Albrecht Dürer’s master engraving, Melencolia I, has stood for centuries as a pictorial summa of knowledge about melancholia and an allegory of the limits of earthbound arts and sciences. Zealously interpreted since the nineteenth century, the work also presides over the origins of modern iconology. Yet more than a century of research has left us with a tangle of mutually contradictory theories.
In Perfection’s Therapy, Mitchell Merback discovers in Melencolia’s opacity a fascinating possibility: that Dürer’s masterpiece is not only an arresting diagnosis of melancholic distress, but an innovative instrument for its undoing. Merback deftly analyses the visual and narrative structure of Dürer’s image, revisits its philosophical and medical contexts, and resituates it within the long history of the therapeutic artifact. Placing Dürer’s project in dialogue with that of humanism’s founder, Francesco Petrarch, Merback also unearths the German artist’s ambition to act as a physician of the soul.
Celebrated by contemporaries as the “Apelles of our age,” and ever since as Germany’s first Renaissance painter-theorist, the Dürer we encounter here is also the first modern Christian artist, addressing himself to the distress of souls, including his own. Melencolia thus emerges as a key reference point in a project of spiritual-ethical therapy, a work designed to exercise the mind, rebalance the passions, remedy the soul, and help in getting on with the project of perfection.
From the fluttering fabric of a tent, to the blurred motion of the potter’s wheel, to the rhythm of a horse puppet’s wooden hooves―these scenes make up a set of mid-1980s art exhibitions as part of the U.S. Festival of India. The festival was conceived at a meeting between Indira Gandhi and Ronald Reagan to strengthen relations between the two countries at a time of late Cold War tensions and global economic change, when America’s image of India was as a place of desperate poverty and spectacular fantasy. Displaying Time unpacks the intimate, small-scale durations of time at work in the gallery from the transformation of clay into ceramic to the one-on-one, personal encounters between museum visitors and artists.
Using extensive archival research and interviews with artists, curators, diplomats, and visitors, Rebecca Brown analyzes a selection of museum shows that were part of the Festival of India to unfurl new exhibitionary modes: the time of transformation, of interruption, of potential and the future, as well as the contemporary and the now.
Place plays a fundamental role in the structuring of the discipline of Art History. And yet, place also limits the questions art historians can ask and impairs analysis of objects and locations in the interstices of established, ossified categories. The chapters in this interdisciplinary volume investigate place in all of its dynamism and complexity: several call into question traditional constructions regarding place in Art History, while others explore the fundamental role that place plays in lived experience. The particular nexus for this collection lies at the intersection and overlap of two major subfields in the history of art: South Asia and the Islamic world, both of which are seemingly geographically determined, yet at the same time uncategorizable as place with their ever-shifting and contested borders. The eleven chapters brought together here move from the early modern through to the contemporary, and span particular monuments and locations ranging from Asia and Europe to Africa and the Americas. The chapters take on the question of place as it operates in more obvious settings, such as architectural monuments and exhibitionary contexts, while also probing the way place operates when objects move or when the very place they exist in transforms dramatically. This volume engages place through the movement of objects, the evocation of senses, desires, and memories and the on-going project of articulating the parameters of place and location.
Andrea Mantegna: Making Art (History) presents the art of Mantegna as challenging the parameters of the history of art in the demands it makes upon historical interpretation, and explores the artist’s potentially transformative impact on the study of the early Renaissance.
- Features an array of new methodologies for the study of Mantegna and early Renaissance art
- Critically addresses the question of iconography and “literary” art, as well as the politics of the monographic exhibition
- Includes translations of two seminal accounts of the artist by Roberto Longhi and Daniel Arasse, key texts not previously available in English
- Explores the Mantegna’s potentially transformative impact on the study of the early Renaissance
Communities of Style examines the production and circulation of portable luxury goods throughout the Levant in the early Iron Age (1200–600 BCE). In particular it focuses on how societies in flux came together around the material effects of art and style, and their role in collective memory.
Marian H. Feldman brings her dual training as an art historian and an archaeologist to bear on the networks that were essential to the movement and trade of luxury goods—particularly ivories and metal works—and how they were also central to community formation. The interest in, and relationships to, these art objects, Feldman shows, led to wide-ranging interactions and transformations both within and between communities. Ultimately, she argues, the production and movement of luxury goods in the period demands a rethinking of our very geo-cultural conception of the Levant, as well as its influence beyond what have traditionally been thought of as its borders.
Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art concentrates on the visual, material, and built aspects of the Ancient Near East from the fourth millennium BCE to the Hellenistic period. Presenting innovative theoretical approaches to Ancient Near Eastern art history, this volume will be of value to scholars of the Ancient Near East, as well as to those interested in contemporary art historical and anthropological approaches to visual culture.
In Art, Ritual, and Civic Identity in Medieval Southern Italy, Nino Zchomelidse examines the complex and dynamic roles played by the monumental ambo, the Easter candlestick, and the liturgical scroll in southern Italy and Sicily from the second half of the tenth century, when the first such liturgical scrolls emerged, until the first decades of the fourteenth century, when the last monumental Easter candlestick was made. Through the use of these objects, the interior of the church was transformed into the place of the story of salvation, making the events of the Bible manifest. By linking rites and setting, liturgical furnishings could be used to stage a variety of biblical events, in accordance with specific feast days. Examining the interaction of liturgical performance and the ecclesiastical stage, this book explores the creation, function, and evolution of church furnishings and manuscripts.
In the late Middle Ages, Europe saw the rise of one of its most virulent myths: that Jews abused the eucharistic bread as a form of anti-Christian blasphemy, causing it to bleed miraculously. The allegation fostered tensions between Christians and Jews that would explode into violence across Germany and Austria. And pilgrimage shrines were built on the sites where supposed desecrations had led to miracles or to anti-Semitic persecutions. Exploring the legends, cult forms, imagery, and architecture of these host-miracle shrines, Pilgrimage and Pogrom reveals how they not only reflected but also actively shaped Christian anti-Judaism in the two centuries before the Reformation.
Mitchell B. Merback studies surviving relics and eucharistic cult statues, painted miracle cycles and altarpieces, propaganda broadsheets, and more in an effort to explore how accusation and legend were transformed into propaganda and memory. Merback shows how persecution and violence became interdependent with normative aspects of Christian piety, from pilgrimage to prayers for the dead, infusing them with the ideals of crusade. Valiantly reconstructing the cult environments created for these sacred places, Pilgrimage and Pogrom is an illuminating look at Christian-Jewish relations in premodern Europe.
In my book Penser la peinture: Simon Hantaï (Gallimard, 2012), I explore the work of a Hungarian-born French painter who is just beginning to be recognized as one of the most important figures in later 20th-century painting—a reputation based principally on the abstract, often large-format canvases he made between 1960 and 1982 in the medium he called pliage, or “folding.” I set the historical genesis and development of that body of work in a remarkably rich context conditioned by the Surrealist discourse of “psychic automatism,” the French philosophical reception of G.W.F. Hegel, and the first stirrings of interest in the work of Jackson Pollock.
Drawing on the most recent scholarship, this book is accessible to students and non-specialist readers, telling the story of art in the great centers of Rome, Florence, and Venice, while profiling a range of other cities and sites throughout Italy. While the book presents the classic canon of Renaissance painting and sculpture in full, it expands the scope of conventional surveys by offering a more through coverage of architecture, decorative and domestic art, and print media. Rather than emphasizing artists’ biographies, this new account concentrates on the works, discussing means of production, the place for which images were made, concerns of patrons, and the expectation and responses of the works first viewers. Renaissance art is seen as decidedly new, a moment in the history of art whose concerns persist in the present. 790 full-color illustrations
Taking a new approach to medieval art, Meaning in Motion reveals the profound importance of movement in the physical, emotional, and intellectual experience of art and architecture in the Middle Ages. Focusing on the physical movement of objects and viewers, as well as movements of the mind, this richly illustrated collection of interdisciplinary essays explores a wide range of rituals, performances, works of art, and texts in which movement is crucial to meaning. These include liturgical and devotional practices, but also pilgrimage, reading techniques, and the use of art and allegory in late medieval courtly society. The contributors consider movement not only as a physical action but also as an active intellectual process involving the reception of images, one that creates layers of meaning through the multidimensional experience of objects and spaces, both real and imaginary. This novel approach to medieval art, building on the concept of agency and the understanding of ritual as a performative act, is influenced by two anthropological perspectives: Victor Turner’s “processual” analysis of rites of passage and Alfred Gell’s conception of the interactive relationship between art and the viewer as a process. The essays in this volume engage in an interdisciplinary discussion of the significance of movement for the making and perception of medieval art.
