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​J​ames ​G. Turner Uncovers the Erotic Dimensions of Italian Renaissance Art

Classically-inspired sensuality and the artistic achievements of the Renaissance masters

Proportion, harmony, mythological subject-matter – all well-known and indisputable effects of classical recovery on Renaissance artistic expression. But James ​ G.​ Turner ​(James D. Hart Chair in English at UC Berkeley) ​ in Eros Visible: Art, Sexuality, and Antiquity in Renaissance Italy underscores an easily neglected side of art and court culture during the Italian Renaissance. Uniting the erotic and the aesthetic, Turner takes a fresh look at the canonical works of masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo. These works, closely analyzed alongside a wide range of visual and textual erotica, come to characterize a “corporeal turn” in Italian art during the sixteenth-century. Turner productively relates this sensibility to two points of origin in antiquity: the Mars, Venus, and Vulcan episode and the narrated account of seeing Praxiteles’s statue of Aphrodite at Knidos. In this conversation with Luca Politi, graduate student in Italian Studies at Harvard University, Turner provides an overview of the book and discusses some of his findings.

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