G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel continues to be one of the crucial touchstones in the history of art and visual studies. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that art history, as it developed in German-speaking countries in the nineteenth century (and was exported to the further reaches of the academic world) is a combination of Hegel's speculative philosophy of art, and his grand narrative of its history, with the scrupulous methods of German philology which had been exercised first on classical texts. More recent theories of the visual, such as Sartre's and Lacan's (varying) conceptions of the 'gaze' are formulated in terms of Hegel's dialectical categories of subject and object; Derrida's project of deconstruction, including his writings on visual art, involves an unremitting critique of Hegel, but allows the latter to set much of the agenda. Marxist aesthetics is inconceivable without Hegel's dialectical history as both model and foil.
Copyright © 2003 Routledge. This book chapter first appeared in Key Writers on Art: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century.
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Shapiro, Gary. "G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)." In Key Writers on Art: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century, by Chris Murray, 160-67. London: Routledge, 2003.