Following on from Congratulations #9, to Philipp Ekardt, the volume Mouvement. Bewegung, edited by group Speaker, Andreas Beyer, with Guillaume Cassegrain also contains a chapter by Bilderfahrzeuge associate, Maria Teresa Costa. Publication details can be found here.
The chapter inserts itself into the present debate on the spatial turn and it proposes locating the time around 1900 as a central moment in the genealogy of the notion of “space”.
From the middle of the 19th century until the early 20th , in the German-speaking countries, the theoretical discussion about the concept of “space” was quite broad and interested many different disciplines: from the theory of architecture (Gottfried Semper), to experimental psychophysiology and optics (Wilhelm Wundt and Hermann von Helmoltz), to philosophical phenomenology (Edmund Husserl, Max Scheler) and art history (Adolf von Hildebrandt, Robert Vischer, Heinrich Wölfflin, August Schmarsow and Alois Riegl).
On one hand, the discoveries of psychophysiology and optics lead to the study of the moving body. On the other hand, the body (as flesh) represents for phenomenology the starting point from which to think about orientation in space and is the precondition for overcoming the gap between the inside (body, subject) and the outside (world, object).
From these premises, art history developed an idea of space oriented to the aesthetics of perception and strictly connected to the notion of “movement”. The concept of “space” became for art history a topic related to the questions of perception, sensation, sensibility and experience.
Among the art historians who at that time brought the notion of space to the very centre of their oeuvre, Alois Riegl occupied a prominent role. In his work he deals both with the configuration of space (how space is organized) and with the question of how to experience and perceive this space. This chapter analyses these two related aspects of Riegl’s conception of space, through some of his texts, like the Late roman art industry (1901) and The Group portraiture in Holland (1902), situating his thought within an interdisciplinary perspective and describing his art history as a history of perception.