A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture presents a collection of 26 original essays that explore and critically examine various aspects of the field of Asian art and architectural history. Featuring contributions from both leading scholars and emerging voices, the essays offer the opportunity to engage with the current state of scholarship in Asian art and to discover its rich diversity. In topics that range from ancient tombs and imperial commissions to coinage and cultural interaction, and from gardens and monastic spaces to performances and pilgrimages, this wide-ranging and insightful collection of essays illuminates the wide geographic and temporal range of Asian visual culture.
Authors explore the art of Korea, Japan, China, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and their diasporas, engaging issues related to colonial legacies and global interactions. Written by experts in art history, archaeology, geography, history, and anthropology, the essays are organized around six critical themes that reflect the current state of Asian art scholarship: Objects in Use, Space, Artists, Challenging the Canon, Shifting Meanings, and Elusive, Mobile Objects. With its multilayered presentation and wealth of thought-provoking new insights, A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture is an important addition to current scholarship that will reshape the way we consider Asian art.
Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind exhibition—Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art from the Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin. This is the first public display of this collection of more than 50 works from 28 of India’s most famous artists, including Francis Newton Souza, Sakti Burman, and Seema Kohli.
Shelley and Donald Rubin, passionate collectors of Himalayan art for over 30 years, are the founders of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Mr. Rubin is a 1956 Oglethorpe alumnus.
With imagery from all walks of life, from the poorest citizens to dynamic deities, the works of Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest focus on India’s people: individual characters gazing back at us, men and women inhabiting spaces urban and rural, kneeling bodies meditating and praying. India’s modern and contemporary art affirms that the modern is global.
“These works celebrate everyday life in South Asia and its diasporas, from the most mundane moments to the most transcendent,” said curator Dr. Rebecca M. Brown. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for museum visitors to connect with the art of modern India.”
Gandhi’s use of the spinning wheel was one of the most significant unifying elements of the nationalist movement in India. Spinning was seen as an economic and political activity that could bring together the diverse population of South Asia, and allow the formerly elite nationalist movement to connect to the broader Indian population.
This book looks at the politics of spinning both as a visual symbol and as a symbolic practice. It traces the genealogy of spinning from its early colonial manifestations in Company painting to its appropriation by the anti-colonial movement. This complex of visual imagery and performative ritual had the potential to overcome labour, gender, and religious divisions and thereby produce an accessible and effective symbol for the Gandhian anti-colonial movement. By thoroughly examining all aspects of this symbol’s deployment, this book unpacks the politics of the spinning wheel and provides a model for the analysis of political symbols elsewhere. It also probes the successes of India’s particular anti-colonial movement, making an invaluable contribution to studies in social and cultural history, as well as South Asian Studies.
In 13 essays by leading art historians, and a critical introduction by the editor, Beyond the Yellow Badge seeks to reframe the relationship between European visual culture and the changing aspect of the Christian majority’s negative conceptions of Jews and Judaism during the Middle Ages and early modern periods. By situating their subjects within a broad continuum of historical and critical issues, the authors inquire into such questions as the shifting politics of toleration and intoleration; the role played by anti-Judaic legends in the formation of Christian cults; the role of positive evaluations of Hebrew, Jewish learning and Christian hopes for Jewish conversion; and the transformation of religious anti-Judaism into its modern racial and nationalistic counterparts. The book will be of special interest to art historians, cultural historians, students of Christian theology and Jewish history, and to educated general readers.
Following India’s independence in 1947, Indian artists creating modern works of art sought to maintain a local idiom, an “Indianness” representative of their newly independent nation, while connecting to modernism, an aesthetic then understood as both universal and presumptively Western. These artists depicted India’s precolonial past while embracing aspects of modernism’s pursuit of the new, and they challenged the West’s dismissal of non-Western places and cultures as sources of primitivist imagery but not of modernist artworks. In Art for a Modern India, Rebecca M. Brown explores the emergence of a self-conscious Indian modernism—in painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, film, and photography—in the years between independence and 1980, by which time the Indian art scene had changed significantly and postcolonial discourse had begun to complicate mid-century ideas of nationalism.
