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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Art Historiography
Page(s) 1 - 14
Title of proceedings Journal of Art Historiography

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


This paper looks at Gottfried Semper’s notions on the commodity and capitalism. When Semper attended the Great Exhibition, he realized the enormous impact that capitalist industries and interests have had on the arts. The Crystal Palace has always been at the centre of Semper scholarship but the focus has been less on capitalism than on the arts and crafts although Semper’s comments on capitalism are apparent and illustrate that he understood that everything becomes a commodity, even architecture. As a theorist trying to principles of by which art is driven, he analyzes industries and their mass produced objects and tries to come to terms with this. At the same time, he tries to integrate capitalism into his historical and scientific models. This paper tries to unravel Semper’s ideas on capitalism and the way he tries to resolve its problems in artistic production.