Take a Closer Look

Take a Closer Look

Daniel Arasse

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 0691151547

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

What happens when we look at a painting? What do we think about? What do we imagine? How can we explain, even to ourselves, what we see or think we see? And how can art historians interpret with any seriousness what they observe? In six engaging, short narrative "fictions," each richly illustrated in color, Daniel Arasse, one of the most brilliant art historians of our time, cleverly and gracefully guides readers through a variety of adventures in seeing, from Velázquez to Titian, Bruegel to Tintoretto.

By demonstrating that we don't really see what these paintings are trying to show us, Arasse makes it clear that we need to take a closer look. In chapters that each have a different form, including a letter, an interview, and an animated conversation with a colleague, the book explores how these pictures teach us about ways of seeing across the centuries. In the process, Arasse freshly lays bare the dazzling power of painting. Fast-paced and full of humor as well as insight, this is a book for anyone who cares about really looking at, seeing, and understanding paintings.

Christ in Art (Temporis Collection)

The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded

Simbolismo (Art dossier Giunti)

The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age




















that he “revealed himself to be authentically incarnate.” From then on, it’s easy for Steinberg to show how, by celebrating the Circumcision on January 1, the Church celebrates the day that “opens the way to Paradise just as it opens the year.” So there is nothing surprising about the fact that the old Magus needs to reassure himself, by seeing the Infant’s penis, that God’s “humanation” (as Steinberg says) really happened. The images are in fact irrefutable, in particular one of Ghirlandaio’s,

we viewers can only look at her, unless we are crazy.” “All right. But all of that is extremely trite. It’s a painting, after all. As they say, it was created to be looked at. I don’t see how any of that makes the Venus of Urbino a matrix or a working drawing for the erotics of classical painting. Once again, you’re exaggerating. You like to argue, infer things. You’re enjoying yourself, nothing more.” “And why shouldn’t I be? Let’s be serious. What allows me to say this is the role that

stretcher for the painting we are seeing, The Family Portrait, which is more than three meters tall (three meters eighteen centimeters to be precise)—much larger than the full-length royal portrait Velázquez painted the same year (which is barely two meters tall). Besides, you just need to look: even if he is slightly set back within the depth of the painting, Velázquez is much smaller than the stretcher in front of him, and if there is a dwarf to be found in this painting, it is certainly not

Arnolfini Wedding Portrait—with which Velázquez was well acquainted because it was part of the royal collections and in which the central mirror depicted in the door is the witness to the painting. And again, according to Damisch, this arrangement allowed Velázquez to show and articulate the gap between the “geometrical organization” of the painting and its “imaginary structure”: the first “produces” the subject by marking its place in front of the painting; in the second, this same subject

rare. Frankly, I have seen only one other instance—and even in this case, I’m not so sure I was seeing a snail. In the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, there is a mediocre rendering of the Annunciation by Girolamo da Cremona. In that painting, I thought I saw on the ground, level with Gabriel’s lily, two or three pebbles that vaguely—very vaguely—resembled empty shells. No, snails are usually found in representations of the Resurrection or in funereal images (because they come out of their shells,

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