Plzeňské sympozia

Radim Vondráček

Kunst-Industrie in the Conception of Rudolf Eitelberger

pp. 167–180, summary pp. 180–181


In connection with the theoretical positions of Rudolf Eitelberger von Edelberg (1817–1885), the first professor ordinarius of art history at the University of Vienna and the founder of the Austrian Museum for Arts and Industry, the article focuses on the conflict between the period’s standards of taste and the mass machine production and on the contradictory nature of the relation of the art-science theory to the industrialisation processes in applied arts. In his conception of art industry (Kunst-Industrie), Eitelberger proceeded from the traditions of German idealism and, like his teacher at the University of Vienna, the aesthetician Franz Ficker, appreciated a work of art for its unity of ideas and individualised form. According to him, the machine production did not contribute to the fulfilment of this stylistic value, because it weakened both the idea content and the artistic individuality of the work. The idea that the machine would lead to the birth of new technical aesthetics and a new style was unacceptable for Eitelberger. He found support in the nascent art science, founded on the critical study of the sources and artistic originals, which referred to historical models and promoted their imitation in compliance with the aesthetic standards of historicism. The study outlines the discussion on the ‘proper’ artistic style and taste in the art industry on the background of broader modernisation processes (the new empirical-positivistic model of scientific knowledge) and in connection with impulses coming from the British design reform (Henry Cole, Gottfried Semper).

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history


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