RIEGL: The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Essence and Its Development

What is artistic and what is historical value?

Historical value is apparently the more comprehensive and may therefore be elaborated on first. We call historical all things that once were and are no longer. In keeping with the most modern conception, we include therein another view as well; that everything that once was can never be again, and that everything that once was forms an irreplaceable and inextricable link in a chain of development. Or, in other words: everything that succeeds was conditioned by what claim before and would not have occurred in the manner in which it did if not for those precedents.

Consequently. “artistic value” has to be defined differently, depending on the earlier or more recent point of view. According to the older definition, a work of art was considered to posses artistic value if it corresponded to the requirements of an allegedly objective, but to date never clearly formulated, aesthetic. The more recent point of view assesses the artistic value of a monument according to the extent to which it meets the requirement of contemporary kunstwollen (will to art), requirements that are even less clearly formulated and, strictly speaking, also never will be because they change incessantly from subject to subject and from moment to moment.

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