Asian and American (and sometimes African) toponyms, peoples, terrain, flora, fauna, atmospheres, and cultural productions mingled in the European consciousness long after Columbus, and even as the Pacific was being regularly traversed by European galleons. The still dominant organization of historical study by field is structurally predisposed to misrecognize these associations as confusions or mistakes. Letting go of this armature can, however, bring into view a world in which Amerindians really are Indians, Mixtec codices are oriental manuscripts, and biblical sites are to be found in South America—artifacts of a resilient if malleable view of the world sustained by cosmological principle, cartographic convention, narrative forms, and protocols of collecting and display
Alexander Nagel, Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti, is Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. His interest in art and religious reform produced Michelangelo and the Reform of Art (2000, winner of the Renaissance Society of America’s Gordan book prize), and The Controversy of Renaissance Art (2011, winner of the College Art Association’s Morey book prize). His interest in the multiple temporalities of art led to the publication of Anachronic Renaissance (co-authored with Christopher Wood, 2010) and Medieval Modern: Art out of Time (2012). His current work addresses questions of orientation and configurations of place in Renaissance art and culture. In 2016, he received an NEH Fellowship for a collaborative project (with Elizabeth Horodowich, NMSU) entitled Amerasia: A Renaissance Discovery.