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Architectural Symbolism: Body and Space in Heinrich Wölfflin and Wilhelm Worringer



The paper questions Jacques Rançière’s conception of the modern aesthetic regime as the correlation between visuality and language by returning to two fundamental figures of modern art history, Heinrich Wölfflin and Wilhelm Worringer. First, Wölfflin’s '“Prolegomena”' (1886) is interpreted as an attempt to conceive architectural space in terms of affectivity. Second, this conception of space is related to the Th. Vischer’s and J. Volkelt’s theory of symbolism. Third, the paper integrates this aesthetics in a model that conceives form as force (Goethe). Fourth, this modulation of affectivity that justifies architectural space is confronted with Wilhelm Worringer’s concept of abstraction. After all, this notion responds also to a conception of art in terms of space and affectivity. Finally, the paper debates the role of Wölfflin’s '“Prolegomena”' from the perspective of architectural design and its relation to modernity.
Ionescu, V 2016 Architectural Symbolism: Body and Space in Heinrich
Wölin and Wilhelm Worringer.
Architectural Histories,
4(1): 8,
pp. 1–9, DOI:
Faculty of Architecture and Arts, Hasselt University, BE
Architectural Symbolism: Body and Space in Heinrich
Wölin and Wilhelm Worringer
Vlad Ionescu
The paper questions Jacques Rançière’s conception of the modern aesthetic regime as the correlation
between visuality and language by returning to two fundamental gures of modern art history, Heinrich
Wölin and Wilhelm Worringer. First, Wölin’s
(1886) is interpreted as an attempt to
conceive architectural space in terms of aectivity. Second, this conception of space is related to the
Th. Vischer’s and J. Volkelt’s theory of symbolism. Third, the paper integrates this aesthetics in a model
that conceives form as force (Goethe). Fourth, this modulation of aectivity that justies architectural
space is confronted with Wilhelm Worringer’s concept of abstraction. After all, this notion responds also
to a conception of art in terms of space and aectivity. Finally, the paper debates the role of Wölin’s
from the perspective of architectural design and its relation to modernity.
Das Barbarische ist das Buchstäbliche.
—Theodor Adorno
To structure the history of aesthetics, Jacques Rancière
(born 1940) has introduced the notion of a ‘regime of
arts’ (2003). He defines it as a redistribution of the sensi-
ble that correlates visuality and language in various ways.
The idea is that historical epochs adjust words to images
differently: while in some epochs the image is a medium
that denotes an idea, in others the image can be enjoyed
as an independent object. The ‘aesthetics regime’ is a late
invention that redistributes the sensible so that the visual
appears as an autonomous presence and as a new type
of literacy (2003: 188–189). Formalist aesthetics falls
under this aesthetic regime because it approaches forms
as autonomous entities that modulate without relating
to anything in the world. A visual literacy emerges where
forms are felt as an immediate presence that directly
affects the viewer.
Rancière is not the first to conceive of aesthetic moder-
nity in contrast to other historical ages. Hegel comes to
mind as the first to have thought of art as a process, but
Rancière conceives this process as a redistribution and
correlation between words and the senses. Historically,
the emphasis on the autonomous impact of forms on
the viewer emerged in a context that reassessed the so-
called artistic ‘periods of decay’ and explained them as
corresponding to different types of aesthetic sensibility.
Art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin (1864–1945), Aloïs
Riegl (1858–1905) and Wilhelm Worringer (1881–1965)
rehabilitated art historical styles through a broader
consideration of their corresponding system of visual
presentation. Bracketing any normative judgement of
taste, they argued that each art historical period has its
own visual register through which it represents the world.
The ‘aesthetic regime’ of arts originated thus in art his-
tory departments rather than in architectural studios. Art
historians like Wickhoff (1895) and Riegl (1901) restored
the Late Roman art that was long considered a barbaric
assault on ancient serene beauty. Wölfflin (1888) reinter-
preted Baroque painting, sculpture and architecture as
a visual regime that appealed to the mood (Stimmung)
and that appeared in a pictorial (malerisch) type of visual
presentation.1 Rancière is right to argue that the modern
aesthetic regime invents a type of visuality2 that rejects
the subordination of visual sensitivity to discourse. In
other words, instead of conveying messages, images are
experienced as independent entities that affect the viewer
through their own internal structure. Rancière detects in
this new regime an activity that identifies new aesthetic
values in the artistic styles of the past (Rancière 2003: 95).
The question of this essay is whether the modern aes-
thetic regime, as Rancière often argues, can be strictly
formulated in terms of a relation between these two
criteria: word and image. The hypothesis I defend is that
the modern aesthetic regime approached the visual in
relation to an essentially affective experience of space. In
order to test this hypothesis I return to the work of those
authors who set the terms of the debate that Wölfflin
and Worringer developed in architectural theory, namely
Theodor Lipps (1851–1914), Friedrich Theodor Vischer
(1807–1887) and Johannes Volkelt (1848–1930). The
hypothesis unfolds in two steps: first, instead of brack-
eting the visual as an autonomous sphere that justifies
the modern aesthetic regime, these thinkers relate the
visual to the affective experience of the body. Second,
Ionescu: Architectural SymbolismArt. 8, page 2 of 9
this justification returns to the body as the fundamental
criterion of architectural design. This is a well-known
position in architectural theory, yet this time the body is
conceived of as the affective experience of the body mov-
ing in space (Rykwert 1996; Dodds and Tavernon 2002).
This experience prefigures the phenomenological para-
digm — matured by Husserl — based on the experience
of the world by means of a living body (Leib) as opposed
to a mere objectified body (Körper). The specificity of the
modern aesthetic regime is its ability to mediate bodily
emotions. Consequently, aesthetics justifies the architec-
tural theory of Wölfflin and the art theory of Worringer. In
this sense, an analysis of their work proposes an alterna-
tive to Rancière’s understanding of the aesthetic regime as
emerging at the crossroad between image and word. The
alternative consists in the fact that the modern aesthetic
regime correlates space and affectivity, an idea that the fol-
lowing essay will address.
Symbolism and Empathy
Various overviews of modern aesthetics confirm the
fact that the relation to the felt affectivity of the body
is fundamental to the modern aesthetic regime. During
the second part of the 19th century, Theodor Lipps devel-
oped a psychological study on subjectivity and founded
a system of aesthetics on this model.3 The notion of
empathy (Einfühlung) is central in his Ästhetischen Fak-
toren der Raumanschauung (1891) [Aesthetic Factors of
Space-Intuition], where it designates not just the projec-
tion of one’s feelings onto an object but a participative
emotional immersion into an observed object. Empathy is
thus a fundamental function of the self in its relation to
any objects exterior to it. It designates an unhindered, felt
immersion of viewers into an object that they perceive. Of
course, the immersion happens on a symbolic level, mean-
ing that the experience of the object is an unconstrained
emotional flux.
