From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Heinrich Wölfflin (June 21 1864 – July 19 1945) was a famous Swiss art critic, whose objective classifying principles ("painterly" vs. "linear" and the like) were influential in the development of formal analysis in the history of art during the 20th century. He taught at Basel, Berlin and Munich in the generation that raised German art history to pre-eminence.
His three great books, still consulted, are Renaissance und Barock (1888), Die Klassische Kunst (1898, "Classic Art"), and above all Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (1915, "Principles of Art History").
Wölfflin's family in Winterthur, Switzerland, was wealthy and cultured. His father, Eduard Wölfflin was a classicist, who helped found and organize the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae. Wölfflin studied art history and philosophy under Jakob Burckhardt at the University of Basel. Wölfflin's principal mentor, and the chair of his doctoral committee at the University of Munich, where Wölfflin got his doctoral degree was the renowned professor of archaeology, Heinrich Brunn. The dissertation, Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur (1886) attempted to show that architecture could be understood from a purely psychological (as opposed to a historical-progressivist) point of view. It is considered one of the founding texts of the emerging discipline of art psychology. After graduating in 1886, Wölfflin published the result of two years' travel and study in Italy, as his Renaissance und Barock (1888), the book that introduced "Baroque" as a stylistic category and a serious area of study. For Wölfflin, the 16th-century art now described as "Mannerist" was part of the Baroque esthetic, one that Burckhardt before him as well as most French and English-speaking scholars for a generation after him dismissed as degenerate.
- Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur, München 1886 (online). Neuausgabe: Mann, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-7861-1775-6.
- Die Jugendwerke des Michelangelo, München 1891 (online).
- Renaissance und Barock: eine Untersuchung über Wesen und Entstehung des Barockstils in Italien, München 1888 (online).
- Die klassische Kunst: Eine Einführung in die italienische Renaissance, München 1899.
- Die Kunst Albrecht Dürers, München 1905.
- Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Das Problem der Stilentwickelung in der neueren Kunst, München 1915 (2. Auflage 1917 online).
- Das Erklären von Kunstwerken, Leipzig 1921.