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Notebook

Notebook, 1993-

APPROACHES - In The Words Of . . . .

From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988.

Wilhelm Worringer

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Abstraction and Empathy
1908. Writing and Theories

Let us recapitulate: The original artistic impulse has nothing to do with imitation of nature. This impulse is in search of pure abstraction as the sole possibility of finding rest amidst the confusion and obscurity of the image of the world, and it creates a geometric abstraction starting with itself, in a purely instinctive manner. It is the realized expression, and the sole expression conceivable for man, of the emancipation from any arbitrariness and any temporality of the image of the world. But soon this impulse tends to rip out the individual thing from the exterior world, which retains as its main interest its obscure and disconcerting connection with this outside world, and so tries to get closer to it through artistic restitution of its materials individuality, to purify this individual thing of everything that is life and temporality in it, to make it as much as possible independent both from the surrounding world and from the subject of contemplation, which does not want to enjoy in it the vitality that is common to both, but the necessity and the legitimacy where this impulse can find refuge from its connection with ordinary life, in the only abstraction to which it can aspire and which it can attain. Restitution of the finite material individuality is both important and possible underneath the surface boundaries but also in the intermingling of artistic presentation with the rigid world of the crystalo-geometric: namely, the two solutions that we could observe. Anyone who understands his own solutions in the light of all their presuppositions can no longer speak of "these charming childish mumblings of stylization."

Now, all these momentums that we have just analyzed, and which revealed themselves as so many aspects of the need for abstraction, are what our definition wants to gather and summarize with the help of the notion of "style," and what it wants to oppose as such to any Naturalism that results from the need for Einfühlung [empathy].

Because the need for Einfühling and the need for abstraction appeared to us as the two poles of man's artistic sensitivity in as much that it can be the object of pure esthetic appreciation. These two needs are antithetical, they exclude each other, and the history of art never ceases to display the continual confrontation between the two tendencies.

Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy

[An Exerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 94]




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