Page 7 - World of Art magazine (2000)
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out by Hegel-aimed mainly to   artistic representation. There-  known by artists, and to what
         classify empirically the different   fore we can consider this disci-  extent this symbolic interpreta-
         arts in their specify, too.  pline the study of the historical,   tion agrees with the historical
          in oUr modem times, not only   social, religious, philosophical,   position and the personal ten-
         a philosophical, but even a psy-  and cultural content, of which   dencies of each artist and to   PaGnes
         chological approach is absolutely   subjects and images are direct   his particular creative disposi-
         inevitable to aim at the defi-  expression, even if sometimes   tion. To achieve this we must try
         nition and classification of the   unrelated to the one who has   to penetrate the essential sense
         artistic phenomenology and at   used those subjects. The role of   of a work of art so as to be
         the identification of their values.   iconology is, in a certain way,   able to grasp the unit that com-
         When considering a work of   lined up with the iconographic   poses it. This is possible when
         art we should identify the con-  method of Aby Warburg who   we manage to grasp and to con-
         nections, the interdisciplinary   studies the programmatic, liter-  sider the whole of the moments   become not only the history of
         requests between it and the   ary and learned aspects of works   of its emanation: subject, icon,   semiotics but of all those disci-
         thought of that particular histor-  of art in “contraposition” with   and formal element.  plines that in the past shared
         ical moment, but not only that,   formal analysis. It is related to   Icnology, as being essentially   the field of signs and symbols
         as it is possible to contribute to   the theory of ’symbolic forms’: it   interdisciplinary and strictly   - semantics, logic, rhetoric,
         the enlightenment of either a pic-  is an analysis which goes beyond   related to general symbolism,   investigation, aesthetics, philos-
         torial or literary work by com-  the explicit meanings of works   has become in this way the best   ophy, ethnology, psychoanaly-
         paring authors of different peri-  of art, beyond their ultimate   example of the solidarity and   sis, poetics -. and of some of
         ods and belonging to trends,   and essential content, identify-  complementary of all the inter-  their subjects named, from time
         as T.S. Eliot established in his   ing those fundamental principles   pretations in their mutual, inter-  to time, imitation and beauty,
         essays of poetic criticism.  which reveal the basic line of   pretative and analytic task of   education and pleasure, tropes
          The re-visitation of these disci-  a nation, a period, social class,   the various artistic languages,   and figures, condensation and
         plines, the following attempt of   a religious or philosophical con-  both rational and hype rational,   movement.
         reconciliation, can certainly give   cept, unconsciously qualified by   which, in the course of time,   Through the study of the his-
         raise to origin new elaborations   a personality or abridged in one   have expressed the complicated   tory of art, of signs and sym-
         in order to stem the intellectual   work. Iconology aims at inter-  relationship of Man with Nature   bols, we put forward as a pos-
         waste of the present, probably   pretation those symbolic values   and the number of images of   sibility the research of a plural
         due just to the frantic pursuit of   sometimes ignored by the artist   Man himself that Nature   and typological thought, which
         success.                  himself and which may differ,   reflects. Iconology aims at   maintains the differences with-
          The contribution of art criti-  even manifestly, from what he   clearly expounding principles,   out emphasizing it. A meth-
         cism should awake an incentive   consciously wanted to express.  methods, structures and at   odological principle where the
         to art itself, should be a reason   The subject of a symbol can   defining the terminology of cer-  reading of an artistic text is
         for a new vital sap especially in a   reveal a meaning consciously   tain artistic phenomenology’s   intended as a description and an
         historical time such as this one,   bestowed by the artist, if this   contributing to develop its study.  interpretation at the same time:
         when men witness powerless the   desired significance is at the   as PrevioUsLY stated, the   a course into space of an artistic
         ’Faustian’ devastation of nature,   same time also deliberately   methodological approach to a   personality.
         and the decadency of post-indus-  hidden; here the iconographical   symbol is not less important to   tHe reLations between art,
         trial society.            analysis is necessarily trans-  artistic creations than the anal-  literature and philosophy are
          Art can not absolutely be pas-  formed into a sort of decipher-  yses of its anthropological and   a continuum: from Ficino and
         sive towards these problems.  ing.                   technological functions. In fact   Leonardo to Rilke and Rodine,
          The methodologies of a critical   The significances have simply   from the point of view of epis-  to Beckett and Bacon, up to
         study and research for a correct   turned from “unconscious” into   temology the process of symbol-  the contemporary minimalists.
         understanding should be deeply   secret ones. The ideas projected   izing intervenes on many levels   Therefore art criticism must not
         involved in the analysis about   by the artist into his work   of experience, from the compli-  be a merely structural construc-
         the connection among art,   include the interpretation of the   cated mechanism of our percep-  tion (without art), but a vital,
         nature, reality and anthropology   artistic phenomenon itself or,   tions to the highest degrees of   dynamic portrait of a work
         in order to further examine the   at least, they should not be   elaboration and arrangement of   where the many types, not the
         considerations on philosophical   transcended in the research of   our way of representing the   many substances, are the sub-
         aesthetics, in this way bringing   the intrinsic, inner significance.   world.  jects because, otherwise, there
         out the difficult relationship of   Anyway it is required to reveal   The evolution of linguistics,   would be established a factious
         an artist’s style of life in the   the philosophical prejudices,   psychology, history of religions   hierarchy that can not abso-
         modem world. It could be a sig-  which lie behind the visual form.  and history of art, the problems   lutely take place.
         nificant contribution to art (and   in order not to reduce the   of signs, of symbols and myths   PreciseLY in the name of
         its history) in order to give it the   value of the interpretation of the   have in fact been considered in   interdisciplinary we should
         strength to be “the soul of the   single artistic event it is nec-  their relationship with the meth-  deeply commit ourselves to
         world and the intelligence to be   essary for the approach to be   ods and principles of their vari-  overcome the ’perception’ of
         the meaning of reality”.  sensible and rational, facing the   ous interpretations. In this way   artistic language that distin-
          a science like iconology   specific culture in which a par-  the study of the history of art   guishes a creative experience,
         rightly aims, in a transverse way,   ticular artistic work is inserted.   can not be separated from any of   towards a broader dimension of
         to understand and consolidate   We need to wonder whether or   the other humanistic disciplines,   the imaginative production, able
         the connections that exist among   not the symbolic meaning of   because it is indispensable for   to maintain the irreducible plu-
         the various disciplines. In this   a given motif is usual in a cer-  a broader and correct compre-  rality of the ways of sense, by
         way it contributes to keeping   tain figurative tradition, whether   hension of the various fields of   virtue of a research which pre-
         art in a position of privilege.   an iconographical interpretation   human knowledge and of reality   serves a work from the particu-
         As Erwin Panofsky pointed out,   may be justified with certain   itself. If a symbol represents   larity of fashions and of tem-
         iconology is the study of the pur-  texts or if it consistent with the   one of the elements generally   poral restrictions, proposing a
         pose that belongs to images and   ideas that can be alive in that   common to the various disci-  reading for inner courses, easily
         to the selected subject in their   period and can presumably be   plines then the history of art can   understood by everyone.

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