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Yale University, School of Architecture

The Shape of Time. Reconsidered


Author(s): George Kubler
Source: Perspecta, Vol. 19 (1982), pp. 112-121
Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta.
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TheShapeofTime

Reconsidered
GEORGE

1961, whichmakesthisyear,
oftwenty
in Mayaterms,itsKatunanniversary
years.Duringthesetwenty
years,theoccasionhas neverarisenforme to speak in publicaboutthe
and whowillgo outofhis
book. Beinga mannotproneto autobiography,
I havepaid littleattention
to thereception
wayto avoidlookingin a mirror,
I hopeto lookback over
on thisanniversary,
ofthebook. Here, however,
thereviews,to notethechangesin thebook'spublicand itsauthor.
thislecture,to noticehow,
I was surprised,whileI was preparing
amongmyfriendswhohad readthebook,a divisionintotwogroups
and educatedand, as faras I
appeared.Bothgroupsare equallydiscerning
can tell,equal in numbers.One groupis eagerto say thattheydon'tunderstanda wordofit,and thereare artistsand historians
amongthem.Those
it all on first
oftheothergroupdeclarethattheyunderstand
reading,
without
difficulty.
OfcourseI believethemboth,without
thecombination
that
knowing
and contrasting
featuresin
separatesthemso sharply.Perhapsdistinctive
ofworksofartare responsible.WhatI say speaksto
theircomprehension
some,butnotto others.Someare readyand othersare not.Butwhenboth
it,thatday maybe itslastas
somedayfindthattheyagreein understanding
a bookalive in thedissensionoveritsintelligibility.
In whatfollows,it seemsbestto limitmyremarksto printedreviews
and essaysthatare morein disagreement
thanin accordwiththebook. In
thiswaythemoresearchingobjectionsto myargument
are chosen.
The mostexactand criticalreviewthathas appearedin thiscountry
is
Priscilla
then
at
the
Art
Museum.'
She
notes
five
Colt,
Dayton
by
principal
of
book
which
with
entrenched
the
are
at
variance
practicein art
positions
These are:
history.

THE

1. Art Journal 23, no. 1

(1963): 78-79.

112

KUBLER

SHAPE

OF TIME

WAS FINISHED

IN

Journal,Volume19
Perspecta:The Yale Architectural
0079-0958/82/190112-10 $03.00/0

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1. theneed to bringtogether
ofscienceand the
againthehistory
ofart;
history
2. theirrelevance,
to thepurposeful
natureofartisticinvention,
of
ofbiologyand cyclicalhappening;
metaphors
3. theinadequacyofbiographical
and narrative
approachesto the
linkagesamongworksofart;
4. theunnecessaryseveringofmeaningfromformin theconflict
and
betweeniconologists
and formalists;
5. thestaticnatureoftheconceptofstyleas a meansofclassification.
ofthebookso concisethatI
PriscillaColtthenprovidesa summary
have nothingto changein it, norwouldI do it better.A close paraphraseof
heranalysisoftheessentialcontentis in orderforthosewhohavenotread
thebook. She speaks firstofseriationand change,thenoftime,and thenof
duration.
As to theirseriation,worksofart,like toolsand inventions,
are
solutionsto problems.Once theproblemis
(amongotherthings)purposeful
thevarioussolutions-whichcomposea class offorms-reveal
identified,
themselvesas relatedto one anotherin a temporalsequence-which is the
formalsequence.
Changeoccursin linkedsequencesor series,dependingon whether
viewedfromwithinor without,
respectively.
Changeseemsto obeya ruleof
the
and
from
interferences
series,although
meaningsmaydistort
images
process.Withineach sequence,primeobjectsand vastmassesofreplicas
are to be discovered.Primeobjects,describedas inventions
possessing
comparableto mutantgenes,are capable ofgeneratprimetraits,remotely
ingchange.Theyresultin copies and variants,whichalso generatechange
minutevariants.
through
invention
and replicaofthingsis carriedon through
The propagation
It
cuts
into
different
has
rates.
tionin time.Duration different
lengths,and
kindsofshapes.
it displaysdifferent
has no adequatetheoryoftime,a distinction
Althoughculturalhistory
is apparentbetweenfastand slowhappening.Thus artisticcareersinterrelate withsocietalphases: thefullrangeofartisticcareerscan unfoldonlyin
conditions.Therea wideselectionofactivesequencesis
metropolitan
available.These makefasthappeningpossible.At theotherextreme,slow
wherenonhappeningor casual driftoccursin provincialor tribalsettings,
in
actions.
routine
and
and
artisans
repetitive
engage
professionals
ofduration
The
Durationsfollowseveraldifferent
morphology
shapes.

