Berlin art historian and early exponent of the study of Baroque art. Brinckmann's father was an architect; the younger Brinckmann learned the elements of architecture as a youth. He studied art history and archaeology at the universities of Munich and Berlin. He wrote his dissertation under Heinrich Wölfflin. His dissertation employs methodology of developmentalism and psychology of his mentor. In 1909 he became an assistant at the Technische Hochschule in Aachen, completing his habilitation a year later on Renaissance city planning, dedicated to Wölfflin. He was called to a teaching chair at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe in 1912 in architectural history. The same year he collaborated with Fritz Burger to update the Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft, orginally founded by Anton Springer as a series of commissioned volumes on the history of art by important younger art historians. In 1919 Brinckmann moved to Rostock where he founded its Institute for Art History. Two years later he was called to Cologne where he taught again as ordinarius professor. There he published in 1922 his Plastik und Raum als Grundform künstlerischer Gestaltung. Using the conceptual elements of space and sculpture, he examined the development of architecture from the middle ages to the nineteenth century. He retired in 1931. Brinckmann was among the first group of art historians to consider the Baroque an area worthy of art historical study, including Cornelius Gurlitt, Heinrich Wölfflin, Robert Dohme, August Schmarsow, Aloïs Riegl, and Adolf Feulner. In addition to Gurlitt, Schmarsow, his other significant influence was Adolf von Hildebrand (1847-1921) and his book Das Problem der Form in der bildenden Kunst, 1893 Brinckmann used Hildebrand's notion of space precisely defined as depth, extending the concept to architectural space and town planning. He saw the change of the space/volume as the key to stylistic change (Watkin). This emphasis on space as a key determinant of architecture, together with his appreciation of the Baroque, had direct influences on the work of Paul Frankl and Nikolaus Bernard Leon Pevsner, as seen in Pevsner's Outline of Architecture. His work in textual research influenced his (student) Roberto Salvini.
Albert Erich Brinckmann
[dissertation:] Baumstilisierungen in der mittelalterlichen Malerei. Berlin, 1905, published, Strassburg: J. H. E. Heitz, 1906; [habilitation:] Platz und Monument: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Àsthetik der Stadtbaukunst in neuerer Zeit. Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth A.-G., 1908; Barockskulptur; Entwicklungsgeschichte der Skulptur in den Romanischen und germanischen Ländern seit Michelangelo bis zum 18. Jahrhundert. Berlin-Neubabelsberg: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1917;Plastik und Raum als Grundform künstlerischer Gestaltung. Munich: R. Piper, 1922
Watkin, David. The Rise of Architectural History. London: Architectural Press, 1980, p. 12, 116; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l'histoire de l'art; de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986 pp. 186, 375; Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon. 2nd. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 2007, pp. 41-43.