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Riegl’s Theory of Kunstwollen: Through the Concept of Double Infinity

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2020, 77(4), pp.273-306
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.77.4.202011.273
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 7, 2020
  • Accepted : November 5, 2020
  • Published : November 30, 2020

Jimin Son 1

1단국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Aloïs Riegl of the Vienna School has been often hailed as a scholar who established and solidified the most comprehensive and systematic foundation of Art History. Riegl famously upheld a major theoretical principle, namely that of Kunstwollen. Kunstwollen can be defined as the expression of the demands specific to the conditions of a particular period of civilization. One of the main reasons for the lack of clarity lies in the difficulties of locating the material boundaries of art historical research. In Riegl’s theory, the boundaries of art history contains objects of historical significance whose discovery and empirical understanding change both horizontally and vertically the internal dynamics of the field. Thus, seeking a more concrete description of the boundaries will lead to a more concrete definition of Kunstwollen. This article will first focus on the two types of infinity Riegl introduces to explain the scope of his art historical research, namely the infinity at the smallest, atomic level at one end, and at the other, the infinity in its largest, relational sense. Then the focus will shift to the very specific concept of space that Riegl propounds to explain the continuity between the two infinities.

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