"Emblem Glyph"of Copan, Honduras


Stela A; Quirigua, Guatemala

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KUBLER

includescontinuousclasses, arrestedclasses, extendedseries,wandering


series,as wellas guidedand self-determining
sequences.
Severalformalsequencesmaycoexistwithinone objectand, it
follows,withina givenpresent.Each mayhavea different
systemicage.
to be earlyor late
These ages, as opposedto absoluteage, are determined
in a formalsequencebytheirpositions.A complexform,such as a cathedral,willcontaintraitsbelongingto different
sequencesand havingdifferent
ofmatter.
Such wouldbe a mamsystemicages, like anyotherorganization
mal, ofwhichthebloodand nervesare ofdifferent
biologicalantiquities.

2. "Toward a ReductiveTheory of Style,"in The Concept


of Style,ed. Berel Lang (Phil.
adelphia, 1979).

Time Period: Completionof the Days


Stela A; Quirigu6,Guatemala

As a criticofmyarguments,
PriscillaColtnotesthreeunclearforan artistic
mulations.She asks, How does one meaningfully
identify
problem?Myproposalwas thatthesolutionsdisclosetheproblem,butshe
regardstheformclass onlyin termsof"traitsortraitclusters,"as many
do.
archaeologists
anthropological
Anotherofherquestionsis whether
styleis precludedby sequencesin
or synchronic,
ratherthan
time.Myopinionthatstyleis instantaneous,
diachronic,has been extendedin an articlethatappearedin 1979.2
PriscillaColtis also disturbedbyghostly
"primeobjects,"which
cannotbe foundand whoseexistenceto me is no moretangiblethanthatof
theparticlesofnuclearphysics,knownonlybythedisturbances
they
cause. This conceptoftheprimeobjecthas puzzledmanyreaders,and
thanaboutanyotheraspect.
questionsaboutit are morefrequent
in
In theory,
the
maker'smind,no primeobjectexists
beingoriginally
in itspristinestate.Theyall have been alteredin actuality,
and theysuffer
like starsvanishing
theaccidentsoftime,beingknownonlybyindirection,
in supernovaexplosions.This soundslike astrophysics,
whichis a field
with
radical
theories
that
are
beyondproof.Black holes
thicklypopulated
werefirstnamedby ArchibaldWheelerin 1973. These are small,superdense stellarcorpses,whichdestroymatter
dissolution,
bygravitational
fromtheuniverse.Theiropposites,however,
are white
information
removing
which
new
matter
endowed
with
and
from
color,texture,
holes,
erupts,
chemicalcomposition.
Theirexistenceas mathematical
creatures,or objects, was firstpostulatedin 1964, and todaywhiteholesare regardedas
theuniverse,althoughnonehas ever
time-reversed
black holes,renewing
howeverindirect.Theyare prefigured,
been registered
byobservation,
fromdarkness.
however,in theManichaeanuniverseoflightspringing
and more
Thus, myidea aboutprimeobjectsis less mathematical
historicalthanwhiteholes,but,like them,primeobjectsmaybe constructs
theprocesseswhichtheymayhave originated.
necessaryto understanding