The idea of a spatial extension of the subject into depth
is inherent to the aesthetic experience understood as
the pleasure of a subject who ‘feels his/her way into’ an
object: hineinfühlen is the term that is repeatedly used
(not just by Lipps) that connotes a forward movement.
With this psychological model, the aesthetic experience
is conceived as a type of emotional blending with exterior
objects. Essential here is the fact that aesthetic pleasure is
fundamentally a spatial phenomenon because conscious-
ness performs an imaginary leap forward. When I watch
an acrobat, I follow his movements as if those movements
were happening to me.
Johannes Volkelt, another philosopher working roughly
at the same time as Lipps, criticised this model because an
increased awareness of the viewer (in relation to the move-
ments of the acrobat, for instance) can be detrimental to
the aesthetic experience. Alternatively, Volkelt conceived
empathy as a constitutive function of any relation to exte-
rior objects. Where Lipps stressed the active function of
empathy, for Volkelt empathy is a generic function of inten-
tionality as such. More importantly, in Der Symbolbegriff
in der neusten
(1876), [The Symbol Concept in
the Newest Aesthetics] Volkelt emphasises the contiguity
between perceived visual structures and the human vital
feeling (Lebensgefühl). Our ‘bodily organisation takes part
into (mitmachen) the experience of spatial constructions
that are sensuously apprehended (miterleben)’.4
Volkelt and Lipps represent an important episode in
architectural theory for three reasons. First, they translate
in psychological terms an essential intuition of Kantian
aesthetics, namely that the human body is experienced as
an affective entity. Second, this experience is pleasurable,
by which they mean that the body is maintained at a con-
stant level of tension. Constancy generates an emotional
well-being — what Kant would call das Wohlgefallen — and
it is felt when architectural structures affirm the hori-
zontal position of the body, its unhindered movement
and regular rhythm of breathing. Third, the connotation
of movement that is inherent to the notion of empathy
introduces space as a fundamental dimension of the aes-
thetic experience. At this point, architectural theory is an
aesthetic theory because affectivity and subjectivity are
imagined as a forward movement that enwraps the per-
ceived object.5
These ideas are restructured in Lipps’ epic two-volume
(1903, 1906). He argues that visual pres-
entations emulate our bodily constitution. It is strange
how Rykwert, in his otherwise magnificent The Dancing
Column, forgets to mention this fundamental intuition of
modern aesthetics. Images are not beautiful because they
imitate an exterior object but because they are consonant
with the felt vitality of the human body. Lipps writes: ‘one
has to say, man is not beautiful because of his forms but
rather that forms are beautiful because they are human
forms and thus they are for us the bearer of human life’.6
In other words, we take pleasure in visual forms not
because they resemble our physical body but because
their organic movement is consonant with the felt vital-
ity of our body. The aesthetics of Lipps depends on this
homologation between the perceived forms and the bod-
ily structure. After all, he argues that aesthetic pleasure is
the result of a felt consonance between them, meaning
that visual forms are quantitatively measurable but also
qualitatively felt entities.
Subsequently, the ugly and the sublime are aesthetic
responses that disturb the felt organic structure of the
human body. For Lipps, at the most fundamental level,
images and architectural structures perpetuate and affirm
human vitality. This means that the organic structure of
our body — its proportions and symmetry — is not just an
anatomical bundle but it is also experienced as general
euphoria. Not unlike Kant, who identified a ‘disinterested
well-being’ (interesseloses Wohlgefallen) in the purpose-
fulness between forms and the cognitive faculties, Lipps
detects a similar feeling in the vitality of the human body.
That beauty is in the eye of the beholder means here that
visual forms are congruous with the overall organic con-
stitution of the human body.7
Now, the conception of subjectivity as a movement
forward toward an object was also essential in the
19th-century conception of symbolism. In the semiot-
ics of Charles S. Peirce, the symbol is a sign that signi-
fies by means of convention (e.g., traffic lights). In the
Ionescu: Architectural Symbolism Art. 8, page 3 of 9
post-Hegelian aesthetics of Friedrich Theodor Vischer, the
symbol is conceived as the transference of affectivity onto
an inanimate object. In
oder Wissenschaft des
Schönen (1846–1857), [Aesthetics or the Science of the
Beautiful] Vischer describes the symbol as a premature
stage of the mind that conveys a comparison to another
idea for the ‘confused unconscious fantasy’ (Vischer
1922a: 495). In the
, symbolism is conceived as
an unconscious process of animating a perceived object.
Animation is a way of reading intentionality in how inani-
mate objects or phenomena interact with the world.
In the essay Das Symbol (1887), Vischer distinguishes
between symbolism in myth and art but he also argues
that symbolism or ‘the act of lending a soul remains an
absolutely necessary feature of humanity, also after it has
left behind the myth a long time ago’8 (Vischer 1922b:
435). This ‘lending of a soul’ is designated — in light of
Volkelt — as empathy and befalls anyone who encounters
architectural works. In this case, the viewer ‘immerses him-
self into’ these spaces (so hineinversetzt) ‘as if he were there
with his entire vital force and soul, moving, raising, swing-
ing up and down, stretching out’9 (Vischer 1922b: 437).
Hence, both Vischer and Lipps conceive of the mind
as a spontaneous expansion into the material world.
Symbolisation is an activity of the mind that feels pleas-
ure when a felicitous agglutination between its structure
and the perceived architectural structure is facilitated. The
example that Vischer uses is the experience of architec-
ture that is no longer (quantitatively) perceived as a tec-
tonic structure but as a (qualitative) spatial environment
to which the mind is attuned and in which it circulates.
Two new elements are hereby introduced into architec-
tural theory: the affective experience of structures and the
intentionality involved in the experience of architectural
space. Symbolism means not just the emulation of bodily
proportion in a building (as in the Vitruvius-Alberti tradi-
tion) but also a type of intentional experience, the mind
imaginatively extending into space.
At this point in the history of aesthetics, the conception
of symbolism as ‘lending a soul’ determines the conception
of architecture in terms of space, the experience of space in
terms of movement and according to emotional prototypes
(Götz 1983: 53ff). After all, just one year after the publica-
tion of Das Symbol, Wölfflin interpreted the Renaissance
and the Baroque as spatial structures that correspond to dif-
ferent types of affectivity: the tranquillity of the Renaissance
is contrasted to Baroque intoxication. With the psychologi-
cal aesthetics of Lipps and Vischer, space becomes a prob-
lem in both architecture and the history of art.
