Abstracts

Fred Andersson

Between norm and deviation in visual culture –pictorial, plastic and icono-plastic rhetoric in images and patterns
Abstract

In this article certain terms and current methodological models of visual rhetorics are introduced, and some examples used in the author’s own teaching are demonstrated. The teaching context is that of the Åbo Akademi University program for Visual Studies, which was founded by Lars Berggren in 2008. Current theoretical and analytical studies of visual rhetorics have been primarily francophone. Research has moved in a direction far beyond the famous initial attempt of Roland Barthes. Important scholars such as the members of the Belgian Groupe m and Göran Sonesson in Sweden have used a distinction between plastic and pictorial signs in pictures, and developed a taxonomic approach based on classical rhetorics. At the pictorial level of analysis they identify the four kinds of rhetorical transformation ­– suppression, adjunction, substitution and permutation. According to Groupe m, an order (ordre) of either pictorial or plastic features may function as a normative background for rhetorical operations at the pictorial level (if plastic order) or plastic level (if pictorial order). Such operations form the basis of a special rhetoric called icono-plastic. In his revision of Groupe m:s theory Göran Sonesson suggests that the pictorial, plastic and icono-plastic figures identified by Groupe m could all be subsumed under three general rhetorical dimensions. The first is based on indexicality, the second on iconicity and the third on fictive effects of reality and unreality. As examples of some of the figures, three advertisements are analyzed in closer detail by the author. They are taken from an Ikea campaign in 2009, a campaign for Sinebrychoff’s light drink Kurko in 2008, and a Lancôme campaign in 2004. By identifying pictorial transformations and icono-plastic figures in these examples, the author demonstrates how an ideology of consumption is expressed by visual means. The author concludes that the methodology of visual rhetorics has a value not only as a taxonomy, but also as a tool for ideological criticism.

The article is written in Swedish.

 

Søren Kaspersen

Confronted lions
Abstract

This is a preliminary study of a special group of Romanesque baptismal fonts located in the eastern part of Jutland and decorated with confronted lions as their main motifs. They are part of a much larger group of lion-fonts from the same area, dominated by lions as bicorporates. These lions may designate Christ and His two natures, but there are no clear signs in the confronted lions of any differentiation enabling them to signify Christ’s divine contra His human nature. As confronted animals these lions are also part of earlier pictorial schemes used through centuries and many different cultures, from the Sumerian to Western Europe in the Romanesque period. Taking these things in consideration, the confronted lions on the baptismal fonts are analyzed in relation to different schemes and contexts: flanking a human head, either with their heads en face or in profile, often with their tongues sticking out, or swallowing and pouring forth human beings. Without denying the intricate relations between good and evil in these images the main thesis is that all these lions are ‘good’ lions that take care of and protect the persons being baptized and signify in this way different stages of the transformative process. They are not lions representing Christ but often related to him through a head between them.

The article is written in Danish.

 

Götz Pochat

Spiritualia sub metaphoris corporalium? Description in the Visual Arts
Abstract

A verbal description is always related to a corresponding cognitive frame. This is also true of the visual arts, where the mode of representation is, furthermore, subjected to conventional codes of representation to which the recipient is expected to respond. With regard to the mimetic arts, the recipient will succumb to illusion by way of projection, i. e. imagination. As phenomenology has shown, this process of conjuring up the (absent) signified object involves the viewer’s identification, an emotional response, and recollection. The question of why certain (art-historical) periods feature specific motifs and why the public has been willing to accept them is a sociological one. Yet, it has to some extent been answered by iconology, which deals with cognitive cultural frames, while the qualitative aspect of depiction reflects the transformation of an object perceived and conjured up in the artist’s mind. Description is always the outcome of a mental process, yet in contrast to courses triggered by verbal description and communication, the mode of representation in the visual arts remains more closely related to deeper, even unconscious strata of the brain, generating emotions and associations. A description, verbal or pictorial, oscillates between the reference and the referent (the cognitive frame) as encompassed by the mind.

The article is written in English.

 

Ingrid D. Rowland

Echoes of Egypt in 12th-century Bologna and 13th-century Rome
Abstract

In the Middle Ages, authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts emerged from the remains of former temples of Isis in places like Bologna and Rome, where they inspired Romanesque sculptors.  This paper examines the specific examples of the 12th-century Benedictine cloister of Santo Stefano in Bologna and the 13th-century Benedictine cloister of San Giovanni in Laterano, the latter created and signed by a father-and-son team from the Vassalletto dynasty of Roman marble workers. The Vassalletto family carved Egyptian-style sphinxes and lions in several places in the Papal State; here they are placed in connection with a particular family, the Conti di Segni, who owned property near three ancient Roman temples of Isis and Serapis: the Isaeum Campense, the temple of Serapis on the Quirinal, and the Esquiline Sanctuary of Isis and Serapis.

The article is written in English.

