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Italian sources for art historiography: a very useful blog

24 February 2021

Introduction

The Mazzaferro Library is a private library, specialized in art literature, and consisting of about 2,000 volumes. It is located in Bologna, Italy. The collection began around 1950, thanks to Luciano Mazzaferro, and has now been continued by his sons Giovanni and Francesco.
A library is a cultural centre that serves to convey ideas. We try to make it more valuable through this blog, aiming at highlighting the intersections of ideas, disciplines, different geographical areas and chronological periods. We narrate on books.
Narrating on books implies first of all to read and grasp the salient aspects of them, making them accessible to those who want to investigate their historical significance.
The Italian title of this blog (‘Letteratura artistica‘) is a real school case: it is the title of the Italian translation of the Kunstliteratur by Julius von Schlosser (originally published in Vienna in 1924 and released in Italy in 1935): a fundamental survey dedicated to the sources of art history since ancient times until the beginning of the XIX century. It is so famous in Italy that ‘art literature’ has become the name itself that identifies this discipline in academic courses.
At the same time, that work was deeply based on the German-Italian cultural frameworks, and did not have success in the English-speaking world. For this reason, in the United Kingdom or in the United States there are no courses on ‘Art Literature’ today and scholars rather speak of ‘History of Art Sources’, or the same arguments are treated as part of ”Art Criticism’ or of ‘Art Theory’.
We are trying to consider such issues: we attempt to do it in two languages, Italian and English, to reach as many readers as possible. We try not only to write book reviews, but also to produce unpublished research, displaying the transmission process of culture across the world. It is for example the case of the ‘Book of the Art’ by Cennino Cennini, with its numerous translations. We are studying them one by one, discovering the birth of different “Cenninis”, depending on the place and the year of issue (from the United States to the Soviet Union, from Argentina to Japan).
This blog, in short, is a space dedicated to the analysis of cultural interaction in the study of the sources for the history of art. It is open to contributions from anyone. And we are pleased to have already published texts of university professors, curators and international experts on different topics.
Unless otherwise indicated and reported, the drafting of Italian posts is due to Giovanni Mazzaferro; the English one to Francesco Mazzaferro. To contact us please write to letteraturaartistica@hotmail.com.

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