Graziella Federici Vescovini
Università degli Studi di Firenze, ITALY

98-vescoviniOne of the single most important ideas emerging from Alberti's concepts is that of the relationship between the artist's ingenuity and his natural and social surroundings, that is, the relationship between the world and the artist's representation of it. It has been noted that this concept resonates singularly with that of Nicholas of Cusa, with whom Alberti shared mutual friendships. The idea of the creativity of the artist's mind, including thoughts on his relationship to the world around him, his capacity to harmoniously reconstruct in accordance with innate proportions (the mind is the locus of proportion, Nicholas wrote) and the beauty of discordant, contradictory Nature, is clearly developed in De Mente and other works anterior to 1450, when Alberti labored over De re aedificatoria. Nicholas' idea of the architectonic vis of the human mind finds a singular consonance with Alberti's vis compositionis, according to which the artist imitates the divine ars in recomposing the contradictions, irregularities and even monstrosities of the world. Neither Nicholas nor Alberti presents the concept of the relationship between the artist and the world around him as something tranquil and objectively given, but rather as a continuing tension. It is a personal conquest by the artist's ingenuity that corrects and upholds the mira vis creatrix of nature. In part, the painter must draw out of nature the beauty that certainly exists but is not always apparent, and in part he must be capable of drawing it out of himself.

The correct citation for this paper is:
Graziella Federici Vescovini, "Nicholas of Cusa, Alberti and the Architectonics of the Mind", pp. 159-171 in Nexus II: Architecture and Mathematics, ed. Kim Williams, Fucecchio (Florence): Edizioni dell'Erba, 1998.