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Art theory and the Museum. Heinrich Wolfflins Guide to Munichs Alte Pinakothek

23 November 2015
San Francesco - Via della Quarquonia 1 (Classroom 1 )
An unpublished document has recently reemerged from the Special Collections of the Getty Research Institute: a manuscript reporting a series of lectures held in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek by Heinrich Wölfflin (Winterthur 1864 - Zurich 1945), one of the most prominent art historians of the twentieth century. Dating between 1912 and 1924, this handwritten text in two bound volumes entitled Führung durch die Pinakothek testifies the particular intertwining of theory, praxis and pedagogy of art history pursued by Wölfflin, who has so far been recognized almost exclusively as a theorist of art history. Wölfflin’s descriptive and comparative method of analyzing the formal characteristics of works of art does not rely only on abstract conceptual frameworks, but makes extensive use of broad sets of examples, drawn – among others – from the collections of original paintings preserved in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek and dating from 1400 to 1800. This seminar aims at showing how a philological, close reading of this document allows not only to acknowledge a more complex image of Wölfflin as an art historian, but also provides an important source for reconstructing the history, the public perception and the functions embodied by the Alte Pinakothek in Munich during the years immediately preceding and following World War I.
Targia, Giovanna