Carnation and the Eccentricity of Painting

in Transfigurements

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226734224
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226734231 | DOI:
Carnation and the Eccentricity of Painting

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From the time of Hegel's first cycle of lectures on aesthetics, throughout the entire Berlin period, throughout the four cycles of lectures he presented on aesthetics (1820–21, 1823, 1826, 1828–29), he never faltered in his view that painting is little else than a matter of color. The decisiveness of color is especially consequential as regards form and as regards the drawing that, independently of color, could inscribe form. Hegel's position is that what accounts for painting, what accounts almost entirely for it, is not form and drawing but color and coloring. Hegel identifies one achievement that brings coloring to its highest point, its culmination, its pinnacle. He marks this pinnacle, identifies what it is that painting must paint, what it is that must be made to emerge from coloring, in order to reach this culmination: “The most difficult thing in coloring, the ideal, as it were, the pinnacle of coloring, is carnation [Inkarnat], the color tone of human flesh.” Since painting is entirely a matter of color and coloring, Hegel can equally well say that painting reaches its culmination in painting carnation.

Keywords: Hegel; color; aesthetics; painting; carnation

Chapter.  14728 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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