The Shape of Time Reconsidered
The author reviews a selection of critical opinions published about his Shape of Time (1962) during the last twenty years. Articles and studies by Priscilla Colt, Jan Białostocki, Boris Nakov, Giovanni Previtali, Joyce Brodsky, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Morris, Siegfried Kracauer, Robert Smithson, are discussed.
This study discusses a Madonna with St. John by Bronzino, formerly in the Aram Collec-tion, Berlin, now in the collection of Alvan Macauley Jr., Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. The work is dated ca. 1540-1545 by stylistic analogy with Bronzino paintings such as the Nativity (Budapest), the Chapel of Eleonora (Florence, Palazzo Vecchio), the Madonna with St. John and St. Elizabeth (London, National Gallery), and it is suggested that it may be one of the as yet unidentified Madonnas mentioned by Vasari as painted in these years by Bronzino. It is noted that the Macauley Madonna is related to Bronzino’s other Holy Families of the 1540s in its treatment of the theme of the destiny of Christ. Finally, a preparative study by Bronzino for the work is identified in Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum.
The Altar Painting of San Giovanni Crisostomo by Giovanni Bellini; the Subject, Sponsoring and Meaning
On the basis of archival sources, the author manages to weigh the evidence as to the intention of the sponsor of the painting and in this way to identify more precisely the saints repre-sented. This enables us to get at the scheme of ideas behind the painting i.e. the contrast between active and contemplative life. In fact the figure of S. Jerome stands for the priority given to the mystical encounter with the divine occurring in ascetic dimensions. That is why the saint is elevated and clearly detached from the area with S. Christopher and St. Louis, saints who symbolize two complementary ways of searching for the divine through the active life. At the same time the overall harmonizing, unified pyramid structure show how these forms of spirituality are brought together, albeit in a precise hierarchy in the Mystical Body of the Church. The question posed by the verse from a psalm, running along the inner side of the arch represented in the picture, is given a reassuring answer, bringing together both terms of the dichotomy.
The Fortunes of Caravaggio and the Concept of «Nature» in the First Decades of the 17th Century in Rome. Misunderstandings about the Caravaggesque Movement
About forty years have passed (since Longhi’s essay in 1943) — forty years of research on the concept of naturalism in the 1600s as originating in the brilliant ethical and aesthetic intuitions of Michelangelo da Caravaggio (ca. 1571–1610). Here is to be reappraised how his followers were influenced by him, leading to the conclusion (on the basis of original docu-mentary sources) that the very concept of Natura in painting as far as the area around Rome is concerned does not so much come from Caravaggio, whose basic vision was practically abandoned, but rather was the result of a series of relationships worked out between painters, patrons, and modes of expression.
Essentially a misunderstanding of Caravaggio by some of his contemporaries and passed on to subsequent criticism.
In this context we must distinguish between, on the one hand painters who were actually spurred on to new things by coming into direct contact with Caravaggio (Gentileschi, Bor-gianni, Saraceni, and up to around 1630 Valentin and Serodine), and on the other, those rejecting Caravaggio’s cultivated moral concept of "Nature" (or even Nature «tout-court») and settled for merely imitating what had already been carried out by others (Bartolomeo Manfredi and the followers of his method).
Landscape and Narrative in Edgar Allan Poe
It is interesting to realize that Imagination, as Edgar Allan Poe points out, is faced by the choice between «either Beauty or Deformity, only the most combinable things hitherto uncombined". Poe’s passionate and intriguing taste as regards Nature, i.e. landscapes, seems, at first, to be dominated by this theoretical law and to be produced only by the talent of an ec-centric and visionary genius.
But the most original feature of Poe’s landscapes is the continual sequence of descriptions demonstrating an exceptionally good familiarity with specifically technical terms of represen-tation. Analyzing this sort of passage from both the linguistic and rhetorical point of view, it becomes clear that the author was well informed about the aesthetics of gardening as well as the contemporary literature an landscape. Thus, the intertwining of subtle connections between certain aspects of American painting and their correlatives in literature in the earlier Nineteenth Century is seen in a new and stimulating light.
History of Art or History of Artists? – Remarks on the Present State of Research on Viennese Baroque Architecture
The purpose of this article is to show, that most of the palaces built in Vienna during the decades around 1700 (and some important churches too) cannot be considered as creations of only one architect, but are the result of a complicated interwoven process of planning and execution, where several important factors beside the architect have to be considered: competition between rival architects; influences by projects sent from Italy or France; patrons; «masterbuilders», etc. As usual, the method of dealing with these buildings cannot therefore be restricted to the few «great» architects (Fischer von Erlach, Hildebrandt, Martinelli); in keeping with J. Burckhardt’s demand for «art history for purposes» («Kunstgeschichte nach Aufgaben») a much wider perspective has to be taken for an adequate approach to Viennese Baroque architecture.
This article argues that 20th century emphasis on formal problems has prevented us from understanding Cezanne’s work. It further argues that Merleau-Ponty’s focus on Cezanne’s self-portraits and on his other paintings as well, as paradigmatic of the ambiguity of perception engages them at their deepest level. While they are radically modern articulations of the ambiguity of perception they are also investigations of the genres developed in the tradition of western art. It is in that unresolved tension between a desired primal encounter and the decod-ing of the structures of western tradition that the nature-culture ambiguity emerges as the es-sential problem in the painter’s ouvre.
The Measured Image
Reconsidering the gnoseological function of perspective and of orthogonal projections, the differences between them and their historical development, the author comes to outline a criticism of surveying and design. This criticism is lifted at the point where technology and modern science define general criteria for uniformity through measurement, freeing surveying from any ulterior motives or subjectivity. It is in this direction, that research is moving that may contribute significantly to historical investigation particularly in the field of art criticism, in attributing, authenticating, and dating. Here are opened remarkable opportunities for verifying and comparing data. The author points out in particular the most significant advances coming from measurements carried out by topographical and photogrammatic procedures.
Film Language as Artistic Language
The author deals with the following question; to what extent film – considered in terms of language communication – can be characterized by features allowing for classification on an artistic «order». This is based on traditional literary research, especially the achievements of the Russian Formalists and the Prague School of Linguistics. The author specifies the charac-teristics of artistic language as individualization, emotional appeal, violation of standard rules, excessive organization of the language, and the weakening of the referential function. Then, accepting the thesis of the massive heterogeneousness of the film sign, she searches for the rules governing the “artisticness” on the level of the image, spoken language, music, etc., and tries to support her stetements through psychological perception.
There are two basic conclusions to the article:
1) systemic relations in filming, distribution, and conjunction rules, are generated on the level of a particular film (the thesis based on the semiotics of film), and 2) “artisticness”, understood as rule-breaking, is achieved through devices violating semantic co-hesion (e.g. shots) and conspicuous particularity of presentation.