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the preference for the primitive-ernst h. gombrich-9780714841540

THE PREFERENCE FOR THE PRIMITIVE

Arte prehistórico y primitivo

Historia del arte

Arte

This book, the last to be completed by the author, is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts, namely the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. ‘primitive’) works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that have become soft and decadent. In his first narrative work for over twenty years, Gombrich traces this idea back to classical antiquity and links it both with Cicero’s observation that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust, and with the profoundly influential metaphor comparing the development of art to that of a living organism. Like an organism, art grows to maturity, then decays and dies, and succes…
This book, the last to be completed by the author, is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts, namely the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. ‘primitive’) works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that have become soft and decadent. In his first narrative work for over twenty years, Gombrich traces this idea back to classical antiquity and links it both with Cicero’s observation that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust, and with the profoundly influential metaphor comparing the development of art to that of a living organism. Like an organism, art grows to maturity, then decays and dies, and successive generations of artists and critics have preferred the strength, nobility and sincerity of earlier styles to the more refined later styles with their corrupting and meretricious appeal to the senses. Summing up more than forty years of study and reflection on this theme, the book presents a closely argued narrative supported by extensive quotations that document with precision the role of authors, critics and artists in shaping and changing opinion. After reviewing the classical authors whose writings largely set the terms of the debate, Gombrich then charts its progress from its revival in the eighteenth century, documenting the often subtle shifts of taste and judgement that frequently focus on the pivotal role of Raphael in the history of taste. In the final chapters he turns to the truly revolutionary primitivism of the twentieth century, analysing the momentous shifts of taste of which he was himself an eyewitness. Important both as a personal testament and as a documentary anthology, this long-awaited book fittingly provides a deep and revealing insight into the history and psychology of taste.

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ERNST H. GOMBRICH

ERNST H. GOMBRICH

Nacido en Viena en 1909, Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich se doctoró en Filosofía en 1933 en esta ciudad, que abandonó, sin embargo, ante la llegada al poder de los nazis para trasladarse a Londres, donde trabajó en el instituto Warburg, fundado por otro emigrado, el historiador de la cultura alemán Aby Warburg. Durante la II Guerra Mundial, Gombrich trabajó para la emisora BBC y una vez acabado el conflicto reanudó su trabajo en el citado instituto, del que se convirtió primero en director y luego en presidente, entre 1959 y 1976, cargo que simultaneó con una cátedra en la Universidad de Londres. Gombrich ha enseñado en distintas universidades europeas y americanas, desde París, Florencia y Cambridge hasta Harvard, se ha dedicado sobre todo al estudio de temas iconológicos. Murió en noviembre de 2001. Ver ficha del autor
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