Berger: Reflections on Narcissus: Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe
How did early modern artists and philosophers differentiate a work of art from a work of nature? Who created the first artwork and what made it distinct from naturally generated entities? According to Aristotle natural entities possess inner principles of change and rest; man-made objects, by contrast, lack these innate impulses. At the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, I will work on a book that will overturn prevailing assumptions about the fixedness of the categories of art and nature in the early modern era, by showing the ways in which artists and thinkers reconceived of Aristotle’s definitions. My study, entitled Reflections on Narcissus: Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe, will explore how the myth of Narcissus came to function as a vehicle for European artists, poets, composers, and philosophers from the early fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries to dissolve the ancient boundary between artificially and naturally generated entities.