Tintoretto’s Difference. Deleuze, Diagrammatics and Art History.


A provocative account of the philosophical problem of ‘difference’ in art history, Tintoretto’s Difference offers a new reading of this pioneering 16th century painter, drawing upon the work of the 20th century philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Bringing together philosophical, art historical, art theoretical and art historiographical analysis, it is the first book-length study in English of Tintoretto for nearly two decades and the first in-depth exploration of the implications of Deleuze’s philosophy for the understanding of early modern art and for the discipline of art history. With a focus on Deleuze’s important concept of the diagram, Tintoretto’s Difference positions the artist’s work within a critical study of both art history’s methods, concepts and modes of thought, and some of the fundamental dimensions of its scholarly practice: context, tradition, influence, and fact. Indicating potentials of the diagrammatic for art historical thinking across the registers of semiotics, aesthetics, and time, Tintoretto’s Difference offers at once an innovative study of this seminal artist, an elaboration of Deleuze’s philosophy of the diagram, and a new avenue for a philosophical art history.


“An important contribution to a genuinely philosophical study of a painter. This book is both a brilliantly argued and highly original study of Tintoretto. It is one of the first to attempt to interconnect the art historical and the philosophical and needs to be viewed as integral to the creation of a new field of study.” –  Andrew Benjamin, Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities, Kingston University, UK 

“Even the most reflective contemporary art history continues to imagine artistic practices as puzzles posed to the discourse of their time. From T.J. Clark’s reading of Manet to Georges Didi-Huberman’s interpretation of Fra Angelico, the move is to reveal how critical discourse is stalled or ruined by the apparently inassimilable artwork. This strategy is supported by art history’s sense of theories and theorists. As an alternative Vellodi suggests Deleuze, for whom such arguments subordinate “difference to the identical.” This is an exemplary book: Vellodi reads historical sources together with the recent past of art history, in order to present a “diagram” of Tintoretto in which the present is fully implicated. It is a model of thoughtful writing on art.” –  James Elkins, Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

“Vellodi’s book is destined to become one of the classic studies of Tintoretto, not because it offers a new interpretation of his work, but because it sees Tintoretto’s paintings as an “ongoing affront” to the discipline of art history. As such, Vellodi winds up proposing a radically new approach to the history of art that is inspired by Deleuze, one that focuses less on Tintoretto’s historical context than his “difference” from that context. A ground-breaking and revolutionary book.” –  Daniel W. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Purdue University, USA