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CONRAD FIEDLER On Judging Works of Visual Art ‘TRANSLATED BY HENRY SCHAEFER-SIMMERN {AND FULMER MOOD, WITH AN INTRODUCTION: BY HENRY SCHAEFER-SIMMERN UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London CCOPYRCITY, 1940, 1957, 47 ‘CASPoRSA Lameany REPRINT 4s LOMO 1998 (Ger connreruns) ssn ong20-03207-6 PRINTED 1 -THE UNITED stats OF AMtaten 1234567890 PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION | ‘Tue First zormion of this book sold out faster than I expected—though it took eight years, The treatise is not an casy one to read and digest. Moreover, at the time this translation first appeared, the modern artist and his public were showing little interest in such ideas as Fiedler grappled with, I hardly dared look forward to the possiblity of a sec- ‘ond edition. Nevertheless, in circles where doors are kept open to thoughtful inquiry into the nature and meaning of art, and where it is understood that “art can only be ‘one and the samme thing, whatever name is given to it,” Fiedler has certainly contributed to the understand- ing of art and of art’s relationship to life. Iam espe- cially thankful to Sir Herbert Read for having turned to Fiedler for “the basic theory” of his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1953 and published in his book Icon and Idea: The Function of Artin the Development of Human Con- Cv] vi Preface sciousness (Harvard University Press) in 1955. He opens his discussion as follows: “‘Antistic activity begins when man finds himselé face to face with the visible world as with something. immensely enigmatical.... In the ereation of a work. of art, man engages in a struggle with nature not for his physical but for his mental existence.’ “These words were written in 186 by Conrad Fiedler, whose importance as a philosopher of art is now beginning to be recognized outside Germany. Fiedler was an amateur of the arts and a friend of the most original artists of his time, such as Hans von Marées and Adolph Hildebrand. His fragmentary writings express, in my opinion, a profound under- standing of the nature of art. “At any rate, it is from Fiedler that T have taken the basic theory of this book—the theory that art has been, and still i, the essential instrument in the devel- ‘opment of human consciousness. The significance of art, Fiedler held, lies in the fact that itis the particular form of activity by which man not only tries o bring the visible world into his consciousness, but even is forced to the attempt by his very nature. Such an activity, Fiedler adds, is not fortuitous, but necessary; its products are not secondary or superfluous, but ab- Preface vi solutely essential if the human mind does not want to cripple itselé” To the end that these vitally human and mental values may be recovered for art and artistic activity, Fiedler’s ideas ought surely to be made known as widely as possible. It is by such endeavors that one may hope for the eventual disappearance of all shallow approaches to art, of meaningless valuations imposed upon art, and the unbearably empty phraseology that is so often used in discussions of art and artist, In the revision of the English for this second edi- tion, we have tried anew to come as close as possible to the intentions of the German text. One detail re- quires explanation: We have decided to translate Gestaltung a8 “Gestalt-formation.” In the early and middle eighteenth century, Gestaltung was used by German philosophical writers (Herder, Goethe) in their qualitative descriptions of works of art as sclF- sustained unities of form in which all parts receive their artistic meaning only by their interfunctional relationship to the whole. Later, the word Gestalt received a special meaning in psychology, and so has, been borrowed by English-speaking psychologists. Now, as “Gestaltformation,” the older term will again, we believe, be found useful in discussions of art and artistic activity. Biss.