UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dadaist crisis in the sixteenth century Poirier, Joseph George Maurice


The purpose of this thesis is to present a new approach to the art of Rosso and Pontormo and to suggest a new interpretation to its controversial character. The first part is essentially a preparation to the main discussion: the notion of Spirituality, necessary to a full understanding of the art of Rosso and Pontormo, is first developed, followed by an extensive study of the primary "will" which was guiding the classic painter in his major realizations. The second part discusses the art of Rosso and Pontormo. The object here is to demonstrate that in a reasonably large number of their works we can detect a distinct will to awake feelings of incongruity, abnormality, strangeness in the beholder, and to perplex, disturb, frustrate and even shock him. This will is defined as the new will. After an expose of the latter, the art of Rosso is taken up, followed by the art of Pontormo. Eight works by Rosso and eleven by Pontormo are discussed individually. The method of analysis followed extensively takes into account the fact that the revolutionary art of those artists made its apparition in an essentially classicizing atmosphere. The third part attempts to explain what may have caused the new will to germinate in Pontormo and Rosso. A first chapter is devoted to showing that corruption, at the height of the Renaissance, pervaded the Italian clergy from top to bottom. In a second chapter, documents are brought up to the support of the fact that a reformation of the clergy was the great spiritual need of that age. It is also pointed out that the whole of the Italian society of that time, indeed, was morally deteriorating at an alarming rate. A final chapter describes how, under the effect mainly of the new dignity awakened in them by their recent recognition as liberal artists, Pontormo and Rosso would have subconsciously awakened to such a state of affairs. They would have realized, among other abnormalities, that Christian art, essentially meant to promote the spiritual advancement of society, was not helping to solve the great spiritual demand of their age, nor was it truly helping society as a whole, although it had just reached an unprecedented degree of perfection. Disillusion and despair would have followed, ultimately engendering, at least at the pre-conscious level, a bitter resentment against society in general which was failing to respond as it should to the artist's message. The will to turn the work of art against society by making it disturbing, frustrating and even shocking would have been the direct result of such a resentment. The thesis concludes by pointing out some important similarities between the art of Rosso and Pontormo and the modern Dadaist movement.

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