 

Eva Rystedt

Between space and movement. On the motif of departure in images of Roman apotheosis
Abstract

When the leading Roman magistrates of the Republic, and later on the Roman emperors, made official appearances in connection with important political and military events and functions, some urban locations in the cityscape became symbolically charged, in Rome especially Forum Romanum, Capitolium and the city gates. The ceremonial acting in front of the assembled public was dependent on measures adopted to organize space and movement. Studying the patterns of acting starting from space and movement—space and movement are signal words in actual research—one may detect factors of importance for the cognitive underpinning of the ceremonies.

Taking my cue from space and movement, I study images of the imperial apotheosis of Roman emperors, i.e. the divinization of Roman emperors by way of a ceremonial act at the Field of Mars in Rome (Campus Martius). Most of the material is made up of marble reliefs for public exposure. A natural question is how space and movement as related to the actual performance of the ceremony were transposed, or not transposed, into the image. Another question concerns how the visual representation of the vertical transport of the soul of the deceased into heaven and the Olympus, i.e. the cognitive kernel of apotheosis, was realized. I point at the iconographic model that became dominant in the public imagery, viz. departure, and why: it is connected to the notion of becoming a god, in the presence of people witnessing the start of the process. I also indicate the relevance of the apparent associations of space with the living and movement with the deceased. The space-movement elaboration in fact forms part of the construction of the Roman apotheosis as a visual motif.

The article is written in Swedish.

 

Morten Stige

The lion in Romanesque art, meaning or decoration?
Abstract

Even in Scandinavia, the lion is the most common predator in Romanesque church decoration. It is found in sculpture and mural paintings as well as in holy books, on church textiles and metalwork. This article discusses the symbolic meaning of all these lions and addresses the question of whether they can be attributed meaning or if they are to be considered simple decoration.

Based on the Bible, the Bestiaries and a small selection of other written sources, the literary meaning of the lion in medieval culture is investigated. A wide spectrum of qualities is disclosed. Most are positive or even God-like, but there are also sources referring to the lion as a symbol of evil. This seemingly double character has been used as an argument against ascribing meaning to the image of the lion when outside an unambiguous context. The basis for all interpretations is the natural characteristics of the lion: strength, courage, stately appearance and noble character. From these, as well as some mythic characteristics a wide variety of roles for the lion have developed. 12 distinct roles can be clearly identified from the written sources and the Romanesque pictorial tradition. Nine of them are undoubtedly positive from a Christian point of view, while two are ambiguous and only the satanic lions are clearly negative.

The potential meaning of the 18 lions or lion-like sculptures at Værnes church (1120-1160) is discussed. They are all placed close to external portals or other openings or at the end of roof beams in the interior. These all belong to the liminal zones of the church building. This gives them a general role as guardian lions, even if some of them also play other roles or lack attributes which makes them easy to interpret individually.

Even if distinct roles can be identified, many of the sculpted or painted lions represent several roles at the same time. Some lions are also placed in ornamental contexts where there is good reason to argue that their main purpose is decorative. That does not mean that these lions did not also convey meaning to the medieval recipient. The idea of an unambiguous answer to the riddle of traditional iconography is just too narrow to fathom the many aspects of the lion. This article argues that even when aggressive, the lion is normally in the service of God, punishing the sinner. This as well as the constancy of the lion as symbol of strength, speaks for a general significance of the lion for the medieval viewer.

The article is written in English

 

Renja Suominen-Kokkonen

Studies of wooden churches in Finland:  Josef Strzygowski and Lars Petterson
Abstract

In this article the question of how studies of wooden churches in Finland were influenced by Strzygowski, one of the most important European art historians of his day, is also of interest from the perspective of Finnish art history. Discussion and growing interest in the old wooden church building tradition is traced in particular in the work of Lars Pettersson (1918–1993), who began his career in art-historical research in the late 1930s. Throughout his career, Pettersson studied historic wooden churches and chapels in both Finland and Russian Karelia. With reference to a few selected examples concerning the cross-plan churches of Petäjävesi and Ruovesi, my article focuses on how Pettersson’s studies reveal an alternating dialectic of acceptance of and opposition to Strzygowski’s views and ideas.

A comparison of their methods reveals a number of similar trains of thought. This cannot be just a coincidence, since Pettersson was already familiar with several studies by Josef Strzygowski when he was writing his master’s thesis. Pettersson’s work as a researcher was naturally influenced by many other factors, such as working for several years for the State Archaeological Commission and the role of the Swedish architect and Professor Erik Lundberg as his doctoral supervisor. It is nonetheless necessary to consider Strzygowski’s and Pettersson’s shared methods of art-historical research which their contemporaries regarded as important.

The article is written in English.

 

Eeva Maija Viljo

Abstract
Constructing temples for Lutherans in the Southeast of Finland

From approximately 1770 to the 1830s, virtually all timbered churches in southeast Finland were constructed by one family of farmer-master builders, whose farmsteads were situated in the island village of Rahikkala in the parish of Savitaipale. Their churches and belfries are, on the whole, well known to scholarship. My purpose here is to discuss these peasant master builders in a social history context. It is not known how Rahikkala became a seat of specialized timbering on a monumental scale, but the tradition once started continued for three generations. In the Carelian extended family, the farming tasks could be allotted to close relatives leaving the farmer free to develop special timbering skills and to travel around to distant building sites. The family acquired the privilege to build churches in the governorship of Vyborg, and when this was terminated on the formation of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812, the fame of the Savitaipale builders ensured that the commissions kept coming. The centralized church they had developed on 17th-century models became the dominating church type in southeast Finland.

