Forgery, Replica, Fiction: Temporalities of German Renaissance Artby Christopher S. Wood
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
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.
Susan Donahue Kuretsky
"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."
- University of Chicago Press
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- 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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