Troelenberg, Eva-Maria. "Arabesques, Unicorns, and Invisible Masters: The Art Historian’s Gaze as Symptomatic Action?" Muqarnas: An Annual On The Visual Cultures Of The Islamic World 32 (2015): 213-32.
This essay takes two seminal texts of mid-twentieth-century Islamic art history as case studies for the methodological development of the scholarly gaze in the aftermath of the Second World War. Ernst Kühnel’s Die Arabeske(Wiesbaden, 1949) testifies to the continuity of a taxonomic history of styles, rooted in phenomenologist Sachforschung and apparently adaptable to shifting ideological paradigms. Richard Ettinghausen’s The Unicorn (Washington, 1950) stands for a neo-humanist approach. Its negotiation of aesthetic and cultural difference clearly is to be considered against the background of the experience of exile, but also of the rising tide of democratic humanism characteristic for postwar American humanities. Both examples together offer a comparative perspective on the agencies of art historical methods and their ideological and epistemological promises and pitfalls in dealing with aesthetic difference. Consequently, this essay also seeks to contribute exemplary insights into the immediate prehistory of the so-called “Global Turn” in art history.