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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23525

Title: On Moths and other Butterflies, Or How to Orient Oneself Through Images
Authors: Ionescu, Vlad
Issue Date: 2015
Citation: Images, Imagini, Images: Journal of Visual and Cultural Studies, 2015(5), p. 63-86
Abstract: This essay discusses the motif of the butterfly and other Lepidoptera that Georges Didi-Huberman occasionally addressed in the two volumes of Essais sur l'apparition, Phasmes (1998) and Phalènes (2013). The hypothesis is that this motif can be viewed as a figural model of conceiving two essential elements of all art history, namely the nature of the image and its temporality. The fluttering butterfly becomes an occasion to explain Didi-Huberman's art history by relating its fundamental dimensions to other key figures with whom he is implicitly or explicitly in dialogue: Aloïs Riegl, Franz Wickhoff or Aby Warburg. Whereas the content of their specific art histories differs, they all resist the canonical conception of the image as an entity whose place and "immanent sense" is fixed in a diachronic narrative. Alternatively, they develop an art historical prototype where the image is thought of as an essentially relational entity whose latency of sense emerges when it is dialectically superposed on other images. Art history does not function as the stable chronological juxtaposition of artifacts but as the extraction of a virtual sense through the anachronistic superposition of images kept in movement. When the diachronic arrangement of primary sources whose sense depends on their original context fails, art history internalizes a speculative epistemology where sense is equivalent to an associative force of images. Reading Didi-Huberman nowadays confronts the art historian with a fundamental epistemo- logical question: what is the structure of the interpretative process involved in all history of art?
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23525
ISSN: 2247-7950
Category: A2
Type: Journal Contribution
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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