Whatcom Museum of History and Art in Bellingha...

Art History With Chris And Mac 8/9: Degas: The... Art History With Chris And Mac 8/9: Degas: The Orchestra of the Opera (Photo credit: moonflowerdragon)


As part of the early space theories in art and architecture, von Hildebrand, Riegl and others
concentrate on the fear of space, especially agoraphobia, the fear of large open spaces. This
psychological illness concerning space leads art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin to focus on mass
instead of space as early as the 1880s. Wölfflin sees architecture as the art of physical mass, and
studies matter and form in relation with the theory of empathy that uses form and mass to
overcome the fear of space. His formal analysis of art history depends on planar vision; for him,
architecture is composed of two-dimensional images set up by mass. History of art is the history
of form (van de Ven, 1978, 94-98).


The fact that architectural theories mainly deal with physical aspects of buildings until late
19th century emphasize the significance of the ideas of von Hildebrand and Schmarsow in the
1890s. Form and mass have not been the only concerns of architects ever since. A new concept
-space- and discussions related to the spatiality of architecture enrich and inform theories behind architectural design.




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