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Art History Discipline-Sponsored Session: Artifice and Anti-Naturalism in Renaissance Architecture

Posted By Elizabeth J. Petcu, Friday, May 20, 2016
Updated: Monday, May 23, 2016

Architecture should imitate nature—this was the mandate that Vitruvian literature conveyed to architects and other readers from the fifteenth century on. Yet despite the widespread sway of that ideal, architects often subverted the norms of architectural naturalism through devices such as fictive or broken tracery, illusionistic treatment of materials, false apertures, or deceptively “floating” supports. Scholarship has traditionally cast artificiality and anti-naturalism in Renaissance architecture as manifestations of a lingering, Gothic-era affinity for architectural wit, or as products of a subversive, Mannerist aesthetic. Nevertheless, the restrictions of site and budget, the demands of tradition and taste, and many other factors motivated cases of architectural artifice and anti-naturalism in this era as well. What could be gained by considering architectural displays of artifice and anti-naturalism as more than symptoms of style?

This session will explore artificiality and anti-naturalism in Renaissance architecture beyond the conceptual frameworks and chronological confines of the Gothic and of Mannerism, considering their broader implications for early modern discourse on architectural imitation. The conversation might address any number of questions, including:

-What cultural pressures and artistic priorities motivated designers to reject the ideal of architectural naturalism as defined by Vitruvian literature?

-How might we compare manifestations of architectural anti-naturalism to performances of architectural artifice? Where do the two categories intersect, and how do they differ?

-How might we relate displays of artificiality or anti-naturalism in structure to those that occur in architectural materials, techniques, and ornament?

-What do performances of artifice and anti-naturalism in Renaissance architecture tell us about paradigms of architectural imitation in this era?

The session welcomes papers centered on specific case studies from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, culled from any geography or cultural context.

Please submit a 150-word abstract and a short CV to:

elizabeth.petcu@kunstgeschichte.uni-muenchen.de

Deadline: June 3 

Tags:  Architecture  Art History  decorum  materiality  materials  Ornament 

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