Spatial Extension and Bodily Feeling: Wölin’s
In the Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur
(1886), [Prolegomena to a Psychology of Architecture]
Wölfflin asks an old question: how can architectural forms
be an expression of a mood (Stimmung)? How is it possible
that an inanimate object (a building) conveys an impres-
sion (Eindrück) that is felt as an expression (Ausdrück)?
Wölfflin rejects Wundt’s physiological explanation accord-
ing to which the impression of visual forms depends on
the movement of the eye, as if a zigzag ocular movement
is disturbing because it involves a strenuous muscular
motion. After all, the emotional experience of music does
not strictly depend on the physiological structure of the
ear. On the contrary, other people can also understand
the impressions expressed in music because the voice
mediates the moods of the body. Wölfflin’s question cap-
tures an essential problem of the humanities, namely the
relationship between form and content or, as he puts it,
between expression and impression.
Yet this relationship is constitutive of what 19th-century
German aesthetics designated as the problem of symbol-
ism. How does a symbol function? Wölfflin’s question is
old because it was meant to resist the reduction of aes-
thetics to the physiological constitution of the body.
However, it is still relevant if one considers contempo-
rary research projects of neuro-aesthetics that also tend
to explain beauty in terms of the neurological structure
of the brain.10 In other words, the debate concerning the
status of the symbolic order as the product of culture (and
not just as an immanent result of material structures)
remains a significant topic. Considering this debate on
the essential symbolic function of the body in architec-
ture, one wonders why the Prolegomena is not a key text
in Rykwert’s The Dancing Column.11
The argument of the Prolegomena is that all explana-
tion of architecture presupposes the mediation between a
material and a symbolic structure. First, Wölfflin refers to
architectural structures in terms of their lived experience.
The analysis of tectonic structures is subordinated to their
impression on the viewer’s mood. Architecture becomes
a correlate for a lived experience as opposed to a set of
quantifiable mathematical proportions. Second, this focus
on architectural structures as an impetus of an aesthetic
experience turns Wölfflin’s architectural theory into a
discourse on space as opposed to a discourse on tectonic
structures. The reason for this transformation of architec-
tural discourse from an inquiry into tectonic structures
into an inquiry into the experience of space is inherent
to the premise of the text: if architecture is the correlate
of a lived experience, then this experience presupposes
the movement of the body; the kinaesthetic activity of a
body in motion justifies architecture as a practice that
structures spatial relations. Space becomes the pertinent
object of architectural design because bodily movement is
placed at the core of the creative act. After all, other than
the geometrical space that can be quantified, lived space
can only be the outcome of body movement.
And for Wölfflin, the beauty of an architectural space is
not a response to forms that are perceived on the retina
but the feeling of an unconstrained relation between the
perceived forms and the vital feeling of our body. Hence,
Wölfflin introduces here a third term that mediates
between perceived forms and the physiological structure
of the body, namely the vital feeling (Lebensgefühl).12 The
notion of vital feeling refers to a constancy of energy that
is felt during the unconstrained movement of the body.
The experience of architectonic structures presupposes
thus the symbolic mediation between perceived forms
and the way in which the body affectively perceives its
Ionescu: Architectural SymbolismArt. 8, page 4 of 9
own constitution. Symbolism means here that the relation
between bodily proportions and architectural structures
mediates a feeling (and not just the transfer of geometric
relations from one domain to another).
If architectural structures are felt as beautiful, it is
because they affirm the feeling that the body has of its
own ‘well-being’ (Wohlbenden), a notion too rapidly and
too often translated as ‘pleasure’. In this sense, Wölfflin’s
theory is founded on the intuition that architectural
forms mediate between our felt bodily structure and
space. In the Prolegomena, Wölfflin — reader of Goethe
and student of Jacob Burckhardt — is a humanist who
justifies architecture as structures subordinated to the
human bodily constitution. The scale of the lived envi-
ronment has to comply with the human scale. The sym-
metry, proportion and vertical position of the body are
felt as a harmonious affective disposition called ‘mood’
(Stimmung). Pleasurable responses to space are the sign
of the congruence between visual forms and vital feel-
ing. For Wölfflin, the body is experienced as mood and
becomes the criterion for the experience of space. Later, in
Gedanken zur Kunstgeschichte, [Thoughts on the History
of Art] Wölfflin will argue for the evaluation of images
according to their effect on the ‘bodily and vital feeling’
(Körper- und Lebensgefühl) (Wölfflin 1941: 30–31).
We will have to return to the emphasis on the human
scale and on the emotional impact of architecture in
the architectural theory of Sigfried Giedion, Wölfflin’s
student. Design does not yet follow function but the
dynamic of tensions inherent to the human body dic-
tates the morphology of the space that we inhabit.
Significant here is the symbolic process involved in the
relation between body and space. Humans see forms as
the expression of a ‘sentient soul’ (fühlende Seele), argues
Wölfflin, a process that is felt with pleasure and dis-
pleasure (Wohl- und Wehegefühl) while moving in space.
Physical space is symbolically mediated by this original
structure that we all inherently possess, i.e. ‘our bodily
organisation’ (unsere leibliche Organisation) (Wölfflin
1946: 21). 13
How to understand this symbolic process? This process
presupposes a qualitative homologue between bodily and
architectural structures. Regardless of their quantitative
differences, architectural structures correspond to the
bodily structure that is itself felt as a constant level of ten-
sion. Hence, Wölfflin’s premise is that the original archi-
tectural prototype is our own body. Verticality and mass
are quantities that are qualitatively felt as a pleasurable
disposition if the external tectonic forms are congruous
with them. And Wölfflin describes how
powerful columns produce in us energetic
stimulations, our respiration harmonises with the
expansive of narrow nature of space. In the former
case we are stimulated as if we ourselves were the
supporting columns; in the later case we breathe
as deeply and feeling as if our chest were as wide
as the hall […] the architectural impression […] is
essentially based on a directly bodily feeling.14
(Wölfflin 1994: 154–55)
There is a possible correlation between, on the one hand,
the fundamental elements of architecture (matter and
form, gravity and force) and, on the other hand, the feel-
ing of our ‘organic well-being’ (organisches Wohlbenden).
