disegno (art theory)

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Il Guercino : Allegory of Disegno and Painting , around 1640; Getty Center

Disegno (Italian, from Latin designare to denote, to draw, to represent in outline) is a fundamental concept of the art theory of the Renaissance and constitutes the drawing as an image of the artistic idea as well as a draft of the intellectual concept in a religious sense.


Giorgio Vasari introduced  the term arti del disegno for the three arts of disegnopainting , sculpture and architecture . By drawing the disegno , firstly, “the artist's inspiration in this medium can be compared with the poet's inspiration ”, and secondly, a form of workshop organization is possible, which means that many workers can “work on a joint work on the basis of a drawing by their master work ", thirdly, the disegno " is suitable as a means of communication with the clients, the cardinals and princes. "

The disegno is a central concept of the art theory of the Renaissance in Italy and of neoclassicism , which allows the visual arts to be distinguished from the crafts. Between the beginning of the 15th and the end of the 16th century it developed into an independent category.

It is not meaningfully translated with the current term of drawing, as this can also be derived from signs , as defined by Roland Barthes in L'Empire des signes : drawing - sign - line , i.e. a manifestation, a performative act of the body. The rinascimental term disegno does not refer to any drawing or design. Rather, it was understood as an idea that had become form , which was put on paper through imagination and a linear drawing.

Only Federico Zuccari difference between disegno interno , the idea of the artwork, and disegno externo , the realization by the artist. The authoritative art theory of the time sees the disegno as the outstanding means in which the idea of ​​God should be concretized. In particular, the influence of secularization and the art academy in the 19th century reduced the originally half-religious, half-scientific renaissance concept of disegno to the quality of an aid in the sense of a preliminary study for real works.

Guided by this idea, the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno was founded in Florence in 1563 , and it still exists today.


"" A deity [...] who repeats all visible works ""

"" [Corresponds to] the original form or the original image of every natural phenomenon. It is: the father of our three arts, painting, sculpture and architecture, springs from the spirit and takes from all things a general spiritual element [ giudizio universale ], equal to a form or idea of ​​all things in nature. ""

““ Disegno, which is also called designing in other words, is the source and epitome of painting, sculpture, architecture and every other kind of painting. It is the basis of all science . Whoever has mastered this great art should recognize that an incomparable power is subject to him. With nothing more than pen and parchment he will create things that are bigger than all the towers in the world. ""

- Michelangelo Buonarroti : Roman Conversations (1538)


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Matteo Burioni (ed.): Giorgio Vasari. Introduction to the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting. The artistic techniques of the Renaissance as media of the disegno . Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin undated, p. 7
  2. ^ Jan Hoet : Disegno . In: Robert Kudielka, Michael Schoenholtz, Inge Zimmermann (Vorw.): From. drawn. to draw. An exhibition by the visual arts section . Akademie der Künste, April 25 to June 14, 2009, p. 69