Christopher NygrenUniversity of Pittsburgh
An evening webinar lecture with Christoper Nygren (University of Pittsburgh). Part of our summer webinar series on "Reason and Beauty in Renaissance Christian Thought and Culture," presented in collaboration with the American Cusanus Society
Titian is one of the most famous painters of the Italian Renaissance. He is mostly known for his amazing mythological paintings and depictions of the female nude, which became a staple of the tradition of European painting. It is less well known that Titian was credited by his contemporaries with painting a miracle-working image. Looking at his paintings in light of this fact, it becomes clear that Titian dedicated a great deal of energy to painting small-format pictures depicting biblical subjects, which can rightly be called icons. This presentation will outline Titian’s engagement with icons and show how the artist frequently deviated from received subjects and iconographies to develop new kinds of icons that were directed at inciting conversion in the beholder.
What do reason and beauty have to do with each other? Since the modern Enlightenment and Romantic movements, it has been tempting to see reason and beauty as separate or even opposed. In the Renaissance, however, rational and artistic pursuits bloomed together and even fed each other. Renaissance culture, including fine art, poetry, architecture, astronomy, and humanistic thought, both drew upon and extended ancient and medieval Christian intellectual traditions. This webinar course will examine different aspects of renaissance Christian thought and culture to explore how pursuits of reason interwove with the love of beauty.
This event is cosponsored by the Beatrice Institute, Calvert House, the Genealogies of Modernity Project, the Harvard Catholic Center, the Nova Forum for Catholic Thought, and St. Paul's Catholic Center.
Christopher J. Nygren is Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and assistant professor of Renaissance and Baroque Art in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, philosophy, and art in the Italian Renaissance. He has published in The Art Bulletin, Renaissance Quarterly, Word & Image, Modern Language Notes, and other leading academic journals, and is author of a recent book on Titian’s Icons: Charisma, Tradition, and Devotion in the Italian Renaissance (Penn State University Press, 2020). Over his career, he has received fellowships from the Kress Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Delmas Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Nygren is also developing a number of collaborative research projects, which give the humanities a public face, including the Genealogies of Modernity project.