During the Iberian expansion in America, Africa, Asia and Europe, between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries, the discourses on the aesthetic sphere faced a double movement: they became more and more shaped in terms of Ancient and Renaissance categories (such as Proportion, Imitation, Antiquity, Idolatry, etc.), and yet profoundly renewed after the encounter with unexpected objects, and with new ways of thinking about artistic practices. We can trace this double movement in the numerous texts written by missionaries, conquistadors, and functionaries of the Iberian crowns of Portugal and Spain, but also by a variety of other authors, such as Nahua historians, Italian naturalists, and even by artists, ambassadors, and collectors who wrote thoughtful testimonies in their diaries, treaties, or inventories. Based on a substantial corpus of sources, this book studies the origins and transformations of these multiple aesthetic categories in Early Modernity as an unpredictable result of the expansion projects of Portugal and Spain.
Some of the materials and questions addressed in A New Antiquity are related to my Global Core course Artistic Humanity, to the undergraduate course Seeing and Describing, and to the graduate seminar Theories of the Arts in the Iberian Worlds. This book project has been supported by a fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg of Berlin (2012-2013), a visitorship at the EHESS in Paris (2011), and a sabbatical semester in the Fall 2014.
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