Topics in Early Modern Theory: From La Maniera to Modernism
This seminar will examine the relationship between bravura brushstrokes, idiosyncratic style, artistic identity, and the rise of formalism in the modern era. Taking cues from the collection of the Barnes Foundation and Albert Barnes’ theories, we will begin in the Renaissance and consider the distinct styles developed by masters and their students in the 16th Century and move forward into a study of formalism and the work of Cezanne and the Post-Impressionists. Burgeoning Renaissance art theory and artist’s responses to the rhetoric surrounding increasingly divergent aesthetics and uses of media will help us come to grips with early modern artists such as Tintoretto and El Greco. Ground-breaking theorists such as Lodovico Dolce and Gian Paolo Lomazzo as well as other authors including Pietro Aretino and Giorgio Vasari reveal an awareness of increasing tension in debates about art and artifice. We will read their works among others and then contrast their positions with dramatically different formal concerns raised by Roger Fry and Barnes himself. As did both Fry and Barnes, the seminar will then discuss Renaissance artists in comparison to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works collected and hung with these “old masters” in the galleries of the Barnes Foundation as opposed to their normal segregation by period and region in other museums. In the process, students will ask questions about changing theoretical approaches to art and visual studies, the power of the collector and patron, and the way that modern artists found inspiration for innovation in the works of previous centuries.