A symbolic synergy between bodily tension (the feeling of
organic well-being) and an architectural structure gener-
ates a euphoric feeling. The heaviness of matter interacts
with the heaviness of the body maintained in the upright
position by a ‘force of form’ (Formkraft). Evoking Goethe,
Wölfflin conceives visual form as an inherent force that
matter actualises so that there is no ‘form without mat-
ter’ (stofose Form) (Wölfflin 1946: 23; see Ay 2010). Form
is nothing but the force active in matter. Applied to the
human body, this conception of form as a force is felt as
an affirmation of the bodily vitality and it is opposed to
gravity and formlessness. Other than a hollowing out of
space, architectural design emerges here as a modulation
of forces inherent in matter and adjusted to bodily move-
Form as Force
This aesthetic vitalism constitutes the foundation of
Wölfflin’s architectural theory. Visual forms are not cor-
related to a series of words that might capture a build-
ing’s meaning or function but to the feeling one has of
one’s own body. In a sense, Wölfflin continues the theory
of metamorphosis that Goethe and Herder had intro-
duced in aesthetics. In Bildungstrieb (1810), Goethe had
distinguished between force (Kraft) and drive (Triebe).
Both notions account for form but from different perspec-
tives: while force is a mechanical explanation of form,
drive refers to a process of formation (Bildung). Form and
matter are not opposite principles but the correspond-
ing elements of metamorphosis understood as a dynamic
process (Goethe 1975: 33). The notion of force accounts
for the mechanical correlations involved in the develop-
ment of forms. The notion of drive refers to a purposeful
and organic principle that is active in the development of
forms (Tantillo 2002: 58ff ).
The distinction marks the difference between meta-
morphosis thought of as the mechanical addition of ele-
ments and metamorphosis understood as organic growth
or the purposeful actualisation of a force. Wölfflin goes
further and identifies the complexification of artistic
forms with this generative process that is specific to
nature. He compares the evolution of architectural forms
to the growth of organisms: both represent a process that
expands simple forms into complex structures (Wölfflin
1946: 24). In the language of Trachtenberg and Hyman
(2003), the expansion of modern design is two-fold:
it can either be mechanomorphic or biomorphic. While
the former notion refers to what Goethe conceived as a
mechanic addition of volumes, the second notion desig-
nates a model of design where forms organically expand
as in Art Nouveau. The analogy is significant because it
captures a central problem in architectural design that
Wölfflin’s Prolegomena intimated and Giedion made
explicit, namely the evolution of architectural design
from a hollowed-out interior space to an arrangement of
volumes in space.
Ionescu: Architectural Symbolism Art. 8, page 5 of 9
Goethe refers to the conception of form as force to
characterise nature’s driving forces (Triebräder) as either
polarity (Polarität) or intensification (Steigerung). The
notion of polarity of matter, from a physical perspective,
is explained as the movement of attraction (Anziehen) or
repulsion (Abstoßen). Form actualises itself from a matter
that oscillates between these two movements of attrac-
tion and repulsion. Polarized matter is the conjunction or
disjunction of elements; layers of matter attract or reject
each other. The notion of intensification explains matter
from a spiritual perspective, as an ‘ongoing striving aug-
mentation’ (immerstrebendes Aufsteigen). Through inten-
sification matter grows infinitely, from simple to complex
structures, the way light and shadow produce infinite
shades (Goethe 1975: 48).
For Goethe, matter and spirit presuppose each other
because, while matter extends into space, the spirit per-
ceives this extension as attraction or repulsion.15 Wölfflin
follows the same intuition when he argues that architec-
tural forms are the expression of vital feeling: the impres-
sion that tectonic forms give is nothing but their spiritual
(i.e., affective) conception as a positive attraction between
their structure and our bodies. In other words, what we
call ‘expression’ is matter experienced from a spiritual
perspective as the affirmation or denial of a purposeful
An affect thus designates the experience of attraction
or repulsion of a force active within a body. Goethe and
Wölfflin conveyed the original understanding of the pre-
supposed symbolisation process, namely the identifica-
tion of purposefulness in material expansion. The body
too, can be thought of as an addition of organs or as the
perception of a purposeful vital feeling. Wölfflin conceives
the body as an organised structure that has an affective
apperception of its own unhindered movement, its vital
feeling. The attraction or repulsion of architectural forms
depends on whether they affirm or deny this vital feel-
ing. On the one hand, gravity and horizontal structures
decrease the vital feeling because they draw the body
downward. This is experienced when the body breathes
slowly and the blood circulates with difficulty. Words
like ‘heavy-hearted’ (Schwermut) and ‘depressed mood’
(gedrückte Stimmung) connote the weight of gravity and
formlessness. On the other hand, the vertical body is bal-
anced and maintains the vital feeling at a regular level of
The immediate question is: what does Wölfflin add to
the conception of Vitruvius and Alberti? In their case,
the tectonic structure was analogous to the bodily struc-
ture. Symbolism, as Rykwert has shown, is the driving
mechanism of an architecture based on corresponding
proportions or figurative elements. The body is the driv-
ing metaphor of Alberti’s De re aedicatoria, where the
arrangements of architectural parts are analogous to
the arrangement of the body’s limbs (as in Book 1) or
where beauty is defined as the concinnitas or ‘reasoned
harmony’ and ‘consonance’ of the parts into the whole
(Alberti 1988: 8, 156, 303). In Vitruvius, venustas pointed
to eurythmia, a proportional arrangement of human and
tectonic elements. The principle of symmetry in both
bodies and buildings is the ἀναλογία, the ‘proportion’
or harmonious ratio of the members of a whole.17 And
indeed, the body as the criterion moves deep into moder-
nity with Le Corbusier’s modulor.
The difference consists in the fact that Vitruvius con-
ceived these proportions as numerical relations. For
Wölfflin, these proportions are not just calculated as har-
monious proportions but felt as an emotional disposition,
a well-adjusted level of tension. Architectural forms have
a strong impact on the constitution and development of
the affective life of the subject. Forms influence the affec-
tive subjectivity they disturb or enhance. The question is
whether space is always felt as an affirmation of the vital
feeling and if not, what are the consequences when this is
not the case. The body as a criterion of evaluating archi-
tecture might seem a classicist preference, yet relating
Wölfflin’s Prolegomena to Worringer’s work shows an oscil-
lation in the intensity with which the body is modulated.
Abstraction and Space
Arguably more a work of art theory than of art history,
Worringer’s Abstraktion und Einfühlung (1907) [Abstrac-
tion and Empathy] advanced a simple if not simplistic
psychology of art. Abstraction and empathy designate
two generic regimes of art that correspond to two psy-
chological types.18 The regime of empathy characterises a
psychological type that feels at ease in the world of chang-
ing sensations, a movement and depth that are rendered
in organic forms. Worringer’s alternative to this original
relation to the world is the art of abstraction. This art
corresponds to a psychological type that experiences the
changing sensations and the depth of space with anxi-
ety. As a consequence, organic movement and density are
reduced to repetitive geometric patterns on a plane.
