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I remember myself as a child in the Louvre standing before Davidís Intervention of the Sabine Women. I stood there gripping my motherís hand transfixed by the spectacular drama unfolding across the immense canvas. My astonishment was not only at the dazzling sight, however; I uttered: ĎMummy, why are those soldiers naked?í My mother, an artist herself, did her best to provide an explanation acceptable for a five-year-old but her response did little to alleviate my disbelief. Davidís painting may have shattered my boyish fantasies but it instilled a perplexing enigma that was to open up an entirely new world of ideas. It was perhaps then that I first sensed that there was more to the image than the narrative.

My first encounters with Picasso and Kandinsky had not been as traumatic. I never questioned the visual languages of cubism or abstract expressionism: these idioms were just as familiar to me as Renaissance imagery. My mother a painter and my father a playwright I was exposed to the arts and humanities since early childhood. As I progressed to maturity my only dilemma was deciding between a career in the visual arts, literature or the performing arts. My early fascinations came and went in the continuous process of discovery: Fra Angelico and Malevich; Flaubert and Joyce; Shakespeare and Beckett; BuŮuel and Kurosawa. Eventually these disparate interests had to be narrowed down. After dabbling in studio art and photography I came to realize that I would have more to say in writing. The History of Art program at the University of Belgrade provided me with a more systematic and exhaustive education in the history of Western art; this was further articulated by exposure to art theory and archeology during my graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

I never quite settled on one specific period or area of study. My interests moved on from late Roman to medieval and modern art and architecture but they were always motivated by interest in the underlying intellectual framework: the proportional system used in the construction of Saint Sophia, * the symbolic meaning of formal languages in medieval architecture, ** or visual expressions of nationalism and identity. ***

It is the intellectual challenge of disentangling that complex web of ideas and meanings in the visual arts and architecture that motivates me. Many of these questions however remain elusive. After all these years I realize how complex the answer was to my simple question about Davidís painting.

I now can say that I know the answer. Or, I think I do.

 

 

COURSES

MAJOR WORKS OF WESTERN ART (HUM202)

VISIONS OF POWER (HART 323/623)

RENAISSANCE VISUALITY (HART 311/511)

THE DOME OF GOLD (HART431/531)

HEAVENLY SPIRES (HART 433/533)

LEONARDO AND MICHELANGELO: HEROES OF THE RENAISSANCE (HART 426)

DESIGNING THE NATION (HART 444/644)

 

 

 

 

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