CFP: The Network of Cassinese Arts, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Florence, 16-18 Mar 2017

800px-abbey_of_saint_scholastica2c_subiacoCFP: The Network of Cassinese Arts, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Florence, 16-18 Mar 2017
Deadline: Oct 30, 2016

Organized by Alessandro Nova and Giancarla Periti

From the late fifteenth to the mid sixteenth century, an impressive
corpus of architecture, sculpture, and painting was created to
embellish monastic sites affiliated with the Benedictine Cassinese
Congregation of Italy. A religious order of humanistically trained
monks whose mobility among the network of Cassinese monasteries was
paramount to their spiritual reformed agenda, the Cassinese fruitfully
engaged with the most eminent artists and architects of the early
modern period, supporting the production of imagery and architecture
that was often highly experimental in nature. The Cassinese
Congregation constituted a spiritual infrastructure that spread across
the northern, central and southern regions of Italy, through which not
only monks but also works and models circulated, intersected, and
interacted. The mobility and flow of artists, materials, and motifs
tied together the reformed religious communities affiliated with the
Cassinese Congregation and simultaneously connected an antique with a
modern Christian artistic corpus. This system resulted in a virtual
continuum linking works of architecture, sculpture, and painting,
including the Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna, the Norman
cloister of Monreale (Palermo), and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna in
Piacenza.

Scholarship has presented the Cassinese monks principally as learned
patrons of ambitious but locally-inflected works created by credited
Renaissance masters. But such an approach has obscured the fact that
these modern instances of Cassinese Christian arts existed within a
larger cultural network and coexisted with others of differing value,
including the management of late antique buildings, the preservation of
Byzantine mosaics, and the custody of poorly made votive images in
popular shrines. Not only did these lesser-known episodes assure the
survival of late antique arts, and artifacts of limited aesthetic
appeal, but they also provided occasions for Renaissance masters active
in Cassinese communities to confront alternative forms of antiquity in
a dialogue among the arts for the reinvention of a modern Christianized
art.

The present conference proposes itself as a forum for the task of
reconnecting various artistic episodes that were once Cassinese
initiatives in Renaissance Mediterranean Italy and of re-considering
the spatial monastic settings in which the artworks were originally
placed. Investigating the network of Cassinese arts therefore offers a
fresh occasion to gain new perspectives on a rich body of antique and
Renaissance artworks and their life across time, as well as their
makers’ approaches to past models, recipients’ modalities of viewing
and the pressures put on images as agents of religious reform.

Proposals engaging with all aspects of the network of Cassinese arts
are welcome, with a preference for investigations of little-explored
Cassinese works in southern Italy or new readings of major artworks and
their modes of functioning. Comparative approaches to cycles depicting
rebus-like art forms such as grotesques and hieroglyphs are also of
great interest, as are explorations of the social life of Renaissance
artists building on the evidence that some set up workshops within the
Cassinese precincts while working for the monks. Other topics could
include the appropriation and recycling of Early Christian and
Byzantine materials in Cassinese edifices, the ecological management of
built resources (for example, the transfer of antique columns from San
Vitale in Ravenna to the abbey of Santa Maria del Monte in Cesena) that
served to symbolically link Cassinese monasteries, and considerations
on the Cassinese visual network of the sacred, spreading throughout
Mediterranean Italy by means of copies of primary objects and the
mobility of monks, artists and forms.

How to Submit: Please send your proposal (maximum 400 words) and CV in English, German and/or Italian to Dott.ssa Mandy Richter: Richter@khi.fi.it.

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