Like Wölfflin, Worringer employs the notion of
abstraction to place space and affectivity at the centre of
all art historical analysis. While empathy presupposes a
tranquil continuity between man and space, abstraction
entails the disturbance of this euphoric relation. Spatial
depth is felt as a threatening field where a conglomer-
ate of changing sensations intimidates the psyche. The
modulations of space occasion a psychic tension that can
only be released by reducing the depth of space to rigid
geometric forms. Hence, an affective disturbance of sub-
jectivity explains the geometric lines of the primitive orna-
ments or the infinite multiplication of crystalline shapes
in the late Gothic ribbed vaults. Like Wölfflin, Worringer
explains images by relating them not to a paraphrasable
iconographic content but to how they mediate the affec-
tive life. The abstract line of the Gothic art confronts the
subject with a sensation that disturbs organic life.19 This
intensity is also identifiable in expressionism where exte-
rior forms contradict the real forms of the object depicted.
As Georg Simmel points out, the perception of a violin can
cause such an intensity in the expressionist painter that
the image of the violin does not conform to the percep-
tion of the same object (Simmel 1968: 15–17).
The process of designing forms draws the contours
of affective subjectivity. Generically, a design oscillates
between the desire to emulate organic movement and the
Ionescu: Architectural SymbolismArt. 8, page 6 of 9
instinctive anxiety to reduce space to crystalline shapes
on the plane. Hence, images are not adequate copies of
nature but rather of the vital forces inherent in nature. On
the other hand, the notion of abstraction explains images
as the result of a disquietude that is not exclusive to the
primitive man. To the contrary, the same anxiety char-
acterises the modern subjectivity, which is under threat
in the hyper-rationalised society.20 While primitive man
feared the depth of space, modern man fears the mecha-
nisation of life that threatens his individuality.
In the context of the city, modern man is under the con-
stant pressure of interchangeable and anonymous rela-
tions. Before Simmel, Otto Wagner prescribed the design
strategies for an architecture that complies with the needs
of the modern man (1988: 79). This architecture displays
clear planes and smooth surfaces, symmetrical arrange-
ments that testify to a general ‘self-containment’ and ‘self-
assurance’ (1988: 86). Wagner’s description of modern
architecture announces Worringer’s analysis of Egyptian
space as ‘an exponent of material durability, of unlimited
security of substance’ (Worringer 1928: 69). The purifica-
tion of the world from heterogeneous sensations and its
metamorphosis into abstract forms also distinguishes the
modern sense of space. Yet Wagner’s description of the
modern eye reflects Worringer’s description of primitive
perception. The modern eye is less accustomed to ‘var-
ied images, to straight lines, to more expansive surfaces,
to larger masses’. Lines are straight rather than curved
because they are adapted to a busy man who is annoyed
by detours (Wagner 1988: 109–10). The idea that the
irritated modern man subordinates space to temporal
efficiency proves, once more, that the modern aesthetic
regime responds to the affective life of the subject.
While the depth of space terrified the primitive man,
the modern man is afraid of wasting time. As a conse-
quence, space is redistributed and designed in modernity
according to a rigid rationalisation of time. This rational
approach to space can both subordinate forms to their
function and desensitise all strong affects. The transfer
of effective functionality into forms — so that time is
saved — is the symptom of an architecture that becomes
‘literal’ (buchstäblich) in Adorno’s sense, promising strictly
to be factual and objective. However, from Vischer and
Lipps to Wölfflin and Worringer, the experience of archi-
tectural space is fundamentally affective. A couple of
decades later, Sigfried Giedion accounted for the ration-
alisation of architecture as a consequence of Descartes’
separation of authentic philosophy from the specula-
tive problems of aesthetics: while rationalism produced
machines, aesthetic problems were disregarded as subjec-
tive (Giedion 1958: 73). However, he explains the expan-
sion of modern urbanism in a sentence that could have
been written by Wölfflin: ‘a new plastic sensibility: a new
development of spatial rhythms and a new faculty of per-
ceiving the play of volumes in space’ (Giedion 1958: 93).
The emphasis is on the movement between the volumes
that constitute the building and on the emotional impact
of their rhythm. If we now return to Rancière’s conviction
that modernity debates the relation between word and
image, we see how he forgets this fundamental criterion
from architectural theory: the mediation of space through
Heinrich Wölfflin’s Prolegomena places the question of
space at the core of the experience of architecture. In his
famous Principles of Art History (1915), Wölfflin provides a
structural explanation, not a diachronic art historical over-
view. His formalism emerges at a time when the weight of
historicism and eclecticism is felt all over Europe. Echo-
ing Friedrich Nietzsche, Aloïs Riegl writes Over the Renais-
sance of Art (1895), where he argues that the cumulative
type of historical consciousness that characterizes positiv-
ism is detrimental to artistic creativity. Modern man looks
at the past neither with the naiveté of the 15th-century
artists who rediscovered antiquity nor with the enthusi-
asm of the Romantics who turn antiquity into an absolute
criterion. In this context, if Wölfflin never wrote on archi-
tectural design, how can the Prolegomena contribute to
architectural practice?
First, Wölfflin’s writings emerge in an environment
that, due to historical positivism and artistic eclecticism,
required a new relation to architecture as a cultural phe-
nomenon. Hence, his formalism introduces affectivity
and movement as constitutive of architectural design. To
play on Louis Sullivan’s dictum, with Wölfflin, form fol-
lows movement. Precisely because he does not focus on
concrete historical examples, his writings suggest that an
aesthetic spectrum of architecture is homologous with
the vitality of the body (rather than as a juxtaposition of
Second, as a consequence, space is not just geometric
extension but also constant movement. Instead of think-
ing that architecture organises space — as if space were a
given — Wölfflin conceives space as a process where the
affective experience of the body dictates architectural
forms. Architectural design is the spatialisation of a bal-
anced bodily tension so that, while moving, the body main-
tains this equilibrium.21 Third, the classicism of Wölfflin
lies precisely in this idea that architecture is moulded on
the human body. This centrality of the body transforms
the neutrality of space into the specificity of a place. A
place emerges when the space is adapted to the tension of
the human body and when the function of form becomes
the emulation of this motion. A place is the theatralisa-
tion of space and the task of architectural design is to pro-
vide a proscenium for the interpretation — metaphorical,
gestural and rhetorical, hence cultural — of human activi-
ties (Verschaffel 1995). Design is the means to escape the
idiotic literal reading of human functions.
