Ut pictura poesis: The classical basis of word & image studies
Ut pictura poesis: meaning  as is painting, so is poetry OR  as it is in painting, so let it be in poetry (many poets have...
Ut pictura poesis: This key phrase hails from the  Ars Poetica , or  Art of Poetry , written c. 20-10 BCE by the Latin poe...
Ut pictura poesis: Horace did not  invent  this idea that poetry is like painting, or vice versa;  he simply gave definiti...
Before Horace: <ul><li>The first classical figure credited with this comparison was </li></ul><ul><li>the Greek poet  Simo...
After Horace: <ul><li>–  but Simonides’ ideas were not recorded until much later, more than a century  after Horace  in fa...
According to Plutarch: <ul><li>Simonides said, </li></ul><ul><li>Poema pictura loquens, </li></ul><ul><li>pictura poema si...
Mimesis <ul><li>Both the Plutarchan  Poema pictura loquens, pictura poema silens  & the Horatian  ut pictura poesis  refle...
Mimesis <ul><li>Because of this belief, classical commentators on visual art adopt prevailing theories common to  all  the...
Mimesis <ul><li>In the Renaissance and after, this POV inspired European  neoclassical  critics, who exhorted artists & wr...
The Sister Arts <ul><li>Thus the doctrine of  ut pictura poesis  inspired the “Sister Arts” tradition, which affirmed, or ...
The Sister Arts <ul><li>“ Sister Arts” criticism encouraged a broad humanistic approach to the arts, and the use of </li><...
The Sister Arts <ul><li>This point of view greatly influenced neoclassical art (theory & practice) in Europe, particularly...
Challenges to the Sister Arts <ul><li>However, in the 18 th  & 19 th  centuries, the Sister Arts POV came under question. ...
Challenges to the Sister Arts <ul><li>Instead of simply assuming the parallels between the arts, critics began increasingl...
The  Paragone <ul><li>Whereas the Sister Arts tradition stresses kinship, harmony & unity, the idea of the  paragone  (con...
Laoco ö n –  a seminal text <ul><li>This is where Germany’s  G.E. Lessing  (1729-81) comes in, with his </li></ul><ul><li>...
Laoco ö n –  a seminal text <ul><li>Lessing  stresses the  differences  between the arts, departing from (and criticizing)...
Laoco ö n –  a seminal text <ul><li>In his stress on the  exceptionalism  of each art form, and his insistence on separati...
Laoco ö n –  a seminal text <ul><li>See for example art critic Clement Greenberg’s famous essay, “Towards a Newer Laocoon”...
So, just what is  Laoco ö n? <ul><li>Here is the sculpture, called  Laoco ö n  or the  Laoco ö n Group , </li></ul><ul><li...
 
(This is a copy.)
 
William Blake’s engraved interpretation of the figure (c. 1826-27)
Just what is  Laoco ö n? <ul><li>Inspired by an incident recounted in Book II of Virgil’s  Aeneid ,  the sculpture hails f...
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Ut Pictura Poesis Lecture

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Slideshow lecture regarding the doctrine of ut pictura poesis and the questioning of same, leading up to Lessing's "Laocoon."

