Panofsky at the Crossroads: Hercule am Scheidewege and the Inscription of Subjectivity
2023-2024 (September - December)
Daniel Spaulding is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He previously worked in the Curatorial Department of the Getty Research Institute and taught at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. He is currently finishing a monograph on the 20th-century German artist Joseph Beuys, based on a dissertation completed at Yale University in 2017, as well as an edited volume on Romanticism in the visual arts. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Art Journal, the Journal of Art Historiography, October, Oxford Art Journal, and Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, among other publications. He is a founding editor of Selva: A Journal of the History of Art (selvajournal.org).
Hercules am Scheidewege und andere antike Bildstoffe in der neueren Kunst is one of the few major works by Erwin Panofsky that remains untranslated into English. In this project, I will focus on Panofsky's analysis of the “Hercules at the Crossroads” motif as a figure of subjective agency, with particular attention to his treatment of the scene’s bilateral symmetry. The series of images that Panofsky discusses constitutes an archive of early modern understandings of the self and of subjective interiority, from plaything of fate to sovereign of modern “anthropocracy.” I will argue that this publication marks a pivot from the more explicitly Neo-Kantian apparatus of the art historian’s earlier work to Panofsky’s mature iconographic method.