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Workshop Nicole Pulichene



von 14:00 bis 15:00




Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Vortragssaal Raum 242, II. OG, Katharina-von-Bora-Straße 10, 80333 München

Termin übernehmen

Order and Chaos in Late Antique Consular Diptychs and Early Medieval Memoria

The group of late antique Roman ivories known as consular diptychs are often familiar to art historians through their original function in commemorating a Roman official’s ascent to the consular office. For many of these hinged diptychs’ exterior surfaces bear distinctive double portraits of the new consul and were distributed as gifts to the Roman elite. In contrast to the static, hierarchical compositions of the upper registers of several consular diptychs, in which the consul sits triumphant within an architectural setting surrounded by regalia, personifications, and busts of fellow leaders, the lower registers often bear representations of the circus games. Here men and beasts struggle against one another in frenzied, violent displays that are in turn viewed by spectators and the consul depicted above. The resulting tension between order and chaos, man’s aspirations and his base struggles, are likewise thematized in the iconography of a number of related categories of ivory diptychs from the Early Christian and Early Medieval periods. In an effort to identify why the medium of the ivory tablet was so often employed to explore these themes, I turn to the use of tablets within late antique and medieval memory training. For the interiors of these diptychs were carved out to accommodate wax writing surfaces, a material technology which enabled visualizing, ordering, and remembering information, but which also served a metaphorical purpose in conceptualizing the mind itself.