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Ut Pictura Poesis Lecture

  1. 1. Ut pictura poesis: The classical basis of word & image studies
  2. 2. Ut pictura poesis: meaning as is painting, so is poetry OR as it is in painting, so let it be in poetry (many poets have said the reverse, i.e., as is poetry, so is painting )
  3. 3. Ut pictura poesis: This key phrase hails from the Ars Poetica , or Art of Poetry , written c. 20-10 BCE by the Latin poet Horace (65-8 BCE). ( AP is one of the most influential works of critical theory from the classical period – it was first translated into English by Queen Elizabeth I, in 1598!)
  4. 4. Ut pictura poesis: Horace did not invent this idea that poetry is like painting, or vice versa; he simply gave definitive expression to what was already a commonplace comparison.
  5. 5. Before Horace: <ul><li>The first classical figure credited with this comparison was </li></ul><ul><li>the Greek poet Simonides of Keos (way back c. 556-469? BCE), </li></ul><ul><li>well prior to Horace – </li></ul>
  6. 6. After Horace: <ul><li>– but Simonides’ ideas were not recorded until much later, more than a century after Horace in fact, by the Greek historian & philosopher Plutarch (c. 46-122? AD), </li></ul><ul><li>in his essay De gloria Atheniensium [ On the glory of the Athenians ] </li></ul>
  7. 7. According to Plutarch: <ul><li>Simonides said, </li></ul><ul><li>Poema pictura loquens, </li></ul><ul><li>pictura poema silens , </li></ul><ul><li>meaning Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a mute poetry </li></ul><ul><li>or Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting </li></ul><ul><li>(Some have said, poetry is blind painting!) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Mimesis <ul><li>Both the Plutarchan Poema pictura loquens, pictura poema silens & the Horatian ut pictura poesis reflected the long-held belief (codified by Aristotle, Horace, et al.) that the goal of literature & visual art alike was representation , more specifically, the ideal imitation ( mimesis ) of human actions. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Mimesis <ul><li>Because of this belief, classical commentators on visual art adopt prevailing theories common to all the arts, rather than creating theories specific to specific media such as painting or sculpture. They apply what we would consider literary or dramatic standards to painting, rather than concentrating on painting’s unique materials or form. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Mimesis <ul><li>In the Renaissance and after, this POV inspired European neoclassical critics, who exhorted artists & writers alike to seek the same ends (general truths of a morally instructive nature) through much the same means (imitations of an empirical yet idealized “nature,” as well as allusions to widely-known classical and Biblical stories & characters) . </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Sister Arts <ul><li>Thus the doctrine of ut pictura poesis inspired the “Sister Arts” tradition, which affirmed, or simply assumed, a fundamental kinship between literature & other arts, e.g., painting, sculpture, music, & architecture. </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Sister Arts <ul><li>“ Sister Arts” criticism encouraged a broad humanistic approach to the arts, and the use of </li></ul><ul><li>inter-art analogies </li></ul><ul><li>as a way of appreciating </li></ul><ul><li>individual artistic works. </li></ul><ul><li>(Obviously, this is not a formalistic POV.) </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Sister Arts <ul><li>This point of view greatly influenced neoclassical art (theory & practice) in Europe, particularly in </li></ul><ul><li>14th to 17th c. Italy, France, & England. </li></ul><ul><li>Neoclassical aesthetics took the Horatian ut pictura poesis as a basic principle. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Challenges to the Sister Arts <ul><li>However, in the 18 th & 19 th centuries, the Sister Arts POV came under question. </li></ul><ul><li>See for example James Harris’ Three Treatises (1744), which still assume mimesis as the common ground of the arts but begin to stress the differences between poetry and painting. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Challenges to the Sister Arts <ul><li>Instead of simply assuming the parallels between the arts, critics began increasingly to stress the paragone , meaning comparison or contest, between the arts. Criticism became more self-conscious about this comparison. </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Paragone <ul><li>Whereas the Sister Arts tradition stresses kinship, harmony & unity, the idea of the paragone (contest, debate, struggle) stresses difference, contrast & exceptionality . </li></ul><ul><li>Note: This intellectual debate was joined by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), in his Paragone – he claimed painting to be the highest of arts! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Laoco ö n – a seminal text <ul><li>This is where Germany’s G.E. Lessing (1729-81) comes in, with his </li></ul><ul><li>Laoco ö n: An Essay upon the Limits of Painting and Poetry (1766) </li></ul><ul><li>(Laokoon: oder ü ber die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Laoco ö n – a seminal text <ul><li>Lessing stresses the differences between the arts, departing from (and criticizing) the works of his near-contemporaries, e.g., </li></ul><ul><li>Antiquarian/archaeologist & art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) </li></ul><ul><li>Antiquarian/archaeologist </li></ul><ul><li>Count Caylus , </li></ul><ul><li>aka Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubières (1692-1765) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Laoco ö n – a seminal text <ul><li>In his stress on the exceptionalism of each art form, and his insistence on separating what poetry can do from what painting can do, </li></ul><ul><li>Lessing anticipates the aesthetics of MODERNISM , as developed in the 20 th century… </li></ul>
  20. 20. Laoco ö n – a seminal text <ul><li>See for example art critic Clement Greenberg’s famous essay, “Towards a Newer Laocoon” ( Partisan Review , 1940) </li></ul>
  21. 21. So, just what is Laoco ö n? <ul><li>Here is the sculpture, called Laoco ö n or the Laoco ö n Group , </li></ul><ul><li>that inspired Lessing’s </li></ul><ul><li>argument & title… </li></ul>
  22. 23. (This is a copy.)
  23. 25. William Blake’s engraved interpretation of the figure (c. 1826-27)
  24. 26. Just what is Laoco ö n? <ul><li>Inspired by an incident recounted in Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid , the sculpture hails from perhaps the 1 st century BCE, and is generally credited to a band of three sculptors </li></ul><ul><li>(often said to be a father and his two sons!). </li></ul><ul><li>This ancient sculpture was rediscovered in Rome in 1506 and bought by Pope Julius II, and became the subject of a contest among artists to see who could restore it best. See http://www.idcrome.org/laocoon.htm for more info! </li></ul>

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