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Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style / Edition 1

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Overview

Wilhelm Worringer’s landmark study in the interpretation of modern art, first published in 1908, has seldom been out of print. Its profound impact not only on art historians and theorists but also for generations of creative writers and intellectuals is almost unprecedented. Starting from the notion that beauty derives from our sense of being able to identify with an object, Worringer argues that representational art produces satisfaction from our “objectified delight in the self,” reflecting a confidence in the world as it is—as in Renaissance art. By contrast, the urge to abstraction, as exemplified by Egyptian, Byzantine, primitive, or modern expressionist art, articulates a totally different response to the world: it expresses man’s insecurity. Thus in historical periods of anxiety and uncertainty, man seeks to abstract objects from their unpredictable state and transform them into absolute, transcendental forms. Abstraction and Empathy also has a sociological dimension, in that the urge to create fixed, abstract, and geometric forms is a response to the modern experience of industrialization and the sense that individual identity is threatened by a hostile mass society. Hilton Kramer’s introduction considers the influence of Worringer’s thesis and places his book in historical context.
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Editorial Reviews

Arts and Letters
Worringer's little book is an enduring classic.
— James Sloan Allen
Arts and Letters - James Sloan Allen
Worringer's little book is an enduring classic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566631778
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 1,201,693
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Wilhelm Worringer (1881–1965) was an art historian who lectured and taught at the universities of Bern, Königsberg, and Halle. Hilton Kramer is editor of The New Criterion.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Foreword to the New Impression, 1948
Foreword to the First Edition
Foreword to the Third Edition
I Theoretical Section
1 Abstraction and Empathy 3
2 Naturalism and Style 26
II Practical Section
3 Ornament 51
4 Selected Examples from Architecture and Sculpture from the Viewpoints of Abstraction and Empathy 78
5 Northern Pre-Renaissance Art 106
App Transcendence and Immanence in Art 122
Notes 136
Index 141
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