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DOI 10.12887/28-2015-2-110-14

Adam ORGANISTY – Furia della figura as a Metaphor for the „Living Flame of Love,” as seen in the Silesian Baroque Sculpture

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The article discusses Silesian Baroque sculptures in Kamieniec Ząbkowicki (Kamenz), Henryków (Heinrichau) and in Ziębice (Münsterberg). Despite workshop differences the works in question have a similar dramatic effect. In German literature the specificity of these sculptures has been explained by the particular cultural situation of the region of Silesia and the influence of the spirit of fancy (Schwärmergeist), a religious mood marked by ‘divine madness.’ However, art historians focusing on the study of sculpture tend to criticize the ideas bearing the stigma of pre-war paradigms, and instead consider these works as instances of expressive sculpture. Yet even such a description does not enable a reading of the formal patterns used in the discussed Silesian sculptures as principal carriers of meaning.

The statues of the Pope in Henryków and Saint Eustace in Kamieniec Ząbkowicki, both showing a spiral curl of the body, demonstrate a reference to neo-mannerist compositional principles characteristic of the art of the turn of the 18th century. They depict ‘the most restless form of all forms,’ namely that of a dancing flame (furia della figura). The ‘living flame of love,’ described by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus, informs also St. Bernrad’s of Clairvaux ‘school of heavenly philosophy.’ The inspiration for the expressive Silesian sculptures may have come not only from G.L. Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, but also, and above all, from the writings of the Saint Carmelite nun. Indeed, according to Gian Paolo Lomazzo, who belongs among the most important theorists of mannerist art, the shape of the flame of fire (forma della fiamma del foco) was the best means to depict ‘the fury of the figure’ (furia della figura), incorporated in the ‘pyramid-shaped coil’ (piramidale, serpentinata).

Translated by Dorota Chabrajska

Keywords: Silesian Baroque sculpture, expressive sculpture, Thomas Weissfeldt, the 'spirit of fancy' (Schwärmergeist), figura serpentinata, furia della figura, mysticism, Cistercians, Carmelites, living flame of love

Contact: Faculty of Painting, Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts,
pl. Matejki 13, 31-157 Cracow, Poland
E-mail: ethos@kul.lublin.pl

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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 20.00
  3. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  4. DOI Prefix 10.12887