Visual Intelligences Research Project

Writings : Art History and Visual Intelligence : Rebecca Fortnum: Visual intelligence and art history

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Visual intelligence and art history
Rebecca Fortnum
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  • Tiepolo and the pictorial Intelligence by Svetlana Alpers and Michael Baxandall, Yale University Press,1994
  • Depiction by Michael Podro, Yale University Press, 1998

In order to find models for ways in which visual intelligence might be examined it is useful to look to some art historical writing, in particular that by writers concerned with artists’ processes and the visual properties of the work of art.   These historians have in common a sense that their analyses are founded in a primary experience of looking; the intuitions or reactions experienced whilst contemplating a work of art are acknowledged and then subject to scholarly exploration and articulation.   This is important because it foregrounds the visual nature of the artwork under discussion. Indeed Svetlana  Alpers and Michael Baxandall’s preface their book on Tiepolo with comments regarding what they perceive as the current ‘depreciation’ of the visual in academic art criticism and state their intention ‘to ‘locate [Tiepolo’s] visual quality as directly as possible’,  ‘without reference to circumstances and context’.

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