Appel à communication : « Beyond disegno ? » (Florence, 3-5 mars 2016)

imgres-1Beyond disegno? The emergence of independent drawings in Germany and Italy in the 15th and 16th century
Florence, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Max-Planck-Institut: 3 – 5 March 2016
Deadline for submissions: 10.8.2015

Disegno has received great attention from art-historical scholarship for several decades now. Its significance for the art of the Italian Renaissance and for the system of the arts right up to the modern era is indisputable. But artistic developments outside the sphere of disegno easily escape our notice. This is particularly true of
independent or finished drawings. Thus it was barely registered that independent drawings were produced in large numbers in Germany after 1500, but remained the exception in Italy. We would expect this situation to be the other way round, given the highly developed culture of drawing in Italy, where artists worked with distinct graphic media and types of drawing. Drawings were collected, and practical aids such as cartoons were exhibited in public and, in the case of Michelangelo, proclaimed the “scuola del mondo”. Yet drawings were situated almost exclusively within the working process and – despite the heightened appreciation of disegno – were understood as a preparatory medium that was ultimately just a means to an end.

In the German-speaking sphere, by contrast, no noteworthy theory of art prevailed at the point in time when independent drawings began to spread, but a market was already established for prints in a wide range of graphic techniques, and probably – on a smaller scale – for drawings, too. The conference proposes to address this discrepancy for the first time. The intention is thereby not only to take a keener look at the practice of drawing, its recipients and its relationship to print culture, but also to enquire what role art theory actually
played. For it is evident that the cult of drawing and the ideal of disegno in Italy did not result in the independent drawing also establishing itself there.

We welcome papers that adopt a comparative approach or examine significant individual cases and which discuss inter alia the following problem areas:

– Along what paths can we arrive at criteria by which to differentiate between finished drawings and preparatory drawings? Was such a distinction relevant for their contemporaries? What role is played here by monogrammings and datings by the artists? What factors favoured or hindered the process whereby drawings became independent? Are there special regional developments, and if so, why?

– In what sort of media environment can finished drawings be situated? In what relation do they stand to printmaking, book illustration and small-format panel paintings?  Were there preferred media for independent drawings, such as chiaroscuro drawing or watercolour, and what made such media appropriate?

– What material and cultural practices were associated with drawings and what can these tell us about their status? Under what circumstances were drawings presented as gifts, framed, inscribed, collected, sold, stuck into albums, copied or shown in public?

– Do independent drawings exhibit specific motifs, compositions, styles of drawing or narrative strategies? What kinds of reception do they invite and how do they interact with the addressee?

The conference, which is being organized with the kind support of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, will be held on 3–5 March 2016 at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz in cooperation with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi. Proposals for papers should not exceed one page in length and should be accompanied by a short CV. Doctoral students and other researchers at the beginning of their career are expressly encouraged to apply. The conference languages are German, English and Italian. Speakers will have their travel and accommodation
costs paid.

Concept: Daniela Bohde, LMU Munich/Goethe University Frankfurt and Alessandro Nova, Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut. Please submit your proposals by 10 August to Daniela Bohde (

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