ЧИКЕ ОЛИВЬЕ (Парижский университет Сорбонна, Франция). Осмысляя категория «уродливого» в искусстве Ренессанса: от дисгармонии к красивому уродству

 OLIVIER CHIQUET (University of Paris Sorbonne, France). Thinking Ugliness in Italian Renaissance Art: From Disharmony to Beautiful Ugliness

Italian Renaissance art has long been exclusively seen as the quest for beauty and harmony. Drawing from seminal research about the “counter-Renaissance” (Hiram Haydn, 1950; Eugenio Battisti, 1962) and its “anti-classicism” (John Shearman, 1967; Antonio Pinelli, 1993), I wish to debunk this golden myth and suggest a sub specie deformitatis reading of Italian Renaissance art.

Indeed, artistic theory and painting practices have both, in their own ways, succeeded in thinking ugliness in its artistic representations through a progressive historical process spanning the 16th century to the Baroque movement. The conceptualisation of ugliness in these works cannot be boiled down to a mere voluntary (transgression) or involuntary (failure) distance from prevailing standards of beauty. In fact, artistic theory and practice both aim at articulating beauty and ugliness, two notions which ancient philosophy and aesthetics had opposed most of time from an ontological, logical, moral, formal, aesthetic and even anthropological point of view.

This has therefore led to a shift from the classical antithesis between beauty and ugliness to a “beautiful ugliness” that sheds light on a contiguity, and perhaps even a coincidence, between these two contrary notions through the theorisation of caricature and the ideal ugliness in the 17th century. Historically, this ‘beautiful ugliness’ was first theorised at the end of the Renaissance as a paradox in which ugliness was endowed with the qualities usually linked to beauty. Then, in the wake of the Baroque aesthetic, it was seen as an oxymoron: the ugliness, and sometimes even the horror, of what was represented through mimesis revealed the full extent of art and the artist’s power of transfiguration.

Even though, at the turn of the 16th century and 17th century, ugliness still wasn’t fully considered as an autonomous aesthetic category distinct from the concept of beauty – will that ever be the case? – it was no longer defined simply as the opposite of beauty, but rather as its other side. After all, aren’t kalos and kakos only one letter apart?

Italian Renaissance art, ugliness, artistic theory

искусство итальянского Возрождения, уродство, художественная теория