New Book | Winckelmann on Art, Architecture, and Archaeology

Posted in books by Editor on March 8, 2014

From Boydell & Brewer:

Johann Joachim Winckelmann on Art, Architecture, and Archaeology, translated by David Carter (Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, 2013), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-1571135209, $90.

9781571135209Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–68) has long been recognized as one of the founders of modern art history and a major force in the development of archaeology and the study of ancient Greek architecture. He also exerted an influence on the Weimar Classicism of Goethe and Schiller, for whom his description of Greek sculpture as evoking “edle Einfalt und stille Grösse” (noble simplicity and a calm greatness) became a watchword. He contributed to modern scientific archaeology through his application of empirically derived categories of style to the analysis of classical works of art and architecture, and was one of the first to undertake detailed empirical examinations of artifacts and describe them precisely in a way that enabled reasoned conclusions to be drawn about ancient societies and their cultures. Yet several of his important essays are not available in modern English translation. The present volume remedies this situation by collecting four of Winckelmann’s most seminal essays on art along with several shorter pieces on the topic, two major if brief essays on architecture, and one longer essay on archaeology. Paired with this is an introduction covering Winckelmann’s life and work.

David Carter is retired as Professor of Communicative English at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, and is former Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Southampton, UK. Among his recently published translations from German are Klaus Mann’s novel Alexander (2008) and On Cocaine (2011), a collection of Sigmund Freud’s writings on the topic.


1  Translator’s Acknowledgments
2  Introduction
3  Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and the Art of Sculpture
4  Open Letter on Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and the Art of Sculpture
5  Explanation of Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and the Art of Sculpture and Response to the Open Letter on These Thoughts
6  More Mature Thoughts on the Imitation of the Ancients with Respect to Drawing and the Art of Sculpture
7  Description of the Most Excellent Paintings in the Dresden Gallery
8  Reflections on Art
9  Recalling the Observation of Works of Art
10  On Grace in Works of Art
11  Description of the Torso in the Belvedere in Rome
12  Treatise on the Capacity for Sensitivity to the Beautiful in Art and the Method of Teaching It
13  Remarks on the Architecture of the Old Temples at Agrigento in Sicily
14  Preliminary Report on Remarks on the Architecture of the Ancients
15  Open Letter on the Herculanean Excavations
16  Notes
17  Select Bibliography

Exhibition | Ruin Lust

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 8, 2014

For anyone with Richard Wilson on the mind, he turns up in Tate Britain’s ruin exhibition, too.

Ruin Lust
Tate Britain, London, 4 March — 18 May 2014

Curated by Brian Dillon, Emma Chambers, and Amy Concannon

The Inner Temple after the Fire of 4 January 1737 1737 by Richard Wilson 1713-1782

Richard Wilson, The Inner Temple after the Fire of 4 January 1737, oil on canvas, 1737 (Tate Britain). The picture records the devastation caused by a fire that destroyed Crown-Office Row in the Inner Temple. The group in the centre includes Frederick, Prince of Wales (in blue, wearing the Garter star), who had sent fifty soldiers to help the firemen and later came to inspect the scene himself. More information is available here»

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Ruin Lust, an exhibition at Tate Britain from 4 March 2014, offers a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the eighteenth century to the present day. The exhibition is the widest-ranging on the subject to date and includes over 100 works by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, John Martin, Eduardo Paolozzi, Rachel Whiteread, and Tacita Dean.

The exhibition begins in the midst of the craze for ruins that overtook artists, writers and architects in the eighteenth century. J.M.W. Turner and John Constable were among those who toured Britain in search of ruins and picturesque landscapes, producing works such as Turner’s Tintern Abbey: The Crossing and Chancel, Looking towards the East Window 1794 and Constable’s Sketch for ‘Hadleigh Castle’ c.1828–29.

ruin_lust_15193_largeThis ruinous heritage has been revisited—and sometimes mocked—by later artists such as Keith Arnatt, who photographed the juxtaposition of historic and modern elements at picturesque sites for his deadpan series A.O.N.B. (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) 1982–84 and John Latham whose sculpture Five Sisters Bing 1976, which was part of a project to turn post-industrial shale heaps in Scotland into monuments. Classical ruins have a continued presence in the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and John Stezaker. In works such as Keith Coventry’s Heygate Estate 1995 and Rachel Whiteread’s Demolished—B: Clapton Park Estate 1996, which shows the demolition of Hackney tower blocks, we see Modernist architectural dreams destroyed.

The exhibition explores ruination through both the slow picturesque decay and abrupt apocalypse. John Martin’s The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1822 recreates historical disaster while Gustave Doré’s engraving The New Zealander 1872 shows a ruined London. The cracked dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance was a scene partly realised during the Blitz.

Ruin Lust will include work provoked by the wars of the twentieth century, including Graham Sutherland’s Devastation series 1940–41, which depicts the aftermath of the Blitz and Jane and Louise Wilson’s 2006 photographs of the Nazis’ defensive Atlantic Wall. Paul Nash’s photographs of surreal fragments in the 1930s and 40s, or Jon Savage’s images of a desolate London in the late 1970s show how artists also view ruins as zones of pure potential, where the world must be rebuilt or reimagined.

The exhibition will include rooms devoted to Tacita Dean and Gerard Byrne. Dean’s nostalgic film installation Kodak 2006 explores the ruin of the image, as the technology of 16 mm film becomes obsolescent. In 1984 and Beyond 2005–07, Byrne reimagines a future that might have been. The installation presents a re-enactment of a discussion, published in Playboy in 1963, in which science fiction writers—including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke—speculate about what the world might be like in 1984.

This transhistorical exhibition is curated by writer and critic Brian Dillon; Emma Chambers, Curator of Modern British Art; and Amy Concannon, Assistant Curator of British Art, 1790–1850. It will be accompanied by a book and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.

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From Tate Britain’s bookshop:

Brian Dillon, Ruin Lust: Artists’ Fascination with Ruins from Turner to the Present Day (London: Tate Publishing, 2014), 64 pages, ISBN: 978-1849763011, £10 / $22.

Why are we fascinated by ruins? They recall the glory of dead civilisations and the certain end of our own. They stand as monuments to historic disasters, but also provoke dreams about futures born from destruction and decay. Ruins are bleak but alluring reminders of our vulnerable place in time and space. For centuries, ruins have attracted artists: among them J.M.W. Turner, Gustave Doré, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Patrick Caulf eld, Tacita Dean, and Jane and Louise Wilson. Ruin Lust explores the history of this obsession, from the art of the picturesque in the eighteenth century, through the wreckage of two world wars, to contemporary artists complex attitudes to the ruins of the recent past.

Brian Dillon is a novelist, critic, and curator who has explored many ancient and modern ruins and written widely on the history of ruination in art and culture. His books include: Objects in this Mirror: Essays; Sanctuary; In the Dark Room; and Ruins, an anthology of artists and critics reflections on ruination. He is UK editor of Cabinet magazine and reader in critical writing at the Royal College of Art.

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