Forgery, Replica, Fiction: Temporalities of German Renaissance Art

Overview

Today we often identify artifacts with the period when they were made. In more traditional cultures, however, such objects as pictures, effigies, and buildings were valued not as much for their chronological age as for their perceived links to the remote origins of religions, nations, monasteries, and families. As a result, Christopher Wood argues, premodern Germans tended not to distinguish between older buildings and their newer replacements, or between ancient icons and more ...
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Overview

Today we often identify artifacts with the period when they were made. In more traditional cultures, however, such objects as pictures, effigies, and buildings were valued not as much for their chronological age as for their perceived links to the remote origins of religions, nations, monasteries, and families. As a result, Christopher Wood argues, premodern Germans tended not to distinguish between older buildings and their newer replacements, or between ancient icons and more recent forgeries.
             But Wood shows that over the course of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, emerging replication technologies—such as woodcut, copper engraving, and movable type—altered the relationship between artifacts and time.  Mechanization highlighted the artifice, materials, and individual authorship necessary to create an object, calling into question the replica’s ability to represent a history that was not its own. Meanwhile, print catalyzed the new discipline of archaeological scholarship, which began to draw sharp distinctions between true and false claims about the past. Ultimately, as forged replicas lost their value as historical evidence, they found a new identity as the intentionally fictional image-making we have come to understand as art.
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Editorial Reviews

Mitchell Merback
“A remarkably rich, learned, and ingeniously argued history of error, falsehood, referential confusion, forgery, and fraud in an age before fictionality. I am utterly taken aback by both the ambition of this book and the analytical brilliance Christopher Wood displays throughout in pursuing his argument and its truly far-reaching implications.”
German Studies Review - Matthew Heintzelmann
"This is a dense, challenging text that rewards the reader with both detail and new directions for research. It offers the opportunity to rethink fundamental shifts between medieval and modern modes of thought in the German-speaking world."
Journal of the Norhern Renaissance - Andrew Morrall
"Wood's grasp of a pre-modern typological understanding and his recognition of a referential reading of objects is an important insight and one which will be undoubtedly influential for future scholarship. . . . The range of material on which Wood draws is extraordinary, as is the command of his sources and the rigour and originality of his thinking. All make for consistently fascinating reading. Wood's style combines sections of strenuous abstract theorizing with vivid narrative and descriptive exposition buoyed up by a dramatic sense of the epic in the play of historical forces . . . all too appropriate in a scholar who has brought to light the reflexive qualities of Renaissance artists. The book will become essential reading for anyone working in the field."
Historians of Netherlandish Art - Susan Maxwell
"Packed with visual, as well as countless epigraphic and textual examples, Wood's book rewards the intrepid reader of its over four hundred pages with a new paradigm for understanding what happened in Germany in the sixteenth century. . . . Incredibly nuanced and thought-provoking, Wood's book realigns the field and opens up new issues for Renaissance studies."
Renaissance Quarterly - Bonnie Noble
"In Wood's brilliant book, originality and mechanical production remain decisive factors of the transformation from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, yet his explication of substitutional chains reconfigures the entire discipline of Renaissance studies. Wood's scintillating book will inspire anyone interested in the meaning of time and truth in history."
CAA Reviews - Susan Donahue Kuretsky
"Wood's study ranges widely over sculpture, architecture, prints, paintings, and various other forms of visual expression, both documentary and aesthetic. His erudition is extraordinary, as is his command of language. . . . Wood's selections of examples often act as springboards for consideration of larger categories of images and artifacts, giving his text application well beyond its focus on a particular place and period."
Choice
""This sophisticated, fascinating book deals with the emergence of art as a new fictional construct in 16th-century Germany. . . . An important contribution to early mdoern scholarship and a powerful conceptual revision of current theories dealing with art's emergence."
Renaissance Quarterly
In Wood's brilliant book, originality and mechanical production remain decisive factors of the transformation from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, yet his explication of substitutional chains reconfigures the entire discipline of Renaissance studies. Wood's scintillating book will inspire anyone interested in the meaning of time and truth in history.

