Recent Articles from ‘Art History’: Art and Theatre

Posted in journal articles by Editor on May 27, 2010

The eighteenth century in a special issue of Art History on “Theatricality in Early Modern Visual Art and Architecture,” edited by Caroline van Eck and Stijn Bussels:

Sigrid de Jong, “Staging Ruins: Paestum and Theatricality,” Art History 33.2 (April 2010): 334-51.

Abstract: This article looks at the connection between architecture and theatre. By focusing on how eighteenth-century travellers experienced the Greek temples in Italian Paestum, it highlights the analogies between architectural experience and theatricality. Travellers at the time found it difficult to comprehend Paestum because the architecture of the temples was different from the classical architecture they had seen in Rome and illustrated in publications. Travellers, by using strategies of representation related to the theatre, tried to present this strange architecture of Paestum in an accessible way to their eighteenth-century public. It also shows how the various roles assumed by spectators or traveller-observers defined the way they experienced the architecture.

Bram van Oostveldt, “Ut pictura hortus / ut theatrum hortus: Theatricality and French Picturesque Garden Theory (1771-95),” Art History 33.2 (April 2010): 364-77.

Abstract: The picturesque vogue in French garden theory and practice from the second half of the eighteenth century drew on more than painterly examples. Theatrical strategies were equally important in attempts to stage the garden as a painting. However, in French theory and practice references to the theatre were often considered to be problematic. It was theatricality that posed the problem. The French followed a more general discourse on theatricality that, from the mid-eighteenth century on, was predominant in the arts and was constructed around questions of spectatorship. As the disapproved other of the natural, the theatrical in the arts referred to situations in which the beholder is made aware of the danger that the act of beholding threatened to destroy the imaginative and illusionistic power of art.

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