Making Up Materials: Donatello and the Cosmetic Act

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Throughout his career, Donatello (1383/6–1464) produced sculptures with surfaces that simulated a more precious material than the one underneath. Typically motivated by an ambition to reproduce ancient feats, Donatello’s surface cunning provoked admiration as well as unease. By reading these sculptures alongside other practices aimed at altering the appearance, but not the essence, of something, and examining the preoccupations these “cosmetic acts” reveal in a culture where the lure and distrust of surface appearances were intertwined, we can see Donatello in a new light—as a cosmetic provocateur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-63
Number of pages28
JournalArt Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History

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