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  • The global Renaissance: Cross-cultural objects in the early modern period

Ajmar-Wollheim, Marta, 2011, Book Section, The global Renaissance: Cross-cultural objects in the early modern period In: Global Design History. Routledge. ISBN 9780415572859

Abstract or Description:

This essay, co-written with Luca Molà (European University Institute), was commissioned as part of the activities of ‘Global Arts: East Meets West, Creativity and Cultural Interchange in the Early Modern World’, an AHRC-funded Network (Warwick University, V&A, Ashmolean Museum, 2007–8) which investigated the role played by material culture in shaping cultural, social and economic connections worldwide in the period c.1400–1800.
Ajmar-Wollheim and Molà’s essay proposes the notion of a ‘global Renaissance’, challenging the dominant view of the Renaissance as essentially a ‘movement’ limited to the sphere of high culture. They argue for an approach, by contrast, which considers the implications that the revival of antiquity and the diffusion of humanism – with their positive appreciation for the classical notions of ‘magnificence’ and the new notion of ‘splendour’ – had for the emergence of new models of consumption, at first among Italian elites and then throughout the continent and further afield.
By positing an understanding of the Renaissance as primarily an all-embracing phenomenon based on a peculiar and innovative way of using objects as social and cultural signifiers with an inner civilising dynamic, the authors argue that the process of global exchange and the complex system of interconnections that developed during the 14th–17th centuries enabled some aspects of Renaissance material culture to have a genuinely global reach by encompassing China and the New World.
Focusing on a selection of different ‘global commodities’ – including glass, pottery and textiles – Ajmar-Wollheim and Molà suggest that by taking this approach it is possible to argue the beginnings of an ecumenical visual and material language on a global scale, and the emergence of an international community of taste based on cross-cultural fertilisation and hybridisation.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2013 10:52
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2014 11:49
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536

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