Sunday, December 16, 2007


From 27 October, Da Vinci’s Last Supper can be admired on the web at a definition of 16 billion pixels Milan, 27 October 2007 – Today, for the very first time, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous, most discussed and most controversial work of art of all time, declared a World Heritage work of art and registered at the UNESCO worldwide sites, can be seen by all, in all its details, on the website:

source: Panoptikon

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Baroque: annotated bibliography 1.


Argan, Giulio Carlo

1984 Storia dell'arte come storia della citta (Art History as the History of the City) Roma: Editori Riuniti.

The History of Art is the History of the City also in the sense of the foundational nature of the art work which as work elaborates the dialectical distance between man and nature and between past and present (and future). The City itself is a work of art (Mumford), it is the constructed life-world of the bourgeois class, the specific habitat or "natural environment" of the social class that has produced the present day civilization (a civilization presently marked by a crisis of urban life and urban structures). The art work mediates history as it mediates nature, both within and out, organizing the internal space of the subject as it organizes the external space of social life (Architecture). Art is historical in the sense that it mediates past and present, past by present, past against present and vice-versa. It incarnates, so to speak, the human reality of time in its creative and destructive aspects. As the artists of the Renaissance understood, art makes present what it was and therefore organizes the substance of human finitude, it recovers the effort of the past, the effort of living, to liberate the present of its own restrictions. This impulse of liberation is at work in the Baroque. In this sense, to the Baroque artists the Classic is not anymore to be considered as a norm, a kind of restrictive model, but as a source of imaginary energies. Chapter 10 examines the work of Bernini in its relation to Rome.

Bazin, Germain

1968- The Baroque- Principles, Styles, Modes, Themes. Transl. by Pat Wardroper. Greenwich (CT): New York Graphic Society.

A "work of synthesis" ,according to the author, that examines the Baroque as an epoch style reflecting a given life-world, international in scale (including the "marginal" areas of Eastern Europe and Latin-America) and extending itself in its final phase into the 18th Century. To Bazin, Classicism and Baroque are not to be treated simply as opposed forms, instead they constitute two (contradictory) aspects of one process: the process of the "disruption of the unity of the civilized world which occurred at the time of the Renaissance."

Hauser, Arnold

The Social History of Art. Vol Two: Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque.Transl. by Stanley Godman in collaboration with the author.New York: Vintage Books.

A classical work that made its impact in the 1950s in Britain where it was first published and later in America. It can still be read with profit for the breadth of its macro-historical analysis only partially inspired by historical materialism.

Hazard, Paul

1964(1935)- The European Mind 1680-1715. Transl. by J. Lewis May.

A celebrated book in its time, whose original French title spoke of "The Crisis of the European Mind", focusing on the transition from the 17th to the 18th Century, from French Classicism to the Enlightenment and the beginnings of a Romantic world-view. A work in the tradition of "intellectual history", examining mostly French and British authors.

Levi-Strauss, Claude

1997 (1993) Look, Listen, Read. Transl. by C.J. Singer, New York: Basic Books.

A rhapsodic meditation on Art (Painting, Music, Literature) and Structuralism by the father of Structural Anthropology. The first part examines the paintings of Poussin.

Parker, Geoffrey and Smith, Lesley M., editors

1978- The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

According to the editors, the antecedents of the "General Crisis of the 17th Century Theory" are to be found not only in Hazard's book (above) or more recently in Eric Hobsbawm's 1954 article "The crisis of the seventeenth century", but also in the works of contemporaries such as Hobbes, in the reflections of Voltaire and others lesser known accounts. The volume examines the European 17th Century in its historical, political and economic aspects.

Rabb, Theodore K.

1975 - The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe.New York : Oxford University Press.

The book examines the context and (briefly) the works (pro and against) related to the debate on "17th Century Crisis Theory", in order to propose a new interpretation focusing on the crisis of Authority, its definition, legitimation, uses and processes, as the crucial point in clarifying the specific nature of the 17th Century crisis. The author discusses the reflections of the crisis in the arts, culture and social life.


Reijen, Willem van

1992. Labyrinth and Ruin :The Return of the Baroque in Postmodernity. Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 9, 1-26

An examination of the relations of the Baroque and the Post-Modern via the works of Walter Benjamin. The Baroque insight on the transitoriness of all the things human results in the experience of melancholy whose artistic form is given by allegory. Benjamin's examination of the 19th Century, according to van Reijen, discloses the works of allegory in art and articulates it to the Baroque experience of life as conflict, division, incompleteness.|The developed form of the commodity fetish at the basis of aesthetic experience in the 19th Century (Baudelaire) is related to the Baroque world-view, which articulates the 17th Century's experience of the beginnings of the expansion and structuring of modern capitalist civilization.

Marcelo Lima

Baroque Art: Introduction


For the sake of convenience it is customary to define Baroque art as the art of the 17th Century. We know, however, that the Baroque period in the arts started before the year 1600 and extended beyond the end of the century. The Baroque period is, historically, the period of the Counter-Reformation, of the creation of the Absolute Monarchy and the consolidation of the Modern State, the period of the birth of Modern Philosophy with Descartes' rationalism and epistemological subjectivism and with the "tragic" thinking of the "existentialist" Pascal. In France, the philosophy of the 17th Century is called "classical", a designation that, indeed, corresponds to some of the specific forms that the Baroque takes in French culture and in French art in the period.

In the arts, the Baroque style represents both a continuation and a radical transformation of the ideals of the Renaissance. According to W. Friedlander, in the history of art "every period prepares the next". Heinrich Wofflin once observed that the Baroque style can be considered "the style into which the Renaissance resolved itself or into which the Renaissance degenerated". The alternative denotes certainly the dynamic character of the Renaissance itself as a historical period and as an art-historical period. G. Bazin considers the Baroque period as extending itself for two centuries (roughly from 1580 to 1780), between the decline of Roman Mannerism and the beginning of Neo-Classicism, and constituting "one of the most productive periods in European Art." And coinciding with the expansion of European power in the world, Baroque art was exported to different parts of the Globe, from Latin-America to Asia, in the colonial territories of the Spanish and Portuguese empires and Dutch possessions, and was "adopted" and "adapted" in Latin-America to express the world-view and represent the "life-world" of the colonial experience.

"The Baroque or the Modern Age", as defined by the Spanish cultural historian Jose Maravall, was indeed a period of great transformations in European society. The 17th Century is also the century of Newton, the period that laid the foundation for Modern Science and the modern scientific concept of the world. To the complexity of the times, to the tensions accumulated in the experience of radical changes in man's relation to the world and to man, corresponds the complexity of the art forms which cannot be made to conform to a unique or simplified pattern The Baroque style has, therefore, many faces and various aspects which are related by the kinds of experiences they express, rather than by any exclusive identity of formal aspects. The study of the baroque style in fact will translate itself into the study of a historical culture, that is, in the words of Maravall, a historical structure.

The Baroque period in many ways forms the basis of modern culture, and constitutes the soil or foundation of some of the central aspects of modern experience. We will examine the development of Baroque art through the analysis of some of the works of the great European artists of the period, relating the visual arts to music, literature and philosophy, in order to grasp the "logic" of the Baroque experience and its historical-structural determinants.

Marcelo Lima

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ghiberti, Lorenzo "Gates of Paradise"
(East Portals), Baptistery,
Florence [replica panels in situ], originals 1425-1452

image source: AICT