- Zur Eigensinnlichkeit der Bilder. Acht Beiträge by Klaus Krüger
Klaus Krüger's intriguing book Zur Eigensinnlichkeit der Bilder. Acht Beiträ is a great contribution to the debate on how pictures and visual materials can be viewed and interpreted. The book assembles eight essays that Krüger wrote between 1993 and 2010. In these essays, his investigations range from Roman treasury art, mural and panel paintings of the High Medieval Ages, as well as altar retable and gallery images of the early modern period to paintings, photographs, and films of the modern age and present. What is of interest is that his essays not only focus on what is depicted in the paintings and visual images but also on the invisible, imaginary, or the fictional which becomes the depicted image. This brings G.E. Lessing to mind, who discusses how the viewer needs to be able to see beyond the single moment being depicted in the painting. The viewer needs to have additional information in order to make sense of what is seen (das Gesehene), which allows us to conclude that viewing is not a passive activity.
The first essay, "Geschichtlichkeit und Autonomie. Die Ästhetik des Bildes als Gegenstand historischer Erfahrung", deals with capturing the genuinely visual between the visible and invisible, with the main interest being in the work as symbolic asset. The focus here is on discussing what is not seen by contextualizing the painting and by taking the historical background into consideration. This allows art historians to discover new ways of looking at a painting and gaining a better understanding of what is seen.
"Mimesis als Bildlichkeit des Scheins. Zur Fiktionalität religiöser Bildkunst im Trecento" focuses on the Italian image culture of the 14th century. The emphasis is on the new vividness of the paintings and the resulting possibilities of experiencing these mimetic depictions. "Bild und Bühne. Dispositive des imaginären Blicks" combines source texts and in-depth analysis of paintings. The focus is on panel painting and how it was utilized to capture religious figures and themes. The term 'stage' refers to the space the paintings make accessible to the viewer and the way in which this space at the same time determines and limits the vision of the viewer. Krüger uses numerous examples, from Lorenzo Monaco and Vincent Foppa to Masaccio and Santi di Tito, to show how the object reality of the paintings can hold the transcendental in a momentary abeyance that results in meaningful tension between fictitious exhibitions and two-dimensional factures.
In "Perspektivität und Sichtfeld. Ordnungen des Bildes bei Pasolini und Mantegna," Krüger minutely analyzes the visual-medial principles in Pier Paolo Pasolini's movie Mamma Roma as well as the paintings succeeding Andrea Mantegna's Cristo in scurto. Krüger's passion for film becomes evident in this chapter in his careful analysis of numerous film stills which he then compares with paintings from different time periods in order to emphasize how they interact and build on each other. "Der Blick ins Innere des Bildes. Ästhetische Illusion bei Gerhard Richter" discusses the reciprocal relationship between involvement and distancing when engaging with paintings and how it influences what we see. Depending on where we stand, it will allow us to see different parts of the same painting, resulting in a complete viewing [End Page 149] and appreciation of what is seen. Krüger insists that paintings do not act as mere images but rather as performance presentations in their own right. The volume is rounded out by "'Hoc est enim corpus meum.' Bild und Liturgie im gemalten Altaraufsatz des 13. Jahrhunderts," "Hermetische Malerei und das Geheimnis des Opaken" and "Bild–Schleier–Palimpsest. Der Begriff des Mediums zwischen Materialität und Metaphorik."
Overall, Krüger's book does a good job of adding to the debate on how to properly engage with visual images. All eight essays touch...