Narrative, Memory and the Crisis of Mimesis: the Case of Adam Elsheimer and Giordano Bruno

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Title: Narrative, Memory and the Crisis of Mimesis: the Case of Adam Elsheimer and Giordano Bruno
Author: Sapir, Itay
Editor: Hyvärinen, Matti; Korhonen, Anu; Mykkänen, Juri
Belongs to series: COLLeGIUM: Studies Across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Volume 1: The Travelling Concept of Narrative
ISSN: 1796 -2986
ISBN: 952-10-3019-4
Abstract: The triangular space between memory, narrative and pictorial representation is the terrain on which this article is developed. Taking the art of memory developed by Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600) and the art of painting subtly revolutionised by Adam Elsheimer (1578 – 1610) as test-cases, it is shown how both subvert the norms of mimesis and narration prevalent throughout the Renaissance, how disrupted memory creates “incoherent” narratives, and how perspective and the notion of “place” are questioned in a corollary way. Two paintings by Elsheimer are analysed and shown to include, in spite of their supposed “realism”, numerous incoherencies, aporias and strange elements – often overlooked. Thus, they do not conform to two of the basic rules governing both the classical art of memory and the humanist art of painting: well-defined places and the exhaustive translatability of words into images (and vice-versa). In the work of Bruno, both his philosophical claims and the literary devices he uses are analysed as hints for a similar (and contemporaneous) undermining of conventions about the transparency and immediacy of representation.
Date: 2006
Rights: © 2006 author and volume editors

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