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Naturally Hypernatural I: Concepts of Nature


Edited By Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

Nature, a topic central to art history, is concurrently a dominant concept in contemporary art, art theory and its related disciplines such as cultural theory, philosophy, aesthetic theory and environmental studies. The project Naturally Hypernatural questions lines of tradition and predetermined categories that coexist with the topic of nature. Currently, nature in art surpasses the simple depiction of art as a material or object. To clarify and analyze the interrelations between nature and art is the aim of the project Naturally Hypernatural. Concepts of Nature – the first volume of this project – argues that contemporary art is predominantly concerned with concepts of nature regarding the depth of their implications in order to reveal and analyze their internal structure.

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Creative Nature in Renaissance Landscape



The first epistemic question to address is the definition and meaning of the terms natural and supranatural with regard to the etymological core of the participle of natus. The Averroist John of Jandun coined the terms super naturam1 and supranaturale2 in the late 15th century, characterising a superordinate system. Supranaturale – the supranatural – refers to God who wields the power of creation3 and who becomes accessible through faith. On the other hand there is natura – the natural – the tangible reality that can be studied. Both these systems are not necessarily viewed as contradictory opposites in Averroism.

Another relevant term in discussing this topic is the artefact – a term relating to the natural and referring to human activity based on an existing natural system as the basis of creation. The artistic artefact signifies the same conditions; its inspiration however, draws closer to the supranatural. The supranatural and the artefact are understood as two opposites on a spectrum with the natural lying between them. The aim of this paper is to investigate the natural and supranatural in the fine arts with both terms defined as above. Albrecht Dürer’s “The Fall of Man” and Giorgione’s “The Tempest”, both incunables depicting a representation of nature, are used as examples herein. Dürer and Giorgione are two renaissance avant-gardists from the Northern and Southern Alps, an area of significant mutual artistic influence that is being more and more recognised today.4 ← 181 | 182 →

The lost paradise...

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