The Future of the Baroque, ca. 1945 : Panofsky, Stechow (and Middeldorf)
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This paper takes a brief correspondence in 1946 between Erwin Panofsky and William S. Heckscher as a starting point for considering the status of the baroque in the historiography of art and architecture at the very beginning of the post-war era. In his critical edition of Panofsky's most widely read contribution to this theme, Irving Lavin cites a letter in which Panofsky dispatches a copy of his then-unpublished lecture What is Baroque? (dating from ca. 1934), recommending as he does so two other attempts to reconsider the term. This literature attends, in Panofsky's eyes, to the expanded scope and renewed importance the baroque sustained in the inter-war period at the hands of historians of painting and sculpture, literature and music. For a modern (and modernist) term that owes a great debt to the thinking done by W欦flin and his contemporaries in the 1880s and 1890s, what had become of the baroque through its broader application to the arts? The reflections by Panofsky and Stechow-and the discourse they index-offers a cross-section of thinking around this problem. This paper does not claim an undue influence of this body of work upon the post-war decades, but it does help historicise the possibilities that scholars saw in a term disarticulated from its formerly negative connotations, bound to cultural decay and the Counter Reformation project, and now operating within an expanded concept of the arts. It also raises as a question of timeliness the importance Stechow and his colleagues saw in regularising the meanings that had accrued to the term, and the importance Panofsky saw in the idea of the baroque in particular at that moment.
Audience: Proceedings of the XXVIIIth International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Copyright 2011 SAHANZ. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Architectural History and Theory