9780198171683 / 0198171684

In Search of Cultural History: The Philip Maurice Deneke Lecture, 1967


Publisher:Clarendon Press



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About the book:

Neither the term nor the traditions of Cultural History have become fully acclimatized to English academic usage. This essay discusses the dependence of this tradition on Hegel's metaphysical notion of the Spirit of the Age which is traced in Jakob Burkhardt's masterpiece and in the growth of art historical studies. Gombrich pleads, however, that the lively baby of cultural history should not be poured away with the stale bathwater of an untenable philosophy. Rejecting any withdrawal to the sterile safety of specialization, he suggests alternative traditions, topics, and techniques 'to keep open the lines' of communication which permit us to understand the greatest creations of mankind. Ernst Gombrich (1909-2001) was an Austrian-born art historian who became a naturalized British citizen in 1947 and spent most of his working life in the United Kingdom. He was the author of many works of cultural history and art history, including The Story of Art, a book widely regarded as one of the most accessible introductions to the visual arts. Gombrich has been called 'the best known art historian in Britain, perhaps in the world' and also 'one of the most influential scholars and thinkers of the 20th century'. His wide-ranging and deep scholarship, and his interest in incorporating scientific thinking into questions associated with the humanities, is credited with revitalizing Art History in the English-speaking world. Gombrich was sensitive to the criticism that he did not like modern art and was obliged to defend his position on occasion. He has also been criticized for taking what is now viewed as a Eurocentric view of art and for not including women artists in much of his writing. His answer to the latter was that he was writing a history of art as it was and that women artists did not feature widely in the West before the 20th century. He admired 20th century female artists such as Bridget Riley whose work was included in a revised edition of The Story of Art.

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