Art, Agency and Living Presence: From the Animated Image to the Excessive Object (Studien aus dem Warburg-Haus)

Art, Agency and Living Presence: From the Animated Image to the Excessive Object (Studien aus dem Warburg-Haus)

Language: English

Pages: 276

ISBN: 9087282311

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Throughout history and around the world, people have interacted with works of art as if they were living beings rather than static objects. People talk to artworks, kiss or punch them, even fall in love with them. The phenomenon is widely documented, yet there have been almost no attempts to formulate a theoretical account of this interaction or assemble a history of how it has been understood. This book fills that gap, focusing on sculpture in the period between 1700 and 1900 and drawing on rhetoric and fetish theory to build an explanation of how the vivid physicality of artworks leads viewers to transgress the typical boundaries between objects and themselves.

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to the tiniest details, the more efficiently they will awaken the movable simulacra that rest in the different chambers of memory. This results in livelier knowledge and more fervent passion. The kindling [of passion] therefore does not require belief in the truthfulness of the object.137 We can observe here the basic elements of a psychological explanation of reacting to an image as to the living being it represents. In Pallavicino’s account of human perception and cognition, a distinction is

there is a seraglio, a harem, full of living images. Memory should therefore be conceived rather as a theatre of the mind, in which the sensible images kept in the harem are produced on stage, and return to life.147 This is in fact a baroque reformulation of a very old way of thinking about memories that unites their enargeia and agency. In a text by the early 4th century Christian orator Johannes Chrysostomus about the removal of a Christian martyr’s bones to Dafné near Antioch, the power of

ancient viewers attributed life and agency to statues of great artistic value, and an attempt at further elucidation of this mysterious process, we have to turn to an admiring reader of De Brosses, the Italian Ottaviano de Guasco (1712–1781). In 1768 this Piedmontese érudit published a highly original book about the Egyptian origins of ancient sculpture: De l’usage des statues chez les Anciens. A friend and translator of Montesquieu, member of the main learned societies of France and England, and

wife that is similar to a statue – and hence eminently controlable as well. Pygmalion here turns into Medusa, and the desire for a petrified lover becomes the ultimate implication of employing aesthetic response as a defence mechanism against the desires statues can excite. 42 Daughter of Niobe [Roman copy, possibly after Scopas and Praxiteles, formerly in the garden of the Villa Medici in Rome, Florence: Uffizi. Drawing by Willem Doudijn, engraving by Jan de Bisschop, published in Signorum

from the first beginnings of humanity, still carrying the traces of the phobias that had been imprinted on the human mind. Living art, the animated representation of moved life, was therefore always intensely precarious, a tight balance between the uncanny return of ancient vital experience and the calm contemplation needed to create works of art. Nachleben itself occupied an uneasy position between a storehouse of artistic forms and the sudden, uncontrollable irruption of the past into the

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