Hans BELTING (b. 1935)
Art historian and Professor Emeritus by the Karlsruhe Hochschule für Gestaltung. He began his career as a researcher in Byzantine and Medieval art, a field which he extended to the Reformation and modern art, both contemporary and non-Western.
In Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte? (1983; expanded edition, 1995, translated as Art history after modernism, 2003), he accounts on the fate of a history that contemporary art persists in derailing. In Bild und Kult. Eine Geschichte des Bilder Zeitalter vor der Kunst (1990; Likeness and presence. A history of the image before the era of art, 1994) Belting closely analyzed the period when art was not "art" yet, comparing "images" with their contexts, the functions and practices that have invested them.
History, but increasingly social anthropology, and even literary criticism, psychology and neuroscience, converge in Belting's work for the understanding of images and their meaning. In Karlsruhe he created a project in interdisciplinary research "Anthropology of the Image: Image-medium-body" and in 2001 he published Bild-Anthropologie. Here he analyses a large sample of images covering an area that is equally broad in both temporal and cultural terms, driven by the three key parameters of the analysis, "image", "media" (material support of images) and "body", which thus constitute the essential elements of his anthropology.
With renewed vitality in Das echte Bild (A Verdadeira Imagem, 2010) he insists, on the one hand, on the condition of the image in the contemporary world and, on the other hand, on the period of the Middle Ages and the Reformation. In this double bill, the historical images emerge as twin critics of contemporary imaginary and the contemporary condition of the image reveals unsuspected, though altered, historical roots.
In his latest Florenz und Bagdag (2010; Florence and Bagdad, Renaissance art and Arab science, 2011), Belting focuses on the invention of a cornerstone of Western representation, perspective, stressing the theoretical, artistic and ideological short-circuit that simultaneously unites and separates the Judeo-Christian image and Islamic art and science.
(JFF, MC, VS, rIHA)
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