“Art and Technique Always Balance the Scale”

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The term technical is used widely in relation to art and art history today, yet we do not have a history of the shifting meaning of the term technique in the arts and sciences. Although related forms were occasionally used in European languages before around 1700, the word technique was a neologism in the vernacular that started to appear sparsely in treatises on arts and sciences only from the middle of the eighteenth century. Rooted in the Greek techne, which was translated routinely as “art” until the mid–eighteenth century, technique referred to both processes of making or doing and their products. Yet from around 1750, a distinction of processes of making or doing from the resulting artwork appears to have arisen in German philosophies of art. This article suggests that this distinction may have come about explicitly to develop arguments about judgments of taste, artistic value, and the appreciation of art.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalHistory of Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • art history
  • technical art history
  • history of art history
  • Goethe
  • Winkelmann
  • Lessing


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