Hegel's Art History and the Critique of Modernity
In this study, Beat Wyss provides a critical analysis of Hegel's theories of art history. Analogous to his philosophy of history, Hegel viewed the history of art in dialectical terms: with its origins in the Ancient Near East, Western art culminated in Classical Greece, but began its decline already in the Hellenistic period. Yet, as Wyss posits, art refuses its programmed demise. He highlights the political dimension of this contradiction, showing the implication of theories which subordinate art to the will of absolute rule. Wyss follows his analysis of Hegel's theories with a discussion of the work of four modern successors - Nordau, Spengler, Sedlmayr and Lukacs - all of whom adapted Hegel's dialectical model, in an effort to demonstrate the central contradictions of twentieth-century aesthetics.