Bernini: Preparatory and Ephemeral Works

Genevieve Warwick

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

This is a commissioned monograph by Routledge. It concerns the relationship between the occasional and the preparatory in Bernini’s oeuvre. Taking up questions of artists’ materials and technical processes currently at the vanguard of art-historical scholarship, it studies the contiguity and consequent interchange of workshop methods in the linked fabrication of both ephemeral and preparatory works by Bernini. It argues that the ephemeral arts of ritual occasion acted as a locus of artistic experiment for the artist in many respects similar to his use of preparatory models, to suggest that Bernini’s artistry sprang from the fabric of culture in both material and social terms. Building on my 2012 monograph, Bernini: Art as Theatre, this book makes the case for an expanded view of the ‘preparatory’ arts, to encompass what scholars such as Giulio Briganti and Stanislao Fraschetti termed the Baroque artist’s ‘experiment-based’ workshop methods. Like the rapidly-executed preparatory sketch or clay modello, the festival arts were predicated on the consummate ability to work quickly as occasion required. The Baroque court’s ceaseless quest for surprise and novelty in its festal forms made the festival artist’s workshop into a ‘technical laboratory’ for visual experiments, for which the ephemeral arts of occasion were the modal means. In essence, as Fraschetti first argued in his pioneering 1900 monograph on Bernini, this is to argue that the formal matrices of Bernini's art issued from the ephemeral arts of occasion, which can best be analysed and understood through comparison with his preparatory works, to bring to light a wholly new conceptualisation of materials, process and practice within the Baroque artist's workshop.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Nov 2022


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