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Problems of Style

Foundations for a History of Ornament

Alois Riegl

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Kunst


Written at the height of the arts and crafts movement in fin-de-siecle Vienna, Alois Riegl's Stilfragen represented a turning point in defining art and understanding the sources of its inspiration. Demonstrating an uninterrupted continunity in the history of ornament from the ancient Egyptian through the Islamic period, Riegl argued that the creative urge manifests itself in both "great art" and the most humble artifact, and that change is an inherent part of style. This new translation, which renders Riegl's seminal work in contemporary, readable prose, allows for a fresh reexamination of his thought in light of current revisionist debate.
His discovery of infinite variation in the restatement of several decorative motifs--the palmette, rosette, tendril--led Riegl to believe that art is completely independent from exterior conditions and is beyond individual volition. This thinking laid the groundwork for his famous concept of Kunstwollen, or artistic intention.
"Something that the translation will, I hope, convey, is the passion invsted in Riegl's enterprise. We are made to feel that the issues he discussed mattered vitally to him; it was the very nature of art and its relation to human life that were at stake, art as an absolute necessity." --From the preface of Henri Zerner
Alois Reigl (1858-1905) was Curator of Textiles at the Museum of Art and Industry in Vienna during most of his career and wrote many influential works on the history of art, including Spatromische Kunstgeschichte. Evelyn Kain is Associate Professor of Art History at Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin. David Castriota is Assistant Professor of Art History at Sarah Lawrence College.

Originally published in 1993.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Mastaba, Arak (drink), Statue, Embellishment, Cultures (video game series), Greek art, Volute, Art of ancient Egypt, Furniture, Tomb, Saqqara, Nofret, The Various, Pilaster, Bronze Age, Civilization, Relief, Mereruka, New Kingdom of Egypt, Plant stem, Mural, Archaeology, Aegean art, Conflation, Strasbourg, Suggestion, Mainz, Ancient Egypt, Idem, Iron Age, Lisht, Ptahhotep, Western Asia, Religions of the ancient Near East, Ebla, Cylinder Seal, Kerma, Nile, Palmette, Mesopotamia