Lecture series

Oskar Bätschmann:
Leon Battista Alberti: Painting and its Public

Part of the Lecture Series Alberti Revisited: Art – Ethics – Politics
Organized by Hana Gründler, Katharine Stahlbuhk, and Giulia Baldelli

In my paper, I address the question of which subject Leon Battista Alberti envisaged for the reception of paintings. As far as I can see, the numerous analyses of Alberti's reception – including my own - have assumed the viewer as the recipient, a collective singular. The fact that Alberti refers to »spectatores« in his Vita, to spectators in the plural, is the rule for the painting treatise as well. In both De Pictura and Della Pittura, Alberti consistently or predominantly refers to a plurality, a multitude or »multitudine« in questions of reception and even production, rather than to individual spectators. I use the more recent term »public« for this crowd that comments the artist’s work and turns its attention to a work of art. Alberti and then Leonardo both recommend that painters should listen to the advice of the crowd, including random passers-by, following Apelles’ example.

 Oskar Bätschmann studied in Zürich and Florence and has held professorships at the universities of Freiburg (1984-88), Giessen (1988-91) and Bern (1991-2009) as well as fellowships and professorships at the École des Hautes-Etudes et Sciences Sociales in Paris, the CASVA in Washington, D.C., the INHA in Paris, the National Normal Taiwan University in Taipeh. He has authored monographs on Nicolas Poussin, Edouard Manet (1993 and 2015), Ferdinand Hodler, Hans Holbein, and Giovanni Bellini (2008). Other publications include: Einführung in die kunstgeschichtliche Hermeneutik, 6th ed., Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2009; Leon Battista Alberti: De Statua, De Pictura and Elementa Picturae (Das Standbild; Die Malkunst; Grundlagen der Malerei), introduced, transl., and annotated by Oskar Bätschmann and Christoph Schäublin Darmstadt: WBG, 2000, 2nd ed. 2011; Leon Battista Alberti, Della Pittura - Über die Malkunst, ed. in collaboration with Sandra Gianfreda, Darmstadt: WBG, 4th ed. 2014; Benedetto Varchi, Paragone, Darmstadt: WBG, 2013 (in collaboration with Tristan Weddigen); The Art Public, London: Reaktion Books, 2023. Currently he is together with Tristan Weddigen editor of Heinrich Wölfflin, Gesammelte Werke. 


This talk is part of the lecture series »Alberti Revisited: Art – Ethics – Politics« organized by Hana Gründler, Katharine Stahlbuhk, and Giulia Baldelli

Against the backdrop of the 550th anniversary of Leon Battista Alberti's death and the publication of the first German edition of and commentary on his dialogue Della tranquillità dell'animo in April 2022 the lecture series Alberti Revisited will focus on the artistic, ethico-aesthetic, linguistic and socio-political implications of his oeuvre. Thus, the intertextual and interdisciplinary complexity of Alberti's thought as well as his relationship with the cultural dynamics of his time will be examined from a variety of perspectives and, not least, Alberti's topicality will be critically analysed. The invited speakers come from the fields of art and architectural history, history, philology, and philosophy.

04 October 2022, 6:00pm

This event will take place in a hybrid format.

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze, Italia

Places for participation in person are available until full capacity is reached.

To participate online, please register in advance via Zoom: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUld-GsrDIjE9W89kHnraqvgJP2yMqpMS6H

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 


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