Through close analyses of specific objects of art and design, Brown describes how Indian artists engaged with questions of authenticity, iconicity, narrative, urbanization, and science and technology. She explains how the filmmaker Satyajit Ray presented the rural Indian village as a socially complex space rather than as the idealized site of “authentic India” in his acclaimed Apu Trilogy, how the painter Bhupen Khakhar reworked Indian folk idioms and borrowed iconic images from calendar prints in his paintings of urban dwellers, and how Indian architects developed a revivalist style of bold architectural gestures anchored in India’s past as they planned the Ashok Hotel and the Vigyan Bhavan Conference Center, both in New Delhi. Discussing these and other works of art and design, Brown chronicles the mid-twentieth-century trajectory of India’s modern visual culture.
Through published works and in the classroom, Irene Winter served as a mentor for the latest generation of scholars of Mesopotamian visual culture. The contributions to this volume in her honor represent a cross section of the state of scholarship today.
Art and international relations during the Late Bronze Age formed a symbiosis as expanded travel and written communications fostered unprecedented cultural exchange across the Mediterranean. Diplomacy in these new political and imperial relationships was often maintained through the exchange of lavish art objects and luxury goods. The items bestowed during this time shared a repertoire of imagery that modern scholars call the first International Style in the history of art.
Marian Feldman’s Diplomacy by Design examines the profound connection between art produced during this period and its social context, revealing inanimate objects as catalysts—or even participants—in human dynamics. Feldman’s fascinating study shows the ways in which the exchange of these works of art actively mediated and strengthened political relations, intercultural interactions, and economic negotiations. Previous studies of this international style have focused almost exclusively on stylistic attribution at the expense of social contextualization. Written by a specialist in ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology who has excavated and traveled extensively in this area of the world, Diplomacy by Design provides a much broader consideration of the symbolic power of material culture and its centrality in the construction of human relations.
Asian Art is the first comprehensive anthology of important primary documents—from inscriptions and imperial decrees to travelers’ accounts and writings by artists—and the very best contemporary scholarship that has been produced on Asian art history. This unprecedented volume offers a portrait of the rich artistic traditions in China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia.
Across time periods, media, cultural contexts, and geography, this volume traces several thousand years of Asian art, from the terracotta armies of the First Emperor of Qin to late twentieth-century installation art. Featuring accessible introductory material for each extract and arranged in an easy-to-navigate chronological structure, it will prove an essential companion to any study of Asian art history.
The Renaissance studiolo was a space devoted in theory to private reading and contemplation, but at the Italian courts of the fifteenth century, it had become a space of luxury, as much devoted to displaying the taste and culture of its occupant as to studious withdrawal. The most famous studiolo of all was that of Isabella d’Este, marchioness of Mantua (1474–1539). A chief component of its decoration was a series of seven paintings by some of the most noteworthy artists of the time, including Andrea Mantegna, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo Costa, and Correggio.
These paintings encapsulated the principles of an emerging Renaissance artistic genre—the mythological image. Using these paintings as an exemplary case, and drawing on other important examples made by Giorgione in Venice and by Titian and Michelangelo for the Duke of Ferrara, Stephen Campbell explores the function of the mythological image within a Renaissance culture of readers and collectors.
Considering the reception of the early modern culture of Florence, Rome, and Venice in other centers of the Italic peninsula, this book reexamines the Renaissance as a form of translation of a past culture. It assumes that the Renaissance attempted to assimilate the lost, or fragmentary, worlds of the Roman emperors, the Greek Platonists, and the ancient Egyptians. These essays, accordingly, explore how the processes of cultural self-definition varied between the Italian urban centers in the early modern period, well before the formation of a distinct Italian national identity.
Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment in Nineteenth-Century Berlin
- 2002, Yale University Press
- Michael Fried, author
Adolf Menzel was one of the most important German artists of the 19th century, yet he is scarcely known outside his native land. In this study a leading art historian argues that Menzel deserves to be recognized not only as one of the greatest painters and draftsmen of his century but also as a master realist whose work engages profoundly with an extraordinary range of issues – artistic, scientific, philosophical and socio-political. Michael Fried explores Menzel’s large and fascinating oeuvre, and in so doing seeks to make the artist’s achievement accessible to a wide audience. Fried compares Menzel’s art with that of the 19th-century’s two other great realist painters, Courbet and Eakins. Analyzing paintings, drawings and prints from all stages of Menzel’s long career, he asserts that the distinctive quality of Menzel’s realism is found in his concern with evoking the multi-sensory, fully-embodied relationships of persons with the universe of physical objects, tools and situations. Fried establishes connections between Menzel’s work and a broad array of extra-artistic contexts, among them the writings of the empathy theorists, Kierkegaard on reflection and the everyday, Helmholtz on vision, Fontane’s “Effi Briest”, Duranty’s art criticism, Simmel on modern urban life, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “art of seeing”, and Benjamin on traces. He also explores the complex relationship between Menzel’s version of “extreme” realism and the exactly contemporary technology of photography. The resulting work establishes Menzel as a key artist of modernity.
Christ’s Crucifixion is one of the most recognized images in Western culture, and it has come to stand as a universal symbol of both suffering and salvation. But often overlooked is the fact that ultimately the Crucifixion is a scene of capital punishment. Mitchell Merback reconstructs the religious, legal, and historical context of the Crucifixion and of other images of public torture. The result is a fascinating account of a time when criminal justice and religion were entirely interrelated and punishment was a visual spectacle devoured by a popular audience.
Merback compares the images of Christ’s Crucifixion with those of the two thieves who met their fate beside Jesus. In paintings by well-known Northern European masters and provincial painters alike, Merback finds the two thieves subjected to incredible cruelty, cruelty that artists could not depict in their scenes of Christ’s Crucifixion because of theological requirements. Through these representations Merback explores the ways audiences in early modern Europe understood images of physical suffering and execution. The frequently shocking works also provide a perspective from which Merback examines the live spectacle of public torture and execution and how audiences were encouraged by the Church and the State to react to the experience. Throughout, Merback traces the intricate and extraordinary connections among religious art, devotional practice, bodily pain, punishment, and judicial spectatorship.
Keenly aware of the difficulties involved in discussing images of atrocious violence but determined to make them historically comprehensible, Merback has written an informed and provocative study that reveals the rituals of medieval criminal justice and the visual experiences they engendered.
In the city of Ferrara, a major cultural and artistic center of Renaissance Italy, Cosme Tura (c. 1430-1495) came to prominence as painter to the Este court. This book offers a new and wide-ranging approach to Tura’s life and his enigmatic and stylistically idiosyncratic works. Stephen Campbell takes the career of Tura as a starting point for the investigation of such intriguing issues as the fifteenth-century artist’s role and status in both court and urban culture and the bearing these conceptions may have had on Tura’s distinctive style. Campbell also provides an account of the role of the image in Ferrara’s religious, political, and intellectual life, broadening our understanding of the Renaissance beyond traditional discussions of visual culture that focus on Rome, Florence, and Venice. The author discusses also how Tura and his contemporaries addressed local themes of ethnic, political, and religious tension in their works. Among the works by Tura that this book examines closely are a cycle of paintings of the Muses created for the Studio of Leonello d’Este in 1447; an altarpiece commissioned by the powerful Roverella family, showing the Madonna enthroned on the Tabernacle; and four organ-shutter panels for Ferrara Cathedral depicting St. George and the Princess and an Annunciation. Campbell shows how the fascinating peculiarities of Tura’s individual works resonate within the broader cultural contexts defined by the court, ecclesiastical groups, and humanist thinkers. Further, Campbell argues that Tura’s work anticipates later inventions associated with Leonardo da Vinci at the court of Milan and with Mantegna at Mantua.
Santa Maria Immacolata in Ceri. Pittura sacra al tempo della riforma gregoriana-Sakrale Malerei Imzeitalter der Gregorianischen Reform (Arte e storia) (Italian and German)
- January 1, 1996, Archivio Izzi
- Nino Zchomelidse, author
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