chapter  2
16 Pages

Classical Art

ByBen Burt

Classical art deserves special consideration in the study of world art, for its role in Western art history. The influence of Classical art can be illustrated by the recent history of some fragments of an ancient Greek temple that became some of the most famous possessions of the British Museum. From the very first, the Assyrian sculptures were compared unfavorably with those of ancient Greece, in terms that illustrate the European obsession with Classical art. German philosopher Georg W. F. Hegel projected the fantasy scenario back upon ancient Greece and Rome, legitimating the ideal of Classical art. Gombrich was a professor at the University of London, Director of the Warburg Institute, a Trustee of the British Museum, and an admirer of Classical art. In tracing continuities between the Classical tradition and modern art, Gombrich’s art history had some difficult contradictions to overcome, particularly as the Modernist artists made it their business to challenge the values of earlier artistic achievements.