Research Group Images of Knowledge

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"Ad imaginem et similtudinem Dei": Some Theological Perspectives on Images and Image production in the High Middle Ages.

Gjesteforelesning med professor Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland, (MF/Oslo).

St Lawrence, Østsinni Church, Oppland, Norway, 13th century.
St Lawrence, Østsinni Church, Oppland, Norway, 13th century.
(c) KHM, UiO 2019, photo: Eirik Irgens Johnsen, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Gjesteforelesning med prof. Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland, MF/Oslo i regi forskergruppen 'Vitensbilder'.

This talk reflects Aavitsland's current research which is at its initial stage, and what is presented should indeed be considered a work in progress. Comments and criticisms are most welcome. Aavitsland starts from two central aspects of Christian doctrine: first, the idea that humans are created “in the image and likeness of God” (ad imaginem et similtudinem Dei), and second, the thought that this same God was incarnated as man. These two notions, absolutely fundamental to Christianity, revolve around ideas about the binding relationship between the human and the divine, but also about reflection and representation. In medieval times, they became significant to theories about images, image making, and representational practices. Since the incarnate God was accessible to human senses and thus available for visual representation, the visual media were given a certain dignity. Furthermore, the practice of image-making was endowed with a metaphysical dimension: craftsmanship, and especially the crafting of human images, was regarded an echo of God’s initial creation. In Aavitsland's talk, she will look further into how some authors during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries applied these notions when writing on the visual arts. After having traced ideas like these in theoretical tracts and edifying literature, Aavitsland will discuss whether these theologically informed conceptions of image and image-making had practical consequences that may be observed in surviving works of art. Sculptures of saints stand out as theologically salient objects in this context, as the saints were themselves crafters of images: through their efforts to follow Christ they became projections of Christ (imagines Christi).