Table of Contents
March 2013, Volume 95 Number 1
The problem of acceptably presenting physical vestiges of the divine—relics, images, and the Eucharist—was a preoccupation in France during the thirteenth century. With the specters of idolatry and sacrilege haunting either end of the spectrum, viewers needed adequate visual cues to calibrate their modes of veneration. An examination of Gothic ivories, with their characteristic forms and microarchitectural frames, reveals one strategy devised to alert viewers to the presence of the sacred. Two Old Testament typologies, the Ark of the Covenant and the throne of Solomon, furnished a tripartite visual metaphor to prompt proper adoration of the divine.
By the 1850s, the morbid associations of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s art were given voice by supporters and detractors alike. The examination of Ingres’s depictions of ancient sculpture for the publication the Musáe français (1803–12), however, unfixes the seductive connections between an ingriste sculptural metaphor and the specter of a deadening classical past. The distinctive forms of Ingres’s drawings are here understood in relation to philosophical considerations of sensory experience and to evaluations of the special aesthetic experience of sculpture. This vantage point reveals the possibilities ancient sculpture held out for Ingres and emphasizes the distinctly modern terms of its allure.
The perspectival “distortions” commonly observed in Cézanne's paintings can be seen as the expression of “blind” visuomotor experiences as well as conscious visual perceptions. They thus correspond not to actual movements but to “virtual” movements internal to acts of perception of a kind described by Merleau-Ponty, which allow the perceiving subject a fuller sense of the physicality of things. Cézanne conveyed this form of engagement with things, alongside the appearances they present, by using varieties of parallel projection, often in disguise. His repudiation of perspective implies a repudiation of spectacle as the normative form of visual experience in modern life.
More than a dozen appellations for photography circulated in China between 1840 and 1911. These designations—from preexisting terms denoting portrait painting to newly coined words such as zhaoxiang (reflecting a portrait with a mirror) and sheying (seizing shadow)—reveal how photography was described, evaluated, categorized, and understood in relation to other visual practices, including painting. Studying the naming of the medium in China not only historicizes the conception of photography but also traces the emergence of a new understanding of visual truth that triggered a reconfiguration in all realms of the production and evaluation of modern Chinese art.
In 1989, the year of South Africa’s seismic political transformation, William Kentridge developed his celebrated method of animated drawing. Juxtaposed against the country’s larger political processes, Kentridge’s ambulatory and sequentialized animation practice emerges as imbricated in both his recurrent streams of processions and in local imagery that deployed the visual syntax of striding figures as allegories of political restructuring. Kentridge’s timely embrace of the dynamism of animation—a medium that speaks metaphorically of transformation—suggests how his unorthodox studio practices are embedded in South Africa’s larger processes of regime change.