The Aesthetics of Blurred Boundaries

From Wölfflin’s Baroque to Giedion’s Interpenetration

  • Tim Altenhof (Autor/in)

Identifier (Artikel)


This article shows how Sigfried Giedion’s understanding of modern architecture is in part inflected by Heinrich Wölfflin’s conception of the Baroque. Durchdringung, or interpenetration, is a key concept Giedion used to capture the spatial qualities inherent to modern constructions, the boundaries of which are blurred, not unlike Wölfflin’s Baroque forms. Crucial to this analysis is Giedion’s oft-neglected dissertation Spätbarocker und romantischer Klassizismus, which brings out the connection to Wölfflin and carries the seeds of Giedion’s later historiography. In the following pages, the two seemingly different conceptions – Giedion’s modern architecture and Wölfflin’s Baroque – are linked through their underlying aesthetics to suggest a continuity in one specific concept rooted in Wölfflin’s art history: the notion of blurred boundaries.