The uprooting of the intellectual, the loss of social values, the political and religious crisis in the 20th century: a revisitation of mannerism, shedding light on its affinities with our era.
In the 20th century, Mannerism was reassessed in a way that threw light on its affinities with our own time: the uprooting of intellectuality, the loss of social values, and the political and religious crisis. Starting with this crisis, the author has drawn a map of Mannerist behaviour, something that was unbalanced by the need for standards which assured courtesans a place in court, and assured artists and intellectuals the protection of an eccentric, albeit aristocratic, culture. Despair was replaced by discontent, black humour was replaced by melancholy, the heroic individualism of Renaissance man was replaced by the anger and the dizziness of Mannerist man, the geometry of reason was replaced by the reasonable weapon of style, obsession and manner. The ideology of the Mannerists is the ideology of the traitor, interpreted as awareness of man’s adverse position with regard to history and the artist’s with respect to language. Someone is a traitor if they intend to betray, to change an existing but unacceptable fact or situation. Mannerism lives hand-in-hand with non-fulfilment, aware of the problems encountered by culture in its endeavour to transform the world. The text by Bonito Oliva, who starts off by citing some good examples of Italian Mannerist painting and by making references to a broad range of theatrical and literary sources, unfolds with a spiralling style which reflects Mannerism’s swirling fragmentation of reality and inevitable ambivalence. More than 30 years after the first edition, this confirms that it is a work of prophetic relevance to the present day.
A new edition of the sold – out book, the first was published in 1976, includes an appendix written by Andrea Cortelessa.