Modern critics of French Classicism in the visual arts were indebted to a formalism derived from the natural sciences. A nineteenth-century biological discourse identified hidden analogies rather than visual similarities among different specimens, whether animals or paintings. An ambivalence to the use of biological metaphors in North American art history may be traced back to this theoretical genealogy.
Skeletal Classicism: Zoological Osteology and Art-Historical Method in Early Twentieth-Century France
Todd P. Olson is Professor of Early Modern Art in the Department of History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the editorial board of Representations. He is author of Poussin and France: Painting, Humanism and the Politics of Style (2002) and Caravaggio's Pitiful Relics (2014). His current book project is Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652): Skin, Repetition, and Painting in Viceregal Naples.
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Todd Olson; Skeletal Classicism: Zoological Osteology and Art-Historical Method in Early Twentieth-Century France. Representations 29 July 2020; 151 (1): 74–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2020.151.4.74
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