Hence, in modernity, the visible is not merely conceived
in relation to the ‘thinkable’ (le pensable) but to affectivity
(Rancière 2003: 105). In the psychological aesthetics that
inspires modern formalism in architectural theory, form
is the realisation of affects. If body is matter and matter is
experienced as a force extending into space, then pleasure
can only result within a space that has been adapted to
the felt vitality of the body. The lived space is an extension
of muscular relaxation, an unconstrained flexion, a clear
vision and the constancy of sensations.
Ionescu: Architectural Symbolism Art. 8, page 7 of 9
Finally, architectural forms are not structures simply
placed on top of each other and the dwelling human being
is not in opposition to a space that extends outside of him
or her. On the contrary, architectural space is the outcome
of this prototypical image that is the human body. The
implication is not just that aesthetics determines good
architectural design but that the aesthetic body can resist
the shapes that restrain its movement. Placing the unhin-
dered movement of the body at the core of architecture
is not just an aesthetic judgment; it is also an ethical
imperative that determines the place of man in the design
of space. Architecture in modernity oscillates between an
inherent dignity of the body that has to feel at home in
the world and its submission to calculable standards of
efficiency. The apparently innocent formalism of Heinrich
Wölfflin reveals that the world we build is a symptom of
how we allow our bodies to move and their ability to resist
the directions imposed on them.
1 After all, Wilhelm Worringer’s revaluation of the
Gothic was not restricted to primitive Gothic art but
also included the expressionist cultivation of inten-
sive affective states. In Vienna Genesis (1895), Franz
Wickhoff approached Late Roman reliefs by compar-
ing them to impressionist optic values, like the play of
light and shadows. These rehabilitations of art histori-
cal styles thus presupposed a new sensibility towards
the visual as an aesthetic regime with its own internal
logic. Towards the fin-de-siècle, historians of art and
architecture looked at the past with a fascinatingly
anachronistic gaze, associating newly emerging artis-
tic forms with past artistic styles. This autonomous
status of the visual allowed modern historians of the
time to interpret present artistic productions (impres-
sionism and expressionism) retrospectively, somehow
referring them to the foregone and forgotten styles,
like the Late Roman and Gothic art.
2 The autonomy of visuality receives an early formula-
tion in the work of Konrad Fiedler, who called it ‘pure
visibility’ (reine Sichtbarkeit). We speak of ‘visuality’
precisely in order to distinguish the mere ability to
see (visibility) from the purely visual dimension of the
image (which Fiedler’s notion designated).
3 Lipps’ doctoral thesis, defended in 1874, concerns the
ontology of J.F. Herbart, and his following publications
emphasise the structure of subjectivity. His immense
oeuvre includes treatises like Grundtatsachen des
Seelenlebens (1886) [Fundamental issues of the Life
of the Soul] but also Raumästhetik und geometrische-
optische Täuschungen (1897) [On the Aesthetics of Space
and the Geometric-Optical Illusions], Komik und Humor
(1898) [Comedy and Humour], Von Fühlen, Wollen und
Denken (1902) [About Feeling, Willing and Thinking],
an introduction to logic, psychology, a translation of
David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and
the two volumes entitled Aesthetics (1903, 1906).
4 The original reads, ‘mit unserer körperlichen Organi-
sation mitmachen, sinnlich miterleben’ (Volkelt 1876:
57). The preposition ‘mit’ [with] in the words used
clearly designates the intentional and conjunctive
5 This intuition returns in the phenomenology of
Edmund Husserl (via Franz Brentano) as the inten-
tionality that characterises consciousness. A pertinent
criticism comes from Edith Stein (1917), who argues
that Lipps forgets the analogical act involved in the
notion of empathy. He confuses the ‘self-forgetfulness
through which I can surrender myself to an object
with the dissolution of the I into the object’ (‘die Ver-
wechslung der Selbstvergessenheit, mit der ich mich
jedem Objekt hingeben kann, mit einem Aufgehen des
Ich im Objekt’) (Stein 1917: 17). Subsequently, Stein
argues that one is never with the acrobat but at him.
6 The original reads, ‘Der Mensch, so müssen wir sagen,
ist nicht schön wegen seiner Form, sondern die For-
men sind schön, weil sie Formen des Menschen und
dennoch für uns Träger menschlichen Lebens sind’
(Lipps 1903: 105).
7 The Kantian premise of Lipps’ aesthetics is significant
because with Kant the aesthetic experience of beauty
is defined as essentially affective (as opposed to cogni-
tive) and as the result of a correlate that generates a
harmonious attunement of the intellectual faculties.
See also Allesch (1987: 330ff).
8 The original reads, ‘Der Akt der Seelenleihung bleibt
als naturnotwendiger Zug der Menschheit eigen, auch
wenn sie längst dem Mythus entwachsen ist’.
9 The original reads, ‘als ob er mit seiner Lebenskracht
und Seele selbst darin sei, sich bewege, hebe, auf und
nieder schwinge, ins Weite dehne’.
10 While Wundt referred beauty to physiological con-
ditions, recent neuro-scientific research correlates
beauty to stimulations in the medial orbito-frontal
cortex. The area of study changes but the fundamental
structure of argument is the similar: beauty requires
no analogical mediation to an affect but is the measur-
able result of stimulations. See Ishizu and Zeki (2011)
and Kawabata and Zeki (2004). For a reaction on these
attempts, see Hyman (2010).
11 Rykwert does refer to Wölfflin’s famous Principles of
Art History (1915), especially to his association of the
linear with a ‘new objectivity’ (neue Sachlichkeit) and
his distinction between the Baroque sensation (Reiz)
and the remerging outline of the ‘singular form’ (Ryck-
wert 1996: 252). The Prolegomena is also mentioned
en passant in Dodds and Tavernon’s Body and Building,
but they do not thoroughly address it.
12 The notion of ‘vital feeling’ was central to Kant’s aes-
thetics. It appears regularly in the Kritik der Ürteilsk-
raft (1790), as when Kant argues that while grasping
a regular and purposeful building from an aesthetic
perspective, the subject perceives the representation
solely from the perspective of how it affect its ‘vital
feeling’ (Lebensgefühl), thus bringing about a feeling
of pleasure or displeasure (Kant 1976: 115). While the
beautiful ‘brings with it a feeling of the promotion
of life’ (ein Gefühl der Beförderung des Lebens bei sich
führt), sublime pleasure is indirect: it begins with ‘the
feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital powers’
Ionescu: Architectural SymbolismArt. 8, page 8 of 9
(augenblicklichen Hemmung der Lebenskräfte) and
continues with their intense ‘outpouring’ (Ergie
see Kant (1976: 165).