— Bonnie Noble

German Studies Review
This is a dense, challenging text that rewards the reader with both detail and new directions for research. It offers the opportunity to rethink fundamental shifts between medieval and modern modes of thought in the German-speaking world.

— Matthew Heintzelmann

CAA Reviews
Wood's study ranges widely over sculpture, architecture, prints, paintings, and various other forms of visual expression, both documentary and aesthetic. His erudition is extraordinary, as is his command of language. . . . Wood's selections of examples often act as springboards for consideration of larger categories of images and artifacts, giving his text application well beyond its focus on a particular place and period.

— Susan Donahue Kuretsky

Journal of the Northern Renaissance
Wood's grasp of a pre-modern typological understanding and his recognition of a referential reading of objects is an important insight and one which will be undoubtedly influential for future scholarship. . . . The range of material on which Wood draws is extraordinary, as is the command of his sources and the rigour and originality of his thinking. All make for consistently fascinating reading. Wood's style combines sections of strenuous abstract theorizing with vivid narrative and descriptive exposition buoyed up by a dramatic sense of the epic in the play of historical forces . . . all too appropriate in a scholar who has brought to light the reflexive qualities of Renaissance artists. The book will become essential reading for anyone working in the field.

— Andrew Morrall

Historians of Netherlandish Art
Packed with visual, as well as countless epigraphic and textual examples, Wood's book rewards the intrepid reader of its over four hundred pages with a new paradigm for understanding what happened in Germany in the sixteenth century. . . . Incredibly nuanced and thought-provoking, Wood's book realigns the field and opens up new issues for Renaissance studies.

— Susan Maxwell

Journal of the Norhern Renaissance

"Wood's grasp of a pre-modern typological understanding and his recognition of a referential reading of objects is an important insight and one which will be undoubtedly influential for future scholarship. . . . The range of material on which Wood draws is extraordinary, as is the command of his sources and the rigour and originality of his thinking. All make for consistently fascinating reading. Wood's style combines sections of strenuous abstract theorizing with vivid narrative and descriptive exposition buoyed up by a dramatic sense of the epic in the play of historical forces . . . all too appropriate in a scholar who has brought to light the reflexive qualities of Renaissance artists. The book will become essential reading for anyone working in the field."

— Andrew Morrall

Choice
This sophisticated, fascinating book deals with the emergence of art as a new fictional construct in 16th-century Germany. . . . An important contribution to early mdoern scholarship and a powerful conceptual revision of current theories dealing with art's emergence.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226905976
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 776,965
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Wood is professor of the history of art at Yale University. He is the author of Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments       
Abbreviations  

1. Credulity     
Druid portraits - How to relax the paradox - Strange temporalities of the artifact

2. Reference by Artifact           
Relics of earliest Europe - Creative archeology - Replica chains - Reference by typology - Resemblance as an emergent property - Relics dependent on labels - Onomastic magic

3. Germany and “Renaissance”
Destructive intimacy with the distant past  - No German “Middle Ages” - Modernity as disenchantment - A different way to describe modernization - The German career of the heathen forms - Disruption of the substitutional chain by print

4. Forgery       
The fabrication of facts - Document forgery as paradigm - Retrospective tombs - The translation of St. Simpertus - Likeness without reference - Some misidentified portraits - The true image of the emperor - The iterable profile - The colossus of Crete - Mirabilium - The quest for the bones of Siegfried

5. Replica        
Recovery of the round arch - The return of Romanesque, in two dimensions - Alphabetic archeology - Early experiments in epigraphic perfection - Career of the Trajanic majuscule in Germany - Publication of icons and relics - Maximilian amplified - Replication of irregular information - Scholarly ambivalence about print - Urban archeology

6. Fiction         
Learned credulity - Quasi-antiquities - Fictional architecture - Hypertrophy of alphabetic choice - Ethnologies of form - Convergences on the epigraphic ideal - Unreadable alphabets - Banishment, temporal and spatial, of the nude - The tomb of the poet - The tomb of the emperor - “Colossal puppets” - The tremor of forgery - Fiction and  counterfiction

7. Re-enactment          
Virtual pilgrimage - Devotion folded over on itself - Paradoxes of the signature - Pressures on the referential model - Art and prophecy - The future of credulity

Figure Credits  
Index

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