Hegel or Darwin? The role of tendencies in Bernard Smith's historiography
Tracing the relationship between Marxism and Darwinism in Bernard Smith’s writing, the article unpacks the meaning of Smith’s claim that ‘it is the business of the art historian to reveal tendencies’. While Smith tended towards Marxism his writing is not about Marxist tendencies in art. Smith was practising a type of genealogy rather than teleology, something, that is, more Darwinian than metaphysical, philosophical or ideological. I argue that Smith’s claim is more than methodological: it also shaped the content of his historiography and particularly his interpretation of Australian art.