Appel à communication : « XVIth International Baroque Summer Course  »


XVIth International Baroque Summer Course of the Werner Oechslin  Library Foundation, Einsiedeln.

The course is open to doctoral candidates as well as junior and senior  scholars who wish to address the topic with short papers (20 minutes)  and through mutual conversation. As usual, the course has an  interdisciplinary orientation. We hope for lively participation from  the disciplines of art and architectural history, but also from  scholars of history, literature, theatre, sociology, and other relevant  fields. Papers may be presented in German, French, Italian or English;  at least a passive knowledge of German is a requirement for  participation.

Conditions: The Foundation assumes the hotel costs for course  participants, as well as several group dinners and the excursion.  Travel costs cannot be reimbursed.  Please send applications with brief abstracts and CVs by e-mail to:

The CFP deadline is 7 December 2014.

Concept / Organization: Anja Buschow Oechslin, Axel C. Gampp, Werner  Oechslin, Tristan Weddigen  Introduction:  Heinrich Wölfflin introduced his account Classic Art with the  psychologizing observation: “The word ‘classic’ has, for us, a rather  chilly sound.” One infers that with the Baroque it is the other way  around, “heartwarming.” Baroque is lush and exuberant, classic sworn to  simplicity; linear ideals here, corporeality there.  Such observations  born of contrast and contradicition no doubt accompanied the  rediscovery and reappraisal of Baroque at the end of the nineteenth  century.  But with this one is by no means at the end of the matter. In  1908, Riegl confessed – in view of convulsively contorted figures –  that did not understand the world anymore, adding, “And that bothers us  northern Europeans.”  More than the opposition of classic-Baroque, the  modern contradiction of north and south and, indirectly, the otherness  of a Protestant and a Catholic culture became apparent.  In 1931  Wölfflin was still writing, “For the Germanic north, Italy signifies  something foreign to its character.” In Renaissance and Baroque in 1888  he set as his goal “to observe the symptoms of decadence and in the  ‘brutalization and arbitrariness’ perhaps recognize the principles.”  The search for “universal principles of form” was a concern of art  history just as of modern architecture, which via this route very  quickly attained the honors of being deemed a “style” and “classic.”  But in 1888 this path did not suffice beyond Maderno; beyond that  apparent regularity there were only psychological horror reports,  “frenesia,” suicide and headaches. With “Germanness” as a point of  departure,  Rudolf Busch argued in 1919, “Our overstimulated nerves no  longer tolerate rich ornament.”Folk or national psychology had  distorted the view of art history, and now – out of the periodization  terms supposedly born of contrast and contradiction – these judgments  were also imposed.  A clear physiognomy of what Baroque might be became  even more evanescent, or, better, did not even materialize. And the  “periodization term” baroque described that phase of a divided history  that today no less arbitrarily and imprecisely is classified as “early  modern.” Was it all for nothing? Conversely, for once it is worthwhile not to investigate what is  charcteristic and typical for the Baroque, but rather to turn the  tables and and explore which classical notions and aspects of classical  culture lived on during that period.  One will quickly see that there  was no break in this regard, but instead a comprehensive further  development of the interests that had been newly discovered at the time  of the humanists. And just as rarely as a truly “pagan” world could be  identified previously, so little “afterwards” – namely after the  Tridentine reforms – did one swear off all classical form and  mythology.  Varying accents and shifts exist before and after, yet the  connecting factors dominate.     In the character of an “Antirinascimento” it also involves  continuity.  To represent continuity also means to carve out  differences.  In any case culture draws stimuli for rich evolvement  from this. After all, the world changes daily, artists and patrons  included, and each successor wants to present himself as in some way  “different” from his predecessor. The spectrum of possibiliities  constantly expands. And precisely for this reason, a view toward a  definitive authority is always desired.  One holds a mirror to the  ancient, classical world, and ties this into one’s own understanding of  the world and its history.  Wölfflin added another complaint in his introdcution to Classic Art.  The interest in “art” had been lost by historically oriented  scholarship.  All the more, therefore, did he welcome Adolf  Hildebrand’s Das Problem der Form in der bildenden Kunst (1893), which  was like “a refreshing rainfall on arid soil.” Out of this one could  again construct an opposition – though a devastating one – between  historical versus classic. What is correct is that the modern  conception of classic as timeless can indirectly be interpreted as  anti-historical. But the rebirth of the ancient world from all that  bound up in the term “Renaissance” was naturally just as  comprehensively concerned with history as that which followed, the  “baroque” culture that pursued these concerns. The classic can detach  itself from history as much as it likes, but it always remains a part  of it. And it is worthwhile to investigate all the facets and  combinations to also discover the riches that formed out of the  constant encounter with antiquity in art and culture.  Werner Oechslin


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