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«My friend Ficino». Art History and Neoplatonism : from Intellectual to Material Beauty

Abstract : This paper aims to provide an understanding of how, in art history, the otherworldliness of Ficino's Neoplatonism was historiographically constructed during the twentieth century and how, in the twenty-first century, it is possible to once again hear Ficino's original voice on beauty through his texts. Since Erwin Panofsky's Idea (1924) the relationship between art history, Neoplatonism and the philosophy of Marsilio Ficino has been, and continues to be, quite problematic. Ficino's 'abstractness' and his intellectual beauty mainly inspired by Plotinus were for a long time ordinary assumptions: consequently, for many art historians, it was impossible to compare Ficino's feeble interaction with art with the much greater influence of Alberti or Poliziano on Quattrocento artists like Botticelli, only to quote a much discussed example. Yet, thirty years after Panofsky's Idea, Andre Chastel in his Marsilt Ficin et l'art (1954) also considered Ficino to be a Neoplatonic 'artist' in his own right, highly receptive to the human figure, life, ems, and their aesthetic qualities. Therefore, it was as if Ficino could be situated alternatively inside and outside of the history of art. The first part of the following paper discerns underlying links between this long-lasting contradiction and the complexity of Ficino's reception from the time of Aby Warburg to the present day. In the second part, turning to Ficino's very prose, the reader is conveyed from 'intellectual' to 'material' beauty from the Ficinian perspective, in order to show that the modern judgement on his alleged abstractness appears fairly inadequate.
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Submitted on : Friday, December 18, 2020 - 11:51:14 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, December 20, 2020 - 3:13:11 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-03081694, version 1


Stéphane Toussaint. «My friend Ficino». Art History and Neoplatonism : from Intellectual to Material Beauty. Berthold Hub; Sergius Kodera. Iconology, Neoplatonism, and the Arts in the Renaissance [ Actes de Colloque ], Routledge Research in Art History, Routledge, p. 267-61, 2020, 9780367895297. ⟨halshs-03081694⟩



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