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KUBLER

of
Anotherofmyrespectedcriticsis JanBialostocki,theprofessor
and theNationalMuseum.He
ofartin Warsawat theUniversity
history
whichI am toldis excellentto be publishedin
caused a Polishtranslation
Warsaw.Bialostockibeganhis longreviewbyobserving
that,sincethe
"art
historians
felt
the
need
to
concentrate
on princi1920's,
[have]hardly
ples, to reviseconcepts,orto discussends and meansofthediscipline,"
and art
leavingthesetasksto others,such as aestheticians,
philosophers,
ofthetasksfacingthemas being,in his
critics.3He notesthedifficulties
in
all
"the
revolution
words,
conceptsoftheidea oftheworkofart."His
secondpointis thattheold "problemsofsymbolism,
ofperspective,
and of
in general"havebecome"closedproblems,"
whichwe are no
representation
longer"inside,"but"outside."In his thirdpointhe statestheneed forart
historians
to find"pointsofviewfromwhichthewholeworldofhumanart
can be graspedas a visualmanifestation
ofhumanhistory."
His fourth
recommendation
is thatarthistorians
takeintoaccountnotonlythevisual
formofthings,butalso "theirutility,
function
and importance
as vehiclesof
On
this
Bialostocki
communication."
underestimates
point
myconcernwith
in paperson the
theseaspectsofmeaning,whichI havedevelopedfurther
timeand on theconceptofstyle.'His fifth
and
ofhistorical
representation
that
finalwishis thatarthistorians
pursue"theexpressionofindividuality"
characterizes
everymajorworkofart.
his ideas abouttheproperactivitiesofarthistorians
stated
Having
ofmypositions.He is opposedto
today,Bialostockibeginshis criticism
as whenthe
flavor"ofmyargument,
whathe calls the"deterministic
artists.
of
its
Renaissanceseemsto antedatetheparticipation
Accordingto
"universalgeniuses"are demotedto thestatus
his readingofmyargument,
individualswhohave had theluckto make"goodenofwell-prepared
is onlyforanotherhierarchy
trances."Myplea, however,
amongartists,and
notfortheprecedenceoftheRenaissanceoveritsmakers.He also suspects
in myremarksaboutperiods,thoughhe overlooksmy
a determinism
repeatedinsistenceon thecoexistenceofvariousstyles.Theirappearance
and periods,
eclecticmovements
at thesame timeand place, in recurrent
determinism.
is closerto randomorderthanto historical
what
the
theoretical
to
admit
Bialostockiis ready
validityofseparating
as do other
Stillhe findsit difficult,
I call primeobjectsfromreplications.
drawnfromthe
to use thesetermsin historicalsituations
arthistorians,
wroteto me
ErwinPanofsky
world.On thispoint,however,
Mediterranean
the
"achieves
book
the
in 1962 thathe thought
impossible,to
apparently
historicalmethodscan be appliedto materialwhich,on
provethatstrictly
ofcourse,
He referred,
thefaceofit,wouldnotseemto haveanyhistory."

3. Art Bulletin 46, no. 1

(1965): 135-39.

4. "Style and the Representationof HistoricalTime,"

Annals of the New YorkAcademy of Sciences 138, part 2,

no. 2 (1967): 849-55.


also note 2.

See

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KUBLER

5. Studies in Classic Maya


Iconography, Memoirs of the
Connecticut Academy of Arts
and Sciences, vol. 18 (New
Haven, 1969); The Iconography of the Art of Teotihuacan,
Studies in Pre-Columbian Art
and Archaeology, no. 4 (Washington, 1967).

6. In Formes du temps, ed.


Champlibre (Paris, 1973), pp.
9-19.

7. Le Monde, 4 May 1973.

8. In Abraham Moles, ed.,


Les Objects, Communications,
vol. 13 (1968).

