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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Daedalus (2016) 145 (2): 69–78.
Published: 01 April 2016
AbstractView article PDF
Though foundational to the study of art history, Greco-Roman visual culture is often sidelined by the modern, and overshadowed by its own cultural and intellectual reception. Recent scholarship, however, has meticulously unpacked the discipline's formative narratives, while building on archaeological and literary studies in order to locate its objects of analysis more precisely within the dynamic cultural frameworks that produced them, and that were in turn shaped by them. Focusing on a passage from Pliny the Elder's Natural History (arguably the urtext of classical art history), this paper explores the perennial question of how the material stuff of antiquity can be most effectively yoked to the thinking and sensing bodies that inhabited it, arguing that closer attention to ancient engagements with materialism can alert us to models of image-making and viewing that are both conceptually and physically grounded in Greco-Roman practices of production, sense perception, and interpretation.