ColloquePublié le 26.01.2023

The skin of the walls

Dominic-Alain Boariu (chercheur senior FNS) interviendra le 26 janvier 2023 dans le cadre du colloque international Drawing Art History, organisé par Jérémie Koering et Tamar Mayer à l'Université de Tel Aviv.

Abstract: Long overlooked, the practice of drawing by art historians is all the more fascinating in that it has informed a major artistic phenomenon, itself equally neglected by art criticism: painted facades in the Renaissance. These drawings by art historians seemingly seek to halt the inexorable degradation of this little-known form through a kind of optical “flaying” of vestiges. We thus owe them, as it were, the safeguarding of a form of artistic production beset by harmful vagaries: pollution, degradations, overly daring restorations, or worse, urban waste.

But, beyond this undeniable merit, what does it mean to draw an existing painted facade? How does this graphic flattening allow us to grasp the manner in which architectural concreteness and pictorial fiction respond to each other? What kind of agility must the gaze, trapped between panopticism and acuity, demonstrate in order to critically take in the facade? What path does it take, and how does the ductus of the lines follow this same gaze as it wanders?

We wish to submit this epistemological tool to the scrutiny of historiography by tracking the development of this practice before the triumphant arrival of photography. The patrimonial, pedagogical, and political implications – on the cusp of the academic institutionalization of art history – will be discussed in relation to a selection of Italian- Swiss case studies from the end of the 19th century.