9. La Forma del Tempo (Turin, 1973).

to mydiscussionofpre-Columbian
art,whichI willtakeup later.
withme is overtheimportance
Bialostocki'smaindifference
oficonohas
a
minor
rolein
studies.
Then
and
now
graphic
morphology occupied
oficonograarthistory,
whereit has been seen as the"mereformalism"
in writing
whoweremoreinterested
with
phersand social historians
history
theintrinsic
imagesthanin discovering
languagesofthoseimages.Yet,
as wellas iconographical
thesediscoveriesrequiremorphological
analysis.
Laterin the1960'sit beganto appearthatmeaningscouldbe extracted
fromarchaeologicalfinds,evenwhenno written
textsare knownfromtheir
owntime.'Since then,thebeliefthatmorphology
and iconography
require
simultaneous
of
studyhas gainedwideracceptance,forthedetermination
from
exact
formal
much
intendedmeaningemerges
as
as from
description
thewritings
ofa particular
time.Visualformis intrinsic,
whereaswritten
evidenceis adherentand extrinsic.
BorisAndreNakovis a Bulgarianscholarofnineteenthand twenart,livingin Paris. His prefacetotheFrenchedition,which
tieth-century
he sponsored,is entitled"Pourun nouvellemethodologie."6In it he notes
"in whichtheyare like
the"conceptuallethargy"
amongarthistorians,
thesituapowerlesswitnessesto theburialoftheirownmyth."He contrasts
tionsafter1920 in Russia and Germany,
before"totalitarian
bureaucracy,"
and after1935 in theUnitedStates.WhilePanofsky
said thattheUnited
Stateshad become,at Europe'sexpense,thenewhomeofthehistory
ofart
in theseyears,JamesAckermanofHarvardexpressedhis concernin 1958
abouttheimpotenceofAmericanarthistory
withrespecttotheory.
Nakov'scriticisms
are directedprimarily
againsta similarconformist
art
historians
tradition
French
His
among
today. viewswerecontestedby
Andre"
ChasteloftheCollegede Francein a reviewoftheFrenchedition.7
ofthings."This is a veiled
Chastelquestionstherelevanceofa "history
thrustagainstthe"objectalorder"definedbyJeanBaudrillard's
"Syst6me
des choses"in 1968. Baudrillard's
workparallelsmine,and it comesfrom
thecampofthesocial sciencesunderthedirection
ofAbrahamMoles.8
Chastelcriticizesthe"naivepolemic"ofNakov'sintroduction,
but
ofthechefd'dcole,or
Chatel'sownreviewis also polemicin thetradition
to disciplineinsubordinate
voicesin his territory.
partychief,whois writing
oflate MedievalItalian
GiovanniPrevitaliis a Marxistarthistorian
painting.He livesin Florenceand teachesin Siena, wherehe has been
ofphilosophy
and letters.Havingcommissioned
dean ofthefaculty
the
Italiantranslation,
he wrotea longintroduction
forit,whichbeganwithan
to three
analysisofPriscillaColt'scritique.9Previtalireduceshercomments
an artistic
questionsthathe regardsas central.First,howcan we identify

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KUBLER

fromit a formclass? Second,howcan we identify


problemand reconstruct
in
a sequenceoriginating
a primeobject?Third,howcan we reconstruct
primeobjects,whichcannotbe found?
to which
He arguesthatall threequestionsare containedin thefirst,
his answeris thatan artisticproblemis revealedonlybyan experienceof
artand itsproblems.This experience,he asserts,cannotbe separatedfrom
structure
thehistoricalconceptofstyle,whichhe comparesto thesyntactic
thebiologicalmetaphor
ofstylesas being
oflanguage.He also reaffirms
and dying.Previtalimakesuse ofthebook's
born,evolving,surviving,
of
receptionin ItalianMarxistcirclesto exposethesituationofthehistory
artin Italyas beingreduced,amongits animebelle,to onlytwomethods,
attributionism
and iconology.
he claimsthatbeingan Americanhas eased myescape
Ad hominem,
I woulddeny)and from
culture(which,in parentheses,
fromhumanistic
which
I
was
never
idealism
(by
captured,againin parentheses).
Hegelian
ratherthanhumanMyescape, he says,tookme intoa domainofscientific
which
isticculture,amonganthropologists,
linguists,and sociologists,
Previtalirightly
regardsas a widenedhorizon.
is his opinionthatthe"entrance,"goodor bad, ofan
Also ad hominem
artisthas to do with"success." I disagree,beingoftheopinionthatthetwo
to distinctdomainsofinternaland externalperformance.
termscorrespond
to
According Previtali,theallegedsuccess ofmybookwas a phenomenon
He names
of"goodentrance,"preparedby a longseriesofforerunners.
Bergson,Nietzsche,Riegl,and Pinder.Also, Ackerman,whosecomplaint
abouttheabsence ofan Americantheoryofart,created,in his words,a
to mysuccess. Bergson,Nietzsche,and Rieglare mighty
"shortcut"
names,
unnoticedbymostofmycolleagues.
and mysuccess has been fortunately
Whetherit was a goodentranceis anotherquestion,whichwillnotbe
clearedfora longtime,ifever,because such entrancesbecomeapparent
onlyveryslowly.
ofgeniusinto
On theotherhand,Previtaliapprovesofmyconversion
entrance.He also defendstheidea ofsequence,whichhe says has deidealizationsof
scendedfromAlois Riegl and is in oppositionto romantic
genius.YetBialostocki,speakingwithinsimilardialecticalassumptions,
byoverstressing
objectsto mysequencingformsas obscuringcreativity
MoreMarxistis Previtali's
intention
and overlooking
individuality.
preferwhohave
ofartistsas "leaders"ratherthan"precursors,"
ence forthinking
theaura ofprophets.He also regardsmydiscussionof"aestheticfatigue"
as an evasion
theresourcesofa patternofartisticpossibilities)'
(exhausting
ofthoseeconomicpressuresfavoredin Marxismas beingcompleteexplana-

