Metoda jako gra. Mieczysława Porębskiego metodologia badań nad sztuką
Method as game. Mieczysław Porębski's methodology of art research
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Mieczysław Porebski was one of the most important Polish art historians of the twentieth century. An outstanding interpreter of nineteenth and twentieth-century art, he also practiced art criticism in a creative way, and was an organiser of cultural activities – a sympathetic observer of many developments in modern art. The methodology of art history occupies a special place in his scholarzy accomplishments. In contrast to many researchers, who dealt with history and its methods as a humanistic discipline, Porebski developer his own methodology of art research, which he formed under the strong infl uence of methods borrowed from information theory, semiotics, anthropology and structural sociology. As the author of numerous methodological studies, later collected in a large volume entitled Art and Information, he tried to construct a systematic approach to art, beginning with a semiotic (iconic) understanding of the work, incorporated in the system of semiotic and social communication. One of Porebski’s main objectives was to discover a koncept of art as communication, which would allow for a comprehensive view of the story of art, with room for the particular role of moments of structural breakthrough (the crises – the transgressions), modelled on the basis of the achievements of structural anthropology and modern interpretations of myth and times of festivity, operating at different levels in societies characterised by different attitudes to painting, which can nonetheless be encompassed in repetitive patterns and formulas. In giving the work a three-layered structure, centred on the original idea of “morphisms”, Porebski tried to capture the changing functions of art within the framework of the variants of specifi c stylistic codes and communication systems. At the same time, as a methodologist, Porebski was well aware of the restrictions faced by information and semiotic theories when applied to artistic (more generally, visual) images, which build symbolic systems by expressing something and pointing at themselves. Porebski continued to develop his methodology of art research, on the one hand fascinated by the possibilities of adding the rigours of accuracy to it, as is the case with linguistic and semiotic studies, and on the other shaping his decisions under the strong spell of modernity, both on an ideological as well as artistic level.
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