Artibus et Historiae no. 34 (XVII)

1996, ISSN 0391-9064

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PAUL BAROLSKY - Art History as Fiction

Whereas traditional writing about art is grounded in historical fiction, modem art historians aspire to rise above such fables of art. Despite their aspiration to transcend fiction, modern scholars often still write in unwittingly imaginative ways, especially when they find the "portraits" of artists and their friends in the work of Raphael, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Masaccio, among others. The epitome of this current of scholarship is found in exegeses of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which is now read as a sort of pictorial, autobiographical novel. Various well-known works, including Botticelli's Primavera and Giorgione's Tempesta, also afford scholars the opportunity to spin their own yarns disguised unwittingly as iconographical analysis.

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