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This paper discusses the affect of images, focusing on the notion in the art and theory of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that movement in painting corresponds with (emotional) movement in the spectator and with the imagination or creativity of the artist. It addresses the work of Signorelli, Morto da Feltro, Pinturicchio, and Sodoma (c. 1500) and, in particular, their grotesques. This art form, which became remarkably prolific in fresco decorations of the villas and palaces of the sixteenth century, was appreciated as a figuration of movement, understood both literally in terms of the grotesque’s composition as a figura serpentinata and metaphorically as generated by the turbulent imagination of the artist. It is argued that grotesques constituted a field within the visual culture of the time that, due to its marginality and its investigation of metamorphosis and monstrosity, challenged the boundaries between image and spectator and explored the creative power of the artist.
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