Formal Categories of Excess and Narcosis

  • Fabrizio Rivola


The article is concerned with researching how the representation of battle has changed in certain
examples of contemporary art, transferring to it characteristics of expression and signification, and thus of
effectiveness, similar to those produced by the formal instruments of Baroque painting, while at the same time
provoking, from a pathemic-perceptual point of view, through this over-stimulation, the effects of narcosis
proposed by Marshall McLuhan. Wölfflin’s formal categories describing the transition to the Baroque style
emphasise the characteristics of complexity, depth, spatial openness, pictorialism and luministic effects that are
well suited to the challenge posed by the theme of battle, already indicated by Leonardo as the main one for history
painting. The effect of perceptive and emotional excess aroused by the style and content is comparable to that of
shock with consequent narcosis of the sense involved, contributing to the work’s symbolic effectiveness through
somatic remodulation of the spectator.

How to Cite
Rivola, F. (2024). Formal Categories of Excess and Narcosis. E|C, (40), 34-45. Retrieved from
Immagini di battaglia