The article is written in Swedish

 

Nils Erik Villstrand

Abstract
A meeting between an artist and a public scribe in 19th century Rome. A study of a mediator between oral and literate tradition from the viewpoint of two art works.

Ernst Meyer (1797–1861) was one of the many artists that traveled from the north to Italy and Rome in the early 19th century. He is known for his genre paintings from Rome, especially two of them that focus on the interaction between a young girl and a public scribe sitting in a piazza. The aim of the article is to show how the two paintings and the artist’s many sketches in the Kobbertiksamlingen in The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen, together with written narratives of the public scribes at work, can be used by a historian wanting to highlight an accessive (or mediated) mode of literacy. This mode of literacy, dependent on mediators between oral and literate and vice versa, was of crucial importance in a society becoming more dependent on the written word. Meyer and others visiting Rome from the northern part of Europe viewed the ordinary people of Rome as different and exotic but both in paintings and in written narratives they were nevertheless capable of perceiving important elements in the everyday life of contemporary Romans.

Nils Erik Villstrand (born 1952) is professor of Nordic history at Åbo Akademi university. In his research he is focusing on early modern political culture in Sweden and in this context especially on the role of literacy. One of his recent books is the overview Sveriges historia (The history of Sweden) 1600–1721 (2011).

The article is written in Swedish

 

Robin B. Williams

“Popularizing Roma Capitale: Representations of a Royal Rome in the Pages of L’Illustrazione Italiana in the late 19th century”
Abstract

From its inaugural issue in 1873 to the end of the 19th century, the Milan-based illustrated weekly newspaper L’Illustrazione Italiana helped popularize Rome in its new role as the secular capital of modern Italy. This essay explores the implications of its news coverage as more than just documentation, but as implicit endorsement and promotion of the nationalization and secularization of the Eternal City. Following the completion of the Risorgimento, Italy’s reunification movement, one of the biggest challenges facing the newly united nation was overcoming strong regional diversity and a proud tradition of independent republics and small kingdoms. Rome was the only city which all regions could support as the national capital, a central and dominant position reflected in the publication’s masthead. L’Illustrazione Italiana was particularly important in disseminating images to a broad national audience of the architectural projects and ephemeral events in the new national capital relating to Vittorio Emanuele II, the king who oversaw reunification and who best personified the new Italian state. His usefulness as a human embodiment of nationalist values greatly increased with his unexpected death in 1878, not long after the leftist Sinistra party had seized control of parliament. Successive Sinistra leaders actively fashioned projects relating to the king as aggressively patriotic expressions of Italian state power. The pages of L’Illustrazione Italiana chronicled in detail the king’s funerals in the ancient Roman Pantheon, the various events and national pilgrimages to his tomb there, and the contentious restoration of the Pantheon that removed external signs of its ecclesiastical role as a church. No urban project in Rome enjoyed more attention than the lengthy genesis of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, eventually erected on the north slope of the Capitoline. By the time its construction began in 1885, the king had been firmly established as the symbol of the new nation in the capital and his office – and by extension the Italian state – associated with the grandeur of ancient Rome in an effort to symbolize their permanence. Through its selective coverage, focusing disproportionately on projects relating to the king, and its often transparently patriotic text, L’Illustrazione Italiana can be seen as a participant in the shaping of history.

The article is written in English

 

Mia Åkerfelt

From castles to cottages – Architecture in 20th century collector plates by Arabia
Abstract

Mass-produced collector plates were a popular phenomenon in the Finnish applied arts during the 1970s and 1980s. The porcelain manufacturer Arabia was the country’s largest producer of collectible plates and provided a wide range of motifs, often with national relevance, such as Finnish flora and fauna, presidents, artworks or architecture. The popularity of collector plates has declined in recent decades, and little interest has been paid to them in the context of art history. The aim of this paper is to examine the ways in which architectural motifs have been used in collector plates by Arabia as a symbol for national or regional values. Central questions relate to how the plates are used as a medium and possible reasons for the depiction of certain buildings or building types. The history of collector plates presents the background of the phenomenon, and the chosen motifs are analyzed in relation to the use of architecture as a symbol for identities.  The results indicate that the architectural motifs used for collector plates on the whole followed trends in Finnish architecture. The depiction of Finnish castles, more recent regional municipal buildings, local churches and vernacular architecture echoed widening views on what could be considered interesting architecture or built cultural heritage.

The article is written in Swedish

Vastaa

Sähköpostiosoitettasi ei julkaista. Pakolliset kentät on merkitty *

*

Voit käyttää näitä HTML-tageja ja attribuutteja: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>