Title may referto an officeheld by ruler


Stela A; Quiriguai,Guatemala

"Lord Who Holds the Axe"


Stela A; Quirigui, Guatemala

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KUBLER

10. "Continuityand Discontinuityin Style:A Problem in


ArtHistoricalMethodology,"
JournalofAestheticsand Art
Criticism39, no. 1 (1980):
27-36.

GlyphC of the Lunar Series, 2C

Stela A; Quirigua, Guatemala

11. American Anthropologist

65 (1963): 699-704.

tionsofhistoricalchange.
ofmedievaland modernartwhorejects
JoyceBrodskyis a historian
and the"prevalent
evolu"simpleformsofpositivism"
cyclical-biological
tionarysystemofanalysis."She considersmyworkto be a schemeof"art
as a systemofformalrelationslike a language."OShe also sees it as
in theirattempts
to
paralleling,in herwords,"semioticsand structuralism
correlateall humanpatterns
intoa systemofintelligible
signs."
Her maincriticismis withmyuse ofthewords"convention"
and
for
which
she
would
substitute
and
"invention,"
"continuity" "discontinuity,"
instead.This, she claims,wouldavoidthepejorativeconnotation
of"convention"and wouldfreeartisticinvention
fromwhatshe calls "association
withinventions
orusefulobjects."Her wishis to centerbothmethodand
as she says,"in theinherent
conservatism
notonlyendemicto all
theory,
cultures,periods,schools,butto individualstyleas well."I wouldagree,
butonlyto thepointat whichtradition
invitesdissent,perhapsin theeighteenthcentury.
it wouldbe unhistorical
Thereafter
to overlookthepolarity
betweenconvention
and invention
in thehistory
ofEuropeanart.
As to thehistory
ofartin preindustrial
has
societies,no arthistorian
commented
on therelationof TheShape ofTimeto mystudiesofAmerican
These
artin Mesoantiquity.
topicsare thesame as thoseofpre-Columbian
americaand theAndeanarea. It is a fielddominatedbyanthropologists.
TheShape ofTimeand Artand Architecture
inAncient
Americawerein
after
and
the
two
booksappearedin thesame
progresssimultaneously 1958,
1962.
year,
The taskofadjustingthedata and theoriesofanthropology
to the
humanistic
methodsofarthistory
mirrors
thetaskofadaptingthehistory
ofartto theAmericanists'
data. Thus bothbooksweregeneratedbythe
differences
betweenthestudyofancientAmericanmaterial
methodological
cultureand thehumanistic
traditions
ofOld Worldphilologicalresearch.
The fieldscould be bridgedonlybyusinghumanistic
methods,by selecting
Americanobjectsthatwouldsatisfy
theneedsofanthropologists
bydisplaythe
values
of
the
urban
societies
of
ancient
America.
ing
cognitive
complex
Hence thegeneralwork,Artand Architecture
America,became
ofAncient
an arthistoricalcritiqueofanthropology,
as GordonWilleyobservedin his
review."TheShape ofTime,on theotherhand,was a critiqueofthehistory
ofartfroma pointofviewshapedin partbyanthropological
methods.
thesetwenty
and
Throughout
years,painters,musicians,architects,
The
have
read
Time.
not
have
often
written
sculptors
Shape of
Thoughthey
aboutit,theyhave quoteditfrequently,
thusacknowledging
thataspectof
thebookthatBialostockicalled "something
ofthequalityofa workofart."

