The Italian archaeologist Salvatore Settis turns eighty

Dhe Salvatore Settis, born in 1941 in Rosarno, Calabria, can claim to have mastered the entire European art history from Etruscan and Greek archeology to the present day and contemporary art, thereby drawing lines in which short-term perspectives are broken.

In the Einaudi art history of Italy, first published in 1979, which still ranks as a methodical avant-garde, he succeeded in overcoming the separation of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through a comprehensive look at art from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries. Above all, this ability has become fruitful in his history of the concept of classical music, which he did not see as a defense of valid norms, but as an instrument that is constantly being used to separate association and bond, for example between postmodernism and the subsequent reinstatement of the “Classic” modernity. He masterfully described the incomparability of European art history as the “eternity of ruin” and thus as a permanent state of preserved discontinuity. No other culture fits this fragile metaphor better, which always takes the negation of itself into account.

Settis is one of the leading figures in the revival of the legacy of the Warburg library of cultural studies in Hamburg and was the first Warburg visiting professor at the university there in the early 1990s. His many years as director of the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles (1994-1999) he fulfilled in the spirit of this claim, and when circumstances prevented the strengthening of this tradition, he had given up this prestigious post to become president of the Italian elite university Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa to be able to continue working according to his standards.

He has researched everything from the Athens Acropolis to the modern one in Los Angeles: aerial view of the Getty Center LA, of which the archaeologist Salvatore Settis was director for five years.


He has researched everything from the Athens Acropolis to the modern one in Los Angeles: aerial view of the Getty Center LA, of which the archaeologist Salvatore Settis was director for five years.
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Image: dapd

When the neoliberal sell-out of Italian culture was rampant under Berlusconi, he made captivating analyzes of the history of Italian monument preservation into polished instruments for criticizing this development and has worked tirelessly to combat all forms of reductive presenterism to this day.

Another hit, this time with a hopefully more successful outcome, was his book “When Venice dies. Polemic against the sellout of the cities ”from 2014. In particular, the threat to the lagoon city from the huge cruise ships sailing right up to the canals is impaled there. In the final sentence, Settis warns: “In Venice and not only there, a new citizenship pact is needed, both for those who come from local families and for those who come from far away.” Union May he stand between old and new families, ancient and present for many more years. Today Salvatore Settis turns eighty years old.

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