Signs of Man
Roland Barthes. Texts by Roland Barthes, Achille Bonito Oliva, Corinna Ferrari
1978 / 180 PAGES
Giuseppe Arcimboldo is the undisputed master of all painters who draw inspiration from the bizarre. His “nature in pose” is deciphered here by Roland Barthes, who provides its first modern interpretation.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who was born around 1527 and died in 1593, is the prince of playful painters. A mannerist, he composed heads using flowers, fruit, books, flames, animals, kitchen utensils. His "mannerism" is a find in the modern sense; like the moderns, he repeated it and varied it to the amazement and amusement of his clients and patrons. Arcimboldo's inventions do not reflect the world, but are things "added to the world"; it is not the reality represented that counts, but the game of representation and visual combination. In this volume, Arcimboldo's nature in pose is “interpreted” by a great semiologist, Barthes, and is preceded by a historical-critical dream of the Italian scholar Achille Bonito Oliva. The volume reproduces, in addition to Arcimboldo's "heads", some works in Arcimboldo's style and the splendid series of costumes that the artist designed for a party at the court of Rudolph II, an almost unknown document of his love for fashion shows, disguises, and euphoric metamorphoses.