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KUBLER

Theirappreciationmaybe relatedto theirbeingreleased,as artists,from


enshrinedbythetextbook
therigidhierarchies
or,as itwas once
industry
of
art
the
history."
expressed, "pigeon-holes
his opinwhowas exceptionalin committing
The late Ad Reinhardt,
ionsto theprintedpage, wrotean articlewhichis moreaboutartiststhan
He beganwithtwopremises.First,"everyartist,fineor
abouthistorians.'2
in favorof"art-as-art";
arthistory
as
he
free,"
putit, has to knowand forget
has someas taughtin our"university-academies"
and, second,arthistory
thenasks twenty-eight
questionsdealingwith
thingwrongwithit. Reinhardt
ofart.In one he asks howit shouldbe
his idea ofthefailureofthehistory
in
he
about
true
and falsearts.Another
others
inquires
querycontaught;
it
artand thereassessment
art.Twentieth-century
cerns"post-historic"
in his mind.He is also
artare uppermost
enforcesofbothpastand future
concernedabouttheneglectofnon-European.art
bytoday'sartists.
himby name),
from
review
Bialostocki's
(without
mentioning
Quoting
ofthe
and declaresthatit has "something
he calls mybooka "manifesto,"
thirteen
thenlistsfrommemory
pasqualityofa workofart."Reinhardt
ofartists.One, fromT S.
sages fromthebookas beingworththeattention
and noneis
Eliot,is wrongly
givento me; othersshowsomerearrangement;
further
explained.'3
His finalquestionsare aboutwhathe calls "theshape-upofourtime."
ofcommercial
interests
and notesthe
He angrilydenouncestheinterference
in and comingout,"espefortheartistofwhathe calls "getting
difficulties
out."
He also lamentsthe
on
so
much
stress
with
placed "coming
cially
forthehungry
and naked
lack ofsolidarity
amongaritsts,"whodo nothing
amongthem."Finallyhe predicts,and herehe echoes HenriFocillon's
statesand workswillbe statesand
on style,that"artists'future
reflections
wordofan artistis
is
His
renvoi
of
works conscience."
enigmatic:"The first
I
is againstarthistorians."
wordofan arthistorian
againstartists.The first
shouldjoin together
supposehe meansbythisthatartistsand arthistorians
insteadofopposingone another.
ofReinhardt's
are theminimalists
Robert
Youngercontemporaries
wrotein 1966 abouthis viewson the
Morrisand RobertSmithson.Smithson
his
relationofsculptureto iconography.14
him,I understand
Paraphrasing
or
as follows:Sculptureis morethaniconography
argument
iconology.
meanis
to
time
inaccessible
Its powerto suggestbothspace and
ordinary
absolute,and primal.In thisaccountofhis
ingby beingself-referential,
a debtto mybook.
workhe acknowledges
remarksin anotherdirection,
RobertMorrisenlargeson Smithson's
a
faith
whenhe notesthatthenineteenth-century in "creativeevolution,"

12. "Artvs. History,"Art


News64, no. 19 (1966): 19,
62.

13. Referencesto the 1962


editionare frompp. viii(3
passages), 26, 32, 33 (2 passages), 61, 105, 125 (2 passages),
and 126 (2 passages).

14. "Quasi-Infinities
and the
Waningof Space," Artsmagazine 41, no. 1 (1966): 28-31.

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KUBLER

15. Rosalind Constable (un.published research report,


1967). She quotes Morris:
"There has been little definitive writing on present-day
sculpture. When it is discussed
it is often called in to support
a broad iconographic or iconological point of view. Kubler has raised the objection
that iconological assertions
presuppose that experiences
so differentas those of space
and time must somehow be interchangeable." Constable
also quotes Smithson, "QuasiInfinities." "Kubler suggests
that metaphors drawn from
physical science rather than
biological science would be
more suitable for describing
the condition of art. Biological science has since the nineteenth century infused in most
people's minds an unconscious
faith in Creative Evolution. An
intelligible dissatisfaction with
this faith is very much in evidence in the work of certain
artists."
16. History, the Last Things
before the Last (New York,
1969).
17. Kracauer cites Valdry,
Oeuvres (Paris, 1960), vol. 2,
p. 1453.
18. History, the Last Things,
pp. 143-49.

