The centrality of the human figure is one of the most distinctive features of Italian Renaissance art. What Michelangelo in particular achieved with the depiction of the human body – understood by contemporaries to be based on an extensive knowledge of anatomy and even dissection – made anatomical knowledge a desideratum for the education of the artist in sixteenth-century Italy. It was not clear, however, how far most artists ought to pursue such knowledge. Some said that they should study “just enough.” But how much anatomical knowledge was “just enough”? This talk examines the nature of this epistemic predicament, as well as two answers that became prominent in the period: just enough anatomical knowledge to avoid errors, and just enough to avoid exaggerations. More generally, this talk is an attempt to reflect on qualities and states of knowledge beyond certainty, or the lack of it.
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Talks in this series will be followed by discussion, including a Q&A session with the audience.
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