Tintoretto’s difference. Deleuze, diagrammatics, and the problem of art history
This thesis is a study of the works of the 16th century painter Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594) using Deleuze’s concept of the diagram. In particular, it uses Deleuze’s diagrammatics to think the problem of Tintoretto’s difference. Methodologically, this is staged in two parallel parts: an activation of the concept of the diagram for an analysis of Tintoretto’s works and the innovations they introduce, and an explication of Deleuze’s concept of the diagram, through a reconstruction of its place and function in Deleuze’s philosophy. Neither is undertaken as an essay in explication. Against the re-presentation of what is known about Tintoretto, I propose a new evaluation of his difference; against any re-presentation of the Deleuzian philosophy, I propose a use of it for the sake of the problem of difference raised by Tintoretto’s works. The first register of the thesis, oriented towards Tintoretto’s works, includes a critical subversion of his empirical, and historicist positive treatment by art history, an overview of the norms of painting in his time and the criteria by which he has, through the reception of his contemporaries, passed into history, an exploration of the methods of his practice and the way they give rise to his difference, and a tracking of his historical reception beyond his own time, including in the works of other artists. The second register of the thesis undertakes a reconstruction of Deleuze’s philosophy through the concept of the diagram. This includes an in-depth exploration of Deleuze’s idea of constructivism and its functional relation to his transcendental empiricism, alongside an account of the main philosophical sources – Kant, Maimon, Peirce and Nietzsche - that inform this constructivist ontology. Two of the claims associated with this undertaking are: firstly, that the diagram fulfils a central philosophical function for Deleuze, as the agent of constructivism; secondly, that a renewed idea of aesthetics can be extracted from the Deleuzian philosophy. In addition, I use this conceptual nexus to propose a notion of diagrammatic temporality, with particular reference to Deleuze’s 3rd synthesis of time. It is the temporal ontology of constructivism that is returned to my considerations of Tintoretto’s diagrammaticity. That is, it is not as an atemporal analysis of the innovations of his works that my work remains, but as a temporalized thought of their difference as transhistorical return in experience. This includes the activation of the idea of an untimely modernity that is inaugurated in Deleuze’s ontology through an exploration of selected instances of Tintoretto’s return.
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