Art History Unstuffed. How Structuralism Became “Post”

Art History Unstuffed

How Structuralism Became “Post”

was posted on June 20, 2014

 This post discusses the linguistic turn of Structuralism that began with the work of Ernst Cassirer and Claude Lévi-Strauss in the post-war period. Since Vico, Structuralism had always been a tendency in Western philosophy but it became an alternative to Sartre’s existentialism in the anthropological work of “symbolic logic” logic of Cassirer and the kinship studies of Claude Lévi-Strauss.

It is with Saussure that Structuralism and consequently philosophy took a “linguistic turn,” for, as is obvious, culture works though language, its only tool. Therefore it is language, the only human means of expression (literature, songs, music, dance), which must be studied in terms of its internal structure. By the early twentieth century, linguistics moved to the fore and culture was regarded as an entity to be “read” with effects manifesting themselves in the world of art history with the writings of Erwin Panofsky and with the philosophy of Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) both of whom were at the Library of Cultural Sciences, also known as the Warburg Library after its founder Aby Warburg.

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

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