The Art of Paper From the Holy Land to the Americas Caroline Fowler

Publication date:
26 Nov 2019
Yale University Press
184 pages: 229 x 178mm
113 color illus.
Sales territories:

The untold story of how paper revolutionized art making during the Renaissance, exploring how it shaped broader concepts of authorship, memory, and the transmission of ideas over the course of three centuries

In the late medieval and Renaissance period, paper transformed society—not only through its role in the invention of print but also in the way it influenced artistic production. The Art of Paper tells the history of this medium in the context of the artist’s workshop from the thirteenth century, when it was imported to Europe from Africa, to the sixteenth century, when European paper was exported to the colonies of New Spain. In this pathbreaking work, Caroline Fowler approaches the topic culturally rather than technically, deftly exploring the way paper shaped concepts of authorship, preservation, and the transmission of ideas during this period. This book both tells a transcultural history of paper from the Cairo Genizah to the Mesoamerican manuscript and examines how paper became “Europeanized” through the various mechanisms of the watermark, colonization, and the philosophy of John Locke. Ultimately, Fowler demonstrates how paper—as refuse and rags transformed into white surface—informed the works for which it was used, as well as artists’ thinking more broadly, across the early modern world.

Caroline Fowler is associate director of research and academic programs at the Clark Art Institute.

“Illustrates a vibrant and fascinating history of the appropriation of paper in medieval and early
modern visual arts with unique examples and a clear understanding on how the technology of paper changed artistic practices across the continents.”—Orietta Da Rold, The Library

“Beautifully argued and illustrated, wide-ranging, and fast-paced, this engaging book prompts us to reconsider paper as a valuable, surprisingly eloquent commodity.”—Eileen Reeves, Princeton University

“This book is highly original, and Fowler’s scholarship is exemplary. It orients the study of Renaissance drawings and artistic practice in a new direction, away from concerns of connoisseurship and authenticity to broader cultural issues.”—Jean Cadogan, Trinity College