frombiologicalscience,is beingovercomeamongartists
sloganborrowed
fromphysicalscience.'5
by metaphors
was writing
a bookon historiograSiegfriedKracauer,thesociologist,
in
when
he
died
1966.
It
with
an
introduction
appeared
phy
byPaul KristeltheLast.'6Kracauerwas contheLast Thingsbefore
ler,in 1969, as History,
cernedwiththediscrepancy
betweengeneraland specializedhistory.
His
sixthchapter,entitled"Ahasuerus,ortheRiddleofTime,"is aboutthe
dilemmabetweenall timeand pieces of"shaped"time,or betweenthesequence ofall happeningsin a givenperiodand thesequencesspecificto
in short,betweenuniversaland special histories.
anyone area ortradition;
As to thespecial characterofhistory
ofart,KracauercitesPaul Valdry,
who
wrotein 1906 thatgeneralhistory
"leaveschaosunpenetrated,"
whilea
event
series"
shows
that
is
the
child
of
another
"comprehensible
"every
event."In all generalhistory,
"everychildseemsto havea thousandfathers
and vice versa."17

wroteLa
KracauerthenrelateshowHenryFocillon,following
Valdry,
ViedesFormesin 1933 to display,as Kracauerputsit,an inherent
logicin
theunfolding
ofartforms.8In thesame passage,Kracauerspeaksofthe
and thatof
conceptof"shapedtime,"whichhe relatesto Focillon'sthought
in La PensdeSauvage, as theFocillon-Kubler
proposition.
L6vi-Strauss
this
and
Kracauerrephrases concept
describes,instead,sequencesofphewithsome
nomenathatbringoutvariousaspectsofproblemsoriginating
need. Hence the"date"is less relevantthan"age,"whichis positionin a
sequence. Each sequenceevolveson itsownscheduleamongother,differentsequences. Kracauerstatesthatthesequencemay"fallintothesame
in age." (BarbaraRose, theNewYorkartcritic,has written
periodbutdiffer
Kracauerfurther
observes
as a "transhistorical
ofthisargument
attitude.")
in general"and over
thatthetheoryofshapedtimeis also "validforhistory
ifit is assumedthat"theeventsin each single
a varietyofareas ofhistory,
area followeach otheraccordingto a sortofimmanent
logic."These inteltimesand "as a marchofmanytimes,
ligiblesequencesunfoldat different
morethanas a singleMarchoftime,"in Kracauer'swords.
In conclusion,I am glad as an old studentofHenriFocillon'sand as
ofhis ViedesFormes(1934) to speakofthelarge
theAmericantranslator
his workhas commandedin theUnitedStates.Twenty-five
years
authority
later his book was a pointof departureformine. Anotherpoint: Focillon's
propositionin 1934 thatshiftingmeaningsattachto constantforms,and
vice versa, later foundits historicaldevelopmentin the United States with

19. Renaissance and Renascences (Stockholm, 1960).

Erwin Panofsky's"principle of disjunction,"as described in his book,


Renaissance and Renascences.'9Throughit, Focillon'spropositionhas

120

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KUBLER

in Europeand America,whereits releaffected


thinking
anthropological
ofethnological
vance to thecriticism
analogybecameapparent.
ofartmayfindrenewaland
At intersections
like these,thehistory
desiccatedprocedures.Withoutbenefitofa
expansionofitsdangerously
ofartbecomeseach decade
of
man-made
objects,thehistory
generaltheory
to theinterests
ofartcollectorsand museums.
moreand morerestricted
fromenrichment
Whileprofiting
byothermethodsat manysuch intervaluable
servicebyproviding
a humanofartcan give
sections,historians
istictranslation
and use forthedata ofthesocial sciences.These sciences,
fromthestudyofworksofart
likewise,requirerenewaland nourishment
as such.

MonthPosition Date, 13 Kayab


Stela A; Quirigu6d,
Guatemala

121

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