In keeping with the August break, today's topic is fire. Accompanying text shall be selections from Johann Joachim Winckelmann, an inspiration to Walter Benjamin (and Lessing, Herder, Goethe and Kant). According to the The Classical Tradition, Winckelmann was influential on "late Enlightenment and early 19th century thought concerning the aesthetic and ethical ideals embodied in classical Greek culture". His History of the Art of Antiquity was once considered, though reworked, to be the fullest extant compendium on the subject, taking "the step to elaborate a speculative history that attempted to integrate the commentaries on the history of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in the ancient literature with the existing material remains of this art excavated in Italy" (emphasis added, contributor Alex Potts notes the sparcity of archaeological evidence available then: Winckelmann gains through his enthusiasm what he loses in accuracy).
In the History of Ancient Art, Winckelmann writes that Persian religious service was not favourable to the arts as "the visible heavens and fire were the highest objects of their adoration" (314) - interesting to contemplate in a culture that expects ideals to be materialised.
In The History of Ancient Art Among the Greeks, he writes that "ancient artists" depicted the expression of passions such that it "always corresponds to what we should look for in a man of disciplined mind, who prevents his feelings from breaking forth, and lets only the sparks of the fire be seen; who seeks to penetrate the latent motives of him who comes to honor him, or to play the spy." (163) In this context, greatness of mind is represented as "noble simplicity" betraying neither frivolity nor craft but innocence and a "trustful nature". An interesting contrast to the jaded perhaps even corrupt hero of today.
Winckelmann compares beauty to essence extracted from matter by fire, "it seeks to beget unto itself a creature formed after the likeness of the first rational being designed in the mind of the Divinity" (ibid., 44). Were that all we wrote such an essential phoenix emerging from the flames.

Brush: pfefferminzchen paper via DeviantArt.

No comments:

Post a Comment