Chiaroscuro since Leon Battista Alberti’s De pictura (1435) has been one of the central subjects characterising painting and sculpture in practice and theory in Italy. Primarily, it concerns the articulation of plastic qualities, the formulation of relief, both in painting and sculpture. In the northern tradition, too, chiaroscuro has been highly valued. Through chiaroscuro, the textures of materials and the structural fabric of their surfaces, including their eye-catching highlights, have been evoked. Chiaroscuro goes hand in hand with an intensification of optical qualities.
In the Cinquecento, the significance of chiaroscuro underwent an
important change. The evocation of plasticity and corporeality through a chiaroscuro that created relief was now in part replaced by a tonally defined chiaroscuro, which focused on pictorial qualities. This is the case, for example, in the Clair obscur prints, which developed in both, northern and Italian art. These different uses of chiaroscuro are each linked to differently grounded aesthetic commitments.
Within the context sketched above, we want to understand chiaroscuro as
a distinctive aesthetic principle. Our chronological focus is on the
period from 1300 to 1600.
The following sections are envisaged:
– chiaroscuro and monochrome painting
– chiaroscuro in the context of drawing and prints
– chiaroscuro and sculpture
– chiaroscuro in the art of Leonardo da Vinci
Further relevant proposals may be added: suggestions will be gladly
Interested scholars are cordially invited to present their researches
and ideas in the framework of the conference. Please send your abstract
(max. 300 words) for a c. 20-minute presentation together with your
Curriculum Vitae by August 15, 2015 by email to:
Presenters will be contacted in September 2015.