Botticelli’s ‘Beauty Space’, Pop Art and the Gnostics (On the Issue of the Origins of Classical Art)

A. V. Rykov


The article continues the series of publications by the author on the art of the Renaissance and the work of Botticelli. The author's concept of “classical art” allows us to establish closer connections with subsequent stages of artistic development, as well as with the Early Renaissance. The multi-level structure of Botticelli’s art and the “collage” nature of his works are substantiated. The “universality” of the classics correlates with the gaming strategies of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. The features that bring the intellectual culture of the Renaissance closer to modern scientific and artistic trends are revealed. New contexts and parallels (Michael Psellus, Honore de Balzac, Arthur Schopenhauer, Alois Riegl, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein) allow us to re-evaluate the transformation of the Neoplatonic tradition in European culture. The author rejects rigid interpretations of Gnosticism and Neoplatonism in connection with the work of Botticelli, preferring an “aesthetic” or “poetic” reading. Within the framework of this essentially psychological approach, the author draws attention to the problem of “presence” (“life-likeness”), characteristic of both medieval and modern art. Social issues of interpretation of classical art are touched upon in the article in connection with elements of elitism in the culture of the Medici circle. The concept of “poetry”, developed by Petrarch and Boccaccio and going back to ancient prototypes, is fully consistent with this type of “court” culture, which played a decisive role in the development of classical art. The "decadence" of the late Quattrocento and the work of Botticelli as its highest expression were thus the result of very complex intellectual strategies that were continued during the High Renaissance and Mannerism. Particular attention in the article is paid to the revision of the usual views on the historiography of the Renaissance, the actualization of classical art historical concepts. The article returns to the problem of the origins of the semiotic concept of art. Pragmatism and the “irrational” concept of art (appealing to the unconscious) turn out to be quite compatible, that has particular theoretical significance for the revaluation of conventional approaches to the classical heritage.


Botticelli; theory of art; Michael Psellus; pop art; psychoanalysis of art; surrealism; Neoplatonism


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