Christian ScherrerPhD candidate
Studies in Philosophy (BA) and in the teaching degree program for the subjects Philosophy/Psychology and Art Pedagogy (Mag. phil.) at the University of Vienna, the University of Helsinki and the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Completion of studies with a thesis on the notion of expression in Paul Cézanne’s painting (2016). Subsequently assistant for Modern Art at the Department of History of Art at the University of Vienna (2016-2018). Since autumn 2018 member of the eikones Graduate School.
Critique of Abstraction
Investigations concerning the Discrepancies between Abstraction and Non-representationality in Modern European Art and Art Theory (ca. 1910-1940)
In my project, I aim at re-conceptualizing abstraction as it has been understood in modern European art and art theory. While art historiography since WW2 does often not distinguish abstraction from non-representationality (anymore), I examine notions of abstraction as they were developed in artworks and writings of modern authors which contradict this common conceptual identification. Where abstraction was associated with visual forms that are meant to represent pervasive traits among all individuals of a certain class of objects, for example, such an identification cannot be maintained.
My investigation focuses on more-or-less prominent figures from the inter-war period, such as Georges Bataille, Carl Einstein, Vasilij Kandinskij, Alexandre Kojève, Kazimir Malevič, Piet Mondrian and Wilhelm Worringer. In analyses of their theoretical and artistic œuvres I trace a critique of abstraction in a triple sense: as a critical correction of reductions of abstraction to non-representationality in previous accounts of the relevant positions; as a precise differentiation of modern concepts of abstraction; and as an attempt to define in how far the critique of abstraction can be described as a common motive among disparate modern positions.