Parution : Barbara Baert, « The Gaze from Above. Reflections on Cosmic Eyes in Visual Culture », Leuven-Walpole, Peeters Publishers, 2021

When gazing into the vast expanse of ‘the universe’, humankind experiences the universal desire to fathom the mystery of its creation. We utilize our unique ability to express ourselves through artistic means to make this mystery tangible, transmuting the secrets of the cosmos into stunning objects and ingenious symbols. Through a deep engagement with recent iconological methods the author travels up and down a methodological Jacob’s ladder, between the artist’s gazes from the earth to the sky. The reader is treated to studies on a wide variety of objects and mediums, ranging from the embroidery of Girone, the Hereford mappa mundi to the genesis cycle in the Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The author reconsiders the iconic gaze of van Eyck’s lamb and enters Danaë’s uncanny, voyeuristic space in the painting by Jan Gossaert. Meanwhile, she allows other thinkers to explore these questions alongside her. She turns to Erwin Panofsky, who writes about his fascination with Galileo Galilei’s telescope, and finally Lars von Trier and his movie Melancholia gets to call it Schluss. All the artworks in this captivating book contribute to unravel the largest mystery that surrounds us: the cosmos. The image blooms into the countenance of that majestic, astonishing black pupil above us. Or as Aby Warburg once wrote: “Contemplation of the sky is the grace and the curse of humanity.”

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Florence Larcher

Florence Larcher est doctorante en histoire de l'art moderne à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches portent sur l'image de saint Roch dans les arts visuels en Europe du XIVe au XVIIe siècle.

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