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Ernst Gombrich and Western representations of the sacred art of India

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English

ID: <oai:doaj.org/article:eefa07c5933945b5ac42b5d542e8fc06>

Abstract

Lecture at the Institut für Kunstgeschichte, University of Vienna, 16 May 2012 on western representations of ancient Indian art aims at explaining the author’s relationship with his teacher E. H. Gombrich, and the intellectual inspiration behind his work, Much Maligned Monsters: History of Western Representations of Indian Art. The roots of western misrepresentations of Indian art in the 19th century went back to the Middle Ages. The early travellers’ stereotypes of monstrous gods of India owed more to the medieval lore of classical monsters and Christian demons than to objective facts. However even with extensive documentation of Indian antiquities in the colonial period, the clash of two antithetical aesthetic standards – Indian and European – remained as exemplified in art history. Even though Gombrich was essentially a historian of European art his theory of schema and correction and the formation of stereotypes proved most fecund in helping to explain European inability to come terms with ancient Indian religious art.

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