Hyper-Naturalism and Anti-Naturalism in Palissy

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Abstract / Description of output

In his 1563 ARCHITECTURE ET ORDONNANCE DE LA GROTTE RUSTIQUE, Bernard Palissy describes a grotto that combines hyper-realistic representations of flora and fauna with monstrous and unnatural bodies. While the juxtaposition of naturalistic and antinaturalistic form had long flourished in architecture, Palissy’s book is among the first texts to scrutinize that clash on a theoretical level.

This essay examines the Grotte Rustique’s treatment of the dichotomy between naturalistic and antinaturalistic representation in architectural ornament. I contend that by describing hyer-naturalistic imitation of nature as a phenomenon that could paradoxically evoke the same overt artificiality as grotesque architectural decoration, Palissy outlines a precocious theory of architectural artifice. Composed in the first age of the Wunderkammer and the classification of naturalia and artificialia, the Grotte Rustique sketches an architectural parallel to Palissy’s ceramic life-casting experiments and shows how artifice and artificiality transformed from art-theoretical categories to critical terms of architectural discourse.   
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventRenaissance Society of America - Chicago, United States
Duration: 29 Mar 20171 Apr 2017


ConferenceRenaissance Society of America
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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