Review Of "Bernini: Flights Of Love, The Art Of Devotion" By G. Careri, Translated By L. Lappin

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Deftly and persuasively, Careri weaves an intricate argument: that the unity of arts in Gian Lorenzo Bernini's three celebrated chapels--Fonseca, Albertoni, and the high altar of S. Andrea al Quirinale--is not really scenographic as is prevalently believed but, rather, contrapuntal and interpenetrating in its combination of heterogeneous media, and that it achieves a profound affective meaning much like the pathetic montage that Sergei Eisenstein argued for in his 1945 essay, "Non-indifferent Nature." Preposterous as this analogy may seem, Careri presents ample corroboration in the contemporary devotional literature and practice as well as in Baldinucci's 17th-century term, un bel composto. Critical of narrow iconographic reading based solely on text, he dwells on the physical and sensory reality of each work from the vantage point of the intended viewer and succeeds in defining a more complete art historical methodology. Though his writing is at times dense and repetitive, the book is intriguing and fully rewarding. Lower-division undergraduate through graduate.


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