A Reconsidered World: An Art History Talk by Dr. Michael Grillo
The Great Plague of 1348 swept across the European world with an unprecedented ferocity that brought cathartic changes to Late Mediaeval society. Suffering substantial losses of their populations shook the newly developed foundations of the emerging guild-democracies of fourteenth-century Italy, throwing their understanding of the world into question. Rather than viewing this era as an interruption in beginnings of the Renaissance, however, might we instead consider how the Great Plague era opened opportunities for rethinkings that in fact contributed directly to the Renaissance centuries that followed? Looking to the visual arts of the era, A Reconsidered World will explore how catastrophic urban depopulations caused a paradigm shift in how the Late Mediaeval peoples conceptualized their world, one that lead directly to the Renaissance sense of realism so familiar to us through our own view of the world through photography.
Dr. Michael Grillo is Professor of Art at the University of Maine. He writes on how Italian fourteenth-century images operate as primary sources that visually articulate ideas inexpressible in any other media, including the verbal realm. Dr. Grillo received his PhD from Cornell University with a dissertation on Medieval History of Art. He continued this work with his 1997 book, Symbolic Structures: The Role of Composition in Signaling Meaning in Italian Late Medieval Painting. He is also a practicing photographer and seeks to explore how aesthetic theories play out directly in application in our world, particularly how photography operates as a cultural specific visual modality.
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