G.W.F. Hegel’s aesthetics, or philosophy of art, forms part of the extraordinarily rich German aesthetic tradition that stretches from J.J. Winckelmann’s Thoughts on the Imitation of the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1755) and G.E. Lessing’s Laocoon (1766) through Immanuel Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790) and Friedrich Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy (1872) and (in the twentieth century) Martin Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art (1935–6) and T.W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970). Hegel was influenced in particular by Winckelmann, Kant and Schiller, and his own thesis of the “end of art” (or what has been taken to be that thesis) has itself been the focus of close attention by Heidegger and Adorno. Hegel’s philosophy of art is a wide ranging account of beauty in art, the historical development of art, and the individual arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry. It contains distinctive and influential analyses of Egyptian art, Greek sculpture, and ancient and modern tragedy, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest aesthetic theories to have been produced since Aristotle’s Poetics.
[A conjecture: The kind of art that was dying - in my opinion, for the good of us all - was “art” as monopolized by the Church and monarchies. Democracy in America was fundamentally affecting the social dynamics in Europe, which struggled and continued to… struggle as the free-systems of new art materialized perceptually. Radically, he grasped the potential, even as he lamented the transitional effects on established hierarchies of “refinement” or “taste” or Christian power-over image. The utility of art was changing, and the attractions and resistances comprised a tension that is no less intense today as it was in Hegel’s era, as the top-down/bottom-up struggle continues. Imperial-religious art for colonization and enslavement was and is flip-flopping on itself, and this is not a phenomenon limited to the West. - PJM]