Gombrich_Limits_of_Likeness - Ernst Gombrich"The Limits of...

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Ernst Gombrich "The Limits of Likeness" 1960 "Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich OM was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London on November 3, 2001, aged 92. He studied at the Theresianum and then at the Second Institute of Art History at the University of Vienna under Julius von Schlosser (1928-33). He then worked as a Research Assistant and collaborator with the museum curator and Freudian analyst Ernst Kris. He joined the Warburg Institute in London as a Research Assistant in 1936. During World War 2 he was employed by the BBC as a Radio Monitor. After the war he rejoined the Warburg Institute eventually becoming its Director in 1959. His major publications include The Story of Art (1950), Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (1960), Aby Warburg: An Intellectual Biography (1970), The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art . A selection from his work edited by Richard Woodfield, The Essential Gombrich was published by Phaidon in 1996. A full bibliography of his publications to 2000, edited by J. B. Trapp, E. H. Gombrich: A Bibliography , was published by Phaidon in 2000. His book, The Preference for the Primitive , which he completed before his death, was published by Phaidon in July 2002." http://www.gombrich.co.uk/ 1) 1820s story of Ludwig Richter and his German friends trying to be realistic, transcribing the scene with fidelity using the hardest pencils. a) They try to achieve detail and objectivity. b) But subtle transformations reflect different dispositions. c) Zola: a work of art is "a corner of nature seen through a temperament." d) Other reasons for transformation: the style of the period and the artist rules even where the artist wishes to reproduce nature faithfully. e) Style represents a limit to objectivity. f) Technique and tools also restrict freedom of choice: a pencil picks out different features than a brush. The artist will only render what his tool can render. g) The artist will see his motif in terms of lines when using a pencil, masses while using a brush. h) Gombrich’s question: Why does style impose limitations on the artist? 2) Cezanne and Van Gogh: compare their motifs and photographs taken later. a) Does the photograph represent the “objective truth,” while the painting records the artist's subjective vision, transforming what he saw? (No: this is the fallacy of “stylization.”)
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i) Can we compare the image on the retina and the image in the mind? There is no such one retinal image: the painter scans the horizons and the images send a complex pattern to the brain. ii) To find out how far the image in the artist’s mind deviated from a photograph
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Gombrich_Limits_of_Likeness - Ernst Gombrich"The Limits of...

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