Das rassifizierte Fremde im Bild. Zur Genese differenzbildender Konzepte in der Kunst des 15. Jahrhunderts am Beispiel des Malers Hans Memling

Autor: Melis Avkiran
[erschienen in: IMAGE 28 Themenheft (Juli 2018)]

Hans Memling’s triptych with the adoration of the three magi (c. 1470, Museo del Prado, Madrid) holds a remarkable historical significance in terms of concepts of alterity and racialized otherness. The subject of discussion is the representation of the so-called ›black king‹ in the iconography of the Three Kings in Christian art. My paper focuses on concepts of human difference in medieval Europe once skin color had changed from an individual characteristic to a collective category. This category became ethnicized and part of a cultural construction of the other. The painting generates visual tangible differences and articulates qua a designed figure of contrast a specific relationship to the other/the own. In order to create alterity/otherness, the ›black king‹ is shown in contrast to the other figures, which is determined by the figure’s dark appearance. Memling reverts to current social and cultural difference marking concepts to charge the painting (beyond any message of salvation) with political and social implications. Hereby the painting causes the dissociation and exclusion of a social group and confirms the hierarchical Christian world order.

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04_IMAGE 28_Themenheft_Avkiran.pdf