Between January 1972 and December 1973 French art-historian/philosopher Hubert Damisch and American art-historian Meyer Schapiro exchanged forty-four letters. During this short period, the two scholars discussed many issues concerning the state of art history and its relationship to semiotics and psychoanalysis. A recurring topic was Freud's famous lapse of memory concerning the name of the Renaissance artist Luca Signorelli—what to make of the lapsus in art-historical terms and how to make use of it in analyzing Signorelli's cycle of frescoes at the Cathedral of Orvieto in Italy. Damisch was then beginning to work on a book devoted to the subject while Schapiro was writing a small essay on the topic.

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