Image and Imagination: The Pictorial Presence of Heavenly Grace in Baroque Painting

Free Public Lecture

Image and Imagination: The Pictorial Presence of Heavenly Grace in Baroque Painting

Image and Imagination, The Pictorial Presence of Heavenly Grace in Baroque Painting
*Keynote opening presentation: *

This lecture by Dr Klaus Krüger explores perceptions of divinity in pictorial representations – namely that the visible, material image serves as an instrument leading from the visible to the invisible. According to this idea, disseminated widely in theological and mystical thought, religious imagination is understood as a process that passes through the material image and leads beyond it, to an experience of heavenly grace which transcends any visual or physical perception. However, if the painted image is thought to serve primarily as an anagogic medium of transmission, as a passage through, what particular importance, then, is attached to its genuine pictorial presence and its intrinsic aesthetic value? And how much and in what ways does the process of aesthetic experience contribute substantially to that of religious imagination?

The lecture will analyse religious images of Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting by Titian, Guido Reni, Bernini and others, to explore the manifold pictorial modes by which these representations allow the pictorial discourse of the religious imagination to unfold: by guiding the viewer’s gaze, by means of theatrical scenography, by means of a differentiated repertoire of gestures and facial expressions, through bifocal or polyfocal pictorial arrangements and effects of light and shade, through the interplay of sharpness and blur, of a broad color spectrum, of vibrant contours and oscillating forms. It will become apparent, then, that pictorial presence is a fundamental aesthetic category, which not only covers processes for representing reality but also constitutes a genuine, visual presence in its own right.

This lecture is part of international symposium A Baroque Bishop in Colonial Australia: The Cultural Patronage of Bishop James Goold (1812–1886).

Presented by the Australian Institute of Art History, within the School of Culture and Communication, in partnership with the University of Divinity.

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