The Art of the Landscape by Raffaele Milani

By Raffaele Milani

Raffaele Milani translates typical landscapes as an aestetic classification. Drawing from philosophical traditions, literature, and paintings, he calls the reader's awareness to a different cognizance, initially tested through the pre-Romantic age.

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The sense of disorientation felt in the presence of the infinite corresponds to the type of emotional and spiritual experience originally described by Pascal, from which appears to derive the entire movement toward reason and taste: “For in fact what is man in nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything” (Pensées, no. 72). 2 What Is the Landscape? 1 p h i l o s o p h y o f t h e l a n d s c a p e Before an unbounded nature, before the images of its countless particulars represented in our mind (from trees and torrents to fields of sunflowers and rolling hills), before nature’s “spiritual physiognomy” that corresponds to the full spectrum of our most intimate feelings, then, we are convinced that something exists that transcends this vast, extremely rich panorama of disparate elements.

We would have an endless list if we matched artists and places on the basis of certain categories, as a way of identifying a variety of geographic types using such terms as romantic, symbolist, metaphysical, etc. The two are always interconnected. The same mountain or coastal inlet, for example, may be described or painted differently by different artists and writers. We have de Saussure’s Alpine landscape and the formulation of the pre-romantic idea of the sublime, and Humboldt’s discovery of the strange beauty of deserts and steppes, a characteristic of a romantic naturalist sensibility.

If we want to draw a comparison, we find another interesting observation in Assunto (1988), for whom the garden is an example of concentrated aesthetics, whereas the landscape is diffused aesthetics. Today, uniformity prevails over variety of landscapes, which has always been acknowledged. In recent years the countryside and the city occupy a hybrid space that has lost the soul it always had. Places no longer have an identity since they are identical, from Europe to North America and the Orient.

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