IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Ilaria Fornacciari
The Complexity and Stakes of Pictorial Knowledge: About Foucault Reading Panofsky

In his short and intense critical review (published in 1967) about two works of the German art historian Erwin Panofsky, Michel Foucault looked at the operation of the father of iconology not only as an innovation in the context of art history, but more generally as a signal of turn in the way we approach the field of relations between texts and images. In this prospective, Foucault's analysis can be read as an astonishing prevision. He pointed out two large displacements following from the Panofsky's works: 1) The abolition of discourse's privilege and 2) the problematization of the function of representation. I will focus on the epistemological character and outcomes of these two radical operations through comparative analysis between some theoretical notions used by the art historian in his works and some constitutive elements of Foucault's archeological analysis.