Studies in Iconology

Studies in Iconology (LEUVEN: PEETERS)


Studies in Iconology accepts original and interdisciplinary contributions in the broader field of art theory and art history. The series addresses an audience that seeks to understand any aspect and any deeper meaning of the visual medium along the history of mankind in the fields of philosophy, art history, theology and cultural anthropology. Studies in Iconology is a peer-reviewed series.

Vol. 6: Barbara Baert (author)
In his Metamorphoses, Ovid (43 BC - AD 17) tells the story of Echo and Narcissus. Echo's love for Narcissus ended in a cruel twist of fate. Already punished with an echo for a voice, the nymph suffered further as she petrified and her bones became stones. The study of art has long focused on the Narcissus-mirror syndrome as a paradigm for painting (Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472)). Echo had no place in this masculine scopic discipline. Recent approaches have rehabilitated Echo from a visual, cultural and gendered point of view. Echo cries; she cries for an alternative to the mirror paradigm and oculocentrism. She helps us break free from Narcissus in favour of visual modalities such as dissolution, camouflage and contamination, in short, disappearance as an alternative to the scopic regime. In this essay I treat the impact of Echo on art history through the lenses of: gender, speech and hearing; Echo as textilisation and sacrifice; Echo as chthonic art; and, finally, Echo and le désir mimétique. With this approach, I develop a new hermeneutic to reintegrate the sonoric senses, camouflage theory, gender epistemology, and the anthropological substrata of nature, love and death into our Western obsession for mimetic thinking.
ISBN: 978-90-429-3346-0



Vol. 5: Barbara Baert (author)

The meaning of tearing and splitting as a life-, love- and wisdom-generating event (for example, the tearing of the temple curtain) is profoundly rooted in the visual and literary 'bodies' of ancient and Christian thought. The primordial cosmogonic split is always sudden, is always sharp (like a knife), appears as a flash (sudden and all encompassing) and is experienced through the whole bodily sensorium (in shivering, bliss, sigh, wind, breath). The split is the epiphany of radical change, revolution and the transition beyond. The Greek deity Kairos embodies this mystery. The reach of Kairos can be detected in the theory of rhetoric (Sophists vs. Aristotle (385-322 BC)), in humanistic politics, in postmodern theology and in contemporary time-management. Iconographical studies have treated Kairos's Nachleben in Byzantine and Latin visual traditions where the god is conflated with Fortuna and Occasio. This essay addresses the impact of Kairos and its iconographic Nachleben from a literary and historical perspective, and further considers Kairos as a new art historical paradigm. Indeed, Kairos can offer us alternative hermeneutics to reconceive the image as chronotopos, as epiphany and as intercession.

ISBN: 978-90-429-3379-8




Vol. 4: Barbara Baert (author)

This essay, a meditation on the butterfly and its resonance in art history, is organized in three parts. I begin with Aby Warburg's fascination with moths and butterflies as documented by (1) his letters to André Jolles (e.g. the letter from 1900 known as 'But such high-flown movements are not for me'), (2) the Kreuzlingen pathological report and archives by Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966) preserved in Tübingen, and (3) the Ninfa fiorentina file in the Warburg Institute. As Seelentierchen - soul animals, psychè - butterflies are archetypically connected to deep cultural affects regarding the soul, resurrection and immortality. Part 2 of the paper considers the butterfly as paradigm for the visual medium and the oculocentric paradigms in art history. Indeed, the butterfly has a specific visual (and sensory) impact on humankind with its flashy, quick, vibrant and hypnotic wings, its medusian eyes and its capability to camouflage itself (cf. 'Sciences diagonales' by Roger Caillois (1913-1978)). Hypnosis, Medusa and camouflage are three important paradigms with which to consider the essence of the image as a dis/appearing, enchanting, and deceiving medium. In Part 3, the three paradigms become the basis for new reflections about art history (and the history of art history) as a study of the butterfly, in short, as 'lepidopterology'.
ISBN: 978-90-429-3347-7



Vol. 3: Barbara Baert (author)

In his late 15th century chronicle (ca 1477-1484), Michael Fabricius Ferrarinus (died between 1488-1493), prior of the Carmelite cloister in Reggio Emilia, introduced the rumour that an ancient fountain had been found super ripam Danuvii(on the banks of the Danube) with the sculpted figure of a sleeping nymph. According to Ferrarinus, the fountain bore a peculiar epigram:
Many scholars have discussed the impact of the rumour as creating a prototype for Renaissance sculptures of the sleeping nymph in Rome and for the development of the well-known genre of the sleeping Venus in painting. Building upon the previous studies, this essay contextualizes the phenomenon of the sleeping nymph and its textual and artistic Nachleben from the point of view of the locus amoenus as silence. This study combines iconological, aesthetical-philosophical and anthropological approaches, and contributes to a better understanding of sleep, voyeurism, water and silence within the context of the nymph's particular genius loci.

ISBN: 978-90-429-3344-6




Vol. 2: Barbara Baert (author)

Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries. Contributions to Gender and Artistic Expression (2016)

During the Late Middle Ages a unique type of 'mixed media' recycled and remnant art arose in houses of religious women in the Low Countries: Enclosed Gardens. These are retables, sometimes with painted side panels, the central section filled not only with narrative sculpture, but also with all sorts of trinkets and hand-worked textiles. Adornments include relics, wax medallions, gemstones set in silver, pilgrimage souvenirs, parchment banderoles, flowers made from textiles with silk thread, semi-precious stones, pearls and quilling (a decorative technique using rolled paper). The ensemble is an impressive and one-of-a-kind display and presents as an intoxicating garden. In this essay the exceptional heritage of such Enclosed Gardens is interpreted from a range of approaches. The Enclosed Garden is studied as a symbol of paradise and mystical union, as the sanctuary of interiority, as the sublimation of the sensorium (in particular the sense of smell), as a typical gendered product, and as a centre of psycho-energetic creative processes.

ISBN: 978-90-429-3233-3



Vol. 1: Barbara Baert (author)

Nymph. Motif, Phantom, Affect A Contribution to the Study of Aby Warburg (1866-1929) (2014)

Behind them, close to the open door, there runs - no, that is not the word, there flies, or rather there hovers - the object of my dreams, which slowly assumes the proportion of a harming nightmare. A fantastic figure - should I call her a servant girl, or rather a classical nymph? (...) This lively, light-footed and rapid gait, this striding step, which contrasts with the aloof distance of all other figures, what is the meaning of it all? (...) My condition varied between a bad dream and a fairy tale (...). I lost my reason. It was always she who brought life and movement into an otherwise calm scene. Indeed, she appeared to be the embodiment of movement (...) but is it very unpleasant to be her lover? (...) Who is she? Where does she come from? Have I encountered her before? I mean one and a half millennia earlier? Does she come from a noble Greek lineage, and did her great-grandmother have an affair with people from Asia Minor, Egypt or Mesopotamia?

Aby Warburg (1866-1929)

ISBN: 978-90-429-3065-0