Beyond Disegno? The Emergence of Independent Drawings in Germany and Italy in the 15th and 16th Century

Concept: Daniela Bohde, Universität Stuttgart und Alessandro Nova, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Disegno has received great attention from art-historical scholarship for several decades now. Its significance for the art of the Italian Renaissance and for the system of the arts right up to the modern era is indisputable. But artistic developments outside the sphere of disegno easily escape our notice. This is particularly true of independent or finished drawings. Thus it was barely registered that independent drawings were produced in large numbers in Germany after 1500, but remained the exception in Italy. We would expect this situation to be the other way round, given the highly developed culture of drawing in Italy, where artists worked with distinct graphic media and types of drawing. Drawings were collected, and practical aids such as cartoons were exhibited in public and, in the case of Michelangelo, proclaimed the "scuola del mondo". Yet drawings were situated almost exclusively within the working process and – despite the heightened appreciation of disegno – were understood as a preparatory medium that was ultimately just a means to an end.

In the German-speaking sphere, by contrast, no noteworthy theory of art prevailed at the point in time when independent drawings began to spread, but a market was already established for prints in a wide range of graphic techniques, and probably – on a smaller scale – for drawings, too. The aim of the conference is to address this discrepancy. The intention is thereby not only to take a keener look at the practice of drawing, its recipients and its relationship to print culture, but also to enquire what role art theory actually played. For it is evident that the cult of drawing and the ideal of disegno in Italy did not result in the independent drawing also establishing itself there.


The conference is kindly supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft, and is organized in cooperation with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi.


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03 – 05 March 2016

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


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