Vaneian Stepan, archpriest

Wilgelm Worringer: Feeling the Abstraction

Vaneian Stepan (2016) "Wilgelm Worringer: Feeling the Abstraction ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2016, vol. 21, pp. 123-164 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201621.123-164


Famous W W's «Abstraktion und Einfühlung» (1908), whose 1st chapter is presented here in Russian translation, has received its status of a cult text of artistic avant-guard of the 20th century thanks to its daring reconsideration of traditional aesthetic concepts of the 19th century. Instead of «Einfühlung» or «empathy», «abstraction» has become the key concept. Instead of the focus on picturing, geometrism and «crystallization» have been stressed; instead of the feeling of life — the overcoming of «the human» in creative work. The former is a sign of natural, pre-human existence, whereas the latter is an overcoming of the dependence on natural existence. The former corresponds to an early stage of the human evolution, the latter, by contrast, is a testimony of maturity and modernity. The analysis of this conceptual pair allows to conclude that the abandoning of legitimate, psychologically justified 'empathy' for the sake of 'abstraction' is an attempt to form the basis of independence — not only for artistic, but also scholarly activity. This means art history gains its autonomy at the same time as it receives an autonomous subject to investigate — the independent work of art, free of natural attitudes. Thus Worringer's text becomes a manifest of artistic-historical concreteness, as well as artistic-actual abstraction.


Wilhelm Worringer, the psychology of artistic creativity, abstraction, perception-empathy, the origin of art, artistic avant-garde and classic art, naturalism, style, ornament and architecture.

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Vaneian Stepan, archpriest