Opicinus de Canistris: Artist, Visionary, Cartographer (1296-1354)

A talk by Karl Whittington of the Ohio State University.

“A psychotic artist of the Middle Ages” – this is how Ernst Kris famously described the Italian priest and artist Opicinus de Canistris in 1952 in his Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art. Because of the visual confusion of Opicinus’s drawings, Kris viewed his work through the lens of mental illness. In Whittington's research on Opicinus, he rejects or at least brackets this diagnosis. Instead, Whittington approaches Opicinus’s work as he did – as an ever-evolving and experimental search for the meaning of his visionary experience of the earth’s shifting forms. The complexity and eccentricity of Opicinus’s drawings, formerly the basis for his marginalization among scholars, is precisely what makes them such rich examples of medieval representation: of spaces, bodies, conflict, and communion. 

Professor Whittington is a specialist in European medieval art and architecture at the Ohio State University, particularly issues relating to the history of science, gender and sexuality, and image theory. His book, Body-Worlds: Opicinus de Canistris and the Medieval Cartography Imagination, was published by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto (2014). Whittington’s current research includes investigations of medieval medical illustrations, the function and reception of graphically sexual imagery among medieval audiences, and explorations of medieval diagrammatic practices. His next book project, Trecento Pictoriality, examines the visual modes employed by painters in the Age of Giotto, focusing particularly on issues of space, surface, allegory, and body.

Sponsored by the art department's Cooley-Gray fund. Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 5:00pm

Eliot Hall, 314

Event Type

Lecture

Audience

Faculty, Students, Alumni, Open to the Public, Staff

Departments

Art

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