Pontormo, Umberg and the End of the World: Painting and Lacan's Das Ding

Mafe, Daniel J. (2006) Pontormo, Umberg and the End of the World: Painting and Lacan's Das Ding. The International Journal of the Humanities, 2(2), pp. 1929-1933.


The famous Transportation of Christ by Florentine Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo, depicts a phantasmagorical swirl of figures orchestrated around an enigmatic black hole or void. This void looms ominously between the dead Christ figure and that of his grieving mother. Centuries later, the psychoanalytic dynamic of this void is echoed in the monochromes by the contemporary German painter Gunter Umberg. This dynamic is in fact identical with Zizek's psychoanalytic mapping of Malevich's painting Black Square in his book Looking Awry. And in being so can also be considered as a visual explication of Lacan’s concept of das Ding, the Thing or what Kaja Silverman has called "the impossible nonobject of desire". Both, Pontormo and Umberg, struggle or point to a struggle with the "end of the world", that is with a rupture within the symbolic order. Grounded in the environmental nihilism of either 16th Century Mannerist Florence or 20th Century Modernist West, they visually document a weakening of the cultural barriers separatingthe real from reality and as such demonstrate the pictorial struggle to redefine that barrier.

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ID Code: 14369
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Lacan, Pontormo, Umberg, monochrome, the Thing
ISSN: 1447-9559
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > ART THEORY AND CRITICISM (190100) > Art Theory and Criticism not elsewhere classified (190199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > PHILOSOPHY (220300) > Aesthetics (220301)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Daniel J. Mafe / Exclusive license to publish - Common Ground Publishing
Copyright Statement: No further distribution is permitted without permission of Common Ground Publishing.
Deposited On: 11 Aug 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:28

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