Gravity in Art

Essays on Weight and Weightlessness in Painting, Sculpture and Photography

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About the Book

The gravitational pull of the earth and the challenge to resist it have long inspired artists. Like the Greek vases depicting Sisyphus’s endless quest to push his boulder up a hill and the Whirlwind Lovers in Dante’s Inferno, images that portray the defiance of gravity or submission to it permeate the artistic world. This collection examines the ways artists from antiquity to today use gravity and levity symbolically, metaphorically, and expressively.
The 26 essays examine these opposing forces through analysis of such dualities as ascent and descent, weight and weightlessness, hope and despair, or life and death, and draw distinct lines between the works of art and texts of such writers and thinkers as Homer, Aristotle, Newton, Marx and Einstein. Together, they demonstrate that as our ideas about this essential force or space-time concept change, so too, do artists create new ways to represent visually the phenomenon of gravity.

About the Author(s)

Mary D. Edwards is a professor of art history at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Her articles have appeared in Studies in Iconography, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.
Elizabeth Bailey is a professor of art history at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Her work has been published in Speculum and Explorations in Renaissance Culture.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Mary D. Edwards and Elizabeth Bailey
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 364
Bibliographic Info: 80 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6574-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction

MARY D. EDWARDS and ELIZABETH BAILEY      1

PART ONE: ANCIENT THROUGH NINETEENTH-CENTURY ART

The Flight of Icarus in the House of the Priest Amandus in Pompeii

BETTINA BERGMANN      13

Levitating Gods and Dream Imagery on Roman Coinage

CONSTANTIN A. MARINESCU      22

Succumbing to Gravity in the Hortus Deliciarum of Herrad of Hohenbourg

ELIZABETH BAILEY      35

Descent, Elevation and Ascent: Oppositional Forces in the Strozzi di Mantova Chapel

KATHLEEN GILES ARTHUR      50

Altichiero, Giotto, Dante and the Metaphorical Use of Gravity and Levity

MARY D. EDWARDS      72

The Floating Book: A Reading of Saint Dominic’s Miraculous Book in Italian Art in the Late Thirteenth through the Early Fifteenth Centuries

ELIZABETH BAILEY      86

Leaps of Faith in the Portinari Altarpiece of Hugo van der Goes

MARY D. EDWARDS      107

The Idea of Weightlessness in Girolamo da Carpi’s Kairos and Penitentia (Opportunity and Penitence)

MARTINA PFLEGER HESSER      119

Erotic Fallout in Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne

PERRY BROOKS      126

The Suspension of Gravity in Giandomenico Tiepolo’s Punchinelli on a Swing

JOHANNA FASSL      137

An Uplifting Finale for Jacques-Louis David: Coming to Peace with Mars Disarmed

KATIE HANSON      147

Mind Over Matter: Levitation and the Defiance of Nature in Late Nineteenth-Century Painting

SARAH LIPPERT      163

Perilous Flight: Icarus’ Transgression of Masculinity

JONGWOO JEREMY KIM      181

PART TWO: TWENTIETH-CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY ART

The Joy of Breathing: Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Uplift in the Art of Arthur B. Davies

ROBIN VEDER      198

Gravitace, or Gravity in the Social and Artistic Thought of Bohumil Kubišta

ELEANOR F. MOSEMAN      212

Joseph Cornell’s Universe: Gravity’s Attractions

KIRSTEN HOVING      235

Pipe Dreams: In Search of an Allegorical Magritte

SANDRA ZALMAN      243

Falling to Heaven: Salvador Dalí, Marcel Pagés and Levity at “the Centre of the Universe”

ELLIOTT H. KING      253

“The Effort of the Dance”: Gravity and Levity in the Poured Paintings of Jackson Pollock

ELIZABETH L. LANGHORNE      265

Piero Manzoni’s Socle du Monde

GREGORY TENTLER      277

Gravity and the Grave: Jasper Johns and the Metaphorics of the Fall

ISABELLE LORING WALLACE      283

From Vertigo to Ethereality in Environmental Art

MATTHEW KOLODZIEJ      293

Falling Bodies and the Problem of Remembrance: Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman

ADRIENNE POSNER      304

AA Bronson’s Hanged Man: Martyrdom, Ambiguity, and Abu Ghraib

ANDREA D. FITZPATRICK      314

Photographic Moments Inside of Gravity: Kerry Skarbakka’s Struggle to Right Himself

COREY DZENKO      326

Mariko Mori and Pipilotti Rist: Reflections on the “New Levity” in Art

ELIZABETH BAILEY      338

Epilogue

MARY D. EDWARDS      342

About the Contributors      346

Index      350