Italian Early Renaissance (15th cent.) ?· 17/03/2010 · Italian Early Renaissance (15th cent.) Brunelleschi,…

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Architecture:Brunelleschi and the RationalChurchThe origins of photography: scientificperspectivePainting:Masaccio and perspective (the vision here and now)Mantegna and foreshortening(in the eyes of the beholder)Piero della Francesca: the poetry of mathematicsSculpture: Donatellos realismsItalian Early Renaissance (15th cent.)Brunelleschi,Santo Spirito,Florence, Italy,begun 1436Robert de Luzarches, Thomas deCormont, and Renaud deCormont, Amiens Cathedral,Maiens, France, begun 12203 main features of theRenaissance church:1. Sober clarity (modularscheme, notdecorated)2. Classical inspiration(columns, arches)3. Mathematicalproportions, measurablespaceIn Renaissance religiosity,divinity is revealed byequilibrium and harmony,rather than by the Gothicemotional spirituality2 main characteristics ofphotography:1) the machine fixesautomatically the complex worldaround us in a quadrangular, two-dimensional picture2) The photograph acknowledgesthe fact that each picture is afragment of an uninterrupteduniverseScholars have identifiedRenaissance ScientificPerspective as the origins of theprocess that would bring to theinvention of photographySCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE (orOne-point Linear Perspective) wasinvented by Brunelleschi in theearly 1400s:diagonal lines from the edges ofthe picture to the vanishing point,create a structural grid thatorganizes the pictorial space anddetermines mathematically therelative size of objectsScientific or One-point Linear PerspectiveScientific asopposed toGiottosintuitiveperspectiveScientific or One-point Linear Perspective3 main features:-love for unity and order(Platos idea that measureis the basis of beauty)-faith in rationality andknowledge based onobservation (emergenceof science)-Importance of the pointof view (perspective =standpoint)Scientific asopposed toRoman andGiottosintuitiveperspectiveMasaccio, The Holy Trinity, Santa MariaNovella, Florence, ca. 1428Holy Trinity: Father, CrucifiedChrist, and Holy Spirit (dove)Virgin and St. JohnDonorsTalking skeletonThe first painter to apply Brunelleschistheory was the young MASACCIO (1401-1428)Subject matter:Portraiture /individualitypitiless realism (detailof the loincloth fallingdown)Even halos are paintedin perspective!Similarly to vanEyck:Masaccio, The Holy Trinity, Santa MariaNovella, Florence, ca. 1428Differently from vanEyck: unity prevailsover the multiplicity ofdetails (synthetic vs.analytic)Masaccio breaks thewall of the church SantaMaria Novella with afake nicheThe vanishing point isplaced at the height ofan average viewerStanding in front of thefresco, the visitor hasthe illusion of a visionhappening in anextension of his/herspaceThe donors are visualmediatorsbetween the actual space ofthe viewer and the fictionalspace of the vision, kneelingon a painted altarThe ascending pyramid offigures leads viewers from theimage of deathto the hope of resurrectionend eternal lifeMasaccio, The Holy Trinity, Santa MariaNovella, Florence, ca. 1428I was once what you are, and what I am you will becomeAndrea Mantegna, ceiling of theCamera degli Sposi, PalazzoDucale, Mantua, Italy, 1474, FrescoTrompe loeil: French fordeceives the eye objects,still-lives, fakearchitectures painted sothat they appear to bethree-dimensional andtouchableThe viewer is not able todetermine where the realworld ends and where thefictional realm ofpainting startsA long tradition ofillusionistic frescoesMantegna breaks theceiling of a bedroomas in a courtyard fromwhich we can see the skyThis was the room of thenewlywedsSymbols:Putti (symbols of love),the peacock (attributeof Juno, goddess oflawful marriages),Andrea Mantegna, ceiling of theCamera degli Sposi, PalazzoDucale, Mantua, Italy, 1474, Frescothey look down to theroom and to the intimatelife of the couple:the viewer becomesthe viewed:There issomethingeven moreradical hereWhat? The relativityof the point ofviewThings can be seen(and understood)differently fromdifferentperspectivesIn 1961 Piero Manzoni made a workentitled Base of the world:it is an upside down sculpture baseBy subtitling his work an homage toGalileo, Manzoni was making the absurdproclamationthat the base held on its bearing surfacethe entire worldAnd therefore that entire earth is asculpture (you included)He was inspired by a painting byMantegna on display at Brera, Milan:Piero Manzoni,Base of theWorld. Homageto Galileo, 1961Mantegna, DeadChrist, ca. 1501,Tempera oncanvasA religious scenethat had beenrepresented forcenturiesThe changing ofperspective makesthe viewer able tosee this same scenewith fresh eyesWhile Giotto had brought thesacred image as on a stage,and his viewer was involvedas a spectatorMantegna brings the vieweron the stage: the viewer is atChrist s besideHe/she is directly involved inthe sacred scene not as aspectator but as a charactermost radicalapplication offoreshortening:The application of therules of perspective toan object or figure thatextends back in space:Not only are diagonallines convergingtoward the vanishingpoint,But also, curved lines,body proportions,and shadowing arealtered in order to givethe illusion of tri-dimensionalityA human being hadnever beenrepresented like this!Mantegna, DeadChrist, ca. 1501,Tempera oncanvasPiero della Francesca,Brera Altarpiece, ca.1472-1474, oil on panelPerspective corresponded to a newmathematical approach toknowledge and a new concept ofbeautyIn this period Plato was the moststudied and influential philosopher ofthe pastAccording to Plato, MEASURE wasthe basis of beautyPiero della Francesca: the poetry ofmathematicsPerspective was a way to make theimage of the world measurableand therefore beautifulThis aspect was most effectivelydeveloped by the work of Pierodella FrancescaPiero, a skilled geometrician, wrotethe first theoretical treatise onperspectiveWhich coherently combinedaesthetics, geometry, andphilosophy in the realm of paintingPiero della Francesca,Brera Altarpiece, ca.1472-1474, oil on panelIn this altarpiece, painted for theduke Federico da Montefeltro,Piero organizes the compositionaccording to a geometrical andsymmetrical schemewhere each part is rationallyrelated to the othersThe coffered barrel vault is anacknowledgement of MasacciosprecedentPiero della Francesca,Brera Altarpiece, ca.1472-1474, oil on panelDifferently fromMasacciosdramatic realism,here other qualitiesprevail:-Pure and total light(rationality)-Silent vision, outof timeHowever, in thisperfectlysymmetricalgeometrysomething ismissingAs inMasaccioswork, thekneelingpatron isportrayed inthe foregroundThe femalepatron is theabsentkeystone ofthecompositionsperfectsymmetry (theVirgins gaze)The duke commissioned thealtarpiece just a few months after hiswifes, Battista, deathThis painting is a tribute to herdemise:The altarpiece is a modern, clear,rational meditation over theconcept of death,represented through a perfectlymathematical compositionThere is no drama, no screaming orrepresentation of despair:only a missing part in an otherwiseperfect systemmakes the rational realmquestioning itselfDonatello, Feast of Herod,baptismal font of Siena Cathedral,Siena, ca. 1425Donatello was the very firstartist to apply Brunelleschitheory of perspective in anartwork:He used linear perspective onhis relief works as an effectivesetting, where he placed hisfigures:Donatello mixed in the samework basso, mezzo and alto-relief!The effect is that of anambiguous spatialrepresentation, where it isalmost impossibleto determine what is actuallytri-dimensional (sculpted) andwhat is illusion (drawnperspective)Donatellos realismsThis bronze relief was realized forthe baptismal font of SienaIt illustrates a scene from the life ofSt John the Baptistwhen the princess Salome askedKing Herod for the head of St Johnas a reward for her dancing, andgot itThe executioner knelt downbefore the king carrying the headof the saintThe king shrinks back and raiseshis hands in horrorKids run away cryingSalomes mother, who instigatedthe crime, tries to explainDonatello chose to represent notthe violent moment of the murder,but rather focused on the humanreactions to it:Guests recoil creating the void inthe center,one covers hiseyesSalome seems just to havestopped in her sensualdanceDonatellos realism manifestsitself on 3 different levels:-Human approach to thesacred text (how did differentpeople react to this dramaticfact?)-Historical accuracy (thesetting is Herods classicalpalace; the executioner isdressed as a Roman soldier)-New conception of space: notonly illusion of space throughperspective,but also the scene isrepresented as a fragment ofrealityThe image is cut by edges ofthis relief giving the illusion of asnapshot from a real situation,Where space would continueoutside the pictured frame


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