Anachronic Renaissance

Alexander Nagel

In this widely anticipated book, two leading contemporary art historians offer a subtle and profound reconsideration of the problem of time in the Renaissance. Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood examine the meanings, uses, and effects of chronologies, models of temporality, and notions of originality and repetition in Renaissance images and artifacts. Anachronic Renaissance reveals a web of paths traveled by works and artists--a landscape obscured by art history's disciplinary compulsion to anchor its data securely in time. The buildings, paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and medals discussed were shaped by concerns about authenticity, about reference to prestigious origins and precedents, and about the implications of transposition from one medium to another. Byzantine icons taken to be Early Christian antiquities, the acheiropoieton (or "image made without hands"), the activities of spoliation and citation, differing approaches to art restoration, legends about movable buildings, and forgeries and pastiches: all of these emerge as basic conceptual structures of Renaissance art. Although a work of art does bear witness to the moment of its fabrication, Nagel and Wood argue that it is equally important to understand its temporal instability: how it points away from that moment, backward to a remote ancestral origin, to a prior artifact or image, even to an origin outside of time, in divinity. This book is not the story about the Renaissance, nor is it just a story. It imagines the infrastructure of many possible stories.

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