13 Wölfflin writes, ‘Aesthetic perception even transposes
that most intimate experience of our own body onto
inanimate matter’ (Wölfflin 1994: 159) [‘Die ästhetische
Anschauung überträgt diese intimste Erfahrung unseres
Körpers auch auf die leblose Natur’) (Wölfflin 1946: 22]
14 The original reads, ‘Kräftige Säulen bewirken in uns
energische Innervationen, nach der Weite oder Enge
der räumlichen Verhältnisse richtet sich die Respira-
tion, wir innervieren, als ob wir diese tragende Säulen
wären und atmen so tief und voll, als wäre unsre Brust
so weit wie diese Hallen [...] der architektonische Ein-
druck [...] wesentlich in einem unmittelbaren körperli-
chen Gefühl beruhe’ (Wölfflin 1946: 18).
15 Goethe writes, ‘Yet, because matter can never exist and
act without spirit and spirit without matter, matter too
can increase, just as spirit cannot be denied attraction
and repulsion’ [‘Weil aber die Materie nie ohne Geist,
der Geist nie ohne Materie existiert und wirksam sein
kann, so vermag auch die Materie sich zu steigern, so
wie sichs der Geist nicht nehmen läßt, anzuziehen und
abzustoßen’] (Goethe 1975: 48). See also the original
essay, Die Natur (1789), which is continued in the frag-
ment entitled Erläuterung zu dem aphoristischen Auf-
satz ‘Die Natur’ (Goethe an Kanzler v. Müller, 1828).
16 In Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit
(1784–1791), Herder argues that creation (Bildung,
Genesis) is the activity of ‘organic forces’ (organische
Kräfte), ‘the impact of internal forces, arranged by
nature in a mass, that develop themselves, in which
they will make themselves visible’ [‘eine Wirkung
innerer Kräfte, denen die Natur eine Masse vorbere-
itet hatte, die sie sich zubilden, in der sie sich Sichtbar
machen sollten’] (Herder 1971: 134). On Herder’s
Ideen, see especially book 5, chapter 2, ‘No force of
nature is without organ; but the organ is not the force
that works through it’ [‘Keine Kraft der Natur ist ohne
Organ; das Organ ist aber nie die Kraft selbst, die mit-
telst jenem wirket’].
17 See Vitruvius (1914), especially book 3, On Symmetry:
In Temples and In the Human Body where the structure
of the temple is presented as reflecting the ‘harmony
in the symmetrical relations of the different parts to
the general magnitude of the whole’ (Vitruvius 1914:
18 Carl Jung’s dichotomy of introversion vs. extroversion
echoes Worringer’s of abstraction vs. empathy. Empa-
thy matches extroversion because an extroverted
libido is directed towards an object that it wants to
assimilate. Abstraction corresponds to introversion as
the movement away from the object that is perceived
‘by purely intellectual thought, crystallized and fixated
into the rigid forms of law, the universal, the typical’
(Jung 1916: 293). Abstraction is the consequence of
an introversion that subordinates reality to abstract
thought. The geometric structures of the primitive
man are strategies of defending oneself from a world
that is perceived as deeply disquieting.
19 Worringer argues that the abstract line is purely
psychic, ‘transcending all senses, non-sensitive
or supersensible movement’ [‘über alle Sinne
erhabenen, unsinnlichen oder […] übersinnlichen
Bewegtheit’] (Worringer 1920: 35). He adds, ‘the
northern line does not live from any impression
that we bestow on it, but seems to have its own
expression which is stronger than our life’ [‘die nor-
dische Linie lebt nicht von einem Eindruck, den
wir ihr willig geben, sonder sie scheint einen eigen
Ausdruck zu haben, der stärker ist als under Leben’]
(Worringer 1920: 32).
20 See Clara Öhlschläger’s introduction to Worringer
21 This would be the topic of a different paper, yet the
same premise justifies the utopian and fascinat-
ing projects of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins.
Their houses that promise to make death redundant
combine design with thought experiments. They are
all based on a profound understanding of the human
body with all its conscious and unconscious patterns)
(see Arakawa and Gins (2002)).
Competing Interests
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How to cite this article: Ionescu, V 2016 Architectural Symbolism: Body and Space in Heinrich Wölin and Wilhelm Worringer.
Architectural Histories,
4(1): 8, pp. 1–9, DOI:
Published: 29 June 2016
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Uma das maiores belezas da Arquitectura é o seu trabalho com o que não existe, com o que não se vê ainda, com o que não está lá. Tal como na escultura, as linhas desse trabalho desenham precisamente esse esforço de dar-a-ver, de desvelamento do pensamento, e das suas imagens, ao olhar do outro. A partilha de uma visão é um desnudamento do acto de criação, uma exposição, um interior que se torna exterior. Um movimento do esboço, no bloco de notas, na planta, ao realizado. Como um crime, e talvez mais do que em qualquer outra arte, a arquitetura permite recolher todas as migalhas e reencontrar o fácil, embora possa ser simples, e o trabalho da sua compreensão de mostrar em que consiste uma visão, uma possibilidade que se ergue no real como uma sombra da imaginação sobre as coisas. Baudelaire avisa-nos para essa luta, entre a noite e o dia, e no intervalo o embate com a fantasmagoria onde um artista […] en- contra -se então como que assaltado por uma turba de detalhes, todos reclamando justiça com a mesma fúria de uma multidão ávida por igualdade absoluta, todos pedindo salvação do abismo do informe, nesse intervalo da criação entre amar a liberdade e a melancolia antecipada do cristalizado, do que nunca chegará uma obra debate-se prisioneira do futuro, dos futuros, sem gesto redentor que a salve do longo e árduo caminho da potência ao acto, e da paciência de uma espera que pode interminável.
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In order to integrate the perceptual and human dimensions into structural design, this paper begins with the contrast between structure and body, and reinterprets body-based structural thinking from a neuroscientific perspective by introducing recent research findings on embodied perception, using Dasher architecture as an example. The paper aims to combine the principles of embodied perception in neuroscience with structural design, so as to form a design idea that connects structure, space, and the body.
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New technologies have the power to augment many aspects of society, including public spaces and art. The impact of smart technology on urban design is vast and filled with opportunity and has profound implications on the everyday urban environment. Only by starting new conversations can we develop further contemporary insights that will affect how we move through the world. Reconstructing Urban Ambiance in Smart Public Places is a pivotal reference source that provides contemporary insights into a comprehensive interpretation of urban ambiances in smart places as it relates to the development of cities or to various levels of intervention in extant urban environments. The book also examines the impact of architectural design on the creation of urban ambience in artworks and how to reflect this technique in the fields of professional architectural practice. While covering a wide range of topics including wellbeing, quality-related artistry, and atmosphere, this publication combines smart technological innovation with creative design principles. This book is ideally designed for civil engineers, urban designers, architects, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers, academicians, and students.
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Crowding in public places and the subsequent degradation of the high quality of urban atmospheres leads to an increase in people's aggressive attitudes. The consequences of these three variables on people's dissatisfaction have become apparent and can be monitored through the following five phenomena of urban atmospheres: aesthetic, affective, attributes, architectural quality, and behavioural attitudes. The five above-mentioned phenomena, together with nine situations that arise from the impacts of the urban atmospheres, help to create an integrated conceptual framework. By using this framework, this paper aims to present an anti-crowding action plan in public places based on revelations of people's moods, attitudes, and satisfaction. This article classifies descriptive and exploratory studies, which depend on evidence-based practice. It searches in theoretical literature thoroughly, testing parameters of reality, to provide the urban designer with guidelines related to the components which affect crowding. Online surveys between experts from different cities around the world reveal the existence and extent of this conflict in sixteen global cities. The key finding was that urban atmospheres as a tool for decreasing feelings of dissatisfaction due to crowding that enhances people's satisfaction. The results also show that this enhancement is based on atmospheric urban design dimensions. Ultimately, this article concludes with an action plan and four lessons learned, help in providing a proper human mood in public places for reducing negative attitudes relating to atmosphere and crowding. Further studies should focus on the real cooperation between the urban designer and experts in other disciplines.
Conference Paper
The era of “big data” has fostered the need for new approaches to analysis and representation in all fields of design. Existing representation and documentation of Italian Baroque Architecture are inadequate for precise perception, representation and analysis of the full three-dimensional multiplicity deep-rooted in the work. Current surveying tools including LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) and photogrammetry allow the capture of high-resolution and precisely measured three-dimensional data sets previously unobtainable. Along with capturing, recording and simulating data sets of unprecedented resolution and precision, Baroque Topologies utilizes new surveying instruments to develop novel techniques and methods for understanding and assessing complexity and representation of the space of Italian Baroque Architecture. Inherent in the process is a re-examination of the value-laden tools of contemporary representation and their impact on current architectural production.
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We wanted to learn whether activity in the same area(s) of the brain correlate with the experience of beauty derived from different sources. 21 subjects took part in a brain-scanning experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Prior to the experiment, they viewed pictures of paintings and listened to musical excerpts, both of which they rated on a scale of 1-9, with 9 being the most beautiful. This allowed us to select three sets of stimuli--beautiful, indifferent and ugly--which subjects viewed and heard in the scanner, and rated at the end of each presentation. The results of a conjunction analysis of brain activity showed that, of the several areas that were active with each type of stimulus, only one cortical area, located in the medial orbito-frontal cortex (mOFC), was active during the experience of musical and visual beauty, with the activity produced by the experience of beauty derived from either source overlapping almost completely within it. The strength of activation in this part of the mOFC was proportional to the strength of the declared intensity of the experience of beauty. We conclude that, as far as activity in the brain is concerned, there is a faculty of beauty that is not dependent on the modality through which it is conveyed but which can be activated by at least two sources--musical and visual--and probably by other sources as well. This has led us to formulate a brain-based theory of beauty.
"Joseph Rykwert is a gloriously erudite, ingeniously speculative historian and critic of architecture --- of, that is, the forms (in the most concrete sense) of civilization, of social embodiment itself. His "The Dancing Column" is a sovereign account of its intricate subject and an enthralling mental journey." -- Susan Sontag "Can a highly erudite book enquire what the sex of columns might be? It can, if the author is Joseph Rykwert. Can one imagine anything more rigid, more desperately immutable and dumb than a column? And yet Rykwert not only makes it dance, as he promised in the title; he also makes it speak. We thought we knew all there was to know about the ancient theory of the architectural orders, but Rykwert obliges us to return to the origins of Western civilization and listen to what architecture is telling us - speaking of many other things beside itself." -- Umberto Eco Joseph Rykwert is one of the major architectural historians of this century, whose full humanistic understanding of architecture and its historical significance is unrivaled. The Dancing Column is certain to be his most controversial and challenging work to date. A decade in preparation, it is a deeply erudite, clearly written, and wide-ranging deconstruction of the system of column and beam known as the "orders of architecture, " tracing the powerful and persistent analogy between columns and/or buildings and the human body. The body-column metaphor is as old as architectural thought, informing the works of Vitruvius, Alberti, and many later writers; but The Dancing Column is the first comprehensive treatment to do this huge subject full justice. Itprovides a new critical examination of the way the classical orders, which have dominated Western architecture for nearly three millennia, were first formulated. Rykwert opens with a review of their consequence for the leading architects of the twen tieth century, and then traces ideas related to them in accounts of sacred antiquity and in scientific doctrines of humor and character. The body-column metaphor is traced in archaeological material from Egypt, Asia Minor, and the Levant, as well as from Greece, drawing on recent accounts by hi storians of Greek religion and society as well as the latest discoveries of archaeologists. Perhaps most important, Rykwert reexamines its significance for the formation of any theoretical view of architecture. Chapters cover an astonishing breadth of material, including the notions of a set number and a proportional as well as an ornamental rule of the orders; the theological-philosophical "interpretatio Christiana" of antiquity on which the domination of the orders relied; the astrological and geometrical canon of the human figure; gender and column; the body as a constantly refashioned cultural product; the Greek temple building and the nature of cult; and the endurance of ornamental forms and the function of symbols.
In recent years, neuroscientists like V.S. Ramachandran and Semir Zeki have made bold claims for the capacities of their work to transform our understanding of visual art. Considering key ideas advanced by Ramachandran and Zeki, this article analyzes what the claims of these leading proponents of “neuro-aesthetics” entail and how the prospects for their projects stand.
The electronic version of this book has been prepared by scanning TIFF 600 dpi bitonal images of the pages of the text. Original source: The will to create : Goethe's philosophy of nature / Astrida Orle Tantillo.; Tantillo, Astrida Orle.; xii, 241 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.; Pittsburgh, Pa. :; This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 2 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file.