The ‘Pure Art of Sculpture’: Giovanni Pisano
and his Contemporaries
(Academic Session 12, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference 2011, 31 March – 2 April, University of Warwick, UK)
This conference session concerns the nature and status of late medieval sculpture in the century to either side of 1300.
The inscription on Giovanni Pisano’s pulpit in the cathedral at Pisa declares him to be ‘endowed above all others with command of the pure art of sculpture.’ It also challenges the viewer to judge his figures ‘according to the correct rules'. These powerful statements in the pulpit inscriptions are often taken as an almost unmediated expression of the sculptor’s self worth, and Giovanni has more than once been described as the first modern artist. But how does this image of the ‘artist’ compare with the status of other sculptors and other crafts? On what grounds might an art of sculpture be ‘pure’ and what might have been the correct rules for judging it? In this session we invite papers that, centring upon Giovanni Pisano, explore the status of sculpture and sculptors in late medieval Italy and in Europe, from all directions, ranging from the nature of the profession through to the reception of the sculptural object. To what extent did sculptors fashion a distinct identity and how did contemporaries conceptualise sculptural imagery? We are particularly interested in contributions that explore objects, practices and attitudes that work the boundary with other forms of visual representation, as well as those which approach these questions through methodologies developed in the study of other periods.
Please send your paper proposal to the session convenor(s):
Peter Dent, University of Warwick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jules Lubbock, University of Essex, email@example.com
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