Richard Wollheim

Richard Wollheim, who died in 2003, was Grote Professor in the University of London, before moving to the States, where he taught at Columbia and at Berkeley. His last book was On the Emotions (1999).

The Girl in the Shiny Boots: Adolescence

Richard Wollheim, 20 May 2004

For as long as my parents still went on holiday together, which ended around my sixth or seventh year, there was nothing unusual in the fact that I should have been sent off with my nanny to stay in what was called a Board Residence in a seaside town on the South Coast. The first two or three weeks of the holiday were divided between long periods of routine and brief moments of terror, with,...

Germs: A Memoir

Richard Wollheim, 15 April 2004

As a child, I loved lists of all sorts, and found that all sorts of things could be listed. I listed the sails on a windjammer, not knowing how they worked, and the names of philosophers, not knowing what they were, and, a particular source of pleasure, the names of royal mistresses and of royal favourites, not knowing how they earned their keep. I listed the flags of the different nations,...

A Bed out of Leaves: a dance at Belsen

Richard Wollheim, 4 December 2003

“Would I regard it as my duty, as soon as I had arranged transport, to drive over to Belsen, see the people in charge, and arrange a dance? I told my colonel, as respectfully as I could, that I thought this a very bad idea. My colonel reminded me where the idea had originated, it had come from very high up, it was an order.”

“Scorning perspective and resemblance as means to achieving figuration, Staël edged his way into figuration by first training himself to respect the painting as a wall, then by learning how to create an overall represented space. The depiction of objects came third. Objects could be depicted only when the space into which they were to fit was complete, and this was the point Staël felt he had reached by February 1952. The year that followed showed him his instincts were right. He ended the year by writing: ‘I do not contrast abstract painting with figurative painting.’”


Richard Wollheim, 22 June 1995

One of the essays included in this volume is entitled ‘Eugène Fromentin as Critic’, and it opens: ‘The Old Masters of Belgium and Holland is the first and perhaps the only book of its kind: a critical study of painting by an accomplished artist who is also a first-rate writer.’ Anyone acquainted with Meyer Schapiro will be amused. For, whether or not this is a correct assessment of Fromentin as a critic (the essay that follows suggests some qualifications), applied to Schapiro himself, these words have the ring of truth, if heavily understated.

While Richard Wollheim doesn’t go so far as to suggest that the unexamined emotion is not worth feeling, he does proceed on the assumption that it is beneficial for philosophers and...

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Art’s Infancy

Arthur C. Danto, 22 April 1993

I have always thought of Richard Wollheim as embodying the values and interests of a particularly urbane kind of British intellectual, typified by and possibly originating with the members of the...

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Nicholas Penny, 18 February 1988

In the Preface to his new book Richard Wollheim tells how he ‘evolved a way of looking at paintings which was massively time-consuming and deeply rewarding’. He looked at them for a...

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Second-Decimal Arguments

Jon Elster, 23 May 1985

Reading Richard Wollheim’s study of what it is to live the life of a person was a frustrating, painful experience. Perhaps it can best be summarised by saying that while the book goes to...

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Frank Cioffi, 2 June 1983

Wittgenstein, whose conversations with Rush Rhees lead off these Philosophical Essays on Freud, once wrote to a friend: ‘I, too, was greatly impressed when I first read Freud. He’s...

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Works of Art

Peter Lamarque, 2 April 1981

Generalising across the arts is a tricky business. Can we really expect to find anything in common between, say, Ulysses, Der Rosenkavalier, the ‘Donna Velata’ and Donatello’s...

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