By Catherine M. Soussloff
This is often the 1st booklet to investigate the artist's biography as a rhetorical shape and literary style instead of as an unassailable resource of truth and data.
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Extra resources for Absolute Artist. The Historiography of a Concept
1575-82) to Vasari's Lives to the seventeenth-century biographies by Bellori, Filippo Baldinucci, and others is the emphasis on the rivalry and competition between artists that often took the form of acrimonious and less than exemplary behavior on their part. Yet, these behaviors are conventional, even in the most exemplary of artists. We can therefore assume that embodied within the heroic artist are aspects of an unconventional heroism. Indeed, it is precisely this sort of unconventional cultural hero that we often encounter in contemporary representations of the artist.
69 As I noted earlier, the work of art and the behavior of the artist emerge as distinctly identifiable elements in the narrative of the early Lives of artists: the description and the anecdote. These rhetorical elements make the Life of the artist easy to identify. They are also what led to a dissatisfaction on the part of art critics with the form by the end of the eighteenth century. 70 Lanzi goes on to disparage all of the early Italian biographies of artists for their regional prejudices, their stylistic excessiveness, and most especially their focus on the personality as well as the works.
68 In the Renaissance Lives of artists, this "rubbing smooth" of praxis and ethos can be considered quite literally as the conjoining of the description of what the artist does or makes with discussion of his moral and ethical behavior as a professional craftsman and as an individual. 69 As I noted earlier, the work of art and the behavior of the artist emerge as distinctly identifiable elements in the narrative of the early Lives of artists: the description and the anecdote. These rhetorical elements make the Life of the artist easy to identify.