2000 | 1 | 114-119
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FORMS OF ARTISTIC VISION IN LATVIAN ART THEORY OF THE 1920S AND 1930S (Pasauluztveres formu mainiba Latvijas makslas teorija 20. gs. 20. - 30. gados)

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In this essay, Latvian art theory is interpreted not only as including openly declared principles of artistic creation, but also the theoretical background of any art-historical text. During the inter-war period, those who wrote about Latvian art were influenced by Western strategies of implementation that were in vogue at that time. One of the central traditions emerged from modified versions of the German idealist philosophy. Space and time as a priori forms of Kantian knowledge were transformed into changing forms of artistic vision and supplemented with the Hegelian concept of art as a spiritual expression of the particular age. These intellectual premises were basic tenets for such writers on art as Heinrich Woelfflin, Alois Riegl, Wilhelm Worringer, Dagobert Frey, Wilhelm Pinder and others. Art historian Boriss Vipers was certainly familiar with the broad spectrum of contemporary ideas on art, including the writings of some of the aforementioned critics. He interpreted stylistic differences in art as signs of different conceptions of space, as well as different stages in the formal evolution of art. Art historian Janis Silins stressed the common spiritual aims of each artistic generation, as emphasized in Pinder's theory. For his part, art historian Kristaps Eliass used Riegl's notion of changing artistic will to resist the deep-seated naturalistic criteria of artistic value. As formal concepts, forms of artistic vision could partly be conceived as support to the modernist notion of art's autonomy. But as spiritual hallmarks of their time, their nation, etc., they could also be used as tools by authoritarian and totalitarian ideologies. It is possible to conclude that these theoretical principles derived from German and Austrian (the Vienna school) sources of art literature, formed basis of local thinking about art. While the idea of change in the forms of artistic vision implied some acceptance of the latest trends, the biological metaphors in Latvian art, as being in the early stage of Western art history, also fostered a more conservative orientation toward the classical legacy of European art.
  • Stella Pelse, Institute of Art History of Latvian Academy of Art, Akademijas laukums 1-160, Riga LV-1050, Latvia
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