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500 Years of Illustration: From Albrecht Dürer to Rockwell by Howard Simon

By Howard Simon

For operating artists and scholars alike, this is often an unmatched treasury of the equipment, suggestions, and examples of serious illustrators from the sunrise of printing to the twentieth century. that includes works through Goya, Hogarth, Dürer, Morris, Doré, Beardsley, and others, it serves as a reference in addition to a pleasant searching publication.

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It is the task of art historians to mediate this phenomenology with transcultural and material specificities for more nuanced readings of what happens in the art experience, not merely what happens ‘in’ the painting as Framing Art History 43 given naïvely. Conversely, phenomenologists must recognise that what happens in the world of the painting is no mere mentalistic construction of the viewer but a co-presence that is mutually creative. This is the conscious art experience. Another necessary clarification relates to what artists and art historians mean when they speak of ‘the gaze’.

Is it landscape and still life that are parerga here, or the unacknowledged principles of consciousness that construct and cooperate with visuality? How does consciousness accommodate, process and construct such a slippery object, this parergon? Stoichita writes: Peter Aertsen’s work and, later, Velázquez’s work represent a critical stage in the metapictorial tension […] It is in the fact the unusual nature of the relationship between the painting’s two levels that makes his [Aertsen’s] paintings so interesting (Stoichita 1997: 28).

The notion of a painting fictitiously “producing itself” (Stoichita 1997: 220) from within its matrix acts merely as screen, cutting off the image from the viewer’s mental processes involved in inspecting it. By investing the image with the responsibility of engendering another inside it (as if it were doing its own thing), the screen is also drawn across our understanding of how consciousness sustains and actively structures such images which are, in fact, tokens of these very mental processes.

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