Motivstudier. Kontinuitet og fornyelse i ornamentale hybridformer fra antikken til ca. 1600

  • Maria Fabricius Hansen Københavns Universitet
Nøgleord: kunsthistorie, billedkunst, grotesker, kontinuitet, transformation


Representations of hybrids of human figures, plants, and animals were prolific in all media in sixteenth-century Italian art. The motif is known back from Greek and Roman antiquity, both in poetry and visual art, which the artists of the sixteenth century – or the renaissance – claimed to revive. Yet the representations of hybrids from these two periods within the history of art differ remarkably. And at the same time they belong to an iconographic tradition that did not disappear in the medieval period, an observation which blurs the picture of these ornaments as rediscovered and revived in the renaissance.
How then do motifs such as foliate heads or other phyto- or zoomorph creatures develop in visual art from antiquity to ca. 1600?
The topological method can be applied to a tracking of these motifs over time in order to stress continuity and analyze the transformations which took place through the centuries.
This article reflects on some methodological and historiographical aspects of studies of motifs in art history. In a double-sided strategy it both aims at challenging the persistent notion of the renaissance as a period rejecting the middle ages and reviving antiquity (i.e. it stresses the continuity of the sixteenth century with the preceding centuries); and it suggest some characteristics of the visual paradigm of sixteenth-century Italian art (i.e. it describes some of the innovations of the period).


Maria Fabricius Hansen, Københavns Universitet

Maria Fabricius Hansen er dr.phil. og lektor i kunsthistorie ved Institut for Kunst- og Kulturvidenskab, Københavns Universitet. Hendes aktuelle forskning omhandler det 16. århundredes italienske kunst og arkitektur, men hun beskæftiger sig i sin forskning og undervisning også med samtidskunst og -arkitektur.


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Hansen, M. (2017). Motivstudier. Kontinuitet og fornyelse i ornamentale hybridformer fra antikken til ca. 1600. K&K - Kultur Og Klasse, 45(123), 109-134.