Erwin Panofsky Three Essays on Style

ISBN 13: 9780262661034

Three Essays on Style

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9780262661034: Three Essays on Style

with a memoir by William S. Heckscher

Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968) was one of the preeminent art historians of the twentieth century. A new translation of his seminal work, Perspective as Symbolic Form, was recently published by Zone Books; now three remarkable essays, one previously unpublished, place Panofsky's genius in a different perspective: What Is Baroque?, Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures,and The Ideological Antecedents of the Rolls-Royce Radiator. The essays are framed by an introduction by Irving Lavin, Panofsky's successor as Professor of Art History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, discussing the context of the essays' composition and their significance within Panofsky's oeuvre, and an insightful memoir by Panofsky's former student, close friend, and fellow emigré, William Heckscher.

All three essays reveal unexpected aspects of Panofsky's sensibility, both personal and intellectual. Originally written as lectures for general audiences, they are composed in a lively, informal manner, and are full of charm and wit. The studies concern broadly defined problems of style in art—the visual symptoms endemic to works of a certain period (Baroque), medium (film), or national identity (England)—as opposed to the focus on iconography and subject matter usually associated with Panofsky's "method." The essay on Baroque, which Lavin considers "vintage Panofsky" and which appears here for the first time, and the one on film were written in 1934. The Rolls-Royce piece was written in 1962.

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Review:

Erwin Panofsky, a preeminent art historian who spent many years teaching at Princeton, wrote these essays originally as public lectures to be delivered to non-academic audiences. And while the material is dense in the sense of being packed with information, it is also entertaining. A notable intellectual romp is the essay, "Ideological Antecedents of the Rolls-Royce Radiator," an eccentric essay remarking on how such influences as cathedral architecture and illuminated manuscripts somehow led to the famous car radiator that Panofsky reveres as the summation of "twelve centuries of Anglo-Saxon preoccupations and aptitudes."

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Panofsky, Erwin
Published by The MIT Press (1997)
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