Hegel's Silenus with the Infant Bacchus

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


T. M. Knox’s English translation of Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art includes a photograph of the statue ‘Silenus with the Infant Bacchus’. The translated text, first published in 1975, shows the Munich version of the statue which Knox surmises Hegel saw. With respect to Hegel’s dialectical trajectory, the statue, if indeed it can be credited as the work of Lysippus, should mark a moment of transition between two historical epochs. Therefore, situated between the Classical and the Romantic this statue may be read as a sculpture-in-transition. As an example it demonstrates the play of anachronism Hegel undertakes as part of his speculative reading process. What is carried over from a previous epoch or brought forward from the future is part of the process of Aufhebung.

This paper proposes to show instances in Hegel’s reading of sculpture where the very plasticity of the example disturbs the dialectical system of progression that he is seeking to uphold. The paper will draw upon the iterations of plasticity as articulated by the philosopher Catherine Malabou in The Future of Hegel and What Should We Do With our Brain to propose a new mode of sculptural thinking which registers both the reception and delivery of form in the brain. It will be argued that the statue example as a group composition of the plastic exchange between the past and the future brings about the transitional moment needed for the dissolution of the classical ideal. This is a mode of anachronic reading which disturbs Hegel's approach to the 'true objectivity' of necessary anachronism within his system.
Period20 Nov 2016
Event titlePast Time: Art, Anachronism and Anchronisticism
Event typeConference
LocationYork, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational