Material lines: apocalypse, capricci, war and other disasters

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Stoppani, T (2014)

Albrecht Dürer?s woodcuts Apocalypsis cum figuris (c.1498) present images in which space is almost entirely defined and structured by human bodies. In the engraved Capricci by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (c.1744-47) and by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (c.1740?2) the proliferation in space of architectural debris and the figures that coexist with them collaborate in the definition of space as a seamless clump of matter. Architecture has altogether disappeared from Francisco Goya?s The Disasters of War (1810-20), where an incommensurable space is at onece shallow and endlessly deep ? matter solidified by horror. In Jake and Dinos Chapman?s reworkings of Goya?s Disasters of War (1999-2005) figures re-emerge from this solid space and are returned to the foreground, ready to spring out of the image. Through these and other examples, this essay explores forms of representation that challenge the integrity of the body, both architectural and human, in an explosive crescendo in which the technical materiality of the drawn line gradually dissolves to return to three-dimensional space. It argues that violence here is not only pertinent to the contents of the images ? apocalypse, destruction, war, disaster, martyrdom ? but is intrinsic to the technical medium of the representation.
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