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Edgar Wind

(1900—1971) philosopher and art historian


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(b Berlin, 14 May 1900; d London, 12 Sept 1971), German art historian, active also in the USA and England. His work transcends the conventional categories of academic specialization, combining philosophical and aesthetic insight with a sensitive eye and an exceptional range of historical and literary learning. He studied Classics, philosophy and art history in Berlin, Freiburg and Vienna, obtaining his DPhil in 1922 in Hamburg under Erwin Panofsky with a thesis on the relation between aesthetic appreciation and historical scholarship. The neo-Kantian influence of Ernst Cassirer in Hamburg was soon superseded by the pragmatism of Charles S. Pierce, which he encountered while teaching philosophy at North Carolina (1925–7). On his return to Hamburg as research assistant at the Bibliothek Warburg, this pragmatism was infused with Aby Warburg's concept of cultural history, interest in the psychological potency of images and fascination with significant detail. The close relationship between the two men is documented in Warburg's diaries. After submitting his anti-Kantian treatise, Das Experiment und die Metaphysik, Wind became Privatdozent in philosophy at Hamburg University (1930–33). A masterly essay on 18th-century portraiture (1932), the first application of his insight and learning to the concrete analysis of particular works, marked a wholly new approach to English art.

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From The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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