Table of Contents
December 2013, Volume 95 Number 4
The Life of Michelangelo published in 1550 under the name of Giorgio Vasari contains a description of crowds of Roman Jews making a pilgrimage every Sabbath to the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli to “adore” Michelangelo’s Moses. The veracity of Vasari’s “report” is explored in the context of the first edition of The Lives and conversion policies of the Counter-Reformation church. Vasari’s account of an alleged historical fact turns out to be a literary fiction underpinned by the theological topos of the “eschatological Jew” and the historiographical structure of The Lives, which models a Christian theology of history.
Nineteenth-century American viewers expected landscape paintings to reconcile “detail” and “effect,” but Frederic Church’s paintings increasingly upset this balance. They exemplify a movement away from the allegorical impulses of Romantic landscape painting—in which details become a symbolic whole—to a mode in which details compete for attention and threaten to derail a larger narrative. Both praised and criticized for their proliferation of detail, works like The Heart of the Andes can be understood in terms of debates about the aims of landscape painting, the relation between scientific and artistic representation, and the cultural status of the detail as object.
Pueblo Indian painter Awa Tsireh developed an art of subtle resistance in the 1920s, when Pueblo culture was being persecuted by the Office of Indian Affairs and exploited by tourists and anthropologists. Awa Tsireh’s visual language is representative of the tactics Pueblo artists used to represent their culture while controlling the flow of information. By deploying evasive visual strategies—including silences, misdirection, coding, and masking—Awa Tsireh celebrated his culture at a time when it was under attack, helped to develop a market that benefited himself and his community, and did so while attempting to protect Pueblo knowledge.
Color held a contested status in relation to the discursive and affective entanglement of art and Indian nationalism. Examination of the artworks, speeches, manifestos, and musings of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Abanindranath and Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, and Jamini Roy shows how color could be “redeemed” from the disciplinary straitjacket of the British colonial art school. Construed by Indian nationalists as both cosmopolitan and fundamental, color (in terms of its materiality and political resonance) became critical to the formation of a Bengali aesthetic. This new aesthetic, which can be loosely aligned with swadeshi (self-economy), was nonetheless deeply riven with conflict and contradiction.