o give iccnsc o an cxpansion f the canon.rsWhi le i t hasalsobecomefashionablc o stress thcr aspccrs f rhin king about psychology nd style r.r ela-tion to art to bc fbund in th c work of Rieglancl ):icht,and to clvcrlook r downplaythe rnportance f thcir:rssLulptior)sbout he naturcanclefFect f r.rationalropcn-sities, ssumptic'rtrsbout nationalconstnllts cvcrthelcssonstitlrte he fbunclationof l{icgl's and fbllowing hirn, of l 'richr's nd Swoboda's) rgumenrs bourwhat isintrinsic ro "thc instirrctual nclsupra-ilrdividual atLlre f thc cvolurionof art." l ')I 'r icht's and other Vicnnesescholars') recognitior.r f sryles, hat is their useofwhat more nelrtrally, nclccdpositively, asbeenclescribcd y Hans-GeorgGadameras the employmentof herrncncuticprejudicc,lo n accounting or the origin andcharacter f clifl-erentorrnsof art rcl icsexplicitlyor-rhe ideaof r-rationalonstanrs,as was alreadycriticized n a rrcnchant revicw of r936by Mcyer Schapiro.Mostnotol'iously, hese:rssttt-t.t1-rtionsrehard to distinguish rom other sortsoFnation-alist ar-rd ven racialprejudices,and rhey had consequencesbr the opinions ofsomeof thosc rained n Vienr-rancluding art historianswho becameNazis,suchas DagobertFreyarrd Hans Sedln.ray r.rl' l 'he poinr is nei ther ro casr igarccholars f the Vienna Schoolnor romalign them all fbr the association f some art historian swith unsavorypoliticalmovements. I'hinking in rerms of national srereorypeservadedso much nine-teenth- and rwentieth-century hinking about art that it would require much morethan one paper to address t adequately.Neverthelesshe caseof Riegl and hisViennesesuccessorss instructive,becauset suggestshat evenwhere aestheticprejudiceof one sorr may seem o be absenr, hinking in

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    76 ThomasDaCostaKaufmann

    thus having ecourseo other sortsof prejudice,not just of a neutralhermeneutickind, may determine he shapeof arguments bout historyand aesthetics.

    Furthermot'e,lthoughdiscussion f dre instinctualnatureof artist icevo-lution" is :r post-Enlightenn.renthenomenon,questions aised n relation o thewrit ings of Riegl and th c Vienna School ead o consideration f an issue ha t isalready reselrtn the eighteenth entrlr\,,when the modern discourses [art his-tory and acsthetics cre founded. Some of the first works of the eighteenthcentury,l ike that o f the Abbd clu Bos, which marked out a space or the aesthcr ic nrelatior.ro worksof what came o bc called hc visr-ralrts,by defining a separaterealmo[finc arts, el icdou the rclationof tastean d it s expressionrr artist icprod-ucts o nation, conccived san underlyingconstrurt. ike thc better-knownworkof Montesquieu,Abbd du Bos e aboratec l lc lercl imatologicalnot ions olt heoriginsof nationalcharacrer.)u B

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    Stereotypes,rejudice,ndAesthet ic udgments 77

    and tastc, rncl or rcasonshat can be said o be derived iom physicalcauses. umestates:l am apt to suspecthe nesroes o Lre aturally nf-erioro the whites.Therescarcely verwas a civil izecl :rt ion