AESTHETICS AND ITS ARCHÉ

Strictly when it comes to aesthetics must understand some concepts that were developed in the philosophy of the eighteenth century, such as the concept of meaning, fashion, beauty, harmony and proportion. In short Aesthetics born in the eighteenth century to explain the possibility of a knowledge gained by the senses in their contact with the ways of the outside world. It was a response to a gradual devaluation of the senses in the knowledge economy. However, consciously, we can expand these key concepts and anachronistically apply them to other times in trying to understand the motion of a historical thought that is for ruptures and continuities. Certainly anachronisms are always dangerous, but can be used for a comprehensive hermeneutics which seeks to merge cultural horizons. If the cultural horizon of Archaic Greece and contemporary aesthetics, heiress of the concepts developed in the eighteenth century. In doing so, they seek to understand the aesthetics and its arché or moment of birth.
If we look at the history of aesthetics, conceived broadly, we can see, in its origins, a change in an ontological dimension to an epistemological dimension. For Archaic Greece and the pre-Socratic philosophers, aesthetics can only be conceived in an ontological order, as for Plato and Aristotle, it is an epistemological question.
Classical culture has always conceived of as aesthetic beauty, but in its metaphysical sense, that is a reality that is deeper and more extensive than the own aesthetic and it is based.
Both comparative studies of religions and cultural anthropology tell us that knowledge of an orderly world (cosmos) was built through a pervasive dialectic between the sacred and the profane. It is an archaic ontology that depends on a sacred reality which supports a profane world. This reality came into existence through primordial acts of creation.
According to this ontology, history and linear time is of secondary importance. Sacred time is cyclical, the time of origins, sustains the world and its profound reality, a cyclical movement of deaths and births. Some authors consider that this worldview happened when the men became eminently farmers, reflecting the very productive structure of nature. Others regard it as an explanatory logical structure inherent in the process of signification, with an explanatory archetype, logos which gives meaning to the world. Regardless of explanations of their origins, the fact is that the myth is a form of truth-narrated about the sacred and the ritual necessary to gain access the sacred. Without this ritual the cosmos would collapse plunging again into chaos. Ritual is dangerous in itself, because through it, it contacts the sacred, but it also insulates and regulates the contact according to eternal and mandatory formulas, which, if not met, bring profoundly negative consequences.
The beauty or aesthetics, enter this cosmological picture as an expression or perception of order. Contemplation of this cosmic order becomes a very important experience for men in general and especially for philosophers. This is valid for both pre-Socratic as to Plato and Aristotle. It is in this contemplation that I can know the ultimate truth and the supreme good. This is the first and supreme theory in the pure sense and Greek term which means contemplation. It is then a contemplation of aesthetic nature. This ontology then comprises a whole in which aesthetics (beauty of contemplation), epistemology (theory and truth) and ethics (highest good) are inextricably linked.
While planning the cosmos can be detected in the mathematical relations, especially in musical form. Music education was one of the most important items in the education (paideia) of children and young Greek. The main properties of beauty are harmony and proportion, both possessing mathematical expression. Thus, in this metaphysical cosmos, art is subject to the myth, ritual and musical expression. Conclusion on their arché or inaugural moment, Aesthetics, and anachronistic in a broad sense, is a form of metaphysics. Art, then, is subordinated to other evaluative spheres.

Pythagorean Tradition

Pythagorean tradition – Originally the word harmony meant to gather or put together.

 

Referências

BATAILLE, Georges. “Lascaux ou la naissance de l’art », In: Œuvres complètes IX. Paris: Gallimard, 1979.

ELIADE, Mircea. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History Translated by Willard Trask. Princeton: University of Princeton Press, 2005.

GRASSI, Emesto. Arte como Antiarte, a teoria do bela no mundo antigo. Sao Paulo: Livraria Duas Cidades, 1975.

GUTHRIE, Dale. The Nature of Paleolithic Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

JÄEGER, Werner. Paidéia: A formação do homem grego. rad. Artur M. Parreira. 4ª Ed. – São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2001.

Dr. Eduardo Cardoso Braga
October – 2015

A feminist and allegorical art of Gustave Courbet and Carolee Schneemann

Gustave Courbet – “The Origin of the World” (1866)

Gustave Courbet – “The Origin of the World” (1866)

When we begin contacting Courbet’s painting reproduced above, we interpret as an image of erotic connotations and perhaps even pornographic. The making of realistic painting and its rich detailing reference to the presence of a true view and testified as fact. However, such a reading is too hasty. The correct interpretation of art always requires a time and a way: dialog with the work. So Paul Klee said: Do you understand a work? Take a chair.

Reading this image as simply erotic and “spicy” with perspective somewhat sexist, is in open opposition to the very strong Aristotelian tradition in which art is understood as a value and therefore referring to what “should be” and not exactly what it is. This tradition is unfortunately often overlooked by historians rushed, which often make the “retrospective illusion”, i.e., they believe that their own concepts can be designed throughout history. Pure realism in art is a delusion. Aristotle in his “Poetics”, distinguishes the historian, which works with what is, and the artist, which is what it should be; noting the intellectual superiority of the seeker the world as it should be, so the theoretical and metaphysical sphere. This is the first and fundamental distinction between the literary/artistic and historiography. Thus, poetry is the imitation of human action, and history is the narration of events and facts that actually occurred. The classic distinction between literature and history, based on the conventions of fictionality and truth, derives from the Aristotelian conception that poetry is imitation of human actions (“should be”), and history is the narration of the events actually occurred. Here we have already made, the structures of the modern conventions of fictionality and truth, key concepts in the definitions of the two discursive modes. It is from this distinction that we can understand the contemporary critical movement of history and fiction, which seeks a rapprochement between history and fiction, or more exactly approximation of historiography with the poetic. A good part of recent historians advocate a philosophy of history that interprets the historiography as well as belong with the literary dimension, thus behaving like something of the fiction. So today, instead of seeking the difference as Aristotle, search the similarities. For Aristotle, this difference is not only the metaphysical order, but also epistemological. The fundamental difference between the Poetics puts the History and Poetry sets up the kind of knowledge that each gender develops: (1) the poetic imitation or (2) the historical narrative. Imitation meaning what could have been (should-be), and historical narration which indeed was.

The knowledge provided by history is less than that given by poetry, because his concern is for what happened to an individual who is a minor scope of what could happen, the universal. For Aristotle the true and certain knowledge always universal aims. Only knowledge is universal rational, poetry is something more philosophical, more serious, deeper than the story.

The formal (formal cause) dimension of Poetry / Art – the confabulation plot of facts – guaranteed structuring actions perfectly organic, unitary and beautiful way (“For the beauty lies in the extent and order […] ” Poetics, VII, 1450 35 b). In the beautiful, each party has its meaning in terms of making up the whole, in such a way that results in knowledge and pleasure (final cause). The poetic imitation of the world, after that requires a certain transfiguration of a world in a coherent and organic whole.

“It is, moreover, evident from what has been said, that it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen,– what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put into verse, and it would still be a species of history, with metre no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen” (Poetics, IX, 1451 b).

In Aristotle’s Poetics, Poetry is imitation (mimesis), which is characterized by an operation of representation and the transfiguration of nature (physis). In your nature the man is action. The imitation of this action does not happen in terms of simple copy or transcript, but as an expansion and the universalization of its ability. The poet imitates actions and this imitation is creation, for it goes beyond what is simply given, deriving possibilities and potentialities (poiesis). The poet is a creator of fables and should compose and recompose the traditional myths to achieve its own ends, i.e., create and broker the elements chosen in an order that leads to a significant whole. The activity of the poet is then total or universalize what is singular. Make sense of the fragmentary referring it to a significant totality.

Let us return to Courbet and started with this new data, the dialogue with the work. This is the presentation of a female sexual organ. Not a pornographic experience, despite the accurate representation and in detail. We are facing a sensory confrontation and we must wonder about their meaning. What does this painting mean? This confrontation, on the hermeneutic circle, leads us to the very experience of art, in which sensory and repertoire are mobilized to produce the need for meaning. The title of the work provides the key to its correct interpretation. Word and image, sometimes establish complicity and mutual clarifications or illustrations. One illuminates the other. Especially from the Renaissance, the title of a work can turn it into a real allegory, in Benjamin’s sense. That is, a particular feature, a certain perspective, a fragment become an expression of the whole. The particular monad is all expressed in a point of view. The title of Courbet’s work is “The Origin of the World”. Then a certain woman with her particular sexual organ, becomes an allegory of the creation of the world, the powers of the Great Mother, which is the source of all us. The painting then expressed the allegory of creation, the very power of art, artist and cultural gesture that creates a sense of something. The power of appointment. Naming means to transform the world, recreate it, transfiguring it into pure sense or meaning. We cannot help but notice that Courbet think the woman with her sexual organ as the carrier of this power to create and name. In this sense, we can, following a track Lehrer (2012), associate the work of Courbet to the performers Carolee Schneemann works that explore women’s issue and, especially, the creative dimension of women. His work “Interior Scroll” shows us the creative forces of women, symbolized by the act of generation; act materialized in sensitive way of your sex organ.

It is then to establish the links between biology and lost the sacred. In our society this link is always hidden in the objectification of ensuring the biological fetish for merchandise that becomes naturalized. For example, simply review the cartoon and children’s comic books. Social relations are always displayed as uncles and nephews. Almost there is no biological relationship of father and mother. At the same time, industrial objects as they are collected from trees, used and disposed of without any binding to its production system. A character needs a helicopter and it appears immediately on hand to be used. And after use is mysteriously dropped. Everything behaves as if it were organic products, the nature and harvested trees.

The work of Courbet and Schneemann have the strength to reveal this strange situation returning the importance for biological, for women and their specificity. Also, this biological is not presented as pure brute fact, but linked to the cultural process and a certain sacredness that celebrates the creative act, unveiling the be hiding in the art of the era. The world and all that dwells in it then becomes the result of a creative process, a system or production process.

Carolee Schneemann – “Interior Scroll” – Performance – 1975

Carolee Schneemann – “Interior Scroll” – Performance – 1975

References

– ARISTÓTELES. (1996). Poética. Trad., Pref., Introd., Com., Apend. de Eudoro de Sousa. Porto Alegre: Globo.
– Butcher, S.H.(2006). “Aristotle’s Poetics: New Translation.” 2006-08-05. <http://www.leeds.ac.uk/classics/resources/poetics/poettran.htm>
– Costa, Lígia Militz da. (1992). A Poética de Aristóteles: Mímese e Verossimilhança. São Paulo: Ática.
– Gazoni, M. F. (2006). A Poética de Aristóteles: tradução e comentários. 2006. 132 f. Tese (Doutorado em Filosofia) – Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo.
– Goldschmidt, Victor. (1982). Temps physique et temps tragique chez Aristote. Paris: J. Vrin.
– Lehrer, Keith. (2012). Art, Self and Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
– Naval Durán, Concepción. (1992). Educación, Retórica y Poética: tratado de la educación en Aristóteles. Pamplona: Ed. da Universidad de Navarra.

Ph.D Eduardo Cardoso Braga
2014

“SUMMER OF LOVE”. THE BEGINNINGS OF ART PSYCHEDELIC

The emergence and flowering of psychedelic art coincided with one of the most revolutionary and rebellious periods of the twentieth century, situated to the late 60’s and early 70’s. The so-called “Summer of Love” was an explosion of contemporary art and popular culture that is blended with the libertarian claims of pervasive social changes in attitudes of civil disobedience. It was a celebration with new psychedelic aesthetic sensitivity and reaching all forms of art: visual arts, music, film, architecture, graphic design, theater, fashion, etc. It also created their own forms of expression, hybridizing and synthesizing traditional forms in multi sensory events with celebratory spirit and ceremonial. The Summer of Love rebuilt the original creative impulse of utopian ambitions expanded it’s aesthetic into a broad cultural and political sphere, aligning themselves with the movements of “human rights” and “end of the Vietnam war.” The aesthetic movement of psychedelic influence in many aspects of popular culture, as well as several artists steeped in the counterculture movement, breaking the boundaries of disciplines, genres and media, with important contributions in the graphic design of posters, album covers, newspapers and magazines underground. Currently, thanks to careful and beautiful historical works, several works of this period were recovered, notably movies, videos, multimedia environments, recreating the immersive experience of psychedelic, their ceremonies and performances lights. The movement spread around the world, including strong influences and odd contribution of Brazil. But it is worth noting some “arche locus”, most references to the movement: “Haight and Ashbury” that is a sub-district of San Francisco, California; UFO nightclub London; Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco; events “Human Be-In” in Golden Gate Park, preferred place of legends Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. The beginning of the Summer of Love has been popularly attributed to the big event Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January 1967. The strength and size of this event sparked the mass media for the existence of the counterculture that was being cultivated in Haight and Ashbury. The counterculture movement was fueled by the media, especially The San Francisco Oracle, which in 1967 surpassed half of a million readers. Also noteworthy, as the driving force behind the movement, popular theater and street activism done by the Diggers, an important reference group for psychedelia and the Hippie Movement.

The underground press, that emerged during the 60’s, was a means of alternative communication and democratization of ideas. Among the many publications around the world, it is worth mentioning: Oz magazine, International Times, East Village Other, San Francisco Oracle. These and other publications provided a rich portrait of a busy period with moral and political changes. They also witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of creativity that revolutionized the vocabulary of graphic design. Gradually, college and university students began flocking to Haight and Ashbury becoming thousands in the spring of 1967 and transforming the “arche locus” of psychedelia in a burst of spontaneous creativity with street art. Colors, many colors. The government of the area began to worry about these events and tried to block the way of students toward the “arche locus”. However, the summer holidays and several articles and reports in the mass media have become completely impossible government intentions. In the spring of 1967, community leaders Haight and Ashbury created the Council of the “Summer of Love”, giving the event a huge popularity through “by word of mouth”. During the “Summer of Love”, about 1000.000 youth from around the world gathered in the district of Haight and Ashbury, but also in other cities of Berkeley and San Francisco. All gathered for a large version of the popular “hippie experience,” with free food and free love. There were also provided by the organizers, health clinics, to meet any abuse or even medical care for the needy. Stalls with cheap items were also offered to those who needed something extra. The Summer of Love attracted many public of various ages, from teenagers to mature adults, all fascinated by joining a cultural and political utopia. However, the huge influx of public has continued to cause problems. The district could not accommodate many public and the organizers failed to scale the movement to a dimension of mass. Quickly the scene of Haight and Ashbury, over time, deteriorated attributable to overcrowding, homelessness, hunger, and problems with drugs and crime. For all this, also deteriorated relations between the events and the residents of Haight and Ashbury, which, at the beginning, it took up a harmonious and peaceful way. Arriving autumn, many public left the “arche locus” for several reasons, especially to return to their student activities. But when they returned to their homes, communities and schools have brought along with them a remarkable experience with new ideas, behaviors, clothes, fashion and ways of life that have spread through the cities of the U.S. and the world.

Naturally, as all aesthetic movement psychedelia does not come from nowhere. Past generations have explored the dimensions of psychedelia in ways and words, theorizing them too. However, remained restricted to small intellectual circles . From an aesthetic and poetic view, we may trace a line of pre-Raphaelite artists, through Art Nouveau and the “Beat Generation,” to the psychedelic art itself, which kept the profound influences of these predecessors cited. Notably, graphic design has clear and formal poetic similarities with Art Nouveau, especially in the use of floral patterns and attention to detail, following the influence and guidance of Gustav Klimt. The Beat Generation was the first major step toward a political and cultural change in American society or the dominant style “American way life”, which was exported to the rest of the world. Despite being predominantly a literary movement , called ” beatniks ” had a great influence on the New Left and the Hippie Movement. His literature was heavily influenced by political and Geo-political engendered after the Second World War problems. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were two popular representatives and influential in Beat Generation movement, with strong repercussions on the Hippie movement and its psychedelic art. Attitudes and worldview (Weltanschauung) of the Beat Generation engendered the base of the Hippie movement, although the beatniks had a more pessimistic and less commitment to political changes in group movements vision. Remained something individualists, loners and rebels Community restrictions. Despite all influence and previous preparation, one cannot also deny a strong historical and formal specificity in psychedelic art and the Hippie Movement. The psychedelic art is distinguished by lush use of color, ornamental forms, the complex structure with obsessive attention to detail. Forms express the expanded states of consciousness or altered by music, light, meditation and hallucinogens.

Recently we see an interest in the revival of this aesthetic style, expressing ways of living, inhabit and perceive the world . He has captured the imagination of artists, designers and filmmakers again. However attitudes towards this cultural movement ranging from a deep reflection and study up a superficial postmodern appropriation. The superficial perspective seeks to exalt the vintage look and appearance of what was a “golden age”, while some artists seek to develop a reflection of the movement as libertarian moment also suffered the plight of many “broken promises” by history. Finally, the relationship between this and that numinous moment in history is manifested by a historical reading “against the grain” , as proposed by Walter Benjamin. The fundamental requirement of Benjamin ‘s writing history against the grain, i.e., for the vanquished – against conformist tradition of historicism that commonly enters empathy with the victor (1971). Rejecting the modern Goddess worships Progress, Benjamin puts at the center of his philosophy of history the concept of disaster. According to him, the catastrophe is progress and progress would be a disaster. The disaster is the continuum of history and libertarian promises (cracks ) that were suffocated by this continuum (Habermas, 1981). Have other reinterpretations of aesthetics psychedelia just uncritically absorb his poetic procedures, thus emphasizing only the “vintage” of the climate movement. This is a farce, as the historical is not repeated, as Marx said. The psychedelic movement had no reference to himself as to repeat, this was instead an absolutely innovative gesture in history.

In Brazil we highlight some events that did flourish and triggered the Flower Power and Hippie Movement. The staging of the musical Hair, all singing in Portuguese, in 1969/70. The film “Geração Bendita” (Blessed Generation) by Carlos Bini showed Quiabo’s, the Hippie community at Friburgo. The rock shows at Aquarius Theater in Sao Paulo and “Tenda do Calvário” (Calvary Tent), basement rented the Church of the same name, in Benedito Calixto Square, also in São Paulo. The performances of outdoor rock, in particular, held at Ibirapuera Park in the mid 70’s. I quote these by affinity, but here are many others that should be remembered. We should also point out that psychedelic art was much present in the Tropicalia movement, since the work of Hélio Oiticica, to music and graphic design from around the tropicalism.

Harmony and understanding?
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions?
Golden living dreams of visions?
Mystic crystal revelation?
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!?
Hair – The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius

Prof. Dr. Eduardo C Braga
February 2014

 

Gene Anthony, Hippies on the Corner of Haight and Ashbury, 1967, Inkjet print (reprint) , 35.6 x 27.9 cm, Collection of Wolfgang's Vault, San Francisco, © Wolfgang's Vault.

Gene Anthony, Hippies on the Corner of Haight and Ashbury, 1967, Inkjet print (reprint) , 35.6 x 27.9 cm, Collection of Wolfgang’s Vault, San Francisco, © Wolfgang’s Vault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albert Alotta, Peacemeal, 1967, Film still, Courtesy the artist and the film-makers cooperative.

Albert Alotta, Peacemeal, 1967, Film still, Courtesy the artist and the film-makers cooperative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verner Panton, Phantasy Landscape, 1970, © Panton Design, Basel.

Verner Panton, Phantasy Landscape, 1970, © Panton Design, Basel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divulgação da montagem de

Divulgação da montagem de “Hair” no Brasil, 1970.

References

Benjamin, W. (1971). “Thèses sur la Philosophie de l Histoire”. In: Poésie et révolution. Trad. Maurice de Gandillac. Paris: Lettres Nouvelles.

Bini, Carlos & Kohler, Carl & Doady, Carlos. (1971). Geração Bendita. [Filme]. Direção de Carlos Bini, Produção de Carl Kohler e Carlos Doady. Produção Independente, Nova Friburgo, RJ.

Burroughs, William. (1992). O almoço nu. São Paulo: Brasiliense.

Carmo, Paulo Sérgio do. (2001) Culturas da rebeldia: A juventude em questão. São Paulo: SENAC/São Paulo.

Ginsberg, Allen. (1984). Uivo, Kaddish e outros poemas. Porto Alegre: L & PM.

Habermas, J. (1981). “L’actualité de W. Benjamin. La critique: Prise de Conscience ou Pr servation”. Revue d Esthétique n 1.

Leary, Timothy. (1989) Flashbacks. São Paulo: Brasiliense.

Maciel, Luís Carlos. (1997). Os anos 60. Porto Alegre: L & PM.

Marcuse, Herbert. (1982). A ideologia da sociedade industrial: O homem unidimensional. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar.

Newfield, Jack. (1969). Una minoria profetica: La nueva izquierda norteamericana. Barcelona: Ediciones Martinez Roca S/A.

Patriota, Rosangela. (1997). “Jim Morrison: O poeta-xamã dos anos 60”. Revista Cultura Vozes. Petrópolis/Rio de Janeiro: Vozes. N. 2, Março/Abril, 1997, p. 81-
95.

Pereira, Carlos Alberto Messeder. (1992). O que é contracultura. São Paulo: Brasiliense.

Roszak, Theodore. (1972). A contracultura. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1972.

Sculatti, Gene. (c9185). San Francisco nights: the psychedelic music trip, 1965-1968. New York : St Martin’s Press.

Selvin, Joel. (c1994). Summer of love: the inside story of LSD, rock & roll, free love, and high times in the wild West. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Dutton.

Tomlinson, Sally Anne. (1991). San Francisco rock posters, 1965 to 1971. Dissertation by Sally Anne Tomlinson. Location: California State Library, Main Lib NC1849.R6 T66 1991 California.

The San Francisco Oracle. (1991). Facsimile edition : the psychedelic newspaper of the Haight-Ashbury, 1966-1968 / edited by Allen Cohen. 1st ed. Berkeley, CA : Regent Press.

The Adoration of the Magi according to Giotto

The Adoration of the Magi

The Adoration of the Magi

 

The Adoration of the Magi, 1304-1306.
Capela Scrovegni, Pádua, Itália.

While the other monotheists and the Protestant Reformation excluded images of worship, the Catholic Church maintained its pictorial representation giving her a didactic use. This use of the image was always questioned throughout history by various currents within the Church. However, the argument of force didactic image always triumph. In fact, before a largely illiterate population the images become teaching tool for the church, which appealed to artists whose works illustrated and approached the life and works of saints, the everyday reality of the common man. Due to the use of great artists for the construction of Christian imagery, production iconography Church wins the aesthetical and artistic dimension going well beyond mere didacticism. The construction of the Western visual communication, as well as their aesthetical bases can have their archeology found in Renaissance movement, especially in its religious dimension.

Giotto is an artist of this stature. His image simplification, based on a clear and precise design, its light color, clean and bright make their images are a visual impact and a dimension of monumentality itself to express the educational content desired by the church. Vasari in his “Lives of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance“, written in 1550, considers Giotto as the very origin of the movement, which will culminates in the generation of Vasari. This generation develops a sense of rupture with the passed culture immediately differentiating indeterminate temporal flow. This is a break with the Gothic and a resume, according to an accurate reading of a classical passed has been forgotten.

In the painting “The Adoration of the Magi Giotto,” whose execution took place among 1304 and 1306, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, Giotto shows all the mastery of his monumental style, clear and perceptive impact. The scene reveals one Epiphany, i.e., a manifestation and miraculous phenomena, which expresses a special moment of revelation that illuminates a significant and makes the life of one or more characters. Thus, the observer of the scene becomes a witness to the fact, keeping the Christian faith and belief in the veracity of the narratives of biblical events.

Giotto’s painting we are analyzing is part of a set of images ordered and paid by Enrico Scrovegni, a rich merchant. Usury was condemned by the Church and a way to purge this sin was to make donations to the church as works of art and architecture, thus contributing to the glorification of God and evangelization of men. Enrico’s father, Rinaldo is Scrovegni character of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is in the seventh circle of hell, where those responsible are being punished for the sin of usury. So it is obvious that Enrico wants to purge devoting part of his fortune to build beautiful works of art for the churches, purifying himself so much like his father.

The theme of the adoration of the Magi is linked to the main theme of the Nativity that had already been recovered by introducing yourself in the popular imagination thanks to the work of San Francisco and dissemination of cribs and nativity scenes.

In the Bible, the only reference to the Nativity and the Magi found in the Gospel of Matthew. It is precisely this gospel that Giotto provides the imagistic elements to compose the scene of the Adoration of the Magi, which are represented as rich and powerful men from other lands and religions, but who recognize the Child Jesus the Messiah. They then pay tribute and bring offerings to the Messiah who was prophesied by a star. According to Matthew, “fell down and worshiped him.” Giotto makes them even kiss the feet of Jesus. In this painting, we see a constant recurrence in images of Giotto: the presence of the rock, which appears in many paintings of the time. This is a reference to Psalm of David (18.2) which states: “The Lord is my rock.” The wooden cover, very stylized, is an icon that references the manger, Nativity place.

Beyond the iconography derived directly from the Gospel of Matthew there are small elements that are probably based on the book of Peter, which was taken from the Bible and belong with the so-called “New Testament Apocrypha“.

Evidently Giotto built his compositions under the supervision of doctors of the Church and the inclusion of elements of the apocryphal gospels cannot be understood as a form of defense. The reason Giotto use these visual elements, which are not described in Matthew, is mostly due to the presence of these elements already in the popular imagination than any alleged recovery apocryphal gospels. To the effect of “witness of truth” must happen is that the imaginary expectations of the people are fully satisfied, adding a visual impact Giotto whose creation is a great teacher. The main elements that are not in Matthew are the rock, who’s meaning has already been explained, the angel and the star or comet. Angel are mixed and star and both have the same meaning with significant different. This is the reference angel as a star. The guiding star is the angel who guides.

The Adoration of the Magi is a derivative of the Nativity theme, but has its iconography beauty, and a wealth of images created by great artists.

Regardless of faith or ideological dimension of education, we can certainly enjoy the aesthetical beauty of the painting of Giotto. His emphasis on drawing clear, clean and direct and monumentality in the treatment chart reveals an archeology of contemporary visual communications. There is great beauty in the subtle use of colors representing with great sensitivity immaculate holiness of characters in the scene. The draping of garments refers explicitly to classical sculptures of ancient Greece and the entire scene is bathed in a transcendent elegance without flaunting any excessive luxury. The beauty of this painting opens my heart to celebrate, Brazilian celebrate “folia dos reis” (Three Kings Day).

Prof. Dr. Eduardo C Braga

06/01/2013 – Folia de Reis

References

 BUENO, Cintia M. F. R. “Seguindo a estrela: Mateus e o Apócrifo de Pedro na Epyphania de Giotto em Pádua”. In: ANPUH – XXV SIMPÓSIO NACIONAL DE HISTÓRIA – Fortaleza, 2009.

 HEINZ-MOHR, Gerd. Dicionário dos Símbolos: Imagens e sinais da Arte Cristã. São Paulo: Paulus, 1994.

 PANOFSKY, Erwin. O significado nas artes visuais. Trad. Maria Clara F. Kneese e J. Guinsburg. São Paulo, Perspectiva, 1979. (coleção debates)

 PANOFSKY, Erwin, A Perspectiva como forma simbólica, Lisboa, Edições 70, 1993.

 VASARI, Giorgio, 1511-1574. Lives of the most eminent painters, sculptors & architects, by Giorgio Vasari: newly tr. by Gaston du C. de Vere. With five hundred illustraiions, (London, Macmillan and co., ld. & The Medici society, ld., 1912-15.)