“From Winkelmann’s Apollo to Nietzsche’s Dionysus.” In: Renate Reschke, ed., Winkelmanns Antike. Berlin: de Gruyter, August 2017. Pp. 167-192.


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Esthetics | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


At issue here is the Platonic notion of imitation likewise associated with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s reflection on the complex limits of painting and poetry, exemplar, archetype, ideal. Nietzsche himself echoes Schlegel’s own citation of Winckelmann in his comparison of Greek tragedy and sculpture, noting the ideal of beauty in balance, as tragic proportion. For August Wilhelm Schlegel, Aeschylus and Sophocles highlight the balance of tension between bodily dynamic poise and spiritual suffering in the case of the Laocoön group, where the boys to either side of the central figure draw the gaze back to the father: the very snakes themselves seemingly only arrayed likewise focus attention on the struggle of the priest, „his eyes seemingly turned in vain to the gods“.

Nietzsche praises Winckelmann as well, noting his innovation, almost as Hegel does, speaking of him parallel to Goethe and Schiller, as pendant to Lessing. But there is a limit for Nietzsche and that limit is nothing other than Dionysian knowledge.

This essay looks at the contrast between Winckelman's and Nietzsche's aesthetic sensibilities using the example of the Laocoön grouping and the Apollo Belvedere.



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