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Winckelmann and Modern Art History- after Deconstruction of Historical Analysis -

Cho, Eun-Jung 1

1목포대학교

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ABSTRACT

The estrangement of the traditional discipline of art history from contemporary art is one of the fundamental problems of modern art history. During past decades many artists, estheticians, and critics as well as art historians have raised questions in argument whether conception of the linear history or a universal and coherent history of art is valid any more or not, insisting that now is the time of post-historical period of art. It is the reason to reappraise J. J. Winckelmann and his method of historical analysis in this study that he took an active hand to art in his own period by applying the value system and criteria obtained from the past history of art to contemporary one, which contrasts with the disciplinary restraint of modern art historians. A historicizing perspective on art provided by Winckelmann became the key standard in the field of art history during last two centuries, and somehow, it results in the parting of the scholarly practice of art history and the contemporary experience of art. The schema Winckelmann established provided later viewers with a basis for assessing classical Greek art as a model for modern artist to follow and for neglecting contemporary art in favor of the art of the past. Still Winckelmann's analysis stands in present day speculation about art and its history, as his account of the history of ancient art is presented as a conceptual structure to grasp developmental pattern and historical fact into an entity. The increasing doubt and question of the validity of historical analysis are caused by the particular feature of modern art which refuse art history as a progress toward the new. Also there is the dilemmas of historicism in the 20th century to abandon the idea of a unified human history and objective historical cognition. As a consequence, art history today confronts the deconstruction of both the concept of 'art' and of 'history'. However, if art history gives up the object of study to establish a general disintegration of coherent methods and instead, concentrates on the particular and the passing, it would not be able to claim the position of an independent field of humanistic discipline. This is the reason why the intensity of Winckelmann's endeavor to establish a concept of "ideal" and developmental system through the historical analysis of ancient art would be the lasting legacy to modern art history.

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