Texts by André Chastel, Luciano di Samosata, Leon Battista Alberti, Giovan Battista Lalli, Katherine Mansfield, Luigi Pirandello
1984 / 160 PAGES
It was high time that the fly in painting was catalogued: André Chastel made this endeavour a reality in this humorous book. More than fifty artistic incarnations of the insect are shown here, accompanied by a literary anthology.
Between the second half of the 15th century and the second half of the 17th century, many painter added a fly to both their sacred and profane compositions. It was painted so convincingly that it seemed real. André Chastel, art historian, a Frenchman enamoured of Italy, tried to reconstruct the history of the fly in painting. At least at the beginning, the fly was introduced as an odd masterpiece, an affirmation of the artist's skill and convictions. A joke for illusionists, which however contains more complex meanings. The fly in painting then evolved. The insect, as we know it, is not well-loved and goes from simply being a nuisance to being the sign of death itself. And over time, "la burla di Giotto", Giotto's joke, generated a series of symbols where the artist wanted to represent the transience and precariousness of life, of earthly joys. The book chases the flies in picture after picture and recounts how the pictures are strewn with even minuscule signals, plots, and traps which, from time to time, take the form of a flower, an insect, a gem. It is a question of knowing how to interpret them to delve into a story that is also an adventure of the human spirit.