Giovanni Bellini and the poetics of viewing

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Giovanni Bellini and the poetics of viewing

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Francis in Ecstasy (detail). The Frick Collection, New York.

  • Wednesday 28 November 2018
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

    Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN


  • Professor Johannes Grave - Bielefeld University

Organised by

  • Dr Scott Nethersole - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Research on Giovanni Bellini has long focused on questions of meaning. In particular, Bellini’s Saint Francis (New York, Frick Collection) has inspired sophisticated, sometimes complicated interpretations. Bellini’s own understanding of pictures, however, seems to have been less interested in subtle deciphering. In a conversation with Pietro Bembo, he mentioned his habit of “always wandering around at will in the pictures” (“sempre vagare a sua voglia nelle pitture”). This understanding of pictures, which emphasizes the process of viewing and its temporal qualities, is rooted in widespread late-medieval meditation practices and at the same time points to pictorial concepts of the early modern period.

Johannes Grave studied at the University of Freiburg and received his PhD from the University of Jena for his dissertation on Johann Wolfgang Goethe as collector of prints and drawings. He has been Professor of Art History at Bielefeld University since 2012. Before this, he served as deputy director at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art and was member of the research project Iconic Criticism (eikones) at the University of Basel. His research focuses on Early Renaissance painting, art around 1800, theories of the image and the temporality of image perception. His recent publications include Giovanni Bellini. The Art of Contemplation (Prestel, 2018). His book Architekturen des Sehens. Bauten in Bildern des Quattrocento (Fink, 2015) won an award from the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He is one of the editors of the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte and member of the board of directors of the Collaborative Research Centre Practices of Comparing. Ordering and Changing the World (CRC 1288).

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