HUMANISTS AS DRAFTSMEN IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE
Experience and Manner. Humanists as Draftsmen in Early Modern Europe
An International Association of Word and Image Studies (IAWIS/AIERTI) Focus Conference
October 26-27, 2006 at the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Freie Universität Berlin.
It is often assumed that humanists of the 15th and 16th centuries were hostile to images when, in fact, numerous humanists and antiquarians were also draftsmen. This points to an increasing demand for the visualisation of knowledge. Our conference will focus on the stimuli which brought about the transition from word to image and will ask if and in to which degree these ‘draftsmen-of-letters’ reflect on the potential and limits of the media they have at hand. In this perspective, questions of the status and function of drawing in Humanism, especially regarding its material conditions, as instruments, formats, layout, and quality, shall be discussed. The continuous use of drawing becomes a crucial technique of describing and recording the world. While drawing serves as an empirical mirror of reality and its factual representation, the line can always also be drawn further and stimulate the antiquarian reconstruction, eventually leading to utopian imagination. Despite the demand for objectivity and ‘scientific’ representation a stylistic idiom can be observed that characterizes the visual language of a whole group of draftsmen such as Gabriele Symeoni, Jacopo Strada, Pirro Ligorio, Jean Jacques Boissard, Melchior Lorck, Lambert Lombard, Hubert Goltzius, and Hendrick Goltzius. In this context, drawing reveals itself as a field in which the intellectual draftsman meets with the intellectually ambitious artist on common ground, where word and image correspond in terms of technical means, but at the same time differ as configurations of knowledge.
Being an interdisciplinary forum the conference is calling mainly to younger scholars who would like to discuss the questions according to the paradigms ‘line’ (digression/definition), ‘image’ (reconstruction/imagination), and ‘book’ (archive/analysis) on the basis of shorter presentations (20 mins.).