Freedberg, David A.

For me, the two most important and influential books in art history of the last century remain E. H. Gombrich’s Art and Illusion and Erwin Panofsky’s Studies in Iconology (West- view Press, 1977).

Gombrich had a knowledge of the history of art (and of image making as a whole) that was probably more profound than that of anyone else in the century, and in Art and Illusion he showed how this history could be illuminated by a serious consideration of the psychology of visual representation. Essentially he revealed in the most rigorous and unsentimental way that all resemblance was a matter of convention and that artists did not copy nature directly but rather learned the bases of their image making—what Gombrich called schemata—from other artists. He observed how all paintings were fundamentally experiments and that we constantly adjusted our perceptions of those experiments—as artists do themselves—in terms of our experience of the world. Gombrich has often been accused of being anti-abstraction but, in fact, in Art and Illusion he points out very precisely what a huge mistake it is to overrate imitation, since al] imitation of nature is, in the end, fundamentally dependent on the more or
less abstract schemata that form the basis


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Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
August 24, 2022