Wallstein Verlag


Monika Wagner

Art History in Black and White


Reproduction Technique and Methods

216 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8353-5308-4

available as of 14.12.2022


German Version


In academic publications, black-and-white photoreproductions were common until the 1970s, even for color virtuosos such as Titian or Turner. In contrast, popular publications shone in color. The rejection of color illustrations in the scientific context cannot be justified solely by deficiencies in color consistency. Rather, for a long time there was no instrument for fixing and reproducing color impressions. Monochrome photoreproductions, on the other hand, were able to tie in graphic reproduction techniques and thus banish color, which was suspected of being unscientific as a carrier of feelings and moods. Important methods of art history, above all iconography, were developed on the basis of black-and-white photo collections, such as those that had been available at many institutes since the late 19th century.

Wagner discusses how representatives of different methods – from Gottfried Semper to Svetlana Alpers – let their own relationship to color and color reproduction affect their theory of art.

Monika Wagner studied painting at the Academy of Arts in Kassel, followed by Art History, Archaeology, and Literary Studies in Hamburg and London; after a residency at the University of Tübingen, she taught at the Department of Art History at the University of Hamburg from 1986 to 2010. Research interests concern 18th-20th century art, the history and theory of perception, the design of public spaces, and the semantics of artistic materials. Fellowships have taken her to the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study, the IFK Vienna, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the research colleges »BildEvidenz« at the FU Berlin and »Imaginarien der Kraft« at the University of Hamburg, among others.
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