This exhibition explores the many ways that Europeans in the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries viewed the world, society, and themselves through “invented bodies” —vividly imagined forms that range from the perceptibly human to the decidedly fantastical. The exhibit engages four interrelated themes. Shaping the World looks at Early Modern maps that use anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, or floramorphic renderings to make sense of new discoveries beyond Europe. Figures of Architecture explores the anthropomorphic theories and images that come to particular prominence in Early Modern Italian and English architecture. (Re)Discovered Bodies focuses on the ways that Early Modern Europeans look at the people and places of the “New World” through the lens of Antiquity, deploying familiar classicizing forms as a means of understanding these newly discovered cultures and their origins, histories, and traditions. Finally, “States and Selves” examines the ways in which all these ideas and phenomena are brought to bear in the construction of the identity of the individual and the state; it reveals a merging of civic, personal, and cultural imagery that is both deeply specific and yet resonant throughout Early Modern Europe.
The works on view are facsimiles. The originals are held in the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Lewis Walpole Library, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale Map Department, Sterling Memorial Library. The exhibition takes advantage of the outstanding variety and depth of these collections and features printed and hand-colored maps, portraits, and frontispieces, illustrations from travel narratives, utopian imagery, and pages from architectural treatises in both print and manuscript form.
“Invented Bodies” is the second installation in a series of exhibitions curated by Mellon Special Collections Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow Mia Reinoso Genoni. The first, “The Utopian Impulse,” was on display in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library during the summer of 2009. The third exhibition, “By Draught or Design: England, Architecture, and Identity,” runs concurrently with “Invented Bodies,” on view at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library from April 12 to June 30, 2010. The final installment, to be launched this summer, is a virtual exhibition titled “Ideal, Real, and ‘New’ Worlds: Architecture, Utopia, and Empire in Early Modern England.” A description of the overall project and individual exhibitions can be found at http://library.yale.edu/exhibitions/ideal/.
These exhibitions were made possible by the generous funding of the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, and the dedication and cooperation of the Yale University Library Special Collections, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Whitney Humanities Center, with special thanks to Alice Prochaska, University Librarian.
Mia Reinoso Genoni received her MA and PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she held the Bernard Berenson Fellowship for Studies in Renaissance Art. She was recently awarded the Rare Book School Scholarship (University of Virginia) and the Scott Opler Grant for Emerging Professionals, Society of Architectural Historians. Her book The Invention of Renaissance Architecture: Filarete and the Architettonico Libro is forthcoming.