James Stephanoff, An assemblage of works of art in sculpture and in painting, from the earliest period to the time of Phydias (1845); British Museum, London, inv. PD 1994-12-10-6
The Art of Hegel’s Aesthetics: Hegelian Philosophy and the Perspectives of Art History
Hosted by The Centre of Hellenic Studies at King’s College London, in partnership with the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata (Universität zu Köln) and the New School for Social Research (New York)
This international conference will explore one of the most profound and influential philosophies of art: Hegel’s 1820s ‘lectures on fine art’. It aims to do so by putting Hegel’s philosophy of art across time and place into close contact with the field of art history. By calling upon a range of philosophers and art historians with special expertise in the works and periods discussed by Hegel (including the ‘Classical’ art of Greece), our overriding objective is two-fold: first, to ask how Hegel’s work might illuminate specific periods and artworks in light of contemporary art historical discussions; and second, to explore how art history might help us to better make sense (and use) of Hegel’s remarks in the Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik.
Our starting-point is the particular way in which Hegel approached artistic forms and practice. Rather than tendering a ‘theory’ of aesthetic judgment or experience, Hegel offered a narrative treatment of art as historical practice. Even the three systematic categories through which Hegel’s charted the history of art – from ‘Symbolic’ art (above all that of Egypt), through the ‘Classical’ art of Greece, and on later to the ‘Romantic’ art of Christianity – encapsulate a larger historical account of human development: because art is a primary way in which human beings achieve and express their basic self-understanding, the history of art reveals a shifting history of who we think we are. At the same time, Hegel’s Aesthetics approaches art not just as a mirror for socio-historical realities, but also as a fundamental matrix through which that reality is established over time.
With the recent rise of ‘global’ art history, and the calls for more comparative approaches to ‘visual culture’, our objective is to interrogate the role that Hegel has already played – and could yet play – within art history. We hope to address a broad range of questions, concerned both with Hegel’s Aesthetics and with its broader stakes for the disciplinary practice of art history. What can a historical treatment of art accomplish? How should we explain the ‘need’ (as Hegel put it) for certain artistic forms and practices at different historical junctures? In what ways might specific artworks help us make sense of phenomena that would otherwise remain unknown to us? How useful is Hegel’s particular account for grasping the rise and fall of certain artistic practices over time? Has art history been ‘Hegelian’ without fully acknowledging it? Indeed, in what ways might it be said to have shirked the questions that Hegel raised?
Conference Programme & Meeting Venue
More details about the meeting venue are accessible here.
We are delighted to announce this international and interdisciplinary conference as a collaborative research venture between the Centre of Hellenic Studies at King’s, the New School for Social Research in New York and the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata at the Universität zu Köln. That the conference is hosted by the Centre of Hellenic Studies attests to the fundamental importance of the Hellenic heritage within Hegel’s account: the whole framework of Hegelian aesthetics pivots around the centrality of the ‘Classical’ within Hegel’s Geistesgeschichte. At the same time, our Hegelian themes also have rich and manifold connections with the research interests of the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, especially its concern with the ‘Genesis, Dynamics and Mediality of Cultural Figurations’.