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Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas: Thresholds of the Human and the Limits of Painting

Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas: Thresholds of the Human and the Limits of Painting

Chapter:
(p.64) Two Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas: Thresholds of the Human and the Limits of Painting
Source:
Renaissance Posthumanism
Author(s):
Stephen J. Campbell
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823269556.003.0002

“Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas: Thresholds of the Human and the Limits of Painting” engages not only Renaissance humanism, in the eponymous late painting of Titian, and contemporary posthumanism, in the form of Giorgio Agamben’s anthropological machine, but also the troubled history of “humanism” itself, particularly as it figures in Erwin Panofsky’s reflections on Immanuel Kant in the 1940 essay “The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline.” This essay reconsiders the problematic exclusion of Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas from a substantial chapter on “Titian and Ovid” in Panofsky’s book on the painter: the “gratuitous brutality” on display in the Flaying of Marsyas was at odds, Campbell argues, with Panofsky’s perception of Titian as a “humanist.” Campbell presents this late work of Titian’s as an inversion of the ideally proportioned Vitruvian man that humanizes the animal and animalizes the human, calling into question the individualism that Jacob Burckhardt celebrated as the essence of Italian Renaissance culture and the spaces between figures that Panofsky viewed as signatures of Titian’s style.

Keywords:   animal, humanism, Marsyas, Erwin Panofsky, posthumanism, style, Titian

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