Au-delà des sens, l'abstraction

Title: Au-delà des sens, l'abstraction
Variant title:
  • Beyond the senses, abstraction
  • Za hranici smyslů, abstrakce
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. 1, pp. [28]-51
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
License: Not specified license
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At the center of this study are three nonmimetic examples: a twelfth-century cloister pillar, a thirteenthcentury reliquary, and a fourteenth-century manuscript illumination. These nonfigurative objects, representing three media and spanning three centuries, show that abstraction – predicated as it was on the theological articulation between truth, facts, and language – emerged in the Middle Ages as the primary vehicle for materializing the ineffable. The analysis begins by considering medieval notions of abstraction as a mode of figuration. It goes on to demonstrate how the abstractive operations at work in these images, each in a distinctive visual method, encouraged the pursuit of truth that lies beyond sensory perception by engendering the process of abstraction as it was understood in the Middle Ages: that of withdrawal, removal, paring down. This subtractive process, both visual and intellectual, allowed the beholder to reach through the perceptible and the graspable, and thus to apprehend what is most emphatically unavailable to the senses.