CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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KRUGER, Klaus
The Pictorial Reflection of Evidence in the Renaissance

Session 5 Self-Awareness or Self-Affirmation

Freie Universität of Berlin


Abstract

 

The Figural Evidence of Images in the Renaissance

 

Pictorial evidence (in the sense of evidentia, which is not congruent with the English notion of evidence as ‘proof’ or ‘verification’) is a fundamental aesthetic category, which not only covers processes for representing reality but also constitutes a genuine, visual presence in its own right. Images and pictures are neither innately comprehensible as self-reflexive generators of meaning nor are they merely decipherable systems of signs. Rather, their significance arises from their capacity to be both autonomous and heteronymous. This twofold determination of any picture is the theoretical starting point of the paper. It will focus on the semantic aspects of form and ‘Gestalt’, i.e. on aesthetic categories of style and form and the part they play in the generation of evidence in pictures. Essential in this discussion will it be to follow up especially a central question, one still regarded by Erich Auerbach in his major "Figura" essay as an unresolved problem, namely: "How far aesthetic ideas were inspired by figural conceptions – to what extent the work of art was viewed as the figura of a still unattainable fulfillment in reality.” The paper wants to explore this context, which is to say the question of the work of art as a "figura," as the formal concretion of elusive and otherwise unattainable aesthetic conceptions in the time of the Italian Renaissance.

 

KRUGER, Klaus 

 

Klaus Krüger is Professor of Art History at the Freie Universität of Berlin, having previously held positions of Chair at the Universities of Greifswald and Basel, and visiting positions and fellowships in Paris (ÉHÉSS 1999), New York (Columbia University 2004-05), Konstanz (University/ Center of Excellence 2007-08), Viena (IFK 2011) and Rome (Bibliotheca Hertziana/ Max-Planck-Institute 2012-13). Since 2012 he is Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Study/Research College “BildEvidenz. Geschichte und Ästhetik” at the FU Berlin, and Co-Editor of the book series “Historische Semantik”. His research interests include the history and cultural status of visual images, particularly their changing role in medieval and early modern times, with special reference to Italian painting and sculpture from the Middle Ages to Baroque (12th-17th century); the origin and early history of the altarpiece; visionary images; and Caravaggio. Further research interests include contemporary art, art and film, and theories and methodology of art history. Among his publications are Der frühe Bildkult des Franziskus in Italien. Gestalt- und Funktionswandel des Tafelbildes im 13. und 14. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1992 and Das Bild als Schleier des Unsichtbaren. Ästhetische Illusion in der Kunst der frühen Neuzeit in Italien, Munich 2001; Politik der Evidenz. Öffentliche Bilder als Bilder der Öffentlichkeit im Trecento, Göttingen 2015; Grazia. Religiöse Erfahrung und ästhetische Evidenz, Göttingen 2016; and articles about a broad field of topics, e.g. "Authenticity and Fiction: On the Pictorial Construction of Inner Presence in Early Modern Italy" (2007), "Tristan - Love: Elite Self-Fashioning in Italian Frescoes of the 13th and 14th Centuries" (2011); “The Visual Presence of Remembrance: The Image as Palimpsest” (2013), “Andrea Mantegna: Painting’s Mediality" (2014).