ISSUE #1 – 2021
Puppets for the Margravine. Japanese Ephemera and their (Re)Construction in Eighteenth-Century Chinoiserie
This article introduces a group of 23 textile appliqués, or oshi-e – scraps of padded and painted fabric applied to a support of papier mâché – that were manufactured in Japan during the final decades of the seventeenth century. The pieces were soon transferred to Europe and collected by Sibylla Augusta Margravine of Baden (1675–1733). One of Germany’s early advocates of the stylistic idiom of chinoiserie, by 1723 Sibylla had integrated the pieces into the decoration of her newly erected mansion Favorite near Rastatt.
This article has two foci. First, it contextualizes the genre of textile appliqués within its Japanese culture of origin where such items served as ephemeral festival decoration, fashionable accessories, and tools of sophisticated pastime in the milieu of urban merchants. Secondly, the article explores practical and theoretical aspects of intercultural transfer and discusses the fundamental re-reading of transferred artifacts against the background of chinoiserie in central Europe.
The appliqués at Schloss Favorite are significant in several respects. They count among the oldest surviving examples of this genre worldwide. They become even more valuable from the fact that their maker, Fujiya Saburōbei, can be unambiguously identified from existent documentation as a leading manufacturer of oshi-e and purveyor to the Dutch East India Company. While there is no conclusive evidence, there is a strong possibility that the appliqués at Schloss Favorite came to Europe as private merchandise of the famous traveler and author, Engelbert Kaempfer (1651–1716). Lastly, the pieces constitute exceedingly rare material evidence for the role of textiles and other ephemera both in early modern Japan and Europe as well as related practices of collecting and display.
Weshalb die ‚Römischen Skizzenbücher von Marten van Heemskerck‘ nicht von Heemskerck stammen können. Quellenkritische, überlieferungsgeschichtliche und kennerschaftliche Anmerkungen zu zwei Neuerscheinungen
The well-known ensemble of drawings of Netherlandish origin, including a large number of Roman vedute from the 1530s, now divided into two volumes in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett, has a quite complicated history of transmission. While the first volume, acquired in 1879, was early on associated with the name of Heemskerck, this was not the case for the second volume. Nevertheless, when Jaro Springer announced its acquisition in 1891, he recognised “the same hand and technique” as in the first volume. However, the attribution of both volumes to Maarten van Heemskerck soon caused problems. For external reasons, art historians had to discard as non-Heemskerckian first the sheets of the so-called “Mantuan sketchbook” including the 360-degree panorama of Rome, then a group of six roman vedute. This article argues that Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, who once possessed the drawings, no longer knew who the author was, but was himself responsible for the fact that the drawings would be auctioned off after his death in 1665 under the appealing name of “Heemskerck”.
Bernini e collaboratori nella Cappella Poli (dell’Angelo Custode, o del Santissimo Sacramento) a San Crisogono in Trastevere. Precisazioni storiche ed artistiche
The Poli Chapel in the Basilica of San Crisogono in Trastevere represents an example of the way Bernini availed himself of collaborators even in his last architectural project. Starting from a re-interpretation of the literary and archival sources, which previously led to a case of “switched identities” between it (a cornu Epistulae) and the Chapel of the Madonna del Carmine on the opposite side of the apse (a cornu Evangelii), the essay takes into consideration the iconographic meaning Bernini orchestrated for the Poli Chapel and investigates the ways in which the restorations that have occurred since the Second World War have changed its original aspect. Finally, with the documented removal of the current altarpiece in July 2018, the article testifies to the disappearance of Ludovico Gimignani’s original altarpiece depicting the Guardian Angel that was still believed to lie behind the current nineteenth-century painting.
Diesseits und jenseits des Kunstwerks. Eine Untersuchung kuratorischer Praktiken des Vergleichens am Beispiel der Ausstellung "Local Histories" im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
The essay sees itself as a contribution to the methodological debate about the possibilities and starting points of the study of exhibitions. By applying image-theoretical criteria, the exhibition Local Histories can be seen as an example of the extent to which a double perspective can be adopted in the investigation of curatorial practices of comparing: namely the singular and the plural of the image, and the relationship between image-inherent and image-external relations. In this way, the question of the artefact as part of a constellation and the relationship it invokes is not answered one-sidedly – on the contrary: with a view to the curatorial practices of comparing, it is possible to describe and analyse the relation of relations within the exhibition space.
Kulturelle Varianzen bei der Kunstbetrachtung. Überlegungen zur empirischen Erforschung von Sehgewohnheiten
It is a common practice in art history to infer from the characteristics of a picture how it is viewed. In many cases, ideal rather than real viewers are assumed. However, art is culturally diverse and so are its viewers. Nonetheless, differences in viewing practices have been little studied, and mainly only on a theoretical level. Moreover, most often a universal vision is assumed. Based on Michael Baxandall’s thoughts on the “period eye”, a historical conditionality of art perception, this article addresses cultural variances in art perception. With the concept of the “cultural eye”, the article introduces a multi-perspective, empirical approach to viewing art using eye tracking, focusing on visual-cultural variances. The empirical approach that is proposed advances one possibility for opening the discipline to different (cultural) perspectives on one and the same work of art, and questions the notion of unified perception.
Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time. Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa (ed. by Kathleen Bickford Berzock); Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara (ed. by Alisa LaGamma)
Michael W. Cole, Sofonisba’s Lesson. A Renaissance Artist and Her Work
Exhibition review: "Fantastische Frauen. Surreale Welten von Meret Oppenheim bis Frida Kahlo